Thursday, July 23, 2009


I once told Dennis Cozzalio that when it came to taking his semi-quarterly film quizzes, my reaction was similar to Paul Valery's. "Dennis's film quizzes," Valery said (though I'm paraphrasing slightly), "are never finished, only abandoned." Well, the time has come, once again, to abandon another of Dennis's very thorough quizzes, and the results of said abandonment can be read below.

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.

This is tough, because technically I believe 2001 is my favorite, in that I think it’s his best, but The Shining is the one I’m most likely to watch over and over…and indeed I have done so. Which I think would make 2001 my second favorite, since “favorite” and “best” are two different things. But I don’t know. Judges?

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.

I think this has been going on for more than a decade, but the trend towards not giving a shit about B genre films. It used to be that good, sometimes great, professional talent would be hired for low budget crime, horror and science fiction films. Professionalism doesn't seem to enter into the equation anymore, let alone talent. If anyone who is perceived -- rightly or wrongly -- to be good at their job, then the genre films they get hired for have to be big summer tentpole wanks. The system that produced movies like Prime Cut is long gone.
3) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?

I’ve only seen the Altman film, and that was a long time ago. I must say I wasn’t thrilled with it, though I don’t actually remember disliking it, either. But anyway, I guess Cody/Newman wins by default.

4) Best Film of 1949.

You picked the year that The Third Man was released. Did you mean to choose a different year?

5) Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?
This is the first of many questions on this quiz that I can’t answer, because I haven’t seen either movie. But Jack Benny wins, because he’s Jack Benny.

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?

Oh, of course. It’s been a cliché for many years now.

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?

I have no idea. Probably Seven Samurai, though. Kurosawa was pretty much the first foreign-language director I paid attention to.

8) Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)?

See? Another one. Can you believe I’ve never seen a Charlie Chan or Mr. Moto film? Isn’t that awful? But Peter Lorre wins because he’s Peter Lorre.

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).

Ouch. I’m tempted to go with an easy one, like The Bridge on the River Kwai, which is probably what I’ll go ahead and say. I was big on POW films for a while, and still kind of am. My brother always wondered why, and I didn’t really have an answer then, but now I’d guess it has something to do with “triumph over adversity”, as well as sticking it to those Axis rats. Of course, Bridge on the River Kwai is a bit more complicated than that, as far as the “triumph over adversity” part goes, but the Axis rats still have various things stuck to them, so it evens out.

10) Favorite animal movie star.


11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.

The time those parents let their kids take that other kid out of the house and make him "walk the plank" off the backyard pool's diving board, and he ended up getting eaten by the alligator in Alligator. They were probably busy getting drunk and swapping keys.

12) Best Film of 1969.

One Upon a Time in the West

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.

Theatrically, it was Public Enemies, which I liked, although I was also slightly disappointed in it in some ways. Mostly small ways, but they added up. But the good stuff lingers in my head more, so that’s a good sign.
On DVD it was Dr. X, directed by Michael Curtiz. That is one crazy-ass movie, I don’t mind telling you. “Synthetic fffllleeessshhh…”

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.

Short Cuts. That was my favorite for a long time, but now it’s taken a back seat to Gosford Park, which I truly think is a full-blown masterpiece. Short Cuts actually might be third, since I watched Nashville again about a year ago, and thought it was damn near perfect. So Nashville and Short Cuts are tied, with a final decision pending.

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?

16) Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji?
I can only go by an internet search of what they look like, but Meiko Kaji. She has that certain something. Actually, hold up, I did see Kaji in Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion. So yeah, her. She's hot, and if I wasn't married, hoo boy I wanna tell you, etc.

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?

Olive, in a walk.

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
Sheesh, I don't know. I feel like I should have a whole difficult list to choose from, but either I don't, or my brain is dead. I did like The Funhouse, though. More not-that-great horror movies should be that good.

19) Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.

I’d say Zodiac, if I’d seen it in the theater. Public Enemies did impress me on that front, actually, so I’ll go with that one.

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.

Unforgiven is way too obvious an answer, isn't it? But that is my favorite, although I'm sort of taking the "deconstruction of the genre" elements on faith, because, while I can see where people are coming from when they make those points about the film, I honestly don't care about that. I think it's the least interesting thing about Eastwood's masterpiece, and I'd wager that Eastwood and company didn't give it much thought, either.

21) Best Film of 1979.

Hanover Street. Okay, no, it’s Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu.

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.

The depiction of small-town life is one of the things I always liked about Sling Blade. It was honest about the bad aspects without resorting to full-scale condemnation, and it also showed that there was a great deal of warmth and kindness to be found, as well as lawnmower-blade slayings.

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).

This is at least sort of a horror movie, so cheating or not I'm going with the Angel of Death from Hellboy II.

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.

The Conversation. It’s almost as good as The Godfather.

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.

I'm going to get yelled at, but Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I liked that movie. I had a damn good time with it. Screw everybody else.

26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.

I’m not the world’s biggest De Palma fan, but he can direct the hell out of a sequence, and my favorite is the first murder in Sisters, with the split screen of the bloody hand clawing at the window on one side, and on the other side that hand seen from across the street by a neighbor, who calls the police. That is really ingenious.

27) Favorite moment in three-strip Technicolor.

I could pretend to have one, but I don’t, really.

28) Favorite Alan Smithee film. (Thanks, Peter!)

I haven't really seen any pure Smithee movies, I don't think. I've only seen the movies that get the Smithee stamp due to TV re-edits, and not even very many of those. So I guess the longer version of Dune is my favorite, even though I don't like it.

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?

Please. If you give a choice of two, and one of those choices is Walter Matthau, then Walter Matthau automatically wins. That’s, like, just science. If the choice was “Monkeys or Walter Matthau?” or “Tokyo or Walter Matthau?” or “Cheeseburgers or Walter Matthau?” the answer is always Walter Matthau. This is like an IQ test question, and if you don’t pick Matthau, then it proves you’re a dumbshit.

30) Best post-Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.

Bullets Over Broadway. It’s his funniest, that’s for sure.

31) Best Film of 1999.

Magnolia. Still my favorite PT Anderson film, and it still contains one of the most mesmerizing and mysterious openings I've ever seen. Love that film.

32) Favorite movie tag line.

Snuff - "A film that could only be made in South America, where life is CHEAP!"

33) Favorite B-movie western.

Did Budd Boetticher make B westerns? If he did, then The Tall T is my answer.

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.

Wow. Almost everybody who's been adapted on a regular basis has their share of highs and lows. Obviously Chandler had a nice run, as did James M. Cain. God, there's so many. Did you realize this was an impossible question when you asked it?

But I'll say Robert Bloch. He actually hasn't been adapted all that often, but one film -- Psycho, of course -- has made his name live on for decades after it might have otherwise faded into obscurity. This isn't a qualatative judgment, by the way, because Bloch was a very good writer, but lots of good writers are forgotten. However, the day Hitchcock started rolling on his film, Bloch was ensured that every book he published subsequently would have stamped, on the front cover, the words "By the author of Psycho!" I know that's how I first learned about Bloch, and I'm grateful for it.

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?

Susan Vance. That’s one of my favorite comic performances.

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.

Randy Newman as the Singing Bush in Three Amigos.
37) Bruno (the character, if you haven’t seen the movie, or the film, if you have): subversive satire or purveyor of stereotyping?
Neither. “Occasionally funny comedy” would be my description. This stuff is nowhere near as subversive as a lot of people claim.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet. (Thanks, Rick!)

Robert Mitchum, Orson Welles, Boris Karloff, Werner Herzog, and Salma Hayek, and I'd like to meet Salma while we were both swimming. And she'd be delighted to meet me. Also, my wife would be totally cool with it.


Fox said...

HAHAHA... I just scanned this real quick before going back and reading it, but I just had to comment on the awesome punctuation at the end of this post!

Something tells me you've seen that scene in Desperado before.

bill r. said...

Yes, although that's actually far from my favorite Hayek appearance. Honestly, I'm happy with her just standing around, not doing much of anything. Provided she's only wearing a towel.

Fox said...

Wow, Bill, you've really got my number today! Two comments within two minutes and I'm only up on the second question.

Oh... what I wanted to say was "hi-five!" on Prime Cut. I just saw that about 3 months ago. Wow. And you just happened to pull a still from the most excellent sequence. "Um, why don't you guys just zig-zig, or, you know... turn left to escape that harvesting machine??"

bill r. said...

Lee Marvin don't zig-zag.

Fox said...

"Lee Marvin don't zig-zag."

Dude... you just invented a T-Shirt! I would totally wear that.

Fox said...

Ok... still making my way through....

NOTE: You know, one of the motivations to keep commenting is that I get to see that Salma pic over-and-over...

But, anyways, on that "independent film sources" question? Yeah, um, I'm pretty sure Cinema Styles is funded through Warner Bros., so...

bill r. said...

I, too, would wear that shirt. And you could have a still from that scene on the front. Yeah, that's a good T-shirt idea...

Greg said...

I wish Dennis did 10 question quizzes. Just 10. Maybe I'll answer just ten and stop. I'm lazy.

Ed Howard said...

I'm lazy too, which is why I just comment on other people who are less lazy and therefore actually answer all these questions.

Good answers, Bill, though there's no way Oscar Jaffe doesn't win any match-up he's placed in. That character, and film, are just hilarious.

Rick Olson said...

So, where do you indirectly call me a dumshit? Huh? Huh?

Is it in your totally predictable choice of "River Kwai," which I chose as well?

And I think Eastwood very much does think of the deconstruction in his flicks, but we've already HAD that discussion...

But Sling Blade is a great choice, he grudgingly admits, as is "Once Upon a Time in the West."

Rick Olson said...

And Matthau was a hack.

Just kidding.

Ed Howard said...

Wow, this is the first time I've ever been able to overcome my laziness and actually do one of these all the way through. My answers are here now.

Joel Bocko said...

I completely concur with Ed on Oscar Jaffe. One of my favorite characters period though he grew on me more after watching the movie, as I recalled him.

I won't be tackling this list, but I did tackle one of Dennis' quizes once upon a time though I'm not sure if anyone ever read it (self plug:

Also, Ed's about as lazy as the goddamn Energizer Bunny. Nice try...

PIPER said...

Public Enemies, which I liked, although I was also slightly disappointed in it in some ways. Mostly small ways, but they added up.

That's a great quote. I will use it often. Not necessarily about Public Enemies, but other movies. And yes I know I'm taking it out of context and not using the entire quote.

Junk Monkey said...

No, I'm Spartacus! - I liked Sky Captain too!