Obviously, I have been in the middle of just trying to smash through all of the previously existent old quizzes for Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and lo and behold just in time for Halloween, Dennis has provided us with a new one so I don’t have to pretend it’s 2012 or 2005 or what have you for this one. Let’s go ahead and dive right in.

1) Ricky Vaughan or Nuke LaLoosh? (question courtesy of our main Maine monster, Patrick Robbins)

Quite unforgivably, I haven’t seen Major League yet despite baseball being my favorite movie sport (being not born in America, my favorite sport in general is football… World Cup football, not Super Bowl football). Bull Durham is one of the reasons baseball is such the case and so Nuke wins by default, but also that character is a douchebag so I need to see Major League soon so I can change my answer. Team Crash all the way.

2) Best moment in the Friday the 13th film series.

Oh hey and just in the middle of my diving into the beautiful new Shout! Blu-Ray set (I expect that’s why this question is here). I want to say it’s the sleeping bag death in The New Blood, but that seems like the easiest answer so I will go with that one shot in Friday the 13th Part 2‘s climax where Ginny gets in that random cabin and you see Jason running towards her through a window in the background. Or really the whole sequence because what she finds and uses when she gets into the next room is also awesome. Spoilers for that YouTube clip.

3) Henry Hull or Oliver Reed?

This is kind of an unfair question, not only because Oliver Reed in general is so obviously a superior actor with more longevity but also because Reed’s alcoholic ass is like… the ideal actor to have play a werewolf (given that “who was the better werewolf is the REAL question I think is being asked here?”). I mean my answer is still Reed’s imposing masculinity (even if Curse of the Werewolf is slightly worse overall than Werewolf of London) but I want to give Hull love for playing a real awful son of a bitch even before his character became a werewolf.

4) What is the last movie you saw in a theater?

Wide release, it’s Tenet, a fact of which I am quite ashamed of (not because of the movie, it’s great but this is the worst fucking time to go to theaters) and it will definitely remain Tenet for the time being.

(In terms of not “wide release” but “used access to a movie theater that is obviously not being used to watch something”, my last movie proper was Survival Skills as part of watching of the Nightstream film festival programs).

5) Best movie casting for a real-life baseball player, or best casting of a real-life baseball player in a movie.

For the first question, I don’t know too many movie castings of baseball biopics that I like to begin with but it is not faint praise to say Chadwick Boseman was extraordinary as Jackie Robinson in 42.

For the second question (and damn you for disqualifying tv because The Simpsons and Curb Your Enthusiasm have some excellent ones), I’m only thinking of Derek Jeter getting shot by Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys which is only the latest in a long line of hate crimes by that Boston Bastard and it totally suits him to play a piece of shit cop who shoots a black man.

6) D.B. Sweeney or Ray Liotta?

Don’t care for both as actors in general, but once again the real question here is “Who was the better Shoeless Joe?” and that’s definitely Sweeney in Eight Men Out.

7) Given that the fear factor in 2020 is already alarmingly high, is there a film or a genre which you would hesitate to revisit right now?

Believe it or not, no. In fact, I’ve been taking this time to watch or rewatch more existentially draining pictures and it doesn’t make me feel bad to watch those (movies that make me uncomfortable, my pause is extended no matter when the fuck they exist). Whatever’s happening is happening and I do what I can to help and outside of that, I watch what I want.

Meanwhile, I did try to watch Justified for the first time and while I’m sure it’s gonna be my jam… I made the mistake of trying it this past June and decided that “nah, this opening scene is not for me right now”.

8) The Natural (1984)– yes or no?

Yes, though that movie is way too weird for what it’s trying to be.

9) Peter Cushing or Colin Clive?

Peter Cushing. Better Dr. Frankenstein and better actor without even fucking trying. I don’t even have to second guess this.

10) What’s the lamest water-cooler hit you can think of? Of course, define “lamest” however you will, but for “water-cooler hit” Dr. Savaard is thinking about something zeitgeist-y, something everyone was talking about the weekend it opened and beyond, something everyone seemingly had to see—The Other Side of Midnight residing at #1 in 1977 for two weeks is not what the professor has in mind.

The first two Meet the Parents movies (so also Meet the Fockers). It was good for pretending I was an adult when I was 8 and 12 but once I rewatched them as an adult, I was just like “get the fuck outta here”.

11) Greatest single performance in horror movie history.

Boris Karloff’s two-film arc as the Monster in Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, full of humanity and confusion and tragedy and all that jazz while being this big scary brute. It is exactly the sort of performance that earns our fascination and identification with the movie monsters and honestly just thinking about the way he says “We belong dead” gets me chills.

12) Ingrid Pitt or the Collinson Twins?

I have never seen Twins of Evil or any of the movies the Collinson Twins have been in so Ingrid Pitt wins by default.

13) Name one lesser-known horror film that you think everyone should see. State your reason.

Lake Mungo since it’s the most recent horror movie discovery I’ve made and it’s genuinely shattering as an experience: even without the verisimilitude of its mockumentary presentation, it is equal parts chilling and heartwrenching.

14) Do the same for an underseen or underappreciated baseball movie.

Eight Men Out didn’t make back its budget so I’ll go with that one.

15) William Bendix or Leslie Nielsen?

This is tough. Nielsen has lower lows (barring that I haven’t seen Bendix’s infamous Babe Ruth biopic) but his umpire performance in The Naked Gun is much funnier to me than Bendix’s otherwise charming turn in Kill the Umpire so I guess I’ll give it to Nielsen.

16) Would you go back to a theater this weekend if one reopened near you?

The Music Box is in fact open right now and nope, I’m good.

17) Your favorite horror movie TV show/host, either running currently or one from the past.

Svengoolie, as I prove to be thankful that even before I moved to Chicago, Phoenix was receiving him at the time when I was in undergrad.

18) The Sentinel (1977)—yes or no?

Haven’t seen it but I have been interested since I was a teenager.

19) Second-favorite Ron Shelton movie.

Tin Cup is the only other Ron Shelton I’ve seen (besides the afore-mentioned Bull Durham), but I have been interested in White Men Can’t Jump for decades (a childhood friend had it as his favorite movie and also Stanley Kubrick had it as one of his favorite movies, so no better two people to recommend it).

20) Disclaimer warnings attached to broadcasts of films like Gone With the Wind and Blazing Saddles— yes or no?

Absolutely. I don’t see how it hurts anyone to let them know what they are going into and allow them to decide on what they want to watch based on that. As someone who rejects presentism in his approach to art, I’m happy to give everyone the benefit of the doubt in assuming they understand how times have changed and contexts (the latter of which disclaimers could totally do well to educate others on) but that doesn’t mean we have to eschew basic consideration of others and what they would be uncomfortable with. Anybody who would have a problem with disclaimers is being a snowflake.

21) In the World Series of baseball movies, who are your NL and AL champs?

I have no idea how we are determining what’s a National League and what’s an American League baseball movie but I guess A League of Their Own will be NL and Bull Durham will be AL.

22) What was the last horror film you saw?

Hour of the Wolf tonight in an attempt to dig through all the Ingmar Bergman. How fortunate that I got to this one in October.

23) Geena Davis or Tatum O’Neal?

Ohhhhhhh this one is very hard. I think O’Neal is the better overall actor (or at least she was in her childhood) and I love her turn in The Bad News Bears (since the angle to this question is their baseball movies, for sure) but Geena Davis in A League of Their Own is a scene-stealer even up against Tom Hanks of all actors and her movie is also comfort for me in a way that The Bad News Bears isn’t (… yet) so Davis takes this one.

24) AMC is now renting theaters for $100 – $350, promising a more “private,” catered party-movie experience. What do you like or dislike about this idea? 

Obviously I like that it gives folks a chance to watch a movie as it’s meant to be seen and let’s you and your friends pool together for a movie night. But what I really don’t like (other than the fact any gathering in public is a risk, even with your friends) is how it removes the opportunity for a legitimate communal response to a movie the way that only a full theater with others watching something for the first time could provide. 10 buddies that you personally know what they like or are into is not going to match up with the pleasant surprise and the real influence of 40 or 50 strangers in the shadows that are live and near you that you know nothing about and will probably never encounter again… it’s made even the shittiest movies feel like a shared experience.

25) Name the scariest performance in a baseball movie.

The only possible contender to this that I can think of is Robert De Niro in The Fan.

26) Second-favorite Jack Arnold movie.

The Incredible Shrinking Man, second to Creature from the Black Lagoon.

27) What would be the top five films of 2020 you’ve seen so far?

  1. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)
  2. Ride Your Wave (Yuasa Masaaki)
  3. Tenet (Christopher Nolan)
  4. Emma. (Autumn de Wilde)
  5. The Fall (Jonathan Glazer)

So it’s not a particularly bad top five considering the year. But it’s also just sad that I haven’t encountered a true five-star movie this year yet. Maybe First Cow could get a curve later.

28) What are your top three pandemic-restricted movie viewing experiences so far in this… unusual year?

  1. Five friends and I joining in for a 24 hour marathon of weird genre films in my living room last month as our last time together before I moved up here to Chicago (The movies were – in order of playing – Hercules in New York, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Wizard of Speed and Time, Tremors, Dolls, The Creeping Terror, The Last Dragon, Crippled Avengers, The Room, Flash Gordon, The Gong Show Movie, Troll 2, Miami Connection, and King Kong). Shout out to Josh (yes, that Josh), K.C., Houston (whose last name I realize I don’t know), A.N., and V.P.
  2. Watching and interacting via kosmi streaming and text with my friend L.C. in the middle of the night with a random comfort blanket watch of Pokémon Detective Pikachu as they became a deep believer of the power of the CGI Pikachu’s cuteness (we have added friends to later kosmi watches – Shout out F.G., A.Y., and C.B. – that were fun as well but nothing beats the sudden whim of the Pikachu, baybee!)
  3. Watching Mad Max: Fury Road at the Swap Shop Drive-In and just gushing with J.A.B. over how fucking perfect that is and how awesome it feels to watch it while sitting in a fucking car.

Close honorable mention(s):
– Seeing The Color Out of Space at midnight at the Coral Gables Art Cinema in January and the unspoken sense of ceremony to it all as Josh (yes, that Josh again!) brought his brother, many of my friends decided on the spot to just attend as well (and a few others I just ran into there), the same J.A.B. above introduced the film, and I even ran into all of which I think the film mostly lived up to in its cosmic horror atmosphere even despite the areas where it disappointed me.
– Watching Satantango‘s new 4K release (which is reminding me to order that on Blu-Ray) just before the pandemic hit. Just taking 3 seatings in one day to really settle in that 9 hour dive and feeling everybody else around me sink into the movie as well (and from what it sounded like, I was the only attendee at that screening who saw the movie before).
– Breaking out my new 3D home setup by watching the 2009 My Bloody Valentine remake and having a ball with the ridiculous gore effects in my face.

Does not qualify but would probably be number two if it did:
Watching the Oscars at the crowded-ass Metrograph Theater with my homies J.D. and G.C. and feeling the entire building fucking rumble with every win that Parasite got up until Best Picture made us fear that nobody was walking out the door alive. I swear that moment was more hype than any New Year’s celebration I’ve ever been to.

Forgive me for going overboard with my answers here but it reminds me that it’s not just watching movies that gets me in love with them. It’s the act of watching movies.

Magic City on the Silver Screen

A bit of personal news: I am moving once again this weekend, this time to the Chicago area and with no intention of moving back to Miami (which is not the same thing as not going back for holidays and what not, most of my family is here, y’see…). With such an anticipated event as fully lifting off out of this city finally occurring, it marked an occasion to finally do something I’ve been often considering but never jumped on: a list of movies that I feel represent Miami as I’ve known it for most of my life.

The bad news is that… well… most of the movies set in Miami aren’t shot in Miami (the city has particularly shown its ass with regards to film production incentives) and most of the movies shot in Miami… are not good. So I don’t particularly take this to be an endorsement of all the movies in question and I’m going to be breaking this down into a few categories before I reach a top ten of my favorite cinematic representations of Miami as a city.

Movie I Definitely Feel I Should Have Seen Before Committing to This: Wild Things (1998, John McNaughton, USA)
From all the things I hear about it, it is the sort of tawdry that South Florida’s public image is tailor-made for as well as being a pretty thorough look at the Coconut Grove and Key Biscayne area. But I ain’t seen it, so I can’t confirm that.
(Second place goes to Chef. And I do have to admit that despite him being a longtime son of Miami that also doubled as its criminal historian, I have not seen a single Billy Corben film).

Movie with a Frustrating Lack of Clarity to its Title: Miami Connection (1987, Richard Park & Y.K. Kim, USA)
Indeed, it breaks MY heart too when I have to explain to others that just because Miami is in the title doesn’t mean it takes place in Miami – opening skyline and establishing shot with Coral Gables in neon lights aside – and that the “connection” is a drug source term. You don’t see The French Connection being set in France (actually parts of it are set in France and parts of this movie are set in Miami but nothing shot in Miami).

The Usual Suspects That Don’t Do It for Me:
Scarface (1983, Brian De Palma, USA)
For the blunt truth that the movie wasn’t shot in Miami and maybe it’s just me but it ALWAYS looked like Los Angeles-by-way-of-Miami to me. Sorry to all the 305-based lovers.

Miami Vice (2006, Michael Mann, USA & Germany)
Even outside of Miami friends who love this movie, this has been earning something of a reappraisal and I just don’t get it. It’s just too visually ugly for little payoff that I can’t get into its representing of the city. It’s clear between this movie and Collateral that Mann and Dion Beebe have more to give with Los Angeles’ streets than Miami’s.

Out of Sight (1996, Steven Soderbergh, USA)
The hardest to take out but I honestly only recognize like… one scene in Miami itself and the rest of it looks very much like Los Angeles. Feels like they gave more fidelity to Detroit as a city in the second half than Miami in the first half – though it was hot enough for regular summertime fare in Miami nights.

So Close but No Cigar – The Broward County Selections:

10. Notorious (1946, Alfred Hitchcock, USA) – It’s Hitchcock so it’s obviously a soundstage being rear projected, but it’s rear projected with the most romantically deco look of Miami’s beaches circa the 1940s when it felt most like a discovered escape. Perfect backdrop for a romance-turned-thriller.

9. Caddyshack (1980, Harold Ramis, USA) – A confession that is going to possibly get this list shouted at by anyone else in Miami – I’m including Broward-shot movies. Part of the metropolitan area so my conscience is… mostly clear. Anyway, try as Ramis did to make it look like a Midwestern setting, it was impossible not to recognize the extremely bright hot Ft. Lauderdale grass and the flopsweat that all the privileged snobs of the numerous gold courses and yacht clubs would take so that I took extra heart to watching them made the butt of a million jokes as a teenager. Key Biscayne doesn’t look like a Great Lake on the water, it looks like Key Biscayne.

8. Body Heat (1981, Lawrence Kasdan, USA) – The other Broward movie I worked in (and to be clear, I’m very fond of both and would have them much much higher if they weren’t Broward). Particularly the way that Kasdan and company use Miami as the heated wet beach backdrop for some extremely steamy material that visually lends the outrageous sweltering sexy stickiness of the premise and its characters. Probably the best usage of the Miami area, Dade-County or not, but I am a man of my principles.

7. The Transporter 2 (2005, Louis Letterier, France) – A lot of it specifically on the merit of its car chase sequences. Virtually none of which provides much fidelity to the geography of the city itself but much of it taking enough time to capture the ridiculous boxy angles of the streets of South Beach and the perpetual state of construction for like every five buildings in certain places – almost certainly set to be another fucking parking garage.

6. The Bad Boys trilogy (1995-2020, Michael Bay/Ardi El Arbi & Billal Fallah, USA) – The latter of these is the least deserving – shot mostly in Atlanta – but any movie that takes care to include Mac’s Deuce Club or Calle Ocho deserves to be considered. As for the first two, they aren’t necessarily the worst movies on this list (ok maybe Bad Boys II is), but you can definitely tell that Michael Bay is a Miami resident at heart who was specifically seduced by the imagery of the city, trying to catch THIS landmark and THAT landmark simply because he has the money to act like he owns the place. Where else would a man pretend that a pair of cops could afford a high rise in Brickell or a house on Sunset Island. On a cop’s fucking salary. This is high-imagination luxury porn on the beach.
(I will humbly confess that the extended car chase on the MacArthur Causeway with the flipping cars is possibly my favorite setpiece in all of Michael Bay’s filmography).

5. Moonlight (2016, Barry Jenkins, USA) – Sure, I still hold angrily towards its depiction of a magical transit system that could definitely take Chiron from Liberty City to South Beach without any issue and I do hold that James Laxton’s color work does try to aestheticize Liberty Square in a way that I don’t find very interesting, but it’s a story told from the perspectives of two inhabitants of Liberty City – director/co-writer Jenkins and co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney. They’re so clear-eyed about the state of the community and its isolation while recognizing what about it would repress or enable or nourish personalities like Little, Chiron, or Black’s in quiet ways, the sort of manner that comes from a life lived in these walls recognizing the good and bad they brought out of it. Overall, it illuminates what is a near-invisible side of Miami to most that it feels essential an entry on this list.

4. Step Up Revolution (2012, Scott Speer, USA) – If you have to ask me if I believe the loud dance movie about flash mobs in Miami that is part of a franchise that remains one of my deepest guilty pleasures represents to me the vibrancy and obnoxiousness of Miami in balanced measures… you’ll never know me.

3. Invasion U.S.A. (1985, Joseph Zito, USA) – Speaking of deep guilty pleasures for yours truly… Miami Connection‘s disqualification can be forgiven when I am able to include a Chuck Norris vehicle produced by Cannon Films. The excellent excessive 80s action movie would have to spill over beautifully in Miami (too bad it didn’t work out as well in Band of the Hand) where we get streets filled with tanks and shootouts in Dadeland Mall playing out like my childhood daydreams of being a badass while destroying the city as collateral damage.

2. River of Grass (1994, Kelly Reichardt, USA) – I’m possibly going to jump on a Reichardt retrospective for First Cow if I have time later this year, so excuse me if I try to restrain myself but what really impresses me about River of Grass is how it sees Miami’s highways the same manner that I did – a tangle of manmade constructs imposing on fields of green and brown, far from the famous blue of the East Coast and driving us deeper and deeper into an isolated grassy wetland border away from cities and people that honestly make me feel me more isolated than when I drive for 3 or 4 hours through I-75 to Tampa or Sarasota. Wisely, Reichardt never came back to Miami once she bounced after this film (I remember a local screening of this movie’s new restoration that she couldn’t even be convinced to attend) but I’m glad she had one chance to treat this city the same way she treats Portland on the screen.

  1. Miami Blues (1990, George Armitage, USA) – 7 years before he ended up making a movie about a sociopath trying to deal with life in Grosse Point, Armitage provided a movie about a sociopath trying to deal with life in Miami and… I feel very seen. First off by how Tak Fujimoto’s cinematography lives up to the “Blues” in the title by visually overt ways, by the manner in which the movie captures the most boring and suburban side of Miami (I believe it’s the only movie besides Invasion USA‘s Dadeland sequence to be shot in Kendall), and how it is impossible to bring a façade of stable domesticity even if you’re not a hair-trigger murderer. Alec Baldwin and Fred Ward each represent a different side of my exasperation with this city and its pressures. I take it be a point of great faith that it’s a movie produced by Jonathan Demme and based on a book by Charles Willeford, two former Miamians that totally get it to those who aren’t beach bums and just trying to find one of these ugly colored concrete blocks with four walls to fall asleep in.

BONUS LIST OF THREE PLACES I’VE PREVIOUSLY LIVED (with no further text, I’m just gonna give the titles ’cause I’m tired):

Best representation of Algiers in the movies: Z (1969, Costas-Gavras, Greece/Algeria) and The Battle of Algiers (1965, Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria)

Best representation of Phoenix in the movies: Raising Arizona (1987, Joel & Ethan Coen, USA) and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989, Stephen Herek, USA) (I would also like to shout out my friends involved with Car Dogs and with Running Wild Films)

10 Favorite Representations of New York City:
10. Serpico (1973, Sidney Lumet, USA)
9. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974, Joseph Sargent, USA)
8. The Last Dragon (1985, Michael Schulz, USA)
7. Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet, USA)
6. Man Push Cart (2005, Ramin Bahrani, USA)
5. The Clock (1945, Vincente Minnelli, USA)
4. Manhattan (1979, Woody Allen, USA)
3. The French Connection (1971, William Friedkin, USA)
2. Do the Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee, USA)
1. The Warriors (1979, Walter Hill, USA)
(With a glorified honorable mention to The Squid and the Whale, After Hours, John Wick, Goodfellas, Sweet Smell of Success, God Told Me To, and The Godfather I & II)

And off I go to Chicago, Happy Travels!


Still using Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule’s surveys trying to charge myself this October between working, moving (there will be a post about that shortly), binging horror movies, trying to get back into writing here, and generally just trying to keep above water, like Spicoli on those waves of his dreams.

Since I’m here and you’re here, let’s use our time to go all the way back once again to 2005 (again the year I actually started getting full throttle in my film buffing in 7th grade, which may also have been the year I first saw Fast Times at Ridgemont High) to the very first quiz on that side – thereby a pop quiz in the most literal sense because of how unexpected it must have been for Dennis’ readers at the time. Now, I have the benefit of hindsight so…

1) The one movie you’d drop everything just to see again.

There’s several… I feel like it’d be cheating to go with Johann Lurf’s ★ since that’s essentially an art piece and constantly changing but I literally emailed him at one point asking for a copy during COVID times and got no response. Ah well.

Anyway I guess barring that, I had plane tickets to Minneapolis just to see Cunningham in 3D at the Walker Art Center and unfortunately that got cancelled because of COVID. So now I’ve seen it but it’s in the 2D version and since there’s no 3D home video version of it available, if the movie ever shows up anywhere near me in 3D… I’m jumping on it.

2) The one movie you never want to see again under any circumstances.

That’s a toughie since I do say that there are movies I’d never see again, but “under any circumstances” adds a new level of magnitude to the question. I guess I will go with Birdemic: Shock and Terror, a legendary bad movie that had no ironic pleasure for me and since it’s been reviewed on this site, I have no reason to revisit as opposed to say… Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

3) The most treasured DVD in your personal collection.

I’ll play by 2005 rules and not involve blu-rays, so my most treasured DVD is the copy of Army of Darkness I got autographed by Bruce Campbell when they shot Burn Notice outside the building my mom works at. I even recall getting daggers shot at me by Gabrielle Anwar.

4) The most coveted DVD you like to add to your collection.

I was just talking to someone about the Limited Edition Wooden Box set for The Wicker Man with the 95-minute version and how I wish I had that to round off my copies of the movie. I got the 88-minute version by buying it off my local Hollywood Video when it was closing down and that’s how I first got exposed to one of my favorite movies and then I got the 92-minute Final Cut Blu-Ray. Just need that one other available cut for a movie whose actual director’s cut will never be available.

Also while I do have my white whale copy of Dawn of the Dead Ultimate Edition as either a birthday or Christmas gift from my friend B-R-… it unfortunately did have the sleeve so that’s still on the hunt. But it had the Zombi cut, baby!

5) Best NYC movie?

I’m stuck between The French Connection and Do the Right Thing. I’ll probably split down the middle and claim it’s The Last Dragon. I did tell Taimak that Bruce Leroy was my guide to the city before I even moved there.

6) Best LA movie?

Repo Man. Repo Man with Alex Cox directing and Robby Muller shooting captured my myth of Los Angeles just the same as The Last Dragon captured my myth of New York City.

7) Best movie ever made in or about your home state, or country?

I’ll go with home state first, Florida: Magic Mike, although that might change to Miami Blues whenever I rewatch that.

Country, Algeria: The easy answers are The Battle of Algiers or Z, but I posit as a contender to the title Chronicle of the Years of Fire. Plus that one is actually made by an Algerian.

8) Humphrey Bogart or Jimmy Cagney?

Cagney has almost certainly got more overall talent given his versatility and his vaudevillian background and physicality. But Bogey has been a guy that I wanted to emulate for a long time so I hand it over to him.

9) Best movie remake?

My favorite is His Girl Friday, but if I had to give it to what I consider the Best… it has to be Some Like It Hot. Hot hot hot.

10) The one movie you’d most like to see remade, and by whom (director, cast).

I honestly can’t think of one, so I’ll just go with my default sarcastic answer:

Larry Kassanoff’s Casablanca starring Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff, Eva Longoria, Wayne Brady, Christopher Lloyd, etc.

11) Best integration of an existing piece of music into a movie.

“La Marseillaise” in Casablanca sung by a cast of refugees in defiance drowning out Nazi scum.

12) Most unwelcome pop song typically used in a movie montage.

I don’t know about “typically used”, but that Amazing Spider-Man 2 montage to fucking that banal “Gone, Gone, Gone” song made me want to set myself on fire. Doesn’t help that that song was overplayed during my time as a lifeguard.

I guess my actual answer for typically used is how every kids movie in the 1990s to early 2000s had to use “It Takes Two” for whatever reason.

13) Movie that made you want to change your life, or the world.

Movie that made me want to change my life? Miami Connection.

Movie that made me want to change the world? Xanadu.

14) Katherine Hepburn or Carole Lombard?

Katharine Hepburn, which I almost feel bad about saying given how unfairly short Lombard’s career was and how excellent she was during it.

15) Your father’s favorite movie.

Probably either The Battle of Algiers or L’Opium et le Bâton. The Algerian Revolution obviously is a big thing.

16) Your mother’s favorite movie.

If it’s not some Egyptian movie I hardly know, it’s either Kill Bill or Aliens. I’m confident it’s one of those and too lazy to ask.

17) The movies’ most handsome leading man or character actor, and the role which most perfectly featured him.

Alain Delon and I don’t know if we’re talking best performance – which would obviously be Le Samourai – but I’d claim Purple Noon the best use of his features.

18) The movies’ most beautiful leading lady or character actress, and the role which most perfectly featured her.

I’m between Maggie Cheung or Diana Rigg (Grace Jones was also a contender until I remembered she isn’t really a character actor or regular leading lady). I’d probably go with Irma Vep for the former and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for the latter (If I had seen Vamp, I imagine Jones would be that one and not Conan the Destroyer or A View to a Kill).

I’m giving the edge to Rigg because she actually has been my screen crush for decades now, but…

19) Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant?

Cary Grant and despite loving Jimmy, it’s not a tough question. Grant is my favorite actor, after all.

20) Your favorite actor who almost nobody knows about.

In the past couple of years, I’ve been introduced to the work of Dominique Abel (and his collaborator/wife Fiona Gordon) and I expect he has more popularity in France than in the US but I don’t hear him discussed very much in either circles. Which is outrageous for a couple of actors and directors whose physical elements are extraordinary enough to make for the sort of silent cinema worthy of Chaplin and Keaton but with a gleeful eye for color and mood that only modernity would allow (shit, that last part refers more to Abel and Gordon’s ability as directors but still!).

21) Your favorite actress who almost nobody knows about.

Obviously for balance, I could go with Fiona Gordon here. But let’s switch things up here, shall we?

She’s probably getting a lot more eyes on her thanks to Black Panther, but Danai Gurira has not had nearly enough eyes on her and frankly she should have been getting more attention since Mother of George or even The Walking Dead.

22) The movie you love that everyone else seems to hate.

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle is great. It’s you all who are crazy.

23) The movie you hate that everyone else seems to love.

Scream sucks. It’s you all who are crazy.

24) Your most memorable moment related to the movies.

My first time going to a movie theater by myself simply because I could and it was Evil Dead II on 35mm at the no longer existing Madcap Theater in Tempe and it opened with a Lowe’s theater etiquette starring the Sesame Street Muppets that really made me aware of where I was.

25) Your most unpleasant moment related to the movies.

Probably my dad busting in late at night wondering why we weren’t asleep because he saw the tv light through my window coming in.

26) Most revolting eating scene in a movie.

You’d think it wouldn’t work as well nowadays, but The Private Lives of Henry VIII still got it going. (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is disqualified on account of racism)

27) Joan Crawford or Bette Davis?

Joan Crawford off the power in Johnny Guitar.

28) Your favorite sports movie.

Bull Durham but maybe one more rewatch of A League of Their Own will finally dethrone that. Or finally sitting down to watch Hoop Dreams.

29) Your favorite movie sex scene.

In the Realm of Senses and I am too much of a gentlemen to describe it.

30) Your favorite movie car chase.

The Moscow sequence in The Bourne Supremacy. Full-on impact, maybe the best adaptation of Greengrass’ trademark confusion into a genre movie setpiece.

31) Your favorite death scene.

Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Calm, satisfied, at peace.

32) Your favorite movie gross-out.

The vomit-feeding sequence in Audition. Legit gets me cringing.

33) Your favorite movie rating.

Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song being “rated X by an all-white jury”.

34) Your favorite movie theater.

I’ve mentioned this in a past post but can’t remember where but it’s Pollack Tempe Cinemas. A second-run theater in a strip mall in Southeast Tempe whose lobby was in hot pink and populated by endless wax figures and would be a cheap escape for me weekly in its big auditoriums and good projection.

35) Your favorite movie snack.

Buttered popcorn, Raisinets, Peanut M&Ms, Twizzlers, occasionally Dots if I’m feeling really self-loathing.

36) Your favorite movie speech.

Fuck, I already used the Blade Runner “Tears in Rain” speech in my “favorite movie deaths”. It’s my answer for sure, but just to have something new… I’ll go with Yang-Yang’s final speech in Yi Yi.

37) Your favorite movie about movies.

8 1/2, which obviously uses that as a pretext to be about Federico Fellini himself but in that way engages with what the movies reveal about the maker and the viewer and vice versa and the dreams in between.

38) Your favorite Hammer horror movie.

The Revenge of Frankenstein. The darkest thing that studio ever did and it carries that weight marvelously.

39) Your favorite Kurt Russell Disney movie.

I’ve only seen Sky High and The Fox and the Hound (which I’m sure is not what Dennis is looking for, but you work with what you gotta). I hate The Fox and the Hound and was pleasantly surprised by Sky High, so that one.

40) Your favorite Dean Jones Disney movie.

Would you believe that I have never seen a single one of his Disney movies? I mainly recognize him for being OG Bobby in Company before OG Bobby.

Aced it!

Get Margetis

RIP Mikey “Michael” Margetis
1989-202wait, fuck I’m doing that thing again where I think my tribute posts are memorial posts.

If anybody still hanging on here has been wondering what happened to Michael Margetis’ presence on this blog about 5 years ago when he was involved making horror lists and digging through the Criterion Collection here and putting out reviews like heck, I have an answer to that.

I got jealous that he wrote more effortlessly than me and swore I’d never speak to him again.

After a lengthy makeout session, my heart has come around just in time for him to start his own wordpress blog with his devastatingly outrageous personality and I wanted to take a moment to point y’all to it:

Margetis Movie Reviews! Anybody who doesn’t go there is a dweeb.

“Tenet” is “Tenet” spelled backwards

“I bet you’re wondering how I got here.”

(For my review of Tenet itself, click here)

A few weeks ago, I had been challenged by some friends to try to lay out exactly what occurred in the motion picture Tenet based on my one viewing of the film. I have opted to structure this chronologically to maybe map out what is occurring when and why. I will not pretend that I did not use the wikipedia summary and an (inaccurate but still close-up) transcript of the dialogue to clarify some of the more hard-to-hear areas (specifically the boating scene), but most of it I will swear on the honor system is my memory from the very first watch.

A few notes before I move forward:
– This really should not change anyone’s attitude on the movie. For one thing, I’ve already mentioned that the “plot” of any movie is not particularly important but it’s especially not a concern for me in Tenet. For another, I don’t know that the “what” is ever the point of the movie for anyone so much as the presentation and it’s clear the presentation is a big part of what makes everyone have a problem with Tenet.
– This isn’t a cudgel to protect Tenet from criticism. As you will see in the bottom of this page, this whole ordeal has led me to a particular gripe I have with the premise so if anything… it might illuminate more plot holes.
– I STRONGLY advise anybody who has no seen Tenet to watch the movie before reading this. Not only because this post is full of SPOILERS but because a lot of information here will be presented in an order ahead of when WE THE AUDIENCE learn that information and I’d daresay that’s a huge amount of the fun of the movie.

1990-91, Stalsk-12, Siberia: A teenaged Andrei Sator – while digging for Pu-241 (Plutonium 241) – encounters the first of many inverted time capsules addressed to him, having been left behind from people in the future and passing backwards through time to this point. Using the directions (including murdering his digging partner) and the foresight of these capsules as well as the gold bullion included in each capsule, Sator builds his reputation as an arms dealer while secretly building turnstiles and seeking out each hidden piece of the Algorithm, a weapon of mass destruction utilizing entropy reversal on a worldwide scale that would facilitate the wishes of Sator’s benefactors that the world is destroyed before reaching an apparent desolate future.

2008, Russia: A Russian missile station is occupied – I am unclear as to if it was occupied by CIA or Ukranian forces (I guess the latter because it IS a Hollywood movie). When Russia reclaims the station, it is light on 3/4 kg of Pu-421.

Somewhere between Sator’s Rise to Russian Oligarch (and Marriage to Kat Barton, Including the Birth of Their Son Max), His Collection of 8 of the 9 Pieces of the Algothim, and the Events of the Film: Kat and Sator have now become extremely estranged as a married couple. Kat, an art appraiser for the London-based auction house Shipley’s, has accidentally sold an ostensible Francisco Goya painting that turns out to be a forgery by her close friend Tomas Arepo. Kat finds this out too late and Sator uses this information to blackmail Kat into remaining in their marriage under the threat of prison and Kat’s career being ruined. Arepo, in the meantime, is implied to have been murdered under Sator’s orders.

Meanwhile, The Protagonist is a CIA agent who is recruited to investigate the missing Pu-241. He and the rest of his team are undercover with Ukranian officials. One of The Protagonist’s colleagues appears to have made contact with the individual holding the Pu-241.

Day 0, Vietnam: In order to write off the fraud commit to him by Kat, Sator shanghais her and Max to an expensive yacht vacation in Vietnam. During this, Kat tries to reconcile their relationship and eventually asks for emancipation from their marriage. Sator cruelly agrees on the condition that Kat never contact Max again. After a flicker of consideration, Kat lashes out and takes Max ashore. Sator in the meantime helicopters off of the yacht to Kiev to commit a siege at the Opera House where he is informed the final piece of the algorithm he is seeking will be located.

The yacht empty of all except staff, a future Kat is brought to the boat by Mahir to intercept and distract an approaching future Sator from committing suicide (and thereby activating a Dead Man’s Switch that triggers a bomb intended to activate the Algorithm). The future Sator arrives to reminisce about this last “pleasant” memory of their marriage and is suspicious of Kat being on the yacht when he boards but assumes it is the present version of Kat (with the belief that he killed Kat in the future in Tallinn) and calls over the boat containing Present Kat and Max under the presumption that it only holds their son. Future Kat finds herself unable to maintain the façade and kills Sator premature of Mahir’s signal that The Protagonist has secured the algorithm before throwing the body off the boat and diving to her freedom (Present Kat witnesses the dive as her boat approaches the yacht, but does not recognize herself and assumes Sator is having an affair).

Day 0, Stalsk-12: Tenet engages in a Pincer Movement offense towards Sator’s intended detonation area for the Algorithm – Inverted Blue Team and Forward-Moving Red Team acting as reconnaissance and cover for one another against Sator’s inverted and conventional soldiers. The Protagonist and Ives are a splinter team to enter an assumed open spot deep in the blast zone and retrieve the Algorithm. The opening to the descending tunnel is demolished behind them, forcing the two to move forward to find the gate to the blast zone locked and an apparent corpse of a team member (with a recognizable pendant on its backpack) behind the gate. Ives is shot by an approaching Volkov, who prepares the Algorithm.

Neil, whilst on the Blue Team, witnesses Volkov setting a trap to trap The Protagonist and Ives in the tunnel to the blast zone and – after locating a local Turnstile used by Sator’s soldiers – uninverts himself and steals one of Sator’s military vehicles. Failing to warn The Protagonist and Ives before they enter the tunnel, Neil attempts to use a tow line as an out for the two.

When Volkov prepares to execute the protagonist, the corpse is revealed to be inverted and takes the headshot before unlocking the gate for the Protagonist to incapacitate Volkov and secure the Algorithm but are informed that Kat has killed Sator. At this point, Neil’s tow line reaches them and they are able to be pulled out in time before the blast zone explodes from Sator’s dead man switch.

Ives, The Protagonist, and Neil arrange to break up the Algorithm once more and hide the parts. However, Neil is aware that he will be the one to unlock the Blast Zone gate for the The Protagonist and Ives (and thereby be killed) so he heads off to invert and perform the task. As he goes, he informs The Protagonist of the duration of their friendship and that he is behind the entire organization of Tenet.

Day 0, Kiev Opera House (This is where the movie proper opens and where we will be following the premise for a long while): The Protagonist’s colleague has by this point actually been in contact with the alleged Pu-241 that has been missing and while The Protagonist moves undercover with Ukrainian forces to extract his colleague and the Pu-241, Sator performs a siege on the Opera House seeking out the same container of Pu-241 aware that it has been used to make his final piece of the Algorithm. During the standoff, a likewise undercover Neil saves The Protagonist’s life with an inverted round, ostensibly The Protagonist’s first encounter with inversion of any sort. In the meantime, The Protagonist learns that the Pu-241 is in the form of the Algorithm piece, though unaware of what its purpose is.

While the Protagonist is able to extract both the Algorithm piece and his colleague and prevent a catastrophic explosion that would have covered Sator’s trails, he is nevertheless made and tortured by extrajudicial Russian operatives in order to reveal the location of the Pu-241 and his colleagues. The Protagonist is able to use a cyanide pill provided by a fellow captive to attempt suicide before talking and is left for dead.

Sometime later…

The Protagonist wakes up to learn that the cyanide pills were fake. His team was unfortunately captured and killed regardless, but his superior alludes of a secret organization who make themselves known to each other through a gesture of crossing their fingers and stating “Tenet”. He is then sent on a trail to meet with a scientist part of this organization who is studying the reversed entropy that makes up the bullet that The Protagonist encountered at the Opera House. The bullets in question appear to move backwards because they are moving through time in a reverse direction to the rest of the world around them (although ostensibly any non-inverted human hit by an inverted round would be devastated since the wound would not be opening or closing correctly). The Protagonist requests the alloy makeup of the bullets which lead him to…

Mumbai: Where he arrives with the knowledge that the round was most distributed by Sanjay Singh. The Protagonist then meets Neil for the ostensible first time with the request to arrange a personal meeting with Singh, which they perform by sneaking into Singh’s personal high rise and dispatching the security. The Protagonist interrogates Singh at gunpoint before his wife Priya reveals herself to be the mastermind behind their arms dealing as well as a member of Tenet.

Priya informs The Protagonist that the rounds were sold to Andrei Sator and Sator has inverted them through technology provided to him by the future which he appears to be in contact with by means of records.

London: After receiving further information of Sator’s dealings and background with Stalsk-12 (informed of both Sator’s involvement with the Kiev Siege as well as the explosion in Stalsk-12 that occurred almost simultaneously), he is suggested an in by way of his wife Kat Barton and a forged Goya painting which she would be aware of due to its connection to Tomas Arepo.

The Protagonist meets Kat at Shipley’s, receives her attention through the forged painting, and learns of her marital situation (including that Sator is aware that she defrauded him and their trip to Vietnam). The Protagonist suggests that he may be able to make the painting vanish for her and, after suggesting his capabilities by dispatching of Sator’s enforcers, Kat informs him of the Freeport – a structure placed in an airport that is intended to hold valuable possessions rather than bring them through customs – in Oslo where the painting is held.

Oslo Freeport: Taking direction from one of the time capsules provided, Sator has the Arepo forgery removed from the vaults.

Sometime later…

During the planning of their heist, The Protagonist takes interest in the unlisted ostensibly empty room at the center of the blueprint and this is ostensibly why absolutely no screentime when they are in the Freeport is spent even looking for the Arepo forgery.

The team’s plan goes mostly as expected at first: Mahir hijacks a Norsk-Freight plane with no casualties, chucking the gold bars that are its cargo on the runway as distraction and has the plane crash into the Freeport whilst The Protagonist and Neil are there under the guise of having property stored there. The subsequent fire and its gas-based extinguishing system allows The Protagonist and Neil an opportunity to break into that central room The Protagonist noted in the blueprints.

It is split in two with the doors to each half coding a red sign and a blue sign. Neil and The Protagonist enter each one respectively to find a weird machine at the other end that rotates its openings to reveal the same man in a tactical suit exiting from each half – these men are both the Protagonist in disguise, the red room one is inverted in an attempt to distract and chase our two heroes away in a struggle with Our Protagonist. The other is orthodox and chased by Neil until Neil is able to pull off his helmet, revealing his identity and bringing Neil to prevent Our Protagonist from killing his opponent before the inverted Protagonist is able to “escape” by being sucked out of room, ostensibly to be killed by the Norsk Freight turbine but in fact revealed to have come from a shipping container from Tallin with an inverted Neil and Kat, the latter suffering from a gunshot wound in the future.

As Our Protagonist and Neil play knocked out from the halcyon gas of the Freeport’s fire extinguishing system and are removed by paramedics, the newly uninverted disguised Protagonist exits the scene to signal to the inverted Neil that the Freeport is clear for him to go through without encountering Our Protagonist or Our Neil. As the inverted Neil takes the inverted Kat on a gurney into the Freeport and through the machine we saw The Disguised Protagonist come out of, The Newly Uninverted Protagonist steals an ambulance and once the Newly Uninverted Neil and Kat board, they leave to a secure spot for Neil to remove her bullet wound.

“Well, I’ve seen too much…”

Mumbai: The Protagonist approaches Priya by surprise informing her of Kat’s near-death and Sator’s acquiring of the Algorithm. After Priya informs him of the Algorithm’s origins, she tells the Protagonist that Tenet in fact has similar technology to the one we witnessed in the Freeport’s secret room – known as the Turnstile, a machine used to invert objects or people and constructed/left behind by inverted people from the future – thereby giving The Protagonist and Tenet a chance to stop Sator at his plan. The Protagonist asks for Priya’s word that Kat or her son will not be killed once the operation is over, which Priya promises.

Moving the Opposite Direction in Time, Somewhere at Sea: The Protagonist, Kat, and Neil invert themselves along with the rest of the Tenet team. Meanwhile, they deduce that the Algorithm is located in Stalsk-12 and that Sator will attempt to detonate it via dead-man switch after he commits suicide at the Vietnam vacation (Kat knowing that Sator has inoperable cancer and will want to go out on his own terms). Neil alarms The Protagonist with knowledge that the original Sator will not be on the yacht because he will be at the Kiev siege so Kat can take him by surprise. In any case, Tenet aims to uninvert themselves on Day 0 and prepares for the operation at hand. Kat will be uninverting herself a few days earlier to meet with Mahir and prepare to infiltrate the yacht, but before The Protagonist uninverts, he gives Kat a phone for her to use if she feels in danger for “posterity”.

Mumbai, Later: Our Protagonist informs Priya of what he saw at the Freeport (personal note: the fact that he refers to himself in the tactical suit as “Antagonists”, not yet knowing they were in fact him, is a pretty amusing grace note) and she explains that they were the same person and the device is a Turnstile. She then explains that Sator was behind the Kiev Opera Siege in search of the same Pu-241 that The Protagonist was looking for. Sator failed to secure it and it is currently in Estonian authorities’ hands and will be transferred in Tallin shortly. She suggests that The Protagonist attempt to use this information to get close to Sator under the guise of, stressing that he must not kill Sator yet.

Salerno: The Protagonist – with Kat’s knowledge and after lying to her that the Arepo forgery was destroyed – attempts to give Sator the impression that he’s having an affair with Kat to get his attention. Sator personally informs The Protagonist that he will arrange for his murder for the antagonism, but The Protagonist clues Sator in of his knowledge of the Kiev incident. Sator invites The Protagonist to meet the next day.

The Following Morning, Sator’s Yacht on the Amalfi Coast: Sator disarms Kat by revealing that the Arepo forgery is still intact and in his possession. Later on, the two of them go sailing with the Protagonist where the Protagonist proposes a partnership in retrieving the Pu-241 that Sator failed to secure in Kiev, to Sator’s skepticism. Kat attempts to kill Sator by undoing his harness in the high-speed boat and leaving him to drown, but The Protagonist rescue Sator.

When they return to the yacht, Kat is infuriated by The Protagonist’s lying about the painting and his saving of Sator’s life. The Protagonist gives her a gun to protect herself with. In a follow-up meeting after their discussion on the boat was interrupted, Sator passes the attempt off as his own mistake and accepts the Protagonist’s offer to retrieve the Pu-241, inviting him to stay on the yacht. After failing to serve retribution to Kat, Sator goes up to meet with a chopper delivering another one of his time capsules.

Volkov finds The Protagonist sneaking around to witness this and brings him to Sator. The Protagonist reveals himself as CIA or former CIA (but not as a member of the task force searching for the Pu-241 as Sator tries to trip him up to reveal), thereby explaining his knowledge of where the Pu-241 will be and allowing Sator to spare his life for now. Sator gives The Protagonist the funds to perform the necessary heist and ejects him from the yacht.

Tallin Freeport: Sator – under the Protagonist’s direction – attempts to use Kat as the go-between to retrieve the Pu-241 once the Protagonist has it, but is enraged when Kat pulls a gun on him. He severely beats Kat into submission and opts to have his own already inverted team act as reconnaissance towards what is happening during the heist.

I swear to God this is a screencap from Tenet.

Tallin: After planning out the heist to retrieve the transporting Pu-241, The Protagonist and Neil perform it to success: They locate the armored convoy carrying the Pu-241 and box it and its security vehicles in using several different trucks. One of these trucks is a fire truck, the ladder of which the Protagonist uses to break into the convoy and steals the package.

When he returns to the original vehicle he and Neil were using to surveil the situation, The Protagonist is confused to find it is encased in the same Algorithm piece he saw at the Kiev Opera House. They are interrupted by an inverted SUV chasing them through the freeway (responsible for a cracked side mirror in Neil’s vehicle): it is revealed to have an inverted Sator, who holds a gun to Kat’s head and demands the Algorithm piece. Meanwhile, a likewise inverted vehicle which is driven by an inverted Protagonist speeds between the two. The Protagonist throws the box by bouncing it off the inverted Protagonist’s vehicle’s hood (not knowing the driver into Sator’s SUV (but not the Algorithm piece, which he throws into the middle vehicle) and Sator exits his SUV while leaving the tied-up Kat in the still reverse-speeding vehicle but not before his SUV sideswipes the inverted Protagonist’s vehicle into a wreck.

Once Kat is able to unlock and open her door, The Protagonist is able to enter the SUV and brake just in time. However, Sator’s orthodox team retrieves pins Neil down with gunfire (forcing to have to call “the calvary”, the rest of Tenet) and abducts The Protagonist and Kat.

Meanwhile, the inverted Sator sees the Algorithm piece is not in the case and tosses it on his way back to the Tallin Freeport, which carries a transponder that the inverted Protagonist uses to locate the chase and intervene in the hopes of preventing Sator from killing Kat. The inverted Sator meanwhile informs his uninverted self that the BMW location of the Algorithm piece that the Protagonist will give them is a lie and an uninverted Sator from later in the future locates the wreckage where his BMW knocked The Inverted Protagonist over. He taunts the inverted Protagonist by informing him that he saw the switcharoo and will be retrieving the Algorithm piece from the vehicle (which belongs to him and was picked up by the inverted Protagonist at the Tallin freeport) and lights the wreckage on fire, leaving the Protagonist for dead (and to be saved by plot armor).

Tallin Freeport: An inverted Sator forces the abducted Kat in the blue room of that Freeport’s Turnstile while the abducted Protagonist is forced into the Red Room and interrogated confusingly by both an inverted and uninverted Sator after they discovered that the Algorithm piece was not in the box. The Protagonist lies and tells them that the piece is in the BMW that he and Neil were driving but can not prevent the inverted Sator from shooting Kat with an inverted round. The uninverted Sator attempts to continue the interrogation but is stopped by the remaining members of Tenet, who force Sator and his henchmen to retreat into the Turnstile (from which Sator performs the inverted side of the Protagonist’s interrogation, takes the uninverted Kat hostage, and prepares to intercept The Protagonist and Neil as they have just retrieved the Algorithm piece).

Meanwhile, The Protagonist interrogates Neil as to how Sator was aware of their plan. Ives, the leader of the tactical side of Tenet, relaxes the Protagonist by informing him that Sator was aware by having an inverted team act as reconnaissance (including ostensibly the version of Sator that The Protagonist encountered on the Tallin freeway) and informing his uninverted self of what’s going on.

Desperate to find a way to save Kat, The Protagonist convinces Neil and the rest of Tenet to bring her through the Turnstile so that the entropy of the bullet inside her can be reversed long enough for Neil to retrieve the bullet and clean and close the wound. They estimate a week inverted would be able to do this, but this requires that they can access a Turnstile afterwards to revert back to orthodox time. The Protagonist and Neil realize this means the Oslo Freeport, which will be open to infiltration if they go back to the day of their heist there and the related plane crash.

Neil and Tenet find a shipping container headed to the Oslo Freeport and empty it except for the necessities for The Protagonist, Neil, and Kat to survive in there. In the meantime, worried about a threat from Sator during their interrogation, The Protagonist heads out to intercept the Tallin freeway confrontation. We know how that shit ends up.

This Part Is Just While The Protagonist, Neil, and Kat are headed back to The Oslo Freeport, There’s No Real Chronological Area to Put It: The Protagonist is explained what the Algorithm is and how the Pu-241 artifact they keep encountering is part of it (he also explains the reasoning behind The Protagonist not being burned to death by the explosion – some mumbo-jumbo about the transfer of heat being reversed), then they have a bunch of mind game conversations about theory that really aren’t necessary to the understanding of the story, just trying to make you go “woah” exactly like the Protagonist goes. In the meanwhile, Neil informs The Protagonist that since Kat is now involved and knows about the situation, Priya will possibly attempt to kill her.

When the shipping container they reside in is finally at Oslo, it is unfortunately placed outside of the Freeport. The Protagonist and Neil decide to use tactical suits to allow the reversed airflow that inversion requires to be maintained and also to disguise themselves. The Protagonist opts to go first into the Freeport disaster to signal that it is clear for Neil and at this point, you may as well Ctrl+F “Oslo Freeport” to get back to where I’m going with this.

After the Tallin Chase, London: Priya goes back on her word to the Protagonist and attempts to have Kat assassinated but is prevented by The Protagonist, made aware of this attempt by Kat alerting him with their “posterity” phone. The Protagonist informs Priya that he is now fully aware of his mastermind role within Tenet before killing her.

Somewhere in the Future: A scientist creates the Algorithm and, in Oppenheimer-like remorse for the destruction she has made feasible, breaks it up into physical pieces and inverts them in hiding before committing suicide.

Sator’s benefactors – living in a desolate future and looking to undo it by destroying the world – begin inverting time capsules with instructions, bullion, and necessary insight on the past for Sator’s utilization in their quest to find the Algorithm and have it activated.

The Protagonist begins founding and organizing Tenet to stop Sator’s benefactors, including meeting and recruiting Neil for the ostensible first time before inverting him to save them.

Bonus Piece of Information That I Don’t Think Is Particularly Necessary to Understand What’s Going On:

The Sator Square is a bunch of excavated ancient word squares creating a continuous palindrome out of five different Latin words. Of course, the palindrome element is a huge part of why Nolan took enough interest in it to inspire the names of various elements:
– Sator as the villain’s name.
– Arepo as the name of the ill-fated forger Kat and Sator become involved with.
– Tenet as the name of the organization combatting Sator and his benefactors (and the name of the MOVIE, oh look at dat!)
– Opera as the scene of the opening setpiece.
– Rotas as the name of the security company in charge of the Oslo Freeport (and I think but am not sure the Tallin Freeport).

My Personal Plot Hole/Contrivance Problems:
– Ives makes a big deal about not having an available turnstile a week before Kat’s shooting in Tallinn but we are later revealed that Tenet has turnstiles in their possession as early as Day 0.
– Why would the Protagonist throw the Algorithm piece in Tallinn into a presumably unsecured car? And even if that was a wise decision, why did he not recognize the car once he left into the open world inverted?
– None of the Turnstiles look big enough to fit a car and the Protagonist explicitly asks and is told about the hardships of driving a car, so how is Sator’s car or The Protagonist’s white car able to be seen as going backwards from the perspective of Neil or The Protagonist.
– When did Neil or anybody else in Tenet have the time to think about rescuing The Protagonist from his potential immolation?
– You buy the explanation behind The Protagonist surviving being in a car while it explodes? Me neither. Especially since he could barely put his mask on after the car crash and so his lungs could not have been functioning properly.

But as Barbara says…

Anyway, how did I do?


In the immortal of Raul Julia, “I’m just stalling for time”. I figure as long as I don’t have an article ready for post, I can maybe pop in a few more of these surveys a day from the reliable ol’ Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and see what happens. Tonight’s selection is from 2012, which will explain certain questions (ie. the Clint Eastwood one) so let’s go ahead and blast into the past.

1) What is the biggest issue for you in the digital vs. film debate?

That it ostensibly has to be an either or matter. I love and prefer watching movies shot on film projected on film, just the way they were meant to be. But if we work with digital, there’s suddenly a new tool in which to preserve much of that material as well as a means by which to allow people’s further awareness of film and celluloid and the need to maintain and restore it.

2)  Without more than one minute’s consideration, name three great faces from the movies.

Peter Lorre, Maria Falconetti, Buster Keaton

Lorre was probably the first in my head not only because it’s a weird face but because I just finished watching two Lorre movies in a row about evil hands of a pianist killing others – Mad Love and The Beast with Five Fingers.

3)    The movie you think could be interesting if remade as a movie musical.

Boy, should I have a better answer to this than Love, Simon. I hope I do before I finish this quiz.

4)      The last movie you saw theatrically/on DVD, Blu-ray, streaming.

Theatrically: Tenet, great time still ambivalent about doing so in COVID era.

DVD/Blu-Ray: The Phantom of the Opera (1925) in my preference of the original 114-minute one and I am pretty damn sad that the Kino blu-ray couldn’t do much to help the fucked up 16mm print that version is saved off of compared to the pristine truncated versions.

Streaming: Not counting the Netflix special Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein, The Cat and the Canary off of Amazon Prime.

5)      Favorite movie about work.

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. I would have to pick a movie that’s anti-work as fuck.

6)      The movie you loved as a child that did not hold up when seen through adult eyes.

A lot of these movies exist, but I’ll say Space Jam for now. Which will get me in trouble with certain people, but have to say that I loved it as a child when I was more of a Michael Jordan fan than a Looney Tunes fan but hate it now that I’m more of a Looney Tunes fan (but still a nostalgic Michael Jordan fan).

7)      Favorite “road” movie.

Feel like dystopic car ride movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and Death Race 2000 are cheating, so I will go with Y Tu Mama Tambien.

8)      Does Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention change or confirm your perspective on him as a filmmaker/movie icon? Is that appearance relevant to his legacy as a filmmaker?

It doesn’t really for a couple of simple reasons: I still like his movies, I’ve already been sus of him based on his treatment of Sondra Locke, I’ve long known he was a Republican for the stupidest of reasons given that most of his specific politics are pretty leftist as hell.

The only real change I can think of is that his bullshit with the chair is the beginning of all of my understanding that Eastwood is trash working with non-actors, inanimate objects included.

9)      Longest-lasting movie or movie-related obsession.

Movies in general, if I want to be fucking smart about it. But I guess I could say that my obsession with movie monster designs and particularly with slasher monsters like Freddy and Jason never really died. I used to have pictures of the grossest monster make-up designs hanging in a corner of my room between band and movie posters and surfing images.

Maybe I’ll have that corner again after I move.

10)   Favorite artifact of movie exploitation.

I wasn’t sure what was meant by artifact (I almost went with the cars in the movies), but going directly off the definition of the term itelf: the VHS covers. They’d be the most ridiculously sensational (and depending on the material, often tasteless) things.

11)   Have you ever fallen asleep in a movie theater? If so, when and why?

A couple of times. I think the funniest two to bring up would be:
– The Cannes premiere of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, attended by all these celebrities and right there in the middle of the picture and my first screening at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. And I ended up experiencing first-hand what one of my friends warned me about regarding the Palais… those seats are comfortable enough to fall asleep in. And it’s something I’d end up something I’d be slipping into over and over through out the festival.
– This all-nighter showcase of horror films by the Secret Celluloid Society at the Coral Gables Art Cinema on Halloween 2015. Specifically how the last film was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre which I had seen a million times at that point and since I was super exhausted, I kept trying to drift off to sleep in my seat but something horrifying would occur and the screams or violent sounds would wake me up once more.

12)   Favorite performance by an athlete in a movie.

I don’t want to go with any athletes that have made the full transition to film actor (ie. The Rock, Roddy Piper, Jim Brown, Vinnie Jones, Fred Williamson, etc.) so I will go with Hulk Hogan’s surprise appearance in Gremlins 2: The New Batch just for adding to the awesome absurdity of the film. And I deeply wish I saw it for the first time in a movie theater as a child, that would have made my life.

Bonus: I ran into this sudden Hulk Hogan impression from none other than Noel Gallagher while browsing on YouTube.

13)   Second favorite Rainer Werner Fassbinder movie.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Although asking me this question is asking throw a dart between several Fassbinder movies I deeply love. One of my favorite filmmakers.

14)   Favorite film of 1931

City Lights. Anybody who doesn’t love this movie has no heart.

15)   Second favorite Raoul Walsh movie.

The Thief of Bagdad, which resembles my culture as much as Hungry Hungry Hippos resembles my culture but it’s not like I go to movies for versimilitude.

16)   Favorite film of 1951.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, the noisemaking jit. Which happens to be accessible to anybody who wants to see it on YouTube.

17)   Second favorite Wong Kar-wai movie.

Chungking Express, no less a masterpiece than my number one pick and possibly the one that dazzled me more on first watch.

18)   Favorite film of 1971.

… Good God, is it really the avant-garde short I watched for the first time last year? I think I’ll go with Larry Gottheim’s Barn Rushes.

19)   Second favorite Henri-Georges Clouzot movie.

The Wages of Fear, which will probably get me attacked for putting it as low as second-place.

20)   Favorite film of 1991.

The Double Life of Veronique, barring a rewatch of Barton Fink, baby.

21)   Second favorite John Sturges movie.

The Magnificent Seven, which not only used to be my first favorite but even was my among my favorite movies ever made. My, how I’ve changed.

22)   Favorite celebrity biopic.

Does Ed Wood count? I don’t know, I had a loose definition of “celebrity” as “anybody who is famous enough to have a biopic made of them”. If we’re referring to a much more public figure, can’t think of one more focused on the “public” aspect than Jackie.

23)  Name a good script idea which was let down either by the director or circumstances of production.

Shit, and to think I used My Fair Lady for an answer a few days ago. I will go with The Last Stand, the Kim Ji-Woon picture where I was expecting more of an action-movie Bacurau – a pastoral interrupted by violence – rather than the direct-to-video movie we got. But hey, it did have the charm of watching a movie directed, scored, and shot by South Koreans and starring an Austrian, a Puerto Rican, and a Brazilian play their own modern cowboy movie.

24)   Heaven’s Gate— yes or no?

Very much yes. If the New Hollywood era had to implode, I’m glad it did so in the name of such an ambitiously slow amble through Americana-that-was.

25)   Favorite pairing of movie sex symbols.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, because you obviously know they’re really in love with each other and not their “love interests”.

26)   One word that you could say which would instantly evoke images and memories of your favorite movie. (Naming the movie is optional—might be more fun to see if we can guess what it is from the word itself).


27)   Name one moment which to you demarcates a significant change, for better or worse, on the landscape of the movies over the last 20 years.

The complete hissy fit everyone had w/r/t Martin Scorsese’s comments about Marvel movies, illustrating both the asphyxiating manner in which Disney has sucked up all the cultural conversation in an inescapable way as well as how fragile shit gets from the slightest divergence from the popular norm.

(My close second was The Lion King remake making a billion dollars thereby embodying the 800 pound gorilla that is blockbusters making a billion or bust and the self-cannibalization that Disney is taking to in order perpertuate their brand, which is another annoying thing about Marvel movies).

28)   Favorite pre-Code talkie.

Trouble in Paradise. Imagine being denied of smoky innuendos like that.

29)   Oldest film in your personal collection (Thanks, Peter Nellhaus).

Probably something off the Buster Keaton short films collection. I know The Rough House is the earliest one so I’ll say that one.

30)   Longest film in your personal collection. (Thanks, Brian Darr).

Doing us the dignity of recognizing that Dekalog is a miniseries and not a film, I will go with Shoah.

31)   Have your movie collection habits changed in the past 10 years? If so, how?

My sudden increase in income over the past 2 years have allowed me to indulge much more than is advisable (while my neurotic nature still prevents me from overdipping too much outside my budget).

This is another way to say that I am more willing to snatch out-of-print stuff when I spot it in the wild because now I know I can afford it.

32)   Wackiest, most unlikely “directed by” credit you can name.

The Straight Story by David Lynch and Pootie Tang by Louis CK are the lowest-hanging of low-hanging fruit so I might as well go to the other unexpected Disney project from a man you wouldn’t expect: Robert Altman’s Popeye (which I genuinely like).

33)   Best documentary you’ve seen in 2012 (made in 2012 or any other year)

Ouch, one that needed to be answered in 2012 itself. I’m willing to bet the answer to this is This Is Not a Film, but at this point I don’t think we’ll ever know. Maybe The House Is Black, but I can’t recall if that was a 2012 watch or a 2013 watch.

34)   What’s your favorite “(this star) was almost cast in (this movie)” anecdote?

There is not a single one of these anecdotes funnier in a morbid way than O.J. Simpson not getting the titular role of The Terminator because nobody would buy him as a cold-blooded killer. He sure showed us…

35)   Program three nights of double bills at a revival theater that might best illuminate your love of the movies.

Demons (1985) vs. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003)
Dawn of the Dead (1978) vs. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1991)
The Tree of Life (2011) vs. Cats (2019)

36)   You have been granted permission to invite any three people, alive or dead, to your house to watch the Oscars. Who are they?

Orson Welles, Groucho Marx, Kermit the Frog Vincent Price, but I really would like the third to be a Muppet if allowed.

37) Favorite Mr. Chips. (Careful…)

Robert Donat. With apology to Mr. O’Toole but I just find Donat so much warmer.


It’s that time again. Everytime I want to keep myself wired in writing here, I head back to the ol’ Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule site and check either the most recent one of his reliable surveys or I dig deep into Dennis Cozzalio’s past quizzes from before I even was waved his way.

Today, I reached far back to 2005: not only half a decade before I started blogging (from the ol’ blogspot site which nobody will ever find) but in my opinion the year that 13-year-old me actually resolved to have his pulse on film culture as a whole and not just follow along on whatever movie I felt like looking at. Anyway, I’m sure the answers I’ll bring to the table will turn out to be much different from the ones I would have given in 2005, but ain’t that the miracle of growing as a film buff overtime? Let’s get started.

1) Your favorite movie genre, and a prime example of it.

The musical with Singin’ in the Rain playing as the most affable example of how that sort of attempt to make image and sound fire on all aesthetic and emotional cylinders can give you an experience like no other. It’s not my personal favorite musical (though it is absolutely among my favorite movies) but there’s a reason it’s the one EVERYBODY thinks of when they hear the word “musical” film. It’s so bright, energetic, and smiling the whole way through.

2) Your least favorite movie genre, and a prime example of it.

The Biopic and my favorite biopic is Lawrence of Arabia, but I expect that “prime example” should refer to a prime illustration of what I don’t like about that genre. For that, I humbly present A Beautiful Mind‘s deathly boring and polished self-embalming.

3) Donald Duck or Daffy Duck?

Love to them both but Donald has never had a single height as high as Duck Amuck and I am sorry to say that because I do think Donald has a higher quantity of heights. But Daffy takes it.

4) Your favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie.

North by Northwest. There was a time when Vertigo overtook it in honest exhaustion with overexposing myself to Northwest but now I’m back on its side with its non-stop thrill of the chase. Plus, I do recall the first time I watched it in high school and walking away thinking that is probably the world’s biggest FML.

5) The longest you ever waited in line to see a movie (and, of course, the name of the movie that inspired such preparation and dedication).

I’m worried that the answer to this may be I Am Legend, which would be completely embarrassing (I’m not entirely certain). It may also in fact be one of several ol’ 35mm screenings with the Secret Celluloid Society at the Coral Gables Art Cinema (like maybe Hedwig and the Angry Inch or Miami Connection), but I can’t be certain.

I will instead deflect answering the opposite of this question: the shortest I’ve waited to watch a worthwhile movie in the time before Moviepass and AMC A-List rendered lines obsolete. Which was The Dark Knight Opening Day, which not only was I able to get in the theater quick but I was also able to sneak in 7 or 8 friends that foolishly did not purchase their tickets in advance even though I told them to and this despite getting an auditorium right next to the usher.

And now that I finished that anti-answer, I just remembered the actual answer: it was Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s IMAX screening at the AutoNation theater in Ft. Lauderdale with my homies H-M-, S-F-, and A-A- where our place in line wrapped around the science museum building (and Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the same theater with the same folks minus A 2 years prior may be a close second). Needless to say, that did not pay off as much and I was in fact the one who was kindest to the film of the four of us when we left, though the audience sounded into it at least.

6) Your favorite nature documentary.


7) Steve Martin or Jim Carrey?

I grew up in the era of Jim Carrey but I grew harshly out of his comedy as an adult now but find him extremely appealing as a straightforward dramatic actor. But Steve Martin still has the same comic appeal for me as he did when I was a child – flipping back and forth between imbecile and asshole – plus his love for bluegrass music (and Bright Star‘s songs) helps me give the prize to him.

8) Your favorite concert movie.

Tough throw up between The Last Waltz, Monterey Pop, and Stop Making Sense. The desire to have the most underrated choice makes me nearly go with Pop, but David Byrne’s style in Stop Making Sense (not to mention recalling the time my friends saw his swinging around in “Psycho Killer” and told me “That’s that Salim swag”) makes me want to get up and dance like nothing else.

9) Your favorite movie about or incorporating religion or religious themes.

I like a lot more of these than I care to admit as an otherwise angry atheist (it’s the inherent ambition from the right approaches). Anyway, it’s not a question of if it’s a Carl Theodor Dreyer picture for me, but WHICH Carl Theodor Dreyer picture and admitting that I don’t particularly think religion is “the point” of The Passion of Joan of Arc, I’ll select his miraculous 1955 Ordet.

10) Your best story (long or short) about attending a drive-in movie.

What an unexpectedly timely question for 2020. I don’t have many good stories about the drive-in, though so I’ll just settle for when Josh Martinez (yes, THAT Josh Martinez) went to a local pop-up that friends of mine made during Quarantine-era and after I got my fried tacos, I walked through the gate back to our car to see a bunch of dirtbikers practicing for a race or something and watching them for several minutes missing most of the picture just ’cause it was such a weird activity to see in a small lot during the pandemic.

(I have also been to real-deal drive-ins like the Swap Shop Ft. Lauderdale, but I don’t have any stories)

11) Your favorite Brian De Palma movie.

Phantom of the Paradise. The absurd weirdness of that stands out from most of De Palma’s Hitchcock Jr. stuff, which I don’t really care for.

12) Name one movie you initially loved, saw again and ended up thinking significantly less of.

A whole lot of these sadly (and a lot that I don’t even intend to rewatch in fear that I’m not going to care for them anymore – Blue Is the Warmest Colour and Hereditary mostly). I think the main one I’ll pick out is American Beauty, where my esteem of it had already depleted extensively long before certain revelations made the movie unattractive to the public. It’s pretty funny that a movie that ends with Kevin Spacey smugly stating “you probably don’t understand what I’m saying, but you will someday” like it’s a movie more relatable with midlife crisis a thing in your life makes me feel like getting older is what removed the rose tints of what feels pretty juvenile in retrospect dressed up in Oscarbait prestige.

13) Name one movie you initially hated, saw again, and ending up liking or loving.

A lot of these too and I think the movie that most grew in my esteem is Yankee Doodle Dandy, of which I am on record saying “could suck my Yankee Doodle Dick” when I first saw it but afterwards just found James Cagney’s vaudevillian energy just to infectious to deny it.

14) Vivien Leigh or Olivia De Havilland?

Very tough one, but Vivien Leigh’s performance as Scarlett O’Hara is a one of a kind force of nature. Shame the character’s a fucking racist but as Larry David says “Well, here you have somebody who not only doesn’t want you… doesn’t even acknowledge your right to exist, wants your destruction! That’s a turn-on.”

15) Favorite blaxploitation movie theme song.

It is the easiest thing to claim it’s “Theme from Shaft” or “Super Fly” (I’d go with the latter) but I’d like to pull from something away from the two giants mostly because it is not only a phenomenal song, but also because it did double duty as the theme song for the original film it was written for AND for Quentin Tarantino’s blaxploitation homage in Jackie Brown.

Take it away, Bobby.

16) The first movie you remember seeing in a theater.

Pocahontas. Sucks that that’s the answer, right? Could be worse… my second movie is Space Jam.

17) The movie you remember most fondly from childhood.

I joke that anything I liked as a kid is garbage, but Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs still have its place in my heart introducing me to movies to begin with, let alone animation and fantasy and romance and all that jazz. Still have the same VHS copy in my possession from when I was a baby.

18) Your favorite Clint Eastwood movie.

Acting? The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Directing? Unforgiven, barring an eventual rewatch of The Outlaw Josey Wales or Letters from Iwo Jima

The boring choices but I mean, most of his works are pretty beloved by me.

19) Best use of 3-D in a movie (not Best 3-D movie)

I was definitely gonna need that “not best movie” qualifier because while I really don’t care for the movie itself, Dial M for Murder‘s central sequence where Swann breaks into the apartment to try to kill Margot. The spacing feels so much more immediate and threatening with that enhanced depth and Grace Kelly’s fourth-wall break reaching out is so much more chilling when it feels like she’s reaching out to YOU.

20) Least-deserving Oscar Winner for Best Picture

I want to assume this is not asking for the worst Best Picture winner (which remains Cimarron) so I’ll assume The Broadway Melody (which is not that far away from the bottom) as my answer. They wanted to give the newfangled techmology of sound cinema an Oscar so badly that they picked a shoddily mixed movie like this one.

Fortunately, the follow up winner All Quiet on the Western Front has one of the all-time best soundtracks in all of film.

21) Least-deserving Oscar Winner for Best Actor

Fortunately, the worst winner is also my actual answer here: Cliff Robertson in Charly. I don’t know what got in my water, but somewhere during college I started getting more and more annoyed with neurotypical actors playing mentally disabled really started grinding my gears as naked Oscar ploys with few actually worthwhile performances coming out of them (I’m being kind… I honestly can’t think of any good performances off the top of my head in this style but maybe if I sat down…).

22) Least-deserving Oscar Winner for Best Actress

Sally Field in Places in the Heart and Mary Pickford in Coquette are the low-hanging fruit and they are certainly worse than Katharine Hepburn’s performance in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but I think I pick the Hepburn because it shares the frustrating quality of being one of 3 Oscar wins Hepburn – one of the greatest screen actors – won for her few bad performances on top of feeling like full-on white mediocrity in comparison to Sidney Poitier’s shutting out from a Best Actor nomination that year, thereby making its already shallow attempt at race commentary feel so much more performative as well as the Oscar’s attention to Kramer’s characteristically grating and labored social drama.

And yes, I am intellectually aware that Poitier more likely did not get his Oscar nod because he had three performances battling for the spot between Guess Who, In the Heat of the Night, and To Sir, With Love. But still…

23) Michael Bay— yes or no, and why?

Much as I like to admire how well he latched onto the one-for-me, one-for-them method of film career the best of anyone this side of Soderbergh and his movies definitely have a recognizable style and personality, it is a personality I would not want to spend ANY time with in person and he has made several movies I find intolerable with only one I possibly like, so I am going to go with no.

24) Your favorite movie about food.

Ratatouille. I deeply would like to claim it’s Tampopo but deep in my heart, I find Ratatouille‘s presentation of its meals so much more aesthetically pleasing while also finding its approach to the art to be universal enough to speak to anyone’s passions even beyond the cuisine. But it does inspire me to explore cuisine further.

25) Your favorite disaster movie.

San Francisco and of course you know what disaster it is from that title, but it is a wonder of sound crushing us from all sides when that strikes.

26) Steve McQueen or Lee Marvin?

Lee Marvin is by miles the better actor than McQueen, but as a fan of speed and the feeling of it behind the wheel and watching the Formula 1, McQueen already earns my respect beyond Marvin as a personality.

McQueen’s the King of Cool, y’all.

27) Best adaptation of a book or other source material into a movie.

Orson Welles’ The Trial, basically being able to change nearly nothing in the great source material while still making sure that every single dizzying feeling is expressed by the visuals – angular and imposing – and the performances rather than the letter.

28) Worst adaptation of a book or other source material into a movie.

I’ll cheat into that “other source material” part and go with stage material here but George Cukor… HOW do you fuck up My Fair Lady like that? The script and the music are phenomenal enough to hand this shit to its filmmakers on a fucking platter and Cukor is generally an excellent filmmaker, but holy shit did they just gut all the wonderful visual elements and replace Julie Andrews with a deathly miscast Audrey Hepburn (much as I love Hepburn) and it makes me cry how mediocre it is. They should have just let Vincente Minnelli make it, he probably would have had the good sense to keep Andrews from Broadway (who would have by that point made The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins) and have more life in it.

Granted, it won the Best Picture Oscar, so what the fuck do I know? My answer was almost The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King so ignore me.

29) Tippi Hedren or Kim Novak?

Kim Novak easily. What can I say, Roar is the sort of movie that makes you doubt the people involved are all there.

30) Your favorite Marx brother.

This should absolutely be a lot more of a Sophie’s Choice than it actually is since the holy trinity of Groucho, Chico, and Harpo all bring something irreplaceable (much love to Zeppo too), but the straightforward fact that Groucho talks shit faster than Jimmy John’s while having wonderfully visually expressive eyebrows and mannerisms that could rival Harpo takes the cake.

31) The most frightening movie you’ve seen that is not strictly a horror movie.

Through a Glass Darkly, simply because Hariet Anderson’s weighty and demanding performance. When I said that “religious movie” question could easily have a Carl Theodor Dreyer answer, I forgot that Ingmar Bergman could be an answer as well.

32) Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi?

Karloff is significantly the superior actor, but Lugosi’s never taken a role without giving it his all while still feeling like someone of stature rather than someone muddling and he’s one of the many faces I think of when I think of the word “B-Movie”, a word that gives me no limit of warm feelings. One of my favorite actors, despite not liking most of his movies.

33) Your favorite movie about high school.

Dazed and Confused. And I do wonder if I was lucky enough to have seen it for the first time in my freshman year of college and so just right down the middle between looking back the way Linklater does with the film and looking forward like the characters do on at the beginning of another chapter (a vibe I think Linklater is very good at capturing since he gave me the same vibe in Boyhood the summer when I graduated from undergrad). The only movie that almost gives me that same sense of timeliness was seeing American Graffiti in my senior year of high school.

34) The movie you’d most like to be subjected to a DVD commentary, and the person or persons (living or dead) who you’d like to hear talking on it.

I should absolutely have a better fucking answer than this but I can’t help that my brain first goes to Miami Connection with Bong Joon-ho and Y.K. Kim conversing mostly in Korean so English viewer need subtitles for the commentary. I’m not even sure it would vibe given Bong is pretty clearly a socialist and Kim feels like he’s more capitalist, but who knows? They both seem like fellas who are eager to make friends.

35) Your favorite animated movie.

I’m going with Grave of the Fireflies for right now, but this is a question where the answer is always fluid from me. In fact, I very nearly went with Duck Amuck above but that felt lazy to use it twice.

36) Most overly familiar dialogue phrase used in screenwriting, usually to connote coolness of a character or, more often, the screenwriter (Example: “Do the math!”)

I honestly can’t think of any uses of “nice shot” or “made you look” except for Captain America: Civil War for the latter, so I might go with “Tell him I’m coming!” except the only ones I can remember are The Limey, Tombstone (which I haven’t seen but I’ve seen the clip), and Resident Evil: Extinction and they’re all too cool.

“Have a nice trip” is one that I imagine used by a whole lot of action heroes when they just kill a dude but the only memory I have of it is the weird non-sequitur use of it in The Dark Knight.

37) Your favorite Howard Hawks movie.

His Girl Friday and I don’t even need to think twice and I never will think twice and you can’t make me think twice and look here fella…

38) Carrie Fisher or Natalie Portman?

The hat trick for my “_______ is the better actor but…” responses to these questions. In which case, Portman is the better actor – sold 100% after the 2018 one-two punch of Annihilation and Vox Lux – and I do admire a lot about her attempts to get more women behind the camera but Carrie Fisher’s writing is incredibly charming and by a country mile the material I’d prefer to remember her by over her acting.

Plus if we’re talking Star Wars, I do think Leia is better-written and Fisher got to improve by each movie while Portman just kept getting worse and worse writing with each installment. And because I am a shallow dude, I found Leia hotter.

39) Your favorite kung fu movie.

Jackie Chan’s Police Story, with its amusing Buster Keaton physical elements even outside of the amazing fight sequences.

40) In the spirit of Freddy vs. Jason, devise a fantasy smackdown
matchup between two movie characters, fictional or drawn from life.

John Wick vs. Kuwabatake Sanjuro. The unstoppable vs. the unkillable.

I know this makes no temporal sense at all and is logistically impossible, but it’s not like it’s gonna be made and I’m just trying to have fun and I’m fucking terrible at this.

41) Your ultimate fantasy drive-in double feature.

Planet Terror and Death Proof

Death Race 2000 and Vanishing Point or Duel and Maximum Overdrive

I’ve long decided since leaving a drive-in showing of Mad Max: Fury Road a few months ago that the only movies to watch at a drive-in are road movies or car-centric movies. I figure the two I named are a fitting enough pair for breezy good times.

42) Funniest… movie… ever!

I know I said I didn’t want to recycle Duck Amuck for two answers, but fortunately I did not have to invoke Duck Soup when answering the Marx brothers question and only used a clip. So now I’ll just use a second clip for the funniest movie ever.

Skrrt Skrrt in Reverse

There is a claim amongst those who have chosen to go to the cinema to see Christopher Nolan’s latest film Tenet* that it is way too confusing. I get where the attitude is coming from too, since Nolan’s script is basically filled with the continuous dumps of exposition that have made him a notorious storyteller but particularly the stuff focusing on its central conceit is delivered in labyrinthine convolutions that even our Protagonist (John David Washington) needs a minute to digest and calibrate to, something sadly prevented on account of Tenet‘s notoriously poor dialogue sound-mixing**. And speaking of our unnamed Protagonist, the manner in which character or story feels more thin and obligatory than anywhere else in Nolan’s career probably just made viewers feel like it wasn’t worth the work of sorting out that dense stuff.

But, also I don’t really care.

Which is not the same thing as saying that Nolan doesn’t care since I’d claim elements regarding the character of Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) and certain reveals come from a place that assumes we have more connection to the characters than I think it accomplishes. But I do think it’s clear that Nolan just wanted most of the story material to act as stakes or pretext to what he’s really trying to play with.

And what he’s ostensibly supposed to be playing with is time, but what I feel like Tenet is REALLY playing with… something that made it an absolute blast for me and an incredibly swift 2 1/2 hours in the theater… is momentum. Pure forward momentum, with editor Jennifer Lame throwing us right into the first action setpiece to heart-pounding bass rhythm of Ludwig Göransson’s phenemonal score – both replacing Nolan’s long-time collaborators Lee Smith and Hans Zimmer for the first time and making their mark from the first frame. The thrust of Tenet‘s pacing is a thing of which it shares with the best 21st Century action films***, but what I really think Tenet shares most of its M.O. with is The Terminator. That movie – possibly the best action movie of all time – finds a way to keep running forward with its characters while still consistently and regularly dropping new bits of information to deepen what originally began as just as an interminable chase.

Tenet isn’t a chase, though, it is a globe-trotting espionage tale. It is basically Nolan’s attempt at his own science-fiction James Bond picture with areas of luxury porn and villain lairs. Washington proves to be suave and relaxed enough to fill that sardonic secret agent type while still finding room to respond in emotionally plausible ways as he learns more about Kat or his partner Neil (Robert Pattinson, likewise relaxed in a proper sloppy way). It even gladly gives Kenneth Branagh the easiest opportunity to ham up a Russian accent for the sake of cartoonish Bond villain bombast.

And it’s probably here that I confess that my hesitance to sum up the plot is based on wanting to give as little of the twisty plot away as possible since the whiplash of those reveals is part of what launches us just be another of Tenet‘s a plentiful popcorn setpieces of varying scale. Suffice it to say that the Protagonist learns of an eponymous organization that deals with time travel and a potentially devastating future and the movie follows his investigation into the organization while learning firsthand of the method of time travel: objects are inverted in their entropy to a point that they experience the same linear time but in the opposite direction from us. So it looks to the eye (camera or otherwise) like the subject is moving backwards, whether falling up into a hand or being fired into a gun.

Essentially, the camera trick that this conceit recruits into being the star of the film is the oldest in the book: running film backwards (and while I doubt that they actually performed this manually as that is maniacal in the 21st Century, I expect that celluloid purist Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema felt further kindred to that trick by shooting in 70mm IMAX). Here is where it is most impressive that Nolan and Lame are able to make Tenet as a film feel like it’s driving down its path without stopping even in the moments where the sudden change to backwards movement should feel like a gear shift. Van Hoytema maintains the same sleekness with the reversed elements in any given shot as the forwarded elements and the cleanliness of combining the two is completely exciting to experience, particularly in action sequences where we are taken by surprise with what is reverted while Lame just clips each shot ever so slightly so that the abruptness of a cut makes us consistently feel disarmed without losing coordination with the pieces of a sequence.

That latter part is particularly most admirable of Lame’s involvement and one of the most underrated things I find about Tenet and probably the biggest reason I wasn’t bothered by the lack of clarity with regards to the why or how is its clarity regarding what’s happening in a moment-by-moment sense. For one thing, halfway through the film we are introduced to a color-coding with red and blue in a subtle moment regarding what state certain characters are in during a particular moment and this is later given an overt reminder with a specific lighting of an industrial set. For another, Göransson gladly utilises backmasking in moments where the Protagonist or Neil (and thereby we as an audience) are meant to be experiencing the inversion ourselves, giving us an aural experience that matches the visuals of a world moving the opposite way as us, while still maintaining a steady bass beat all throughout to keep us drawn in (I imagine that this comes particularly from Göransson’s background as a hip hop producer and man does it result in possibly the best score for a Nolan movie to date).

None of this negates how obstructive the dialogue mixing is, particularly when I mentioned above that consistent reveals feel just as much a part of the momentum as the action itself. But I definitely found myself catching up to each moment with enough focus. “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.” is the button to one of our central exposition scenes and I have to say that that philosophy worked well for me watching Tenet. It is like most other Nolan pictures in that if you stop to give it too much thought and it will eventually fall apart (this is even true of his most-acclaimed picture, The Dark Knight). But if you are willing to just pay attention and get ahold of what’s going, you will have good time just swaying with every swing that it throws you on. If you’re not down with that, well then you may as well be playing the movie backwards.

*Which to those who have decided not to go to a movie theater, my due respect to you. I understand it is a theater-by-theater case regarding the measures taken while we’re still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic but the theater I went to (which I will not name) did not feel as safe as I’d hoped and I don’t think there’s another release coming that I intend to go to a cinema to watch for the next several months. I had a great time as the review should indicate, but I am conflicted about my act and will not be recommending anyone to go to a movie theater as long as COVID is active in their area.
**Nolan has claimed that this is deliberate to add subterfuge and confusion. I honestly find that kind of shitty.
***Mad Max: Fury Road, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum are the ones that I think of when I say that, none of which Tenet is even close to the level of, I am sorry to say but not too sorry.