Saturday, June 4, 2011

Quizmaster Go*

Dennis Cozzalio, the bastard, has done it again. Take the quiz yourself, or beat the shit out of me because you think my answers are "all faggy". The choice is yours.

* * * * *
1) Depending on your mood, your favorite or least-loved movie cliché

I can’t think of one that might be one or the other, depending on mood. I either like them or I don’t. One I don’t like is “Do you think this is a game??” I also don’t like its brother “What’re you gonna do, shoot me?”

2) Regardless of whether or not you eventually caught up with it, which film classic have you lied about seeing in the past?

I have never done this.

3) Roland Young or Edward Everett Horton?

I know Horton’s work better, but I do like the fact that Young played Uriah Heep in Cukor's David Copperfield (which I haven't seen).

4) Second favorite Frank Tashlin movie

I'm afraid I haven't had the pleasure yet, unless you count a barely remembered viewing of The Lemon Drop Kid when I was very young.

5) A Clockwork Orange-- yes or no?

Yes, of course. It’s flawed, and possibly contradicts itself by seeming exploitative in a way that Burgess’s novel is careful not to be, and I would even go so far as to say that it’s been overrated in the Kubrick canon – hell, it even has my least favorite moment from any of his films (the sped up sex scene). But it’s still complex, funny, chilling, invigorating, and McDowell is undeniable.

6) Best/favorite use of gender dysphoria in a horror film
(Ariel Schudson)

Psycho III.

7) Melanie Laurent or Blake Lively?

That’s not really a question, is it?

8) Best movie of 2011 (so far…)

I offer this with the caveat that I’ve seen astonishingly few, but 13 Assassins.

9) Favorite screen performer with a noticeable facial deformity
(Peg Aloi)

Stacy Keach. And I obviously mean Stacy Keach without the mustache. When he has a mustache he’s clearly not deformed anymore.

10) Lars von Trier: shithead or misunderstood comic savant?
(Dean Treadway)

Neither. Or both. He’s definitely a shithead, and he was also definitely joking, anyway. They weren’t good jokes, but the number of fainting couches that had to be hauled out of storage was more than a little bit much. It was fucking stupid, in fact. There is a certain segment of the world’s population whose Outrage-o-Meters are in dire need of recalibration.

11) Timothy Carey or Henry Silva?

Both? Why not both?

12) Low-profile writer who deserves more attention from critics and /or audiences

Screenwriter, I assume you mean. Well, hm. Most good mainstream Hollywood screenwriters have a tendency to peak very sharply and then virtually disappear – see Steve Zaillian or Paul Attanasio, for example – but in my experience they generally at least get their day in the spotlight. “Spotlight” in this context being very relative, of course, and compared to that shared by the people who say the screenwriter’s words out loud tends to look more like a booklight. But they get noticed, is my point. Outside of that world…well, hm. I’d have to go with the Hammer/Amicus guys from the 1950s and 60s, guys like Barré Lyndon or Milton Subotsky or Jimmy Sangster. They could put together a 90-minute story of suspense and horror that never cheated the viewer, and kept its heart pumping and brain whirring at full capacity from beginning to end. They were pros, and boy should the horror screenwriters of today be ashamed at the mention of their names.

13) Movie most recently viewed theatrically, and on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming

Theatrically: Oh, man, I think it’s The Fighter. What’s wrong with me?

DVD: The Devil’s Chair, a pretty lousy horror film whose tagline should be “Pleased With Itself So You Don’t Have to Be”

Streaming: The New York Ripper

14) Favorite film noir villain

I bet you get a lot of “Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death” for this question, but I’ve always thought Widmark was much better than the evil clownish mugging he brought to that film, effective though it may be. I also tend to be fond of noirs where the hero is the villain, like Van Heflin in The Prowler, or anyway the lead, like Arthur Franz in The Sniper. But of the more traditional, Tommy Udo-like villains, I have to go with Eli Wallach’s utterly terrific work in Don Siegal’s The Lineup (where frankly Wallach shows Widmark how psychotic should be done) or Jose Ferrer in Whirlpool. Those characters are fully, magnificently, consciously evil, especially Ferrer, and the films ride on their shoulders.

Special mention goes to Richard Basehart in He Walked By Night, for sheer cold-bloodedness.

15) Best thing about streaming movies

Well, if not for streaming I wouldn’t have been able to watch The New York Ripper without buying it, but that’s maybe both a plus and a minus.

16) Fay Spain or France Nuyen?
(Peter Nellhaus)

17) Favorite Kirk Douglas film that isn’t called Spartacus
(Peter Nellhaus)

Well, it wouldn’t have been Spartacus even if Spartacus hadn’t been eliminated. However, it would be, and is, Paths of Glory. Douglas made a lot of movies I would count among my favorites, but he was never better than here. “And you can go to hell before I apologize to you now or ever again!” is one of the great line deliveries of all time.

18) Favorite movie about cars

Two-Lane Blacktop. I watched this a few years back fully expecting to either hate it’s gimmicky hippie-ness, or simply be bored stupid, because I am in no way a car guy. But I loved it. There is something at once genuine and ethereal about it, and primally gripping. And, and, I don’t think I’ve ever seen night-time look so night-like as it does here. An astonishing movie that I’m very eager to watch again.

19) Audrey Totter or Marie Windsor?

Windsor. She was my kinda gal.

20) Existing Stephen King movie adaptation that could use an remake/reboot/overhaul

I feel like Pet Sematary, faithful as the adaptation was, got the shaft a little bit. It’s such a gut-punch of a novel, but the film exists on that King-film assembly line, which was powered by a creative philosophy of “We’re making this one now”. Even so, I don’t think that would be my choice. It wouldn’t be Thinner either, although that’s a terrible film, and in the book King makes the ridiculous-seeming premise work by going for straightforward pulp thrills. I suppose what I wouldn’t mind seeing is a filmmaker pick up the short story “Lawnmower Man”, read it, like more than just the title, and say “You know what? Fuck it. I’m doing this.” Whether anyone would give him money to do this is another question, but I’d like to see it.

21) Low-profile director who deserves more attention from critics and/or audiences

Joe Swanberg. No, I’m just kidding. Fuck that guy.

22) What actor that you previously enjoyed has become distracting or a self-parody?
(Adam Ross)

Kevin Spacey. That dude has one level, maybe one and a half, and he’s very good at playing it, but I sort of don’t really care if I never see it again.

23) Best place in the world to see a movie

My place. Come on over, why don’t you!

24) Charles McGraw or Sterling Hayden?

Charles McGraw’s real name was “Charles Butters”. You know what Sterling Hayden’s real name was? "Sterling Motherfucking Hayden".

25) Second favorite Yasujiro Ozu film

Thank God I’ve seen enough Ozu now to answer this! And that answer is Good Morning. If you’d asked me before I put in the DVD “Hey, how many fart jokes do you think Good Morning has?”, I would have said “Zero.” I would have been wrong.

26) Most memorable horror movie father figure

Telly Savalas in Lisa and the Devil.

27) Name a non-action-oriented movie that would be fun to see in Sensurround
(Sal Gomez)

The Passion of Joan of Arc. See, because it’s a silent movie. Oh yeah, well why don't you go to hell!?

28) Chris Evans or Ryan Reynolds?

Evans. I have nothing against Reynolds, really, but I actually think Evans has something more to offer than we’ve seen. I really liked him in Sunshine. And wait, haven’t you asked this before? At least, haven’t you paired Evans up with somebody before? Because I was about to go into why I liked him in Sunshine, and I realized I’d already answered this. What’s going on here? I don’t feel well all of a sudden. I think I’m freaking out.

29) Favorite relatively unknown supporting player, from either or both the classic and the modern era

It’s hard to know quite how to define “relatively unknown” here, but I bet I have a whole lot of answers for you. Bokeem Woodbine (for the way he says “Get on my body” to William H. Macy and then later discusses to origin of mankind with him in Edmond), Elias Koteas for everything ever, Catherine Lacy for The Sorcerers, Joe Turkel, John Mahoney, lots and lots more I could name if I wasn’t trying to think of them…

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

Does “New York” count?

31) Second favorite Budd Boetticher movie

Ride Lonesome. The Tall T takes the top spot.

32) Mara Corday or Julie Adams?

33) Favorite Universal-International western

Winchester ’73. It’s probably been too long since I watched it for me to honestly count that as my favorite, but I strongly suspect that once I rewatch it, my opinion will hold strong.

34) Favorite actress of the silent era

Janet Gaynor, maybe. Honestly, the only reason I’m not saying Maria Falconetti is because I used her movie as a joke earlier.

35) Best Eugene Pallette performance
(Larry Aydlette)

God…I know him, but not well enough to answer this. I’m sorry everybody…

36) Best/worst remake of the 21st century so far?
(Dan Aloi)

The Wicker Man is such an easy choice, but it’s also pretty unforgivable (fascinating though its existence is). Also bad, though, is The Crazies, which has somehow tricked people into liking it. Another bad one is pretty much all the rest of them. Among the best are Let Me In and The Wolfman. But you know which one also isn’t bad, for a simple Sunday afternoon? House of Wax. Forget that that….thing is in it. Just give it a look – it’s sort of fun.

What could multiplex owners do right now to improve the theatrical viewing experience for moviegoers? What could moviegoers do?

Multiplex owners could hand me a roast beef sandwich, a Fresca, and a sack of money as soon as I sit down. Moviegoers could shut their fucking mouths.

*That's Japanese for "five", just so you know.


John said...

As recent remakes go, I don't mind The Wicker Man all that much, because of its occasional unintentional (?) hilarity, thanks to the casting of Nic Cage, which is almost enough to turn any movie into an accidental spoof these days. If he'd played his part like an older (but just as dumb) H.I. from Raising Arizona, the movie would only have been ten times better.

The ones that really annoy me aren't the most obviously inept ones, like anything with Rob Zombie's "name" attached to it. Like the worst movies from any era, those will be deservedly forgotten before future audiences are even aware of them. The worst remakes, to me, are the ones that, like too many recent ones, take a good to great, or at very least effective movie to begin with and turn it into something totally mediocre & forgettable, but something that is competently enough handled (by today's standards) to displace the original for audiences of today, with their automatic loathing for anything old-looking or "dated".

In horror movie terms, then, for me remakes come no worse than The Fog, which strips the original of all its strong stylistic touches, the ominous atmosphere, the powerful sense of menace, that make the original memorable, as well as its strong cast of mostly older adults. The result is something that looks like it was made to order for Nickelodeon, with feeble "scares" that would seem weak to even the most overprotective parents.

A remake like this serves not just as a bad movie, but as an indicator of just about everything that's wrong with movies today. It suggests that not only do a lot of the people hired to make horror movies these days not know how to make a movie, but that apparently the geniuses who put these things together figure that, instead of actually being scared and thrilled and maybe even made to think a little, teenage audiences (who really are the only ones being considered in whatever passes for a decision-making process among the bean counters) want nothing so much as the chance to gaze at the giant faces of today's hottest young stars shot in extreme closeup for as long as possible.

Hell, those original movies probably failed because they were too dang slow, and scary to boot! And who wants to watch a buncha old folks farting around? Right, kids?

I agree about The Crazies, though. Probably because it was made to a slightly higher standard than the current crop of horror remakes, even I didn't really mind it that much, to begin with. And I was never that fond of the original, admittedly. But you did a good job of punching holes in its shiny new surface awhile back, and pointing out some of the overlooked strengths of the original at the same time.

John said...

...And I enjoyed the rest of your comments, as well.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I like the illustrations for #16 and #32.

bill r. said...

John - I thought about mentioning THE FOG, actually, which you are completely correct about. The only reason I didn't is that, even though I've seen both versions, I'm not overly familiar with either. I like Carpenter's film, but it's never meant too much to me, and the remake was one of those movies I was half-paying attention to even at the beginning, and then less attention as it wore on.

THE WICKER MAN remake does have that "the fuck???" quality to it, but you try mentioning that title in conversation -- even among a lot of serious movie fans (of a certain age, anyhow) and they're going to initially assume you're talking about the remake. And the original is one of my favorite movies, so yes, I'm a little pissed off about that.

And thank you for liking other answers, too.

Peter - You just like those because they're of ladies!