Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Professor Irwin Corey's Foremostly Authoritative Spring Break Movie Quiz

Remember Professor Dave Jennings’ Milton-Free, Universe-Expanding Holiday Midterm? Here's Dennis Cozzalio's latest meme from over at his Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blog. As before, feel free to take the test yourself and post your answers in my Comment section, or take a look at Dennis' site to see how other test-takers reacted.

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1) What movie did you have to see multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?
BLADE RUNNER. I’m still surprised at how popular it has become, particularly considering it was neither a box-office hit nor a critical success upon its original 1982 theatrical release. I didn’t like it when I originally saw it, not in a theater, but on VHS around 1983 or 1984. Yes, it’s a visually stunning piece, but the acting is flat and the story barely extant. Still, the building critical raves over the decades had me believing that maybe I (and nearly everyone else who saw it then) was wrong, that BLADE RUNNER was a masterpiece. It was unquestionably an influential movie as far as its production design was concerned. A friend and co-worker who is a huge BLADE RUNNER fan convinced me to watch it again last year on DVD, the first time I had seen it in its original aspect ratio and without Harrison Ford’s notorious narration. I still don’t think it’s a good film. Sean Young’s robotic performance doesn’t convince me that Ford would fall for her (of course, he despised her in real life) and the turgid pacing feels deathly. BLADE RUNNER is not very much fun, outside of Rutger Hauer’s scenery-chewing, which led to a short career as a leading man in genre films worse (SPLIT SECOND) or not much better (WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE) than this one.

2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated
Wes Anderson. Ouch. I’ve tried, I really have, but RUSHMORE, BOTTLE ROCKET and especially THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS failed to move me, even though I really wanted to like them and many people I respect are fans of them. I had a reasonably good time with THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU though. I loved the performances by Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and especially Willem Dafoe.

3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another film or bit of pop culture within another film.
Since I’m on the subject, THE LIFE AQUATIC’s closing crawl takeoff on the end of THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI is cheeky fun.

4) Favorite Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger movie
Never seen one. Do I belong in Movie Jail?

5) Your favorite Oscar moment
A tie between the streaker that crashed David Niven and Clint Eastwood substituting for a delayed-in-traffic Charlton Heston and stumbling through cue cards prepared for Heston, BEN-HUR gags and all. “Flip the card, man, this ain’t my bag.” Isaac Hayes performing “Theme from SHAFT” while dressed in chains is pretty badass too.

6) Hugo Weaving or Guy Pearce?
Pearce, because he was in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, one of Hollywood’s all-time best crime dramas.

7) Movie that you feel gave you the greatest insight into a world/culture/person/place/event that you had no understanding of before seeing it
I never realized that bar bouncers were such legendary heroes—almost like modern-day cowboys—until I immersed myself into the romantic world of ROAD HOUSE. How could I have known that the best bouncers are known by name and legend in sleazy, dirty taverns all across the country? That, just like the Amish, whenever a bouncer runs into trouble that he can’t handle alone, he just has to put out a call, and his fellow bouncers will drop what they’re doing and travel cross-country to help out, even if it means side-stepping local law enforcement to stop the local rich guy from smashing car dealerships with his monster truck.

8) Favorite Samuel Fuller movie
I’ll go with PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET with its great, weasly leading performance by Richard Widmark. Put down HOUSE OF BAMBOO for 2nd place.

9) Monica Bellucci or Maria Grazia Cucinotta?
Oh, Lord, Monica would likely win, no matter whose name came after the “or.” Jesus Palomino!

10) What movie can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Either ORDINARY PEOPLE or CHANGE OF HABIT.

11) Conversely, what movie can destroy a day’s worth of good humor just by catching a glimpse of it while channel surfing?
I don’t think I’ve ever been pissed off by a movie so badly that it ruined my day. I’ve seen some real stinkers, movies that were not just terrible, but also cynical and lazy, such as BAD COMPANY and SWORDFISH. But I can turn them off easily enough if I pass their channel.

12) Favorite John Boorman movie
I know I’m expected to say EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC here, but I’m going with DELIVERANCE.

13) Warren Oates or Bruce Dern?
Toughest call I’ll make all year, you bastards, but…I’ll say…Dern, who starred in DRIVE, HE SAID and THE INCREDIBLE 2-HEADED TRANSPLANT in the same year.

14) Your favorite aspect ratio
2.35:1. And I don’t even have a widescreen television.

15) Before he died in 1984, Francois Truffaut once said: “The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it.” Is there any evidence that Truffaut was right? Is it Truffaut’s tomorrow yet?
I don’t know what he’s talking about, and I’m not certain he knew. It seems to me that most films in some way resemble their directors. For instance, just like BAD BOYS and ARMAGEDDON, Michael Bay is an obnoxious, overbearing, arrogant loudmouth with more money than couth.

16) Favorite Werner Herzog movie
AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD

17) Favorite movie featuring a rampaging, oversized or otherwise mutated beast, or beasts
Does a bloody, 400-year-old midget Indian spawned from a womb attached to Susan Strasberg’s back count? In that case, I’ll go with THE MANITOU, though, really, how can you pick one William Girdler movie over others like GRIZZLY and DAY OF THE ANIMALS? How about if I go with BEGINNING OF THE END, if only because it’s set in and around my hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois?

18) Sandra Bernhard or Sarah Silverman?
Sarah Silverman: hot and funny. More hot than funny, actually.

19) Your favorite, or most despised, movie cliché
I hate when the audience hears only one side of a telephone conversation, so the caller has to repeat everything the person on the other end of the line says for our benefit. I also hate when two people are having a conversation, and the film cuts to a different place at a different time, yet the people are still having the same conversation, like they actually traveled through time.

20) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-- yes or no?
Plenty of time for love, Dr. Jones.

21) Favorite Nicholas Ray movie
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE

22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated
My most recent entry would be EUROTRIP, which is a hilariously witty and sometimes crude teen comedy whose box-office success was killed by its trailer, which made it look like just another brain-dead comedy. Every time I urge someone to watch it, they end up loving it and wondering, “What took me so long to see this?” However, USED CARS may well be the funniest film ever made (as well as the most quotable), though I rarely see it pop up in any list of top film comedies. “Fifty bucks never killed anybody.”

23) Your favorite movie dealing with the subject of television
Tie between MY FAVORITE YEAR and QUIZ SHOW. Just recently, I saw AUTO FOCUS, which I liked, even though it ruined HOGAN’S HEROES reruns for me forever.

24) Bruno Ganz or Patrick Bauchau?
Eh. I’ll go with Bauchau, if only because he was on 24.

25) Your favorite documentary, or non-fiction, film
As a teenager, I must have watched Paul McCartney & Wings’ ROCKSHOW and Hal Ashby’s Rolling Stones concert film LET’S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER a zillion times. For documentary, it’s hard to beat HOOP DREAMS.

26) According to Orson Welles, the director’s job is to “preside over accidents.” Name a favorite moment from a movie that seems like an accident, or a unintended, privileged moment. How did it enhance or distract from the total experience of the movie?
In GONE WITH 60 SECONDS, during the incredible 40-minute car chase that closes the movie, there’s a stunt-gone-wrong where the Mustang driven by star/stuntman/writer/director H.B. Halicki actually spins out of control and smacks into a telephone pole. It actually enhances the film, considering that the entire exercise exists only so Halicki can play make-believe and crash some cars. It was clearly a dangerous production with the likelihood that not a lot of care went into making sure the stuntmen didn’t get hurt, and the botched stunt is a painful reminder of GONE IN 60 SECONDS’ maverick production. Adding to the moment is the knowledge that Halicki would die a few years later during an awry car stunt while making GONE IN 60 SECONDS 2.

27) Favorite Wim Wenders movie
PARIS, TEXAS

28) Elizabeth Pena or Penelope Cruz?
Pena, who was so great in the underrated TV series SHANNON’S DEAL and especially in John Sayles’ wonderful LONE STAR.

29) Your favorite movie tagline
I don’t remember if it was used on the poster, but I love this narration from DIE HARD’s trailer: “John McClane…he’s an easy man to like…and a hard man…to kill.” Actual tagline: how can you beat MANIAC COP’s “You have the right to remain silent…forever”?

30) As a reader, filmgoer, or film critic, what do you want from a film critic, or from film criticism? And where do you see film criticism in general headed?
I suspect film critics will continue to become less relevant as Hollywood—and its audiences—slide closer to the culture prominently displayed in IDIOCRACY, which will look more like a documentary as the years roll on. One flaw in film criticism is that only current films in wide theatrical release receive the lion’s share of print and TV space. Even if a smaller film or documentary receives raves, it may take months for it to arrive in my local theater (if at all) and more months for it to arrive on DVD, by which time I have forgotten about it. My major pet peeve with critics is that direct-to-video films are almost completely ignored. Just because it didn’t play in a theater doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of note, but when’s the last time you saw Roger Ebert or the New York Times cover a DTV release (to be fair, Entertainment Weekly occasionally does)? Multiplexes are overrun by crummy low-budget horror movies, all of which are written about in major newspapers and magazines, but did any of them review DEVIL’S DEN, a competent and funny vampire/zombie flick that horror fans would probably enjoy—much more so than ALIENS VS. PREDATOR 2.

EXTRA CREDIT: Do movies still matter?
Always, man, always.

3 comments:

ld said...

I hope you were serious about letting us post our answers. Here you go...

1) What movie did you have to see multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?
Napolean Dynamite. The first time I saw it, it was so completely unexpected I spent most of the movie simply trying to absorb it. I kept looking for a deeper message. There was none other than, “Relax and enjoy this.” Later, when thinking about the movie many of the scenes brought a smile to my face. The next time I watched it I put the analysis in standby mode and just went along for the ride. I laughed my ass off.

2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated
Spike Lee. (THAT’S RACIST!) OK. In truth, I’ve only seen “Summer of Sam”. And I kind of liked it, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype attached to it because of its director. Maybe I should watch the films that gained him notoriety in the first place. The only reason I feel he’s overrated is because most the notoriety he has nowadays seems attached to activities other than movie making (i.e. Nike commercials, espousing bizarre conspiracy theories about “The Man”, Nicks’ games, etc.). He’s seems to have become a caricature of himself.

3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another film or bit of pop culture within another film.
I know I have a million of these, but the only one I can recall right now was relayed to me second hand. Apparently in the Astronaut Farmer, there’s a scene where Billy Bob Thorton’s character gets grilled by the feds about a rocketship he’s building in his barn. When asked how the government can be sure he’s not assembling a WMD, he replies, “If I was, you wouldn’t have found it.”

4) Favorite Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger movie
After having to consult imdb, I can say I’ve never seen one.

5) Your favorite Oscar moment
Elia Kazan receiving the lifetime achievement award he so richly deserved. It gave me a whole new respect for actors who were willing to ignore political correctness and simply applaud a great artist for an outstanding body of work. It also confirmed my feelings of disgust for Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins who sat pouting during his ovation. That said, I was also pleasantly surprised by Warren Beatty who, despite being a limousine liberal, proved to be the only adult in his section and gave Kazan a standing ovation while the petulant children around him sat.

6) Hugo Weaving or Guy Pearce?
Weaving. He could take Pearce any day. Of course, I hear Pearce plays somewhat of a bad ass in The Proposition. Oh, were we talking about acting chops? In that case it’s a tie.

7) Movie that you feel gave you the greatest insight into a world/culture/person/place/event that you had no understanding of before seeing it
Control Room. I’ll admit I went into it somewhat suspect of the motives. I’d just seen Faherenheit 911 and was expecting another farcical propaganda piece. I couldn’t have been more surprised. I learned much about the modern Arab world that actually encouraged me. Suicide bombers and wailing mothers may get all the headlines, but the wider Arab world is much less radical than it’s portrayed. But this should have come as no surprise to me. So is the Christian world. In any case, it was one of the most open and honest documentaries I’ve seen.

8) Favorite Samuel Fuller movie
Looks like the only Fuller movie I’ve seen is The Big Red One. So, the Big Red One.

9) Monica Bellucci or Maria Grazia Cucinotta?
Maria, hands down.

10) What movie can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
The Kid. That’s right, I said it! I love the scene where the kid rips into Willis for being such a boring adult. Plus, as a pilot I love the notion that someday, future me could be flying around in a sweet twin-engine airplane.

11) Conversely, what movie can destroy a day’s worth of good humor just by catching a glimpse of it while channel surfing?
Steel Magnolias. That much estrogen would’ve dampened V-J Day.

12) Favorite John Boorman movie
It’s kind of a tie between Hell in the Pacific and Tailor of Panama. Hell in the Pacific had Lee Marvin, ‘nuff said. Tailor was a great Hitchcockian spy story with great performances, one of my favorites being Brendan Gleeson’s. Is there an accent that guy can’t do?

13) Warren Oates or Bruce Dern?
Oates.

14) Your favorite aspect ratio
Whatever widescreen is.

15) Before he died in 1984, Francois Truffaut once said: “The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it.” Is there any evidence that Truffaut was right? Is it Truffaut’s tomorrow yet?
I thought this was a film quiz, not a philosophy exam.

16) Favorite Werner Herzog movie
Grizzly Man is all I’ve seen. Very good. From what I can tell, he does a better job than most documentary film makers of getting out of the way and letting his subject tell the story.

17) Favorite movie featuring a rampaging, oversized or otherwise mutated beast, or beasts
Jurassic Park. God makes dinosaurs. God kills dinosaurs. God makes man. Man kills God. Man makes dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Man=Served.

18) Sandra Bernhard or Sarah Silverman?
Silverman.

19) Your favorite, or most despised, movie cliché
Most despised: when characters who clearly know all the ins and outs of the technology or procedures they’re using, but must explain said tech or procedure to another equally-competent character so the audience gets it. One of the reasons I love Mamet. He assumes you’re smart enough to keep up without back story.

20) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-- yes or no?
(sigh) No.

21) Favorite Nicholas Ray movie
The Flying Leathernecks. It has it all. Warbirds, Jarheads and the Duke whipping up on his pansy XO. I read later that these guys really didn’t like each other and that in many of the scenes the animosity portrayed is less acting and more venting.

22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated
Christian Bale. The guy’s probably the greatest actor of his generation but gets less press than his inferiors. Namely Tom Cruise and Ed Norton.

23) Your favorite movie dealing with the subject of television
As if there was more than one possible candidate—it’s Network. What other could possibly come close? Actually, I take that back. A Face in the Crowd came first and said much the same thing. OK, so I’m going with A Face in the Crowd, but Network is just a shade under.

24) Bruno Ganz or Patrick Bauchau?
Heil Ganz!

25) Your favorite documentary, or non-fiction, film
Band of Brothers. I won’t even try to describe why.

26) According to Orson Welles, the director’s job is to “preside over accidents.” Name a favorite moment from a movie that seems like an accident, or a unintended, privileged moment. How did it enhance or distract from the total experience of the movie?
Nothing comes to mind.

27) Favorite Wim Wenders movie
All I’ve seen is Land of Plenty. It was alright. It’s one I’d kind of like to watch again to see if I’d like it any better. Still, it was nice to see a Christian portrayed as something other than the usual Hollywood stereotype of bigoted redneck or duplicitous villain.

28) Elizabeth Pena or Penelope Cruz?
This is the hardest question on here. Neither one of them really does it for me, but I guess I’d lean towards Cruz.


29) Your favorite movie tag line (Thanks, Jim!)
Nothing comes to mind.

30) As a reader, filmgoer, or film critic, what do you want from a film critic, or from film criticism? And where do you see film criticism in general headed?
The funny thing is, I usually only read film critics afterwards to see if my impressions were shared. Call it a pathetic need for validation, but sometimes I just wonder, “Was I the only one that thought that?” If after time I find a critic generally shares my impressions, I’ll start using them as a litmus for whether or not I want to see something. I think there will always be a need for people who have a broad knowledge of film history and Hollywood behind the scenes. Too many of us have "real jobs" but love films and simply don’t have the time to read up. It’s good to have someone out there who can educate as well as editorialize.

Tolemite said...

1) What movie did you have to see multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?

'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' not only overcame a really bad personal association from the night i watched it, but really started to shine when i saw it a few more times.



2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated?

Has there ever been a more popular living wooden sculpture than Pierce Brosnan?



3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another film or bit of pop culture within another film.

I always dug the little James Bond riff in 'Trainspotting' when they're sniping at people in the park with the pellet gun.



4) Favorite Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger movie

Have not seen any, sorry.



5) Your favorite Oscar moment

Bjork wearing a goose.



6) Hugo Weaving or Guy Pearce?

Remember the part in 'L.A. Confidential' when Pearce's character receives a significant answer from James Cromwell's character and his expression barely moves 2 millimeters but changes completely from inquisitive to "oh shit i know it was you!" ? Well, not to put Weaving down, but that part seals the deal for Pearce for me.



7) Movie that you feel gave you the greatest insight into a world/culture/person/place/event that you had no understanding of before seeing it

'Crumb' took me to some weird and interesting places that i had no idea even existed. It's the first time I started realizing that to be truly great you have to eat, sleep and breathe your craft.



8) Favorite Samuel Fuller movie

Haven't seen any of Fuller's movies.



9) Monica Bellucci or Maria Grazia Cucinotta?

Oh, Monica ... really do I have to choose?



10) What movie can take a nothing day and suddenly
make it all seem worthwhile?

I recently had this happen with 'Star Wars'.



11) Conversely, what movie can destroy a day’s worth of good humor just by catching a glimpse of it while channel surfing?

Pretty much anything directed by Joel Schumacher or Nancy Meyers



12) Favorite John Boorman movie

'Deliverance'



13) Warren Oates or Bruce Dern?

Oates will bring in his big toe to kick Dern's butt.



14) Your favorite aspect ratio?

The one in which the film in question was meant to be seen.



15) Before he died in 1984, Francois Truffaut once said: “The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it.” Is there any evidence that Truffaut was right? Is it Truffaut’s tomorrow yet?

I don't get this. Maybe it's too late. I think film is always a reflection of the time and context in which it's made, for better or worse. History won't judge us kindly, i'm afraid.



16) Favorite Werner Herzog movie?

Though I'm having a hard time ruling out 'Fitzcarraldo', 'Grizzly Man' was fantastic. It takes a great filmmaker to get me to the edge of identifying with Treadwell, and then slowly pulling me back into repulsion once again.



17) Favorite movie featuring a rampaging, oversized or otherwise mutated beast, or beasts?

Although i've seen it about 40 times, I still never get sick of 'Tremors.'



18) Sandra Bernhard or Sarah Silverman?

Bernhard, not funny, not hot. Silverman, not funny but hot.



19) Your favorite, or most despised, movie cliché

Has to be the "hero shot twice in the shoulder but manages to fight on" cliche.



20) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-- yes or no?

No, screaming Kate Capshaw. No.



21) Favorite Nicholas Ray movie

I have seen part of 'King of Kings' in Spanish, so I have to say that one.



22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated

Is John C. Reilly underrated or just underacknowledged?



23) Your favorite movie dealing with the subject of television?

'Good Night and Good Luck'



24) Bruno Ganz or Patrick Bauchau?

Patrick Bauchau by default.



25) Your favorite documentary, or non-fiction, film

I've rarely been moved (read: frightened and infuriated) by a film as much as i was by 'Jesus Camp'



26) According to Orson Welles, the director’s job is to “preside over accidents.” Name a favorite moment from a movie that seems like an accident, or a unintended, privileged moment. How did it enhance or distract from the total experience of the movie?

The "What are you, a fuckin' parrot?" ad lib from 'Used Cars'. Adds greatly to an already hugely funny movie.



27) Favorite Wim Wenders movie

Movie Jail for me, I haven't seen any. (though 'Paris, Texas' has been on the list for about 9 years now.)



28) Elizabeth Pena or Penelope Cruz?

Scientologist or not, I have a weakness for Penelope Cruz.



29) Your favorite movie tag line

Man, there hasn't been a good one in a long time. A good one that comes to mind is for Predator 2: "He's in town with a few days to kill!"



30) As a reader, filmgoer, or film critic, what do you want from a film critic, or from film criticism? And where do you see film criticism in general headed?

I want to get a job as a film critic.

Hal said...

With limited time I'll do some now the rest later:

1) What movie did you have to see multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?

I didn't think much of FRIDAY FOSTER the first couple of times. After watching it a few more times, spread out, I'll put it second in the Pam Grier starring quartet behind COFFY. It's campy and a lot of fun, with a truly great cast.

2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated

Very close for me between Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.

3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another film or bit of pop culture within another film.

Too many to count for me, but I still get a chuckle out of John Ford parodying the spitoon scene from RIO BRAVO in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

5) Your favorite Oscar moment

Adrien Brody taking advantage of the once in a lifetime opportunity to give Halle a smooch. Yeah, like I wouldn't if I had the perfect excuse to! :)

10) What movie can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?

I list USED CARS elsewhere, so I won't here. But DEATH WISH 3 never fails to make me laugh my ass off no matter how many times I've seen it. The same goes for WHO'S MINDING THE MINT?

13) Warren Oates or Bruce Dern?

Oates by a mile. Just for "You knows I likes big titties!" alone.

22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated

Film: I'll second USED CARS. Still Zemeckis' best film by far. I'd also like to acknowledge the 1979 version of THE IN-LAWS.

Person: Forrest Tucker. There wasn't an action film he didn't help, ever, whether he was hero, villain, or character comic relief. Add in 2000 performances as Professor Harold Hill onstage, and he's a hell of a lot more than just Sgt. O'Rourke.

23) Your favorite movie dealing with the subject of television

I second A FACE IN THE CROWD, which IMO is better than NETWORK. Andy Griffith's performance might well be THE best performance of the 1950's, which is saying something. IMO Oscar's biggest bungle that decade--he wasn't even nominated.



25) Your favorite documentary, or non-fiction, film

WHEN WE WERE KINGS.

26) According to Orson Welles, the director’s job is to “preside over accidents.” Name a favorite moment from a movie that seems like an accident, or a unintended, privileged moment. How did it enhance or distract from the total experience of the movie?

I'll also pick a Jack Warden ad-lib: his fantastic "I used to fuck like that!" line from SO FINE.

28) Elizabeth Pena or Penelope Cruz?

Give me Eva Mendes. But between those two? Cruz, based on her Spanish language films she rates an edge. I like Pena too.