Friday, 26 December 2008

Holiday Movie Quiz

As an additional Christmas present to myself, I decided to take Professor Kingsfield's Hair-Raising, Bar-Raising Holiday Movie Quiz from over at Sergio Leone And The Infield Fly Rule. These quizzes happen about quarterly and they are a blast to fill out and even better when you read everyone else's responses.

So here we go...

1) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD or Blu-ray?

The last theatrical showing would've been "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" with my son and his friend. It was OK, but their giggling made it so much better.

My last DVD viewing was "Creepshow 2" just last night 'cause nothing says Christmas like a horror anthology. It too was OK...A pretty dull first story, followed by a good monster tale in the middle (a large pile of sludge in a small lake attacks some kids on a raft) and finishing up with what could have been the best part - a woman who runs into a hitchhiker, flees the scene and then can't shake that same hitchhiker who keeps popping up around, on or in her car (getting progressively bloodier each time) - but is too lazy to work with atmosphere or tension and instead has the lone woman driver talk to herself the whole time (as she rationalizes her actions and screams and curses the hitchhiker). As a family we had watched "A Christmas Story" just beforehand and loved it just as much as we did when we watched it last year.

2) Holiday movies— Do you like them naughty or nice?

Geez, I don't know...I like 'em both. I guess I would lean towards the nice ones, since I like my holiday movies to end on an up note, but I don't have a problem if they want to get mean and vicious somewhere in the middle.

I have an odd fondness for "White Christmas", but "Scrooged", "Christmas Vacation" and the aforementioned "A Christmas Story" are my fall backs. And Alistair Sim's "Scrooge" (which my Dad and I watched a bit of last night as well).

3) Ida Lupino or Mercedes McCambridge?

Ida. No offense to Mercedes, but Ida not only appeared in some terrific noirs, but directed some as well. She must've been one helluva tough cookie...

4) Favorite actor/character from Twin Peaks

The music. I'm not a hard core devotee of the show and haven't seen all the episodes, but I always found the music (in particular that opening theme) set the tone exceedingly well.

5) It’s been said that, rather than remaking beloved, respected films, Hollywood should concentrate more on righting the wrongs of the past and tinker more with films that didn’t work so well the first time. Pretending for a moment that movies are made in an economic vacuum, name a good candidate for a remake based on this criterion.

I'd like to see another really good heist film - "Topkapi", "The Anderson Tapes" and "The Hot Rock" all were slight disappointments for me, so using the central concepts of those films wouldn't be a bad idea. Get some good characters, a witty but compact script and work through a complicated yet hopefully somewhat realistic heist.

6) Favorite Spike Lee joint.

"Do The Right Thing", if only because the characters and what they say frustrate me so much while I'm watching it - the misunderstandings, the small incidents that get blown out of proportion, the people with chips on their shoulder that piss me off - that I get all worked up about the very issue the film is trying to bring out for discussion.

And it's an amazing looking film too.

7) Lawrence Tierney or Scott Brady?

I didn't even have to look up who Scott Brady is to know that the answer is Lawrence Tierney. As it turns out, they were brothers. You still can't mess with the lit fuse that was Tierney.

8) Are most movies too long?

If it's good, it's just the right length (e.g. P.T. Anderson's 3 hour "Magnolia" and 90 minute "Punch Drunk Love" are 2 of my favourite films of the past decade).

Having said that, I do tend to look for shorter movies these days...There's been a bit of a tendency to stretch some films towards 2 hours when they should be cutting back to 90 minutes (or less). A good example are some of the Apatow (and Apatow-style) comedies - I enjoy them, but they are usually longer then they need to be. And that typically hurts the film a bit.

9) Favorite performance by an actor portraying a real-life politician.

I'm blanking a bit on this one, but the first thing that came to mind was Colm Feore's performance as Pierre Elliott Trudeau in a 2-part made for TV biopic.

10) Create the main event card for the ultimate giant movie monster smackdown.

For the classic monsters, I think the Japanese already covered it (Godzilla vs. Mothra). For the more recent variety, that thing in "The Host" vs. that thing in "Cloverfield". Now that's a Pay Per View match!

11) Jean Peters or Sheree North?

Jean was in "Pickup On South Street" which certainly helps, but Sheree has 4 times the number of credits and was in piles of TV. So I'm going with Lou Grant's old girlfriend Sheree...

12) Why would you ever want or need to see a movie more than once?

Why would you ever want to look at a piece of art more than once? Or re-read a book. Or listen to an album you've heard before? It's about the joy and comfort of experiencing art that appeals to you, re-experiencing moments that make you smile and discovering new things in works you thought you knew.

Pauline Kael was a great writer, but she missed the boat here.

13) Favorite road movie.

I'll go with "Almost Famous". Three others that jump to mind are "Y Tu Mama Tambien", "The Sure Thing" and "Going Places" (a 1974 French film I just posted about the other day). All fine examples.

14) Favorite Budd Boetticher picture.

Sadly, I've never seen one. I will rectify that over the coming year (I'm tempted to buy that box set blind).

15) Who is the one person, living or dead, famous or unknown, who most informed or encouraged your appreciation of movies?

I have to say, it might be Roger Ebert. Just watching him and Siskel discussing movies on their old PBS show (and later the syndicated one) - the overarching themes and the small details - made me start thinking of film in a different way. And as I started watching some of their recommendations, I found new avenues open to me. I tended to side with Ebert at the time.

16) Favorite opening credit sequence. (Please include YouTube link if possible.)

"Panic Room", "Anatomy Of A Murder", "Monsters Inc.", "Playtime", "To Kill A Mockingbird" (though the music may be different in this video) and "Halloween".

17) Kenneth Tobey or John Agar?

Didn't recognize either name, but after a quick Google Image search, I certainly recognized both their faces. Tobey is the most easily recognizable - I just saw him in "The Vampire" and he was in "Airplane" along with a number of noirs. Case closed.

18) Jean-Luc Godard once suggested that the more popular the movie, the less likely it was that it was a good movie. Is he right or just cranky? Cite the best evidence one way or the other.

Either way, Godard is cranky. It's a statement that implies that "good" is objective - and as much as I want to think that sometimes, it's not true. Elements of filmmaking can be looked at objectively, but not the whole. It's a personal reaction.

19) Favorite Jonathan Demme movie.

"Stop Making Sense". The big suit, the different lighting for every song, the energy of the band, the single take of David Byrne throughout "Once In A Lifetime", the jogging, etc. One of the best concert films ever.

20) Tatum O’Neal or Linda Blair?

Tatum - I had a big crush on her in "Bad News Bears". And she rarely spins her head completely around so that helps.

21) Favorite use of irony in a movie. (This could be an idea, moment, scene, or an entire film.)

"The Others" is my first thought so I'm sticking with it. "Reality Bites" has a good scene about irony in it (though I didn't care for the film overall much) - Winona Ryder's character is pushing for a job writing until she is asked to define irony. When she can't, she says "But I know it when I see it!". End of interview...

22) Favorite Claude Chabrol film.

I just saw an early film by him entitled "A Double Tour". I quite liked it even if the ending fizzled a bit. Since it's the only Chabrol I've seen (sigh, yet something else I need to fix over the next year), I'll go with that.

23) The best movie of the year to which very little attention seems to have been paid.

Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Still Walking" and Valdis Oskarsdottir's "Country Wedding". The former is a wonderful examination of a family with plenty of charm and sadness. The latter is like an hilarious Icelandic Dogme 95 road film done by Christopher Guest.

Neither has been released in North America as far as I know though, so maybe I'll go with "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". The trailer didn't sell the movie at all, but when I began hearing some pretty decent reviews in a few corners, I caught up with it on DVD. The cast is great, there's some real character based humour, Russell Brand is terrific and Jason Seagel's "Dracula" song deserves an Oscar nomination.

24) Dennis Christopher or Robby Benson?

Robby Benson always kinda creeped me out on the cover of my sister's Tiger Beat magazines...And anyway, "Breaking Away" is a favourite film of mine, so how can I not choose Christopher? On top of that, while looking at his credits on IMDB, I see that he has way more than I expected, appeared in a Fellini film ("Roma"), two Altman ones ("3 Women", "A Wedding") and an Oscar winner for Best Picture ("Chariots Of Fire").

25) Favorite movie about journalism.

"All The President's Men" is the obvious choice and also a damn good choice. But I think I'll lean towards "Almost Famous" simply because I like to mention that film whenever I can.

26) What’s the DVD commentary you’d most like to hear? Who would be on the audio track?

I'd love to hear a Buster Keaton commentary over any of his films talking about his stunts, how they were filmed and what it was like making pictures at that time. I always found him fascinating whenever I heard interviews in his later years.

27) Favorite movie directed by Clint Eastwood.

His films don't typically scream out to me that I need to see them..."Unforgiven" is the exception.

28) Paul Dooley or Kurtwood Smith?

Dooley. Didn't I just say that "Breaking Away" is a favourite?

29) Your clairvoyant moment: Make a prediction about the Oscar season.

"Man On Wire" for Best Documentary, "WALL-E" for Best Animated Picture (going out on a limb for that one...) and they will likely pick the least deserving song for Best Song.

30) Your hope for the movies in 2009.

That they keep getting made.

31) What’s your top 10 of 2008? (If you have a blog and have your list posted, please feel free to leave a link to the post.)

Well, my blog posting when I get to it later this week will be more about the best things I saw this year (regardless of when they were made) because I rarely see enough new films in a calendar year to talk about the best over the past 12 months. I did see a bunch this year though, but mostly from film festivals. Here goes anyway:

1. Synecdoche NY
2. Still Walking
3. Country Wedding
4. Man On Wire
5. Let The Right One In
7. C'est Pas Moi Je Le Jure
8. 4bia
9. Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
10. Soul Power

BONUS QUESTION (to be answered after December 25):

32) What was your favorite movie-related Christmas gift you received?

"A Century Of Canadian Cinema" by Gerald Pratley. Didn't even know the book existed and I'm woefully ignorant on my own nation's film history.


Marc Saint-Cyr said...

All good answers, Bob! Regarding the Pratley book, I also have it, as I've also been eager to learn more about our country's cinema (especially after my trip), but I tend to find him a bit grouchy and snotty. His guide is useful, but he bashes Ginger Snaps, Leolo and Maddin's Dracula! So use it with a grain of salt, and if you want to read more about Canadian film, there's a small book of interviews with Canadian filmmakers that came out recently called "The Young, The Restless and the Dead" that's worth checking out.

Bob Turnbull said...

Thank you good sir! I'll look out for "The Young, The Restless and the Dead". As for Pratley's comments about Ginger Snaps and Maddin's Dracula, them's fightin' words! I'll give him a chance to redeem himself, but that's not starting out on the right foot!

I haven't seen Leolo yet, so I can't say...That could've been the third strike.

Jamie said...

I think a good example for the "are movies too long?" question is "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." I plan on writing about it in the next day or two, but for a movie that's nearly three hours, it feels like ninety minutes.

Don't get me started on the attention span of moviegoers. I'm not trying to be all high and mighty, but I cannot fathom someone not being able to sit through a movie running nearly three hours. If it's a good film, you won't even notice the time going by.

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