My answers to PROFESSOR LARRY GOPNIK’S POST-HANUKAH, PRE-CHRISTMAS, POST-SCHRODINGER, PRE-APOCALYPSE SLIFR HOLIDAY MOVIE QUIZ!
As many of you know, the esteemed Dennis Cozzalio throws out these quizzes (about) every holiday. The one exam that I almost always supply answers for is the Christmas quiz. It comes at just the right time for me: I have had about enough of lull in blogging post-Italian Horror Blogathon, and I just about finish grading for the term when these things go live on Dennis’ blog. These quizzes always act as the perfect remedy to my blogging malaise. I look forward to getting back to it these next three weeks (I’ll be seeing All is Lost tomorrow), filling the blog with all kinds of nonsensical ramblings. Anyway, thanks to Dennis for another fine quiz. Here are my answers ...
1) Favorite unsung holiday film
I really like The Ref, but since I saw that answer somewhere else, I’ll go with Harold Ramis’ underrated black comedy The Ice Harvest
2) Name a movie you were surprised to have liked/loved
My mind is only going towards recent viewing experiences, so I’ll go with the totally surprising In Bruges—one of my favorite films of 2008—which, thanks to some truly awful trailers, was being marketed as nothing more than one of those awful pithy, self-aware post-Pulp Fiction comedies about criminals a la 2 Days in the Valley and Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. In Bruges is so much more than that though. Anchored by a great Collin Farrell performance (and Ralph Fiennes doing his best impersonation of Ben Kingsley’s performance from Sexy Beast) and the always gorgeous scenery of Bruges, In Bruges is beautiful and funny and sad and violent and vulgar—and it’s all of those things brilliantly.
3) Ned Sparks or Edward Everett Horton?
4) Sam Peckinpah's Convoy-- yes or no?
YES! Just look at Kris Kristofferson in that picture!
5) What contemporary actor would best fit into a popular, established genre of the past?
Michael Shannon…in every genre, for the man can do no wrong.
6) Favorite non-disaster movie in which bad weather is a memorable element of the film’s atmosphere
Dean Treadway had a great answer for this one (A Simple Plan, one of my very favorite movies of the ‘90s), and I’m really tempted to just echo what he said…but I guess I’ll go with John Carpenter’s The Thing.
7) Second favorite Luchino Visconti movie
I’ve only seen one Visconti (The Leopard). Boo to me, I know.
8) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD/Blu-ray?
Theatrically: The Wolverine (yeah, I don’t get out much, but as I mentioned, I will be seeing All is Lost tomorrow)
DVD/Blu-ray: The Lords of Salem
9) Explain your reaction when someone eloquently or not-so-eloquently attacks one of your favorite movies (Question courtesy of Patrick Robbins)
My reaction is to listen.
10) Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell?
11) Movie star of any era you’d most like to take camping
The juvenile male in me wants to say something like Keira Knightley…but since I’m a happily married man, I’ll go with Orson Welles…because it would be fun to eat S’mores and listen to his stories around a campfire.
12) Second favorite George Cukor movie
13) Your top 10 of 2013 (feel free to elaborate!)
I usually don’t watch recent movies until I’m on Winter break. Since that just started, I haven’t seen enough titles to make a full list. The only 2013 films that I’ve seen that I like enough to put on an end of the year list would be Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem and Michael Bay’s (yes) Pain and Gain. The former is likely to make the cut once I’ve seen more films, the latter (I suspect) will probably fall into the “runner’s up” category.
14) Name a movie you loved (or hated) upon first viewing, to which you eventually returned and had more or less the opposite reaction
I remember not liking Blade Runner all that much when I first saw it in high school, but I love it now. I also remember loving The Last Boy Scout when I was in middle school. In college, however, I revisited it and found it abhorrent. I can only watch it now through a snarky lens. It truly epitomizes all that is awful about the Bruckheimer/Simpson action film of the ‘80s/’90s. I honestly have no idea why my mind went to Ridley Scott and Tony Scott movies right then…
15) Movie most in need of a deluxe Blu-ray makeover
I’ve been sayin’ it for years: Criterion needs to rescue Peter Weir’s Fearless. My full frame, snapcase copy mocks me from across the room. Peter Nellhaus just informed me via Facebook that Weir's film has finally been released on Blu-ray. So, I'll go with Francesco Barilli's masterpiece The Perfume of the Lady in Black, a little-seen Italian horror film that deserves a much larger following.
16) Alain Delon or Marcello Mastroianni?
17) Your favorite opening sequence, credits or no credits (provide link to clip if possible)
I’ve always loved Argento’s way of opening films. Of course there’s his most famous opening (and rightfully so) in Suspiria, and the opening to Deep Red is something else, too (thanks in large part to Goblin’s fantastic score), but I’ll go with the showiness of the opening (the reflection in the raven’s eye, the subjective steadicam walking out of the opera rehearsal) in his underappreciated Opera (arguably his best looking film).
18) Director with the strongest run of great movies
Recently, it’s been Tarantino. I love pretty much anything the Dardenne’s do. Bergman had some amazing runs, but they were interrupted by some not-so-amazing attempts at comedy. Out of all the choices (and there are many), I’ll go with the obvious pick of Hitchcock and his decade long run in the ‘50s of good (Stage Fright, I Confess) to great (Strangers on a Train, The Wrong Man, North by Northwest) to outstanding (Rear Window, Vertigo) films. Also, some of my very favorite Hitch films are found in the ‘50s (Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, The Man who Knew Too Much, The Trouble with Harry).
19) Is elitism a good/bad/necessary/inevitable aspect of being a cineaste?
On the right side of my blog, there is a quote from Tim Brayton that I think applies here:
"Clearly, this does not mean that Friday the 13th is more "valuable" than Jeanne Dielman [...] But, given the great many people who have seen Friday the 13th, where is the intellectual dignity in saying, "it's crap", and being done with it? Anything that has become an iconic part of popular culture is therefore inherently worthy of exploration if not automatic respect [...] If we simply throw it out with the bathwater, on the grounds that it isn't "artistic", we also throw out the possibility of ever finding out."
20) Second favorite Tony Scott film
Man on Fire
21) Favorite movie made before you were born that you only discovered this year. Where and how did you discover it?
A tie: 99 and 44/100% Dead and The French Connection II. I watched both on DVD for the Frankenheimer retrospective (which I will be starting up again after a looong layoff) I’m doing. Anyway, I’m glad I finally got to see The French Connection II because the rumors were true: it is better than the original.
22) Actor/actress you would most want to see in a Santa suit, traditional or skimpy
Can I use my Keira Knightley answer here?
23) Video store or streaming?
Video store, of course. Sadly, there aren’t any more in Salem. Some of my fondest memories are riding my bike after school to the local Mom and Pop and wandering through the Horror aisles, studying the images on those oversized clamshells.
24) Best/favorite final film by a noted director or screenwriter
It’s likely most will name John Huston’s wonderful The Dead here, so in the interest of mixing things up let’s go with Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. I also have a soft spot for melodramatic maestro Douglas Sirk’s final film, Imitation of Life.
25) Monica Vitti or Anna Karina?
26) Name a worthy movie indulgence you’ve had to most strenuously talk friends into experiencing with you. What was the result?
I don’t know how to really answer this one.
27) The movie made by your favorite filmmaker (writer, director, et al) that you either have yet to see or are least familiar with among all the rest
I adore Bergman, but I have yet to see Persona all the way through (I have seen the opening and other clips).
28) Favorite horror movie that is either Christmas-oriented or has some element relating to the winter holiday season in it
I could get wacky here and go with the so-bad-it’s-good classic Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 with its infamous “Garbage Day!” line making it an all-time favorite for me. But the only answer here is Black Christmas.
29) Name a prop or other piece of movie memorabilia you’d most like to find with your name on it under the Christmas tree
I want whatever is in that damn briefcase from Pulp Fiction!
30) Best holiday gift the movies could give to you to carry into 2014
Keep on truckin’