Friday, November 27, 2009

The Holiday 2009 SLIFR Quiz

Dennis Cozzalio's film quizzes are a popular diversion for film bloggers everywhere, and he's just posted his newest one over at his always-great blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. This is a holiday quiz, to span the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. My answers are posted below. Check out Dennis' site to see other responses and to post your own.

1) Second-favorite Coen Brothers movie.
I can usually easily rank the films of directors I like, but for some reason I have a really hard time sorting out a hierarchy of Coen Brothers movies. Maybe The Man Who Wasn't There, but then that film could easily be my favorite too.

2) Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible? (Question submitted by Peter Nellhaus)
Play Time.

3) Japan or France? (Question submitted by Bob Westal)
Godard, Rivette, Rohmer, Chabrol, Marker, Franju, Varda, Denis, Pialat, Vigo, Resnais, Assayas, Renoir, Tati, Tavernier, Breillat. France, no contest.

4) Favorite moment/line from a western.
The down-the-barrel shot in Forty Guns.

5) Of all the arts the movies draw upon to become what they are, which is the most important, or the one you value most?
The art of photography: the image is the essence of cinema.

6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?).
Southland Tales.

7) Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem.
My initial enthusiasm for Billy Wilder, founded on films like Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment, has cooled as I've been exposed to more of his uneven and often disappointing work.

8) Herbert Lom or Patrick Magee?
Lom: you can't beat Inspector Dreyfuss' neurotic craziness.

9) Which is your least favorite David Lynch film (Submitted by Tony Dayoub)
Is it cheating to say The Alphabet or Six Men Getting Sick? I haven't seen Dune and I like all his other features.

10) Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
Gordon Willis, if only for shooting some of Woody Allen's most gorgeous movies, but also for Little Murders.

11) Second favorite Don Siegel movie.

12) Last movie you saw on DVD/Blu-ray? In theaters?
On DVD, Schindler's List, unfortunately. In theaters, Richard Kelly's The Box.

13) Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-ray? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
I haven't yet given in to Blu-Ray. But Claude Chabrol's films have been badly treated on DVD, so I suppose I'll say that I'd really love to see a lavish Blu-Ray set of his films, restored and treated well at last.

14) Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse?
I guess I have to go with McLovin.

15) Actor/actress who you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything.
I don't think there's anyone I'd watch in anything, but Isabelle Huppert is never less than fascinating to watch, whatever she's in.

16) Fight Club -- yes or no?

17) Teresa Wright or Olivia De Havilland?
Teresa Wright was always great.

18) Favorite moment/line from a film noir.
Gaby Rodgers unleashing the apocalypse in Kiss Me Deadly.

19) Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a human or any other unsuccessful special effect(s)—see the wonderful blog Destructible Man for inspiration.
Not a death scene, but in terms of spectacularly unsuccessful special effects, I do love the ridiculous fake spider and puppet bats in Mark of the Vampire.

20) What's the least you've spent on a film and still regretted it? (Submitted by Lucas McNelly)
I saw Rock Hudson's Home Movies for free and still regretted it.

21) Van Johnson or Van Heflin?

22) Favorite Alan Rudolph film.

23) Name a documentary that you believe more people should see.
Bells From the Deep and Gesualdo are two unfairly overlooked Herzog documentaries, but they're actually among his best works.

24) In deference to this quiz’s professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone becoming stranded.

25) Is there a moment when your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation? If so, please share.
I'm always embarassed when I realize I've never seen a movie I really should have seen by now.

26) Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? (Submitted by Larry Aydlette)
Ann Sheridan.

27) Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who?

28) Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why?
I purposely avoid obvious crap blockbusters all the time: why waste time seeing something I know won't have anything to offer me?

29) Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambience.
John Carpenter's The Thing for a certain kind of harsh, arctic winter. Curse of the Cat People for a more dreamlike and magical vision of winter.

30) Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones?
Jeffrey Jones.

31) The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever).
Robert Altman's final film A Prairie Home Companion is an antidote to popular stereotypes about country/rural culture, warmly and lovingly examining Americana without resorting to stereotyping.

32) Second favorite John Wayne movie.
My favorite is Rio Bravo, by a long shot. Second favorite is tougher to narrow down, but I'd probably go with She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

33) Favorite movie car chase.
The one that takes up most of the second half of Death Proof.

34) In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic or not-so-classic film. (Submitted by Patrick Robbins)
To stick with Hawks, imagine how weird and interesting The Big Sleep would be with the gender roles reversed: Bacall as a suave, seductive private eye, and Bogie as a cool, calm society brat. Might not change the movie much at all, actually. On the other hand, to stick with Cary Grant, imagine Cukor's Holiday with Grant as the upper-class scion born into a privilege and wealth he has little use for, with Hepburn as the lower-class go-getter who wants to really make something of herself and enjoy her life rather than simply marrying into money. It completely changes the dynamic of the film and would make it something of a feminist statement in addition to an examination of class like the original.

35) Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon?

36) Favorite Andre De Toth movie.
Play Dirty is amazing: gritty and formalist at the same time, with the best offhand bleak ending of all time.

37) If you could take one filmmaker's entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
I don't think I hate any director that much. I wouldn't miss Michael Bay much, though.

38) Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it.
Vertigo. I didn't outright hate it on first viewing, but I was very much underwhelmed, and have since come to appreciate it greatly; I enjoy it more, and find more of interest in it, every time I watch it.

39) Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)

40) In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors? And which member would you most resemble, either physically or in personality?

41) Your favorite movie cliché.
The film noir cliché of the dangerous woman.

42) Vincente Minnelli or Stanley Donen? (Submitted by Bob Westal)

43) Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence.
Does Eyes Wide Shut count? Its protagonist's terror of female sexuality is framed against a backdrop of lovely colored Christmas lights.

44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie.
The final moments of The Wrestler.

45) If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
Anything that's appreciated "ironically," or for being "so bad it's good." I prefer "so good it's good."

46) Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson?
Caroline Munro.

47) Favorite eye-patch wearing director. (Submitted by Patty Cozzalio)
Andre De Toth.

48) Favorite ambiguous movie ending. (Original somewhat ambiguous submission — "Something about ambiguous movie endings!" — by Jim Emerson, who may have some inspiration of his own to offer you.)
Denis Levant's dance at the end of Beau travail.

49) In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for?
All the evocative, provocative images, moments, sounds and ideas the movies at their best can deliver, and the richness of cinematic history that provides so much to explore and enjoy.

50) George Kennedy or Alan North? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)


Uncle Gustav said...

Ed, I relate to the Billy Wilder response. When I was younger, he was such a vital force in American film. Now, long after the dust has settled, so much (but not all) of his "depth" seems threadbare.

I'm afraid to revisit Ace in the Hole because I loved it so much 25 years ago. Same with The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Would they stand up? I don't want to knw.

Uncle Gustav said...

By the way: are you getting my emails? Was wondering if the DVD arrived.

Jake said...

There are too many questions that I can't answer because I haven't seen enough to judge. I worry that I will have the same response to Billy Wilder down the road, having seen all of his beloved classics but none of his other works. Right now, he's probably my favorite writer-director (even though I think w-d's like Welles and Chaplin are better), but I suppose I shall have to venture outside the castle walls at some point.

I would pick Juno as the most misunderstood film, but that film has inspired waves of opinion, backlash, counter-backlash and probably the odd hate-sex session, so I don't know where it even stands. But the people who hate it seem to hoist it up as an example of an out-of-touch adult trying to mimic kids, and it just isn't. Granted, her dialogue strives to ape Joss Whedon's but lacks the kooky spark, but I thought that her kitsch was used effectively as the protagonist's defense mechanism and gradually dissipated as she matured. Barring that, I'll stand by A.I.

But yours is the latest of an increasing number of blogs and publications I read to defend Southland Tales, which worries me. If this keeps up I know that curiosity will get the better of me and I'll strap myself in the Ludovico chair for one more round with Richard Kelly.

And hell yes on Playtime. I'm young and I don't live near any revival houses -- I did manage to see Psycho last year though when the theater at Auburn decided to have a go at cinephilia for a few weeks in October to celebrate Halloween (didn't happen this year, I noticed). I'd kill to see Playtime, Ran and Metropolis on a big screen.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

There have always been Billy Wilder movies that have fallen short for me, The Apartment, Fedora and The Fortune Cookie primary among them. But I still love without reservation Ace in the Hole, One Two Three, Sunset Boulevard and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Hell, I even like Buddy Buddy. But even so, I can understand the reservations being expressed here. I'm gonna get a chance to see Five Graves to Cairo and The Emperor Waltz on the big screen later this month, so we'll see how that goes!

But, Ed, you're a man after my own heart. Barbara Rhoades! Oh, man, my love for her goes beyond reason. And I just got Play Dirty from Netflix. I can't wait! Thanks for all your great answers!

Hallvarður Jón Guðmundsson said...

6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?).
Southland Tales.

Couldn't agree more.

Drew McIntosh said...

"Denis Levant's dance at the end of Beau travail"

Yes! One of my very favorite movie endings perfectly haunting and cathartic. Dellamorte Dellamore would be right up there with it as far as the best "ambiguous" endings go.

Second favorite Siegel movie would have to be the fantastic Ida Lupino noir Private Hell 36, with my favorite being the Eastwood masterpiece The Beguiled.

Also major props for shoutouts to Play Time, Kiss Me Deadly, The Thing, Rio Bravo and Eyes Wide Shut! Great read.

Joshua said...

How could you pass on Don Siegel? The man deserves consideration if only for Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Lineup!

Otherwise fun list, and I think I might give this a go.

DavidEhrenstein said...

1) I loathe the Coens with the fury of 10,000 suns. They’re the most insufferable phonies ever inflicted on the movie going public.

2) Ma Vraie Vie a Rouen

3) France

4) The last scene of The Shooting.

5) Music

6) Synecdoche New York

7) Jean-Luc Godard

8) Patrick Magee

9) Dune

Sam Juliano said...

Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, Naruse, Shindo, Ichikawa, Kobayashi, Oshima, Shimizu, Yamanaka, Teshigahara, Suzki, Miyazaki, Takashi, Kinugasa, Yoshida, Imamura, Matsumoto, Shionada, Kore-eda, Toyoda and a few others make the France vs. Japan contest a lot closer than might be realized. Yes, France wins, but only marginally.

DavidEhrenstein said...

10) Conrad Hall. He captures Los Angeles light in The Day of the Locust better than anyone

11) Charley Varrick

12) 500 Days of Summer (DVD) Up in the Air (Theater)
13) Pass

14) Eddie Deezen FOREVER!

15) Jean-Louis Trintignant

16) No

17) Olivia DeHaviland

18) Another vote for Gay Rodgers in Kiss Me Deadly.

19) The dummy that takes the fall for Francine Berge at the end of Franju’s Judex

20) Being a critic there are a great many films I’ve seen for free that I ought to have been paid to sit through. Most recently A Serious Man

21) Van Johnson. Love the old closet queen. Especially for his duet with Lucille Bremer in Til the Clouds Roll By

22) Remember My Name of course!

DavidEhrenstein said...

23) Les Maitres Fous

24) Momma’s Man

25) Nope.

26) Ann Sheridan for the “Love Isn’t Born It’s Made” number in Thank Your Lucky Stars

27) I have been frequently mistaken for the late Ashley Boone of Warner Bros. We’re both black and gay, but he died of AIDS some time back while I remain HIV negative.

28) I try to avod as many Coen brothers films as I can.

29) Hallelujah the Hills

30) Jeffrey Jones

31) Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train besides being the greatest film ever made breaks with all LGBT stereotypes.

32) Hondo

DavidEhrenstein said...

33) Pass

34) If. . .

35) Feldon

36) Play Dirty

37) The Coens

38) Duelle

39) Max

40) Pass

41) The “dance hall girl” in Westerns

42) Charles Walters

43) Christmas Holiday. Homicidal maniac Gene Kelly tries to kill his wife Deana Durbin and is cut down in a hail of police gunfire. He dies in her arms as Wagner’s "Lieberstod" breaks forth on the soundtrack.

44) Clint’s death in Gran Torino

45) El Topo

46) Caroline Munro

47) John Ford

48) Antonioni’s Eclipse of course

49) No Joel Schumacher movies

50) Pass

Ed Howard said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Flickhead & Dennis: don't get me wrong, there are certainly Wilder films I still love (Sunset Boulevard, One Two Three, The Apartment), it's just that his career is very uneven and dotted with disappointments as well as successes.

Jake, Juno I think mainly suffers from too much hype. It's an unassuming little comedy with some aggravating aspects but mostly it's just entertaining. So I don't know if it's misunderstood because there's not much to understand or not.

Hallvarour, I'm glad I'm not alone on Southland; I know there's a small minority who agree with us on that film's worth.

Drew, "Cathartic" is a good word for Levant's dance, though I'd be hard-pressed to explain why. It's a non-sequitur but such a perfect one.

Joshua, I like the Siegel films I've seen but I haven't seen nearly enough to do any real ranking, so I passed for now.

Sam, good point that you could make a similar list of names for Japan. It's just my personal preference that makes me lean towards France, even though there are of course many Japanese directors I like a lot too. But many of my favorite directors came out of the French New Wave, so that question's a bit of a no-brainer for me.

David, good answers. Good call on Synecdoche too; that movie is certainly widely misunderstood and underrated.

Jake said...

Oh David, Synecdoche is such a good answer. I'm kicking myself now that I didn't think of that; that movie is almost certainly in my top five of the decade (as credible as a list compiled by a 20-year-old who did not take film seriously until 2007 could possibly be. Film festivals, what are those, DVD sales at Best Buy??). I'm a shameless Kaufman fan, but I was amazed at how so dense and twisted a film could grab me.

DavidEhrenstein said...

He's Mr. Dense and Twisted.

In many ways it's his 8 1/2 as he's surrounded by women. I love the perpetually burning house, and the tape recording he listens to at the end.

Just Another Film Buff said...

Wow, what a rally. Hope to catch up with some of those movies and "moments"

Thanks Ed!

Jake said...

Dave: That tape recorder bit at the end really shook me up. At first it just confused the hell out my, but by the time it reached the final word and the screen burst into white for a second, I was damn near as emotional as I was at any point during Eternal Sunshine. The way it was so matter-of-fact yet so sweet, all while juxtaposed against some pretty disturbing images was just astonishing. I hope he directs more of his own work.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I love the shot of the Zeppelin floating over the New York skyline.

It's clear to me that he's his won best director.