I’ve been a long-time fan and reader of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule for a while and I want to relax for a moment rather than rush myself into another reviewing schedule (though I do intend to keep reviewing – hopefully expect John Wick: Chapter Two tomorrow night and the imminent return of Twin Peaks this weekend with its status as possibly the last David Lynch work makes my return to the retrospective imperative) and give myself time to work on other projects beyond Motorbreath (one slightly related). So, I’ve been looking back on all of Dennis Collazzo’s famous quizzes he’d pass out and figure I’d indulge myself in all of them over the coming days as a denouement for me. I’ll be doing them in reverse chronological order starting with Professor Moriarty’s one.
Of course, I AM five months late on this particular quiz, where the questions are obviously of a type trying to look back on 2016 as a year and looking forward into 2017 (and a lot of the quizzes will have dated questions). But better late than never, amirite?
1) Best movie of 2016
Toni Erdmann has been the one that stuck with me most. That’s what happens when you spend an unnecessary amount of time with your dad months before watching that movie for the first time.
2) Worst movie of 2016
Yoga Hosers is misguided, unclear, and probably not entirely qualifying as a movie. Remember how terrible Will Smith’s attempt at nepotizing Jaden into a movie star? That’s what happening with Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp here and it’s… fucking awful. And the ineptitude of the film plus the Nazism just makes me think of this as Foodfight! in live-action.
3) Best actress of 2016
I’m gonna be supremely boring by saying Viola Davis in Fences. It’s not fair, right? This is a performance she had been playing for 13 straight weeks and so now she can do it in her sleep, but hey… she’s so good in it, it looks like she’s been playing that role for 13 years and never skipped a beat. And August Wilson is just an actor’s dream of an writer, one that I’m so damn jealous I can’t indulge in as a non-black actor. He and Viola Davis MAKE Rose.
4) Best actor of 2016
I’m gonna continue being boring by stating that it’s Casey Affleck’s performance in Manchester by the Sea. Which also continues the whole “they had a goddamn genius” writing with Kenneth Lonergan behind Affleck’s back, but then same as Davis, Affleck put a lot into the performance in his coiled and tensed up inability to look calm.
5) What movie from 2016 would you prefer not hearing another word about? Why?
Ghostbusters. I literally do not give a fuck about that movie anymore and yet it’s still hella brought up by angry white boys as “feminist propaganda” (which it’s so not) and one of the worst things to ever happen to movies (which it’s not, it’s just a forgettable movie). If Ghostbusters 2016 is one of the worst movies you’ve ever seen, you’re going to be ok.
6) Second-favorite Olivier Assayas movie
The slick and pointedly unsexy demonlover is so damn good, it’s strange to call it second best, but that’s cause Irma Vep is the goodest, know what I’m saying?
7) Miriam Hopkins or Kay Francis?
Trouble in Paradise is good enough to make Hopkins number one all day every day. (Author’s Note, October 2020: My answer still remains Hopkins, but the explanation is – obviously – an extremely vapid dilettante moment on my part. They’re both banging in Trouble in Paradise.)
8) What’s the story of your first R-rated movie?
My very first fragment of an R-rated movie was watching my mom and her friend browsing through movie channels and being on Bram Stoker’s Dracula… RIGHT as Lucy was being mauled to death by Wolf-Dracula and talking about it until just after they decapitate vampire Lucy. Intense shit.
My first full R-rated movie watching was a TV-edited cut of Air Force One with my family one night.
Ironically, my parents were pretty damn strict on me not watching R-rated movies until I was 17 (hell, my dad didn’t even want me watching PG-13 most of the time). The first time I was able to actually watch an R-rated movie uncensored without any problems was Watchmen in theaters.
9) What movie from any era that you haven’t yet seen would you be willing to resolve to see before this day next year?
I just got a message from my library that my request of Rumble Fish arrived so I’ll be picking that up immediately after I post it. One of my Francis Ford Coppola gaps, but I have three critic friends who hold this as among their favorite movies (one of them has it as his number one) and my co-workers from a film festival I worked at told me recently that during a screening they attended Rusty James reminded them of me.
I haven’t the slightest idea why.
10) Second-favorite Pedro Almodovar movie
One of my favorite filmmakers of all time and yet it’s with some quickness I point to Talk to Her being my number-two as a perverse and yet sincere portrayal of love. My number one remains the utterly sweet All About My Mother.
11) What movie do you think comes closest to summing up or otherwise addressing the qualities of 2016?
I wanna say Ghostbusters again, in all of its forgettability but I just said I didn’t want to mention it. So I guess I’ll lean into calling out Deadpool. I will let you figure out what I mean by that… I think it sounds petty god.
12) Chris Pine or Chris Pratt?
Until the end of 2014, I would have said Pratt without skipping a beat, but now the fun of his screen presence has worn out in record time (Jurassic World is a far step away from Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie), while Pine – a previously frustrating actor based on his bland performance as Captain Kirk – somehow turned right around into being one of my favorite things about the middling Into the Woods and giving an astonishingly earthy and conflicted performance in last years’ Hell or High Water. So yeah, I’m gonna have to give it to Pine here.
Plus his third turn as Kirk in Beyond felt like a person finally.
13) Your favorite movie theater, presently or from the past
God, I reserve the right to change this answer upon finally running into The Music Box in Chicago, but my favorite theater I’ve been to in recent years was The Metrograph in New York City that just opened up.
However… I kind of want to be real and say I think spending more time away from Phoenix, Arizona has made me realize just how much I miss the smaller kinds of theaters that don’t look fancy or only play arthouse works. If I were picking my favorite theater that I’ve been too, I might be inclined to pick the strip mall Pollack Tempe Cinemas that generally played second-run movies for like 4 bucks and would usually involve me taking a two hour walk home (as I liked to do at night) that allowed me to think about what I just watched. Alongside the fact that they’d do monthly cult classic screenings and always have these weird ass celebrity statues. And it was so bright and pink. Honestly, I’m getting nostalgic thinking about it.
14) Favorite movie involving a family celebration
I literally skipped this question to give myself time to think and I can’t stop thinking about Muppets from Space‘s finale – Gonzo’s alien family being the chorus to “Celebration” – so… I guess that’s my answer. Even though I haven’t seen the movie since I was a kid.
15) Second-favorite Paul Schrader movie
I am not at all crazy about Paul Schrader, but I guess I’ll lean to Affliction with Mishima: A Story in Four Chapters taking number one.
16) Ruth Negga or Hayley Atwell?
This is kind of unfair. I only just found out Negga exists last year and to date I have only seen one of her film performances (Loving, I’m pretty much way too hesitant to watch Preacher though I did see the pilot episode). Hayley Atwell on the other hand has been hella fun in pretty much everything I’ve seen her in since 2008 (and I’m very very sad Agent Carter was cancelled before I had a chance to watch it). So I shall give it to Atwell for now, but I’m looking damn forward to digging more into Negga’s career.
17) Last three movies you saw, in any format
Cool As Ice on 35mm – Absolutely spectacular fun to watch with a group of people who can make fun of how ridiculous Vanilla Ice’s persona was.
Excalibur on HBO – The Best King Arthur Movie. Period. (Ironically I was making this case to a few friends just hours before seeing it was on HBO and deciding to drop my shit to watch it).
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg on Blu-Ray (itself the second part of a double feature with La La Land)
18) Your first X-rated, or porn movie?
God, is it really Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?. I don’t really watch porn movies (Paylin was a curiosity and has nothing that promises I should keep watching them) and I don’t think Midnight Cowboy or A Clockwork Orange count as X-rated.
19) Richard Boone or Charles McGraw?
I’ve seen several Charles McGraw films and nothing consciously of Richard Boone’s so, McGraw.
20) Second-favorite Chan-wook Park movie
See now… that’s an answer I keep tossing and flipping over. No matter what, Oldboy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance always are in my top two Park Chan-wook movies, it’s just the order that depends on my mood. Sometimes I want the overt exploitative poeticism of Oldboy, sometimes I’m in the mood for the nihilistic grit of Mr. Vengeance.
21) Movie that best encompasses or expresses loneliness
I’m looking forward to spending my 25th Birthday next month eating canned pineapples in order to reflect upon Chungking Express.
22) What’s your favorite movie to watch with your best friend?
I will never be less grateful than having the chance to watch the great Miami Connection with my friend Josh and introducing it to him surrounded by other friends of mine and able to get into how ridiculously fantastic it is.
Between Cool as Ice and Miami Connection, I guess the moral is “watch shitty movies with your friends”. It works af.
23) Who’s the current actor you most look forward to seeing in 2017?
Nicole Kidman essentially owns 2017 doesn’t she? With The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Top of the Lake, and Big Little Lies. Is there really any other possible answer?
24) Your New Year’s wish for the movies
52 Films by Women at the end of the year. And watch some good shit, please do not be like last year.