1) Classic film you most want to experience that has so far eluded you.
"Eluded" how? Because it's generally unavailable, or because I just haven't seen it yet, or are you saying that you want to like the film, but don't? If the first, then, I don't know, pick one: Ulzana's Raid or Losey's The Prowler, and like that. If the second, then the list is too damn long to put here, but today I'll land on...I don't even want to say. Okay, Nosferatu. Shut up, I tried to get it from Netflix a while back, and the damn disc they had was some public domain crap, so now I have to buy it. Which is fine, I just haven't yet. And if you mean the final interpretation, then Peeping Tom. I don't really dislike it, but everybody else in the world is over the moon about it, and I'm not. I really wish I was, though.
2) Greatest Criterion DVD/Blu-ray release ever.
Jeez, I don’t know. There are some beautiful ones, ones I even own, that I haven’t gotten around to watching yet, so I can’t really comment. I can say, though, that the year that Mamet’s Homicide and Yates’s The Friends of Eddie Coyle were both released was pretty amazing. It’s like the Criterion folks said “You know what? This is Bill’s year! Come on, everybody, let’s make this a good one for him!”
3) The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon?
The Maltese Falcon. I like the novel better, which might well have something to do with it, and I like Spade more than I like Marlowe. It’s just a preference thing.
4) Jason Bateman or Paul Rudd?
Batemen stunned me on Arrested Development. He’d been completely off the entertainment world’s radar at the time, and his very appearance in the commercials made me wonder if the show was even worth my time. Then I started watching it, and he was outstanding – a brilliant comic actor. Then again, I feel like Rudd – who’s no slouch himself -- has better taste in movies. Bateman might be the best thing in a bad movie, while Rudd is more likely to be the best thing in a good movie. Plus, Role Models. So, Rudd.
5) Best mother/child (male or female) movie star combo.
Patty Duke and Sean Astin.
6) Who are the Robert Mitchums and Ida Lupinos among working movie actors? Do modern parallels to such masculine and no-nonsense feminine stars even exist? If not, why not?
Regarding Mitchum -- of course not. You might as well ask "Who's the new Lee Marvin?" There isn't one. And why not? You really want to know? It's because we're all sissies now! Myself included! I can barely hammer a nail, let alone run moonshine, and even though I smoke, I'm one of those guys who's regularly told "You don't look like a smoker." No, I don't -- Robert Mitchum looked like a smoker, and Lee Marvin looked like a smoker. I look like a guy who picked it up in college (which is more or less the case).
Regarding Lupino -- also no. Part of it here (and honestly this applies to the lack of Mitchums, too), if not much or all of it, has to do with self-consciousness. Lupino, at least on screen, lacked all self-consciousness. She just was. Being no-nonsense in the way Lupino was would now require, in the minds of those who might wish to try it, a kind of slumming attitude that would just kill the whole idea. Of course, all of this makes it sound like I hate modern movies and actors and I absolutely don't; it's just that there are new priorities and attitudes about performance now. They don't make 'em like they used to, and all that.
7) Favorite Preston Sturges movie.
The Lady Eve. It has everything, by which I mean it has Barbara Stanwyck being utterly winning, and it’s damn funny, to boot.
8) Odette Yustman or Mary Elizabeth Winstead?
Ah…I haven’t seen much of either. But Winstead, I guess. She's cute.
9) Is there a movie that if you found out a partner or love interest loved (or didn't love) would qualify as a Relationship Deal Breaker?
No, and I hate the philosophy that such things can or should be deal breakers. It requires a kind of arrogance that, even if I do possess it deep down, I try very hard to suppress, in the same way we all try to suppress unpleasant thoughts that pass unbidden through our minds. Well, okay, I guess certain things, if my "love interest" was a fan, would be hard to get past, but that would generally be because they’d indicate something more about the person, something beyond taste (and what I have in mind are things I’ve hammered on so often that I’m not going to bother listing them again). Aesthetically, though, no, I can’t think of anything. I’m lucky anyway, though, because I remember one time, waking up in the morning to find my then-girlfriend, now-wife watching Barry Lyndon, just because she was interested. She liked it, too! Unfortunately, I’ve pummeled her with movies since then, so I don’t even think she likes me anymore.
10) Favorite DVD commentary.
I don't know that I have just one. I'm a big fan of these in general, and so it's hard to narrow down, but basically any classic horror film with commentary by Steve Haberman (his one for Dracula is pretty ace) or Kim Newman and Stephen Jones (they tend to work as a pair, and I enjoy the ones they did for I Walked With a Zombie and Mark of the Vampire very much); or any classic noir with commentary by any number of people, but especially Eddie Muller. Muller is a favorite because he combines a sharp grasp of the history and biographies of those involved in the film with a genuine love of the films that he's not shy about expressing. His commentaries for Otto Preminger's Angel Face and Fallen Angel are love letters. He can barely contain himself at the end of Angel Face, for example, but he knows his shit, too. I love that.
Having said all that, the extended improv that makes up the Talladega Nights commentary is pretty hilarious, too.
11) Movies most recently seen on DVD, Blu-ray and theatrically.
I'll answer the DVD part in two ways, because I want to count rewatches and never-seen-before separately. As a rewatch, it was Joe Giannone's Madman, which is a Friday the 13th knock-off that I like because the score sounds like it was lifted from unused tracks of the BBC television version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; and never-before-seen goes to Fassbinder's Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven, which is kind of a gripping oddity, I suppose. The satire on Communism seemed pretty biting to me, but I've since learned that those crazy Reds liked the movie. Whatever, dudes.
In the theater, it was The Other Guys. I don't get out much.
12) Dirk Bogarde or Alan Bates?
I want to say Alan Bates, but I’m not sure why. I've probably seen more Bates films, but both he and Bogarde were familiar to me early because of frequent, but long ago, viewings of Richard Attenboroughs' A Bridge Too Far, which featured Bogarde in a prominent role, and Mike Hodges' A Prayer for the Dying, where Bates plays the villain, and Mickey Rourke pronounces "father" as "fa'er", because he's Irish.
13) Favorite DVD extra
Well, I haven't actually partaken in this one yet, but I love that Criterion's set of Rohmer's Six Moral Tales comes with Rohmer's collection of stories, also called Six Moral Tales, on which he based the films. I plan on using that book as my gateway into his work.
14) Brian De Palma’s Scarface— yes or no?
God, no. That movie’s the worst at everything.
15) Best comic moment from a horror film that is not a horror comedy (Young Frankenstein, Love At First Bite, et al.)
What about in Witchfinder General when they torture that one guy! What, too soon?
16) Jane Birkin or Edwige Fenech?
17) Favorite Wong Kar-wai movie.
I’ve only seen two. So In the Mood for Love.
18) Best horrific moment from a comedy that is not a horror comedy.
Can I choose an episode, or rather half an episode, of a TV show? Just tonight, I watched the episode of Extras when Andy is on the cusp of getting signed to the BBC to shoot a pilot of his sitcom, but he tells his friend that the network script editor he's working with is "too gay". The aftermath of that is fucking brutal.
19) From 2010, a specific example of what movies are doing right…
Well, if what I've heard about Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman in Black Swan is anywhere close to accurate, then Movies in 2010 have landed on precisely the formula I've been mentally pitching to them for a long time now.
20) Ryan Reynolds or Chris Evans?
I kind of like Reynolds – he seems okay in certain roles. But I think Evans has some untapped potential. I thought he was very good in the it-sucks-but-we-have-to-do-it-anyway leadership role in Sunshine.
21) Speculate about the future of online film writing. What’s next?
That it will continue? Probably? I mean, that's my guess, anyway.
22) Roger Livesey or David Farrar?
I'm not pleased that my knowledge of Farrar's work is so sketchy, but if he manages to somehow be better than Roger Livesey, then God bless 'im.
23) Best father/child (male or female) movie star combo.
Gary and Jake Busey.
24) Favorite Freddie Francis movie (as Director).
25) Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth?
Is it permissible that I haven’t seen The Awful Truth? Because I haven’t. I love Bringing Up Baby, though.
26) Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig?
Fey. I think they’re both funny, but Tina Fey wears glasses.
27) Name a stylistically important director and the best film that would have never been made without his/her influence.
Robert Altman. Magnolia.
28) Movie you’d most enjoy seeing remade and transplanted to a different culture (i.e. Yimou Zhang’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.)
Maybe House of Whipcord in Japan. Wait, no, I think they already did a version. How about South Korea?
29) Link to a picture/frame grab of a movie image that for you best illustrates bliss. Elaborate.
Now you want me to elaborate? Oh yeah, I'll elaborate on that, all right! You just...wait, does that work? Is "elaborate" dirty?
30) With a tip of that hat to Glenn Kenny, think of a just-slightly-inadequate alternate title for a famous movie. (Examples from GK: Fan Fiction; Boudu Relieved From Cramping; The Mild Imprecation of the Cat People)
Jesus. The Decent Escape? Puns and I don't get along.