Still rolling through the 2010s lists – I’m hoping to have the Best and Worst Posters of the 2010s up tomorrow – but just provide myself a little cooldown, I once again look to the reliable surveys of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and lookee here, they even have one relevant to the quarantining happening ’round town. Let’s dive into Dean Wormer’s little questionnaire.
1) You’re on a desert island (and you sort of are)—What three discs do you select out of your own collection to keep if you had to get rid of all the rest?
Very wise loophole-proofing this by saying it has to be “discs” because whoah would a whole lot of box sets be selected otherwise. I guess I’d go with the Criterion blu-rays I have of The Passion of Joan of Arc, Tokyo Story, and the FOX blu-ray of Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. I do it for the culture, in case they are destroyed outside of my little island.
2) Giuletta Masina or Jeanne Moreau?
I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier version of these “this or that” questions in these surveys. Giulietta Masina is adorable, gave us two of the best screen performances of all time, and honestly reminds me of one of my ex-girlfriends (specifically her performance in La Strada), so that is a no brainer for me.
3) Second-favorite Roger Corman movie.
This is kind of tough because my actual favorite Roger Corman switches often, so depending on the day, it could either be The Little Shop of Horrors or The Haunted Palace (I of course assume this is referring to Corman-directed rather than Corman-produced). I think I’ll go with The Haunted Palace today because I’m REALLY feeling Horrors‘ sense of humor, but come tomorrow….
4) The most memorable place you ever saw a movie. This could be a film projected on a big screen or seen in some other fashion—the important thing is what makes it memorable.
Definitely feel like this would be a good place to talk about how Pollack Tempe Cinemas is my favorite movie theater that I have ever encountered, but I don’t think that’s nearly all that unorthodox a location to watch a movie. I don’t know if a bar is an unorthodox place to watch one either, but I don’t know how you’d manage it with the sound and I can’t think of anywhere else that’s interesting than the time about a year and a half ago when a friend (Big up, A-S-) was showing me this horror punk bar in downtown Savannah called The Jinx and The Warriors was playing on the tv above the bar. We ended up watching the whole thing – not hearing a single line of dialogue (I explained any relevant exposition to my friends – also big up L-C- – as it was their first time watching it) – except for the wild hardcore punk playlist that bar had on its PA system which fit very well with its aesthetic.
5) Marcello Mastroianni or Vittorio Gassman?
Mastroianni. I just like his style more. This was tougher than I make it sound, but Mastroianni looking at someone from above his sunglasses is just the slickest.
6) Second-favorite Kelly Reichardt movie.
Y’know, a while ago Old Joy would have been my pick for favorite but a recent rewatch of Meek’s Cutoff made me seriously re-evaluate the later film hard enough to dethrone Joy down to second place, so at least it still gets acknowledgement up in here.
7) In the matter of taste, is there a film or director that, if your partner in a relationship (wife/husband/lover/best friend) disagreed violently with your assessment of it, might cause a serious rift in that relationship?
I don’t see myself getting close to anyone who would be in a position to disagree VIOLENTLY with me on a movie-related subject (it sounds like dating myself, which sounds exhausting), but I will say that I don’t think I could possibly maintain a relationship with someone who categorically rejects the work of Ernst Lubitsch. Like if I show them the movie and they’re like “that was garbage, why would you show me that?” I’m showing them something else: the door.
8) The last movie you saw in a theater/on physical media/via streaming (list one each).
In a Theater: Ride Your Wave via semi-illicit means although my last proper movie exhibition in a theater was Emma. the night just before AMC shut down for COVID.
On Physical Media: I kind of fell asleep to The Good, the Bad, the Ugly because it was late at night. Looking forward to rectifying that soon since it’s too perfect of a movie not to complete, no matter how many times I’ve already seen it.
Streaming: Love in the Afternoon, where Gary Cooper tries a role that was definitely made for Cary Grant and in turn makes it way too obvious what their differences are.
9) Name a movie that you just couldn’t face watching right now.
I am constantly THIS close to rewatching Shoah before I rewatch The Last of the Unjust for my Best of the 2010s catch-up and I frequently find myself saying “y’know, just because I have the time doesn’t mean I HAVE to watch a 9-hour Holocaust doc. I could just get to the 4-hour one that’s not as a upsetting.”
10) Jane Greer or Ava Gardner?
It took me time to get used to Greer in Out of the Past, but no such issue with Gardner in Night of the Iguana, so the latter’s had a headstart to win this.
11) Edmond O’Brien or Van Heflin?
Edmond O’Brien because he looks as zoned out at life as I do.
12) Second favorite Yasujiro Ozu movie.
13) Name a proposed American remake of an international film that would, if actually undertaken, surely court or inevitably result in disaster.
I don’t even like Akira that much but seriously… Akira.
14) What’s a favorite film that you consider genuinely subversive, for whatever reason?
I don’t have to give the reasons that Psycho is subversive, do I? I’m too lazy to think of a less obvious answer.
15) Name the movie score you couldn’t live without.
Joe Hisaishi’s score for Hana-bi has long been a comfort blanket for me before I even ended up seeing the film. I’d like to say The Umbrellas of Cherbourg but I don’t think it would bring me down from certain experiences the way that Hana-bi‘s score does.
16) Mary-Louise Weller or Martha Smith?
I mean, I’m basically being asked to pick between their Animal House characters and while they’re both attractive, only Babs gets me to Universal Studios.
17) Peter Riegert or Bruce McGill?
I’m very much tempted to disqualify McGill just for the awfulness of FDR: American Badass but then I remember how much ownage he delivered in that one courtroom scene in The Insider and I wipe that smirk off my face and admit McGill is the dopest.
18) Last Tango in Paris—yes or no?
I hardly remember anything about the movie except how awfully Bertolucci exploited Maria Schneider so I can’t say yes, but I also feel like I should remember more about the movie before I say no.
19) Second-favorite Akira Kurosawa movie.
Ran. Asking this question is akin to asking the second-best movie in the world, to be honest.
20) Who would host the imaginary DVD commentary you would most want to hear right now, and what would the movie be?
I cannot imagine that the future Criterion release of The Other Side of the Wind won’t include Peter Bogdanovich getting down on the commentary and I sure hope so.
21) Favorite movie snack.
It used to be Dots, but I haven’t had them in a long while. (Author’s Note: I have since left to get some).
22) Second-favorite Planet of the Apes film (from the original cycle).
If you hadn’t specified from the original cycle, I’d be dropping Dawn up in here. Instead I’m going with Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which I also feel is the best-shot and that’s probably not a coincidence.
23) Least-favorite Martin Scorsese movie.
24) Name a movie you feel doesn’t deserve its current reputation, for better or worse.
I feel like it’s probably believable that more filmmakers in the early American industry saw The Birth of a Nation than Cabiria – even if Cabiria pre-dates it, even as movie watched at the White House – but we’re really telling on ourselves by choosing to establish the Klan agitprop film as the foundational text of long-form narrative cinema.
25) Best movie of 1970. (Fifty years ago!)
I’m worried that I’m forgetting something when I say The Conformist, but it is probably The Conformist.
26) Name a movie you think is practically begging for a Broadway adaptation (I used this question in the last quiz, but I’m repeating it because I never answered the quiz myself and I think I have a pretty good answer)
*shifts eyes around to make sure nobody is listening* …Suspiria.
You can’t tell me it’s impossible to make a good Suspiria adaptation for Broadway. You’d need somebody who really is tuned-in to the material, though.
27) Louise Brooks or Clara Bow?
Louise Brooks. Made a bigger first impression with me than the It Girl. Dream of both in black and white, though.
28) Second-favorite Pier Paolo Pasolini movie.
29) Name three movies you loved in your early years that you feel most influenced your adult cinematic tastes.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
30) Name a movie you love that you think few others do.
Full Frontal. Which is a-ok, I get to play with it more.
31) Name a movie you despise that you think most others love.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I absolutely do not understand the love people have for it. I hear them claim that it’s misunderstood because it’s a comedy, but that doesn’t get us past the point where the movie is just not funny. And unfunny comedies are the worst things in the world.
32) The Human Centipede—yes or no?
Still haven’t seen it. Not really on my watchlist. I’m gonna assume the NO position for now.
33) Anya Taylor-Joy or Olivia Cooke?
Anya Taylor-Joy, who I have been obsessed with since The Witch. Meanwhile I am haven’t yet been brought on-board the Olivia Cooke train, but I could be convinced eventually.
34) Johnny Flynn or Timothée Chalamet?
Johnny Flynn. I’m really not into the Chalamet hype at this point, he’s not a good actor, he’s just some twink y’all are over obsessed with because twigs make you thirsty.
35) Second-favorite Dorothy Arzner movie.
Dance, Girl, Dance
36) Name a movie you haven’t seen in over 20 years that you would drop everything to watch right now.
“In over 20 years” is a very hard call to make, especially considering that I was a kid back then. I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen City on Fire the one time before I was ten years old and would definitely like to revisit it knowing the sort of influence it has on Hong Kong crime cinema and Quentin Tarantino’s storytelling.
37) Name your favorite stylistic filmmaking cliché, and one you wouldn’t mind seeing disappear forever.
You can never over-oversaturate your colors for me, I want colors when I go the movies before I want anything else.
Meanwhile, anybody who is still shooting features with iPhones are my mortal enemy forever. If Steven Soderbergh couldn’t accomplish it, that means it’s the devil.
38) Your favorite appearance by a real-life politician in a feature film, either fictional or a fictionalized account of a real event.
I don’t like at all when politicians do this. I think it adds way too much to the current memification of politics which makes me want to set stuff on fire. The closest I am to fine with it is Saadi Yacef essentially playing himself in The Battle of Algiers, especially considering how it involves an event he was personally involved with and especially since that movie is propaganda anyway (my nationality may also explain my leniency on this one).
39) Is film criticism dead?
Absolutely not. I have been feeling like it’s on the edge for nearly 6 years now, but to be quite honest, I don’t see it ever disappearing fully no matter how dry the money gets. The only thing people want to do with movies more than watch them is to talk about them and there’s no other way that the conversation can actually expand into the rest of the world.
I do feel like we’re leaning more and more into a trend of focusing on the material rather than the aesthetic craft itself that breaks my heart, but whatever keeps the conversation going…
40) Elizabeth Patterson or Marjorie Main?
Marjorie Main. She’s been in more movies I love.
41) Arch Hall Jr. or Timothy Carey?
I have sadly seen no movies with Arch Hall Jr., but looking into his wikipedia page, it sounds like he would absolutely be my jam, so I need to rectify this immediately.
No offense to Carey as one of our most unforgettable character actors, but whoah what style on Archie there.
42) Name the film you think best fulfills the label “road movie.”
“The Road Movie“, I declare with a giant grin.
But impishness aside, I am inclined to go with Y tu Mamá Tambien.
43) Horror film that, for whatever reason, made you feel most uncomfortable?
Wolf Creek for all the obvious reasons.
44) Least-favorite (directed by) Clint Eastwood movie.
The 15:17 to Paris, oh my word. Eastwood is the last director who should be working with non-actors and it was also the least-baked of his “interrogating a hero” films that he’s in the current phase of making.
45) Second-favorite James Bond villain.
If we’re counting TV movies then Peter Lorre’s version of Le Chiffre from the television Casino Royale. If we’re not, then Goooooooooldfingah!
46) Best adaptation of a novel or other form that had been thought to be unfilmable.
Cloud Atlas specifically because – in addition to its boundless ambition – instead of trying to adapt the structure of the novel, it opts to use the power of the cut to have an experiential thoroughline instead.
47) Michelle Dockery or Merritt Wever?
I must confess to being hardly familiar with either actor – I especially have never seen either of their popular TV show performances (though I have seen the Downton Abbey movie) – but in terms of appeal, I do dig Dockery. She’s also the single redeeming factor of the horrible experience that was The Gentlemen.
48) Jason Bateman or Ewan McGregor?
I lied. THIS is the easiest “This or That” question that SLIFR has ever posited to me. McGregor, by far. The only thing Jason Bateman did that has retained a place of pride in my head is Arrested Development. McGregor is constantly entertaining me, no matter how bad the movie surrounding him is.
49) Second-favorite Roman Polanski movie.
50) What’s the movie you wish you could watch with a grandparent right now? And, of course, why?
3/4 of my grandparents are dead, one of them died before I even met him. Of the ones I know or knew, none of them were really into movies that I could tell. Maybe The Quiet Man might appeal to at least one of them, possibly my single living grandmother.
51) Oliver Stone two-fer: Natural Born Killers and/or JFK—yes or no?
No to Natural Born Killers. Yes to JFK.
52) Name the actor whose likeness you would proudly wear as a rubber latex Halloween mask.
Vincent Price. At which point I would remove my Vincent Price mask to reveal Dr. Phibes! It’s a perfect Halloween idea!
53) Your favorite cinematographer, and her/his greatest achievement.
Oh my word, that is such a tough question. My kneejerk is to say Emmanuel Lubezki (in which case his achievement is Knight of Cups, in my opinion) but I don’t want to seem basic and I would like to throw onto this holy trinity Gordon Willis (The Godfather Part II being his achievement) and Miyagawa Kazuo (Yojimbo being his best achievement).
54) Best book about the nitty-gritty making of a movie.
I don’t know about best because there is a whole lot of great stuff out there, but Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist was such an impressive little combination of character study, conflict, and making-of behind-the-scenes and it was quite the thrilling read for that reason.
The Jaws Log, The Making of The Wizard of Oz, Future Noir, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, and Breaking In: How 20 Directors Got Their Start are definitely close runner-ups for me.
55) If you needed to laugh right now, what would be your go-to movie comedy?
Duck Soup. Always a new joke I catch with that one.