Good thing this isn’t being graded…
Brian points us to Professor Russell Johnson’s Holiday mondo movie quiz. Here lies my entry:
1) Second-favorite Coen Brothers movie.
Brian points out, quite rightly, that you can’t have a second-favorite without a favorite. Likewise, I also adore Miller’s Crossing. Its tommy-gun dialogue and crisp Irish squinting and betrayal captured me. And made me want to cultivate my own ideosyncratic dialect with words like twist and powder. And get a catch- phrase like “Always put one in the brain.”
But second favorite has to be Raising Arizona. As much as the brothers have honed their artistry and effect, the early mania of “Hi” and his police-officer wife haven’t been matched. Between the thug-heavy race for the baby and the bits of Arizonian characterization, the movie makes me want to watch it every time I think of it. “The g’vt, she takes a bite, doesn’t she.” “You got to get the dip-tet!”
2) Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible? (Question submitted by Peter Nellhaus)
Nosferatu. But on a crisp remastered print with an orchestra.
3) Japan or France? (Question submitted by Bob Westal)
Japan, clearly. Have you seen Stacy? Godard’s got nothing on schoolgirl zombies.
4) Favorite moment/line from a western.
Clint Eastwood rides back into town after Morgan Freeman is strung up dead by Gene Hackman’s corrupt sheriff. It’s the closest moment in cinema to a depiction of the fourth horseman of the apocalypse.
“Any man I see out there, I’m gonna shoot him. Any sumbitch takes a shot at me, I’m not only gonna kill him, but I’m gonna kill his wife, all his friends, and burn his damn house down.”
5) Of all the arts the movies draw upon to become what they are, which is the most important, or the one you value most?
I’ll say storytelling. It’s a cop-out, I admit, but my interest in the changing nature of storytelling as we shift from the literate to the electrate ages (is 2012 the official date of change?), cinema’s interpretation of the changing nature of culture in the era of the Internet draws on past techniques for shaping narrative and pulls them in new and strange directions.
6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?).
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Apparently, this movie was supposed to be RDjr’s come back, but instead nobody watched it. They all should have–it’s striking and funny and grotesque and amazing. Amazing.
7) Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem.
Kevin Spacey. Go back and watch Se7en, then The Negotiator, then The Usual Suspects. And there’s Glengarry Glen Ross. He starts to slip with American Beauty, which isn’t as good as everyone thinks it is. And then K-Pax and then, jeebus, look at the rest of his filmography. Man.
8) Herbert Lom or Patrick Magee?
9) Which is your least favorite David Lynch film (Submitted by Tony Dayoub)
I’ve only seen a few, but I found Eraserhead interminable. I liked Dune better. Dune.
10) Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
11) Second favorite Don Siegel movie.
I’ve only seen two. I like Invasion of the Body Snatchers more than Dirty Harry, so I guess DH is my second favorite. It’s strikingly lacking in Kevin McCarthy.
12) Last movie you saw on DVD/Blu-ray? In theaters?
DVD: [REC]; Theatre: Pirate Radio.
13) Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-ray? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
The artsy part of me wants to answer Blade Runner, but my real answer is The Fifth Element (which I’ve still got on VHS).
14) Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse?
Pretty soon I’ll recognize one of these actors.
15) Actor/actress who you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything.
Jeff Bridges. It’s the reason I want to see Men Who Stare at Goats, Kevin Spacey notwithstanding. Even Iron Man is awesomer because of JB.
16) Fight Club — yes or no?
Heck yes. I think it’s a very funny movie, but unlike Brian, I saw an interview with Fincher in which he called it a dark comedy, so I expected it to be funny.
17) Teresa Wright or Olivia De Havilland?
Now you’re just making up names.
18) Favorite moment/line from a film noir.
19) Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a human or any other unsuccessful special effect(s)—see the wonderful blog Destructible Man for inspiration.
There’s an utterly ludicrous sequence in Dead Alive when the evil zombie baby sticks his fingers through a woman’s head and breaks her skull open. The cut to her face is pretty darn awkward, but the sequence rocks.
20) What’s the least you’ve spent on a film and still regretted it? (Submitted by Lucas McNelly)
Like Brian, I saw a lot of movies for free when I was working at the movie theatre. One of those was The Phantom. I also had a plastic skull ring that was supposed to be a giveaway to a customer. Hells-no. That was a popcorn-scoopin’ ring.
21) Van Johnson or Van Heflin?
Van Johnson, because there’s a great line in the Simpsons about Van Johnson. And Heflin sounds like Teflon.
22) Favorite Alan Rudolph film.
As soon as I see one, I’ll let you know.
23) Name a documentary that you believe more people should see.
Who Killed the Electric Car. It will make your blood boil; by the end you’ll find yourself sharpening your car-exec-stabbing spear. That one you keep in the shed between your stray-cat-smacking golf club and your monkey gloves.
24) In deference to this quiz’s professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone becoming stranded.
No Escape, the Ray Liotta action vehicle.
25) Is there a moment when your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation? If so, please share.
Being able to name a zombie movie relevant to any topic or discussion is sometimes embarrassing. It comes in handy when I teach my zombie class, though. And I’m rarely out-matched by students any more.
26) Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? (Submitted by Larry Aydlette)
Yes. One or the other, for sure.
27) Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who?
28) Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why?
I almost always avoid seeing movies that I know are about death. Realistic death. So no Beaches, no Steel Magnolias. But those aren’t movies I’d run into a lot. I know I’m going to avoid watching The Road because the book broke my heart open and dumped it out on the street. I’m not driven to pursue that feeling again.
29) Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambience.
There are three, for different kinds of “wintry” atmospheres. I grew up in Minnesota, where we might not have 7 words for snow, but we sure know different winters:
1. Loneliness of the winter hike. Kurosawa’s Dreams, “Blizzard.” The twenty minutes of quiet trudging, breathing, and swirling white reminded me very palpably of the trek across the hills to Nate’s house on snow days.
2. The Majestic twinkle of falling snow. A Christmas Story. The closing moments of the film, when the Old Man and Ralphie’s Mom settle down to have a drink and watch the snow drift outside the window. I love those moments, basking in the warmth of a fire while big fat snowflakes float lazily past the window. It brings home the classic opening line from “Let it Snow.”
3. Sludge and the long winter. Fargo. Particularly watching Steve Buscemi’s cold hands scrabbling at the crusty snow next to the freeway.
30) Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones?
I don’t see why this is a question. Jeffrey Jones was in Ferris Bueller. Jeffrey Jones was in Ravenous. Jeffrey Jones was in Mom and Dad Save the World. Graham. Pshaw.
31) The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever).
32) Second favorite John Wayne movie.
Liberty Valance is certainly my favorite. But my second favorite?
I’ve always liked the look of Brannigan! My boss when I worked as a janitor in middle school had a Brannigan! poster on his wall, and I spent hours staring at it as I sipped my cola while I joined the crew on their union-negotiated half-hour coffee breaks and hour-long lunches.
33) Favorite movie car chase.
The chase sequence in Ronin, buzzing through the narrow European streets, is unparalleled. The Bourne movies just borrowed from this one. Plus there’s an attitude of world-weary ennui on the mercenaries’ faces as they blast down cobblestones and shoot at the other car.
34) In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic or not-so-classic film. (Submitted by Patrick Robbins)
I’d say Night of the Living Dead, but the 1980s remake turns Barbara from a mouse into a solid character. How about Psycho? Norma Bates?
35) Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon?
I like anyone named Barbara.
36) Favorite Andre De Toth movie.
I’m gonna do a double-feature with an Alan Rudolph.
37) If you could take one filmmaker’s entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
I really dislike John Woo, but I’m going to have to go with Joel Schumaker.
38) Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it.
Blade Runner. I saw it on laserdisc at a friend’s house when I was 14 and understood none of it.
To answer an alternate question (Name a film you liked but everyone with you hated): Barton Fink. I loved it immediately, while my friends fake-gagged and rolled on the floor. For years, they scorned my suggestions at video stores, trumpeting “Barton Fink!” when I dared point to a movie.
39) Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
You say Ophuls, I say potato.
40) In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors? And which member would you most resemble, either physically or in personality?
Delta Tau Chi. The shy guy, “Pinto.” Honestly though, none of these people.
41) Your favorite movie cliché.
The slow clap. I made the mistake of mentioning the slow clap in class one day and at the end of the semester, they applauded the course. Snarky bastards.
42) Vincente Minnelli or Stanley Donen? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
43) Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence.
Jack Frost. I don’t mean the one about the sinister snowman with sharp teeth. I mean the movie about the sinister party-guy musician with the porkpie hat.
44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie.
Nick Frost’s decision to stay behind while Shaun and his girlfriend make a run for it, Shaun of the Dead.
45) If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
Are there Tod Solonz cultists? Cuz I’d chase them away. With a stick.
46) Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson?
Veronica Carlson has more “c”s in her name.
47) Favorite eye-patch wearing director. (Submitted by Patty Cozzalio)
Blackbeard. Oh, director. I thought it said pirate.
48) Favorite ambiguous movie ending. (Original somewhat ambiguous submission—“Something about ambiguous movie endings!”– by Jim Emerson, who may have some inspiration of his own to offer you.)
Limbo. It’s a careful character development movie with an excellent plot and excellent visuals. And then the ending leaves you twisting. In Limbo, eh?
49) In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for?
Zombieland. I haven’t even seen it, but the story about Woody Harrleson punching a reporter was really funny. And I liked the new Harry Potter movie. Though Draco can’t wield the word Potter with the same spittle and bile he infused it with in the early movies.
50) George Kennedy or Alan North? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
And we end with another I can’t answer.