Tuesday, June 7, 2011

this is only a test

From our friends at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, a blog that's as much fun as its title, comes this huge summer film test. Since the House has been a little barren of late, and since answering tests like this feels, at some shameful level deep within your proprietor's venal heart, like an interview, my answers follow.

1) Depending on your mood, your favorite or least-loved movie cliché
Favorite: the love-conquers-all ending. If it emerges naturally from the story (Shyamalan's The Happening is the one that comes to mind), I find it fresh and moving. Most people I know find it as much a cop-out as I find the nihilism in the movies that they like. But anyway.

2) Regardless of whether or not you eventually caught up with it, which film classic have you lied about seeing in the past?
If I've ever done this, I'm too ashamed to recall it. I'm pleased to admit that there are plenty of worthy films I haven't seen - something to look forward to.

3) Roland Young or Edward Everett Horton?
Horton for longevity - respect a man who went from the silent era thru Top Hat to Playhouse 80. Young, however, was in And Then There Were None, so there's love there too.

4) Second favorite Frank Tashlin movie
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

5) Clockwork Orange-- yes or no?
Yes, certainly.

6) Best/favorite use of gender dysphoria in a horror film
Back in 1996 when I was living in Washington DC, there were some huge blizzards that blew through and paralyzed the city. I used the opportunity to catch up on movies that I'd taped off cable. "Nice, I can finally watch Polanski's Repulsion!" Perhaps because I was snowbound and stir-crazy, the movie fucking scarred me.

7) Melanie Laurent or Blake Lively?

8) Best movie of 2011 (so far…)
So far, BOONMEE. But the year ain't half over yet.

9) Favorite screen performer with a noticeable facial deformity
Tina Fey. She never volunteered info about the scar, and I don't think any of us who knew her ever asked (though the answer's now easily found; she wasn't a celebrity yet when we knew her, and celebrities have no secrets.)

10) Lars von Trier: shithead or misunderstood comic savant?
Yes. But that's not all.

11) Timothy Carey or Henry Silva?
Silva's a "better" actor (nothing but love for Johnny Cool) but Carey's extremism takes him to deeper, more moving places.

12) Low-profile writer who deserves more attention from critics and/or audiences
I keep hoping that Kenneth Branagh will one day film any of the Yellowthread Street mysteries by William Marshall.

13) Movie most recently viewed theatrically, and on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming
Theatrically: Midnight in Paris
DVD: don't recall - lately have been watching mostly TV on disc (DARK SHADOWS and TWIN PEAKS, most recently)
Blu-Ray: oh, fuck blu-ray
Streaming: work movies don't count, so let's go with Killdozer

14) Favorite film noir villain
Let's go with Helen Thimig from Strangers in the Night.

15) Best thing about streaming movies?
They're the bread and butter of the company that's employed me for going on four years now.

16) Fay Spain or France Nuyen?
Only one of these women played Elaan of Troyius:

Nuyen, definitely.

17) Favorite Kirk Douglas movie that isn’t called Spartacus

18) Favorite movie about cars

19) Audrey Totter or Marie Windsor?

20) Existing Stephen King movie adaptation that could use a remake/reboot/overhaul
King's works are often problematic in that what works on the page seldom translates effectively to the screen. Rather than reboot one of the films, I'd rather see someone take a stab at filming "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" from SKELETON CREW.

21) Low-profile director who deserves more attention from critics and/or audiences
Richard Kwietnowski has a too small body of work, but each of his films has an abundantly delicate touch, and should be shared theatrically.

22) What actor that you previously enjoyed has become distracting or a self-parody?
I tend to stick by my actors. The only artist whose ego has ballooned to the point that I can't enjoy his earlier work isn't an actor, most of the time.

23) Best place in the world to see a movie
Weirdly, I don't have a favorite venue. Anywhere with decent projection, good refreshments, and seats for people I care about will do.

24) Charles McGraw or Sterling Hayden?
Hayden, but I understand the McGraw camp.

25) Second favorite Yasujiro Ozu film
Decline to answer.

26) Most memorable horror movie father figure
Genre being relative, I'll go with Kirk Scott's memorable, funnycreepy turn as J.D.'s dad in Heathers. Scott and Slater suggest not a familial relationship so much as a symbiosis, and it speaks volumes to J.D.'s pathology. The backstory of J.D.'s home life is one of that film's more evocative mysteries, thanks largely to Scott's performance.

27) Name a non-action-oriented movie that would be fun to see in Sensurround
Irma Vep, from the chaos of the production office to the otherworldly transcendence of the final montage

28) Chris Evans or Ryan Reynolds?
I've found both enjoyable in a number of films - Reynolds seems to have a bit better range, from the gently obscene comedy of Waiting to the moralistic Fed-in-crisis in Smokin' Aces, so he gets he nod.

29) Favorite relatively unknown supporting player, from either or both the classic and the modern era
I'd love to see Arthur Stone get a little more appreciation outside classic movie circles - his turn as the comic relief but capable con man in 1927's Valley of the Giants seemed to anticipate the works of Pee Wee Herman, Martin Short, and many others.

30) Real-life movie location you most recently visited or saw

31) Second favorite Budd Boetticher movie
Can't answer. My favorite BB movie, however, is Ride Lonesome.

32) Mara Corday or Julie Adams?

33) Favorite Universal-International western
No preference.

34) What's the biggest "gimmick" that's drawn you out to see a movie?
The fourteen-hour running time, multi-day staging, etc. of Rivette's OUT 1.

35) Favorite actress of the silent era

36) Best Eugene Pallette performance

37) Best/worst remake of the 21st century so far?
Best: Takashi Shimizu's own remake of his JU-ON: THE GRUDGE as, simply, THE GRUDGE enabled him to continue his already fascinating and under-way process of remixing his own work. The resulting sequel, THE GRUDGE 2, came too late in the American wave of J-horror remake but provided a perfect capper to that onslaught with he ghosts arriving in Chicago.

Worst: I hate, on principle, to pile onto the work of a female director, but Julie Taymor's THE TEMPEST was a misfire in nearly every conceivable way.

38) What could multiplex owners do right now to improve the theatrical viewing experience for moviegoers? What could moviegoers do?
Just stop treating film like easily-ladled product - take pride in presenting an experience, from the correct aspect ratio and sound volume to decent refreshments. Moviegoers: stop putting yourself over the movie, stop texting/talking in the damn thing, and be present in the experience with your neighbors.

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