Though I’ve always been aware of Sergio Leone’s and the Infield Rules‘ quizzes of epic fun, this is my first time participating. I always managed to start them, but actually answering all the questions always seemed so daunting. Finally though, I’ve found a lazy afternoon and I’ve gone through the trouble (though, it’s less trouble, more fun) of answering all the questions. I don’t expect you to read them all, but I encourage you to join in on the fun.
1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie
Tough call, I have a soft spot for musicals and musical sequences. I’ll have to go with the epic ballet sequence in Powell & Pressburger’s The Red Shoes. It really elevates the musical experience to something more than song and dance, more than theatre. Most of my other favourite musical moments that came after, owe so much to this beautiful and daring sequence. I watched the film often as a child, and rewatching it for the first time in nearly a decade a few years ago, I realised how clearly these images had been branded in my memories. It inspired my love for musicals, fusing fantasy, memory and the horrors of reality in one singular and beautiful sequence.
2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews
I don’t have anything against Milland, but he’s one of those actors that I easily forget. Never particularly bad, he’s also never particularly memorable. Dana Andrews though is a wonder to behold. Masculine and neurotic, he is refreshingly modern in whatever context you put him in. Some performers seem to fit their time period, and Andrews is one of the few who always managed to trascend it. His best performances highlighted his strong blue-collar looks, with that aching neurosis boiling under the surface. He’s the everyman with brains and imagination, and he always seemed to have a deep understanding with his character’s struggles and dillemas. Though Laura is my favourite of his performances, he’s equally good in Preminger’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, where he plays a cop who accidentally kills a murder suspect. Also with Tierney, it’s often overlooked, though it ranks among the best film noirs I’ve seen.
3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie
I’ve seen very few Lumet’s surprisingly, and none jump out at me as being among my own personal favourite… hopefully that’ll change sometime. I’ll choose Dog Day Afternoon because it’s my favourite Pacino performance and it’s coursing with this incredible rebellious and “I’m not gonna take it anymore” (pun unintended), attitude. It’s a very simple story, not only narratively, but in terms of location and scope elevated by the filmmakers passions. I think it still speaks to a great deal of people who are struggling, or somehow unsatisfied with their below/middle class existence.
4) Biggest surprise of the just-past summer movie season
The cult following Speed Racer seems to have acquired, despite it’s lackluster performance at the box-office.
5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth
Both are beautiful, but I’m giving the edge to Tierney… though, I haven’t seen Hayworth’s signature performance yet, so take it with a grain of salt. Tierney is not only the sexiest woman with an overbite, but she could play with poison when she wanted. Though held up as the ideal woman in Laura, there is always something disquieting about her perfection and actions that scream vanity. I also love her twisted, almost campy turn in Leave her to Heaven. Throwing herself down some stairs was great, though my favourite scene has to be her on that little boat with her sunglasses. ICY! She’s also sweet and perfectly loveable in Heaven Can Wait, it’s no wonder Don Ameche fell for her so hard.
7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?
I don’t know who he is 😦
8) What were the films where you would rather see the movie promised by the poster than the one that was actually made?
Though I appreciate and understand Haneke’s efforts with his recent American reboot of Funny Games, the film is very cold and lifeless. The poster is more heartwrenching than any moment in the film, and I almost wish the film itself could have tapped into that humanity.
9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung
Tough call, so tough, I’m choosing Tony Leung because I have a crush on him.
10) Most pretentious movie ever
Ummm… no idea
11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie
I love Russ Meyer, and though Up! is his most fun venture, I adore Beyond the Valley of the Dolls beyond any reasonable or rational levels. It’s brilliant.
12) Name the movie that you feel best reflects yourself, a movie you would recommend to an acquaintance that most accurately says, “This is me.”
I’ve actually wondered a lot about this, it would be much easier if I could choose ten films, but alas! I think if pressed, I’d choose Band of Outsiders. It embodies both the people and lifestyle I exist, and one I almost aspire to. Of course, I don’t engage in pety crime, but the style, the adventure and the sheepishness of the characters never fail to remind me of myself. A lost lamb guided by cinema. I feel so much kinship with Odile, though I could only hope to be as pretty as she is.
13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo
Impossible to choose, I think I have to say, I choose Garbo the actress, and Dietrich’s films. There are maybe 2 or 3 actors in the history of cinema who can compare to the presence and beauty of Garbo. Her films could never live up to her presence though, and while she has a few great films (Queen Christina, Camille, Flesh and the Devil), none are true masterpieces, and would no doubt be forgotten were it not for her spellbinding screen presence. Dietrich is no less an actress, missing only that one in a trillion quality that Garbo had. Her films are better though, luckily for her, Sternberg a master of light and oppulance to a liking to her. Films like The Scarlet Empress, eclipse anything Garbo has done, though she never had the chance. I’d have credited this solely to Sternberg, who himself was entranced by her, but she would prove (especially later in her career), that she was not a one trick pony. I especially lover her performance in Welles’ Touch of Evil, so delicious. I think I could watch Garbo comb her hair for hours, and be entranced, but I think I have to give a slight edge to Dietrich, who just made better films.
14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?
I love popcorn, even though I hate how it gets stuck in my teeth. I hate most candy, so that.
15) Current movie star who would be most comfortable in the classic Hollywood studio system
Interesting question, I’d put two, George Clooney (the Cary Grant comparisons work, I see him doing screwballs, serious dramas and war films, he might only be out of place in a western though I’d be happy to be proved wrong), and Carice Van Houten (she has the look, and I love my classic stars with a foreign edge).
16) Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?
I haven’t seen it 😦
17) Your assignment is to book the ultimate triple bill to inaugurate your own revival theater. What three movies will we see on opening night?
In high-school, me and a friend would waste away science class planning the ultimate revival theatre. It was tons of fun, and I wish I could remember what our opening night was.
The first night is tricky, I think I’d start with a big name film that would draw a wider audience, and then move to films more representative of my own taste, and desire to create a repertoire that skirts away from the obvious contenders.
I’d open with The Third Man. It’s popular enough to garner interest, and balances darkness with a sly and ironic sense of humour that is very appealing. It’s a good way to start an evening, in fact, I think I’d be a better person if I could start every night with The Third Man.
Second up, something a little more bouncy, filled with a joie-de-vivre that is incomparable, I’d go with Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise. The film is sophisticated, smart and has wonderful visual touches. It’s a light comedy about the complexity of human relationships, and it works on both levels. It seems like a fitting middle-ground.
Third, ooo… I don’t know what I’d finish off with. Something dark? Scary? Sexy? Sexy :p Baby Doll, the best of the best when it comes to Tennessee William’s adaptations the film is hot and heavy. I know if I were on a night on the town with my loved one, I’d love to end off my evening with a sharp comedy, matched with some of the steamiest love scenes to hit the screen. I know I’d be in a good mood leaving the theatre, a lovely evening on the town, and an equally good evening at home.
18) What’s the name of your theater? (The all-time greatest answer to this question was once provided by Larry Aydlette, whose repertory cinema, the Demarest, is, I hope, still packing them in…)
The Blue Angel
19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie
Another favourite director of mine, on some days, the Awful Truth is my favourite film so I have to go with that. It’s just so vibrant, clever and beautiful. It’s a classic comedy about misunderstanding and relationships, but it handles the comedy with so much humanity that it feels more real than real. It’s perfect.
20) Most impressive debut performance by an actor/actress.
Another toughy, I think I’ll go with Q’orianka Kilcher in the New World. Especially considering how young she was, she brought the film to a new level. The nuance and intelligence of her performance is incredible, especially the growth she makes as a woman.
21) Biggest disappointment of the just-past summer movie season
22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung
Maggie Cheung, if only for In the Mood for Love.
23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated
I never know what to say for this
24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated
25) Fritz the Cat—yes or no?
Another I haven’t seen, but I’ve been meaning to.
26) Trevor Howard or Richard Todd
I have to abstain, I haven’t seen any of Todd’s work.
27) Antonioni once said, “I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.” What filmmaker working today most fruitfully ignores the rules? What does ignoring the rules of cinema mean in 2008?
Tough call, and so dependent on what avenue and continent you’re working with. What is taking risks and breaking rules in mainstream American cinema compared to European, or Asian arthouse? I’d argue a film like The Dark Knight, is breaking the rules of the conventions of comic book films, and general mainstream cinema. Then again, compared to something like Inland Empire, that breaks all the rules of a popular “conventional” filmmaker (I say conventional, excluding experimental filmmaking), it’s so trite and by the books. I’d have to give this a lot more thought, very difficult question.
28) Favorite William Castle movie
I’m surprised to say, I haven’t seen any of his work.
29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie
Again, seems so broad, not quite sure how to answer it… Grey Gardens seems somehow appropriate.
30) What’s the movie coming up in 2008 you’re most looking forward to? Why?
The Curious Case of David Button, for many reasons. I was first grabbed by the trailer, which is positively enchanting, the fact it’s based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of my favourite authors certainly helps. Finally, Fincher’s Zodiac really put him on the map for me, an incredible film, I only hope he achieves the same level of intelligence and interest as he does there, perhaps even surpassing it.
31) What deceased director would you want to resurrect in order that she/he might make one more film?
32) What director would you like to see, if not literally entombed, then at least go silent creatively?
33) Your first movie star crush