So, I’m pretty sure this was my first ever encounter with Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blog’s quizzes and that I ended up posting my answers way back in a facebook note for my friends rather than any blog which I did not have at the time. I’m sure those answers were all very useless and stupid as I was certainly in undergrad at the time (this was originally posted in December 2006 but I’m pretty sure I encountered and engaged with it in 2012). Now that I’m out of college and a member of society… my brain has developed… it has evolved… now I’m stupid faster!
1) What was the last movie you saw, either in a theater or on DVD, and why?
In theaters was still Tenet unfortunately as I am filling this out at the end of the dread year 2020. On DVD was A Charlie Brown Christmas because it’s that time of year, y’all.
2) Name the cinematographer whose work you most look forward to seeing, and an example of one of his/her finest achievements.
Emmanuel Lubezki is the basic answer but he is absolutely the one I look most forward to, especially given that I don’t think I’ve seen him work on a film since Song to Song. And I’d definitely point out any collaboration with Cuarón or Malick as one of his finest achievements but I particularly think of Knight of Cups in its radical look at Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
3) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson?
Never bet against Mitchell.
4) Name a moment from a movie that made you gasp (in horror, surprise, revelation…)
The moment that door knocks at the end of The Public Enemy which James Cagney, I knew exactly what was gonna end up behind that door and it didn’t feel any less cold of a move when the brother opens the door and I gasped at a movie for the first time.
5) Your favorite movie about the movies.
Singin’ in the Rain. I’m that easy.
6) Your Favorite Fritz Lang movie.
M. I’m REALLY that easy.
7) Describe the first time you ever recognized yourself in a movie.
In a Lonely Place when Humphrey Bogart uses two of the only people who can tolerate him to gleefully describe a murder to their discomfort.
8) Carole Bouquet or Angela Molina?
I haven’t seen much with either actor (and I think Molina’s roles that I saw were more homages rather than the actual thing), but Bouquet plays one of the most underrated Bond Girls ever in For Your Eyes Only and that makes me want to give this round to hers.
9) Name a movie that redeems the notion of nostalgia as something more than a bankable commodity.
The wrong fucking question to answer in the age of Disney buying up every nostalgic property and using it as a brand, but I’ll answer it anyway and choose Logan. And to illustrate this further, I’ll use Dark Phoenix as an example: that’s a movie that has zero emotion to it because we’re barely familiar with the characters in that manner. Logan – particularly as a sober farewell to certain characters – functions as impressively as it does because Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Xavier are as familiar to us as they could possibly be 17 years later and it actually uses that recognition as something that deepens this story of one man watching his body finally fail and die on him.
(I could have also went with Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood but that would have been too easy).
10) Favorite appearance by an athlete in an acting role.
Jim Bouton in The Long Goodbye
11) Favorite Hal Ashby movie.
Harold and Maude
12) Name the first double feature you’d program for opening night of your own revival theater.
Demons and Goodbye, Dragon Inn (and in the eventual closure of that theater that would definitely happen, it would also be the final double feature).
13) What’s the name of your revival theater?
Same answer as I had the last time I did this: The Colour and the Shape.
14) Humphrey Bogart or Elliot Gould?
Bogie as Marlowe and as actor, though I do love me Elliot Gould and especially with his Altman performances including The Long Goodbye. I will say neither of them are as good in the role of Phillip Marlowe as the real MVP, Mr. Dick Powell.
15) Favorite Robert Stevenson movie.
Mary Poppins, baby.
16) Describe your favorite moment in a movie that is memorable because of its use of sound.
Charles Chaplin in City Lights taking his first opportunity in a sound film to overdub some stately speech-making affair with absolute gibberish.
17) Pink Flamingoes— yes or no?
Yes. It was a date movie. It has sentimental value to me.
18) Your favorite movie soundtrack score.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, though I do sometimes lean 8 1/2.
19) Fay Wray or Naomi Watts?
Naomi Watts. Though it is a bit unfair. Wray was the superior Ann in her King Kong movie but Watts just gets more opportunities. Wray has had to work hard to prove herself a great actress, never got roles worth her talent, and certainly never got such a silver platter role as Mulholland Dr.
20) Is there a movie that would make you question the judgment and/or taste of a film critic, blogger or friend if you found out they were an advocate of it?
The Birth of a Nation. This late in the game, I have failed to hear any compelling argument of its place in history besides being at the right and wrong place at the right and wrong time.
21) Pick a new category for the Oscars and its first deserving winner.
Best Choreography and while the years most recent would be packed to the brim of hard competition, I imagine this year only really lends itself to Birds of Prey as the most deserving winner, as would likely be the case of any movie whose 2nd unit involved Chad Stahelski.
(Which it IS, those fight scenes were the most fun I had with the movie)
22) Favorite Paul Verhoeven movie.
23) What is it that you think movies do better than any other art form?
It specifies that each viewer sees the same thing for the same amount of time, as that’s basically what the cut – the most distinguishing element of cinema as an art – grants us: a unity of image and a duration to it. And yet it’s still able to be non-prescriptivist enough that not everyone is going to get the same thing out of the same thing. It’s capable of abstract unrealities (or reality simulcra) that communicate the same thing to audiences without dictating how to process them and that is impressive.
24) Peter Ustinov or Albert Finney?
Albert Finney, with much love to Ustinov anyway for Quo Vadis and The Great Muppet Caper.
25) Favorite movie studio logo, as it appears before a theatrical feature.
The VistaVision logo.
26) Name the single most important book about the movies for you personally.
The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb. The first textbook I had during undergrad in film that I actually enjoyed reading and it gave me a direct idea on the trials and tribulations of filmmaking and problem solving while having the context of what resulted in one of my favorite movies. Not as good a read as The Disaster Artist or as dissecting as Hitchcock/Truffaut and there are many more movie-based movies that bring me to a more exploratory or intellectual mood, but you never forget your first.
27) Name the movie that features the best twist ending. (Please note the use of any “spoilers” in your answer.)
Ah, now “ending” is the operative word because I was pretty close to just making this Psycho and being happy with it. The Sting is probably my favorite twist ending but the best has to be The Empire Strikes Back… I can’t imagine any more heavy twist ending in a movie to date outside of that one. If I have kids, I will do anything I can to make sure that ending is not spoiled for them before they watch it.
28) Favorite Francois Truffaut movie.
Shoot the Piano Player.
29) Olivia Hussey or Claire Danes?
Olivia Hussey, as Juliet and as actor.
30) Your most memorable celebrity encounter.
Ryan Gosling almost bumped into my friend as four of us were walking down a street during Cannes 2014 and everybody except me recognized him. Realizing that I didn’t actually look at the dude that passed us by, my friends and I ended up trying to catch up with him and what I assume were his bodyguards… as slowly as possible… down a dark street at night… in France.
We figured very early on that we were definitely stalking that guy to our embarrassment.
31) When did you first realize that films were directed?
(I cribbed this one from The House Next Door. Thanks, Matt! Great question!)
I wanted to take a moment to copy and paste the answer I gave the first time I did this: “At the age of 12, I decided I wanted to act in movies (on a relevant note, I am not a good actor), but couldn’t find anyone who was making a movie so I may as well make my own. And my first thought was ‘Who makes a movie?’. I mistaked the producer’s job with the director’s (or I think I mixed their tasks together). I had been familiar with the name of Steven Spielberg, but I thought he was just the guy everybody owed money to in Hollywood.”
But that takes the question at its most literal, I presume, and I think what it really shoots for is “what moment while watching a movie made me RECOGNIZE they were directed?” And I think that may have ended up being Who Frames Roger Rabbit‘s ambitious usage of live-action and animation in one frame while mixing in noir making me recognize “Holy shit, someone actually thought of mixing these tones and actively put it all together in one.” So nicely done, Zemeckis. And I expect Back to the Future‘s whole third act also added to this revelation.