Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the Quiz before Christmas

The last time Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule posted a film quiz was over Labor Day. I didn't notice it was up until about 4 days later - far too late to get my answers in. After that fiasco, I've been checking every day - And here it is. I got my answers in before Christmas!

1) Best Movie of 2010
Bringing Up Baby, same as every year.

2) Second-favorite Roman Polanski Movie Our favorite is Ninth Gate. Second favorite is probably Rosemary's Baby. We're not big fans.

3) Jason Statham or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock is a surprisingly versatile actor (beyond the eyebrow trick), but Statham is so awesome that I watched In the Name of the King.

4) Favorite movie that could be classified as a genre hybrid 
Pistol Opera - a hybrid of yakuza and Noh theater.

5) How important is foreknowledge of a film’s production history? Should it factor into one’s reaction to a film?
Very unimportant. I don't care how much money a movie cost, who fought with who, or even what technology was used for the special effects. Only what's on the screen matters.
Of course, the rest of the stuff is fun to read about...

6) William Powell & Myrna Loy or Cary Grant & Irene Dunne
Nick and Nora. No question at all.

7) Best Actor of 2010
It's weird to say this but either Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp.

8) Most important lesson learned from the past decade of watching movies
Comedies and action movies - nothing pretentious or polite. Don't rent high-brow movies that look good but will only depress you. If you do rent them and don't watch them, return them right away.

9) Last movie seen (DVD/Blu-ray/theater)
  • DVD: If You Could Only Cook, with Jean Arthur and Herbert Marshall. We especially loved Leo Carillo as a gangster and gravel-voiced Lionel Stander as his henchman. 
  • Blu-ray: Fantastic Four from a copy I own. I insist this is an awesome movie.
  • Theater: Despicable Me and Scott Pilgrim double bill at the Mission Tiki Drive-In last summer. Took some teenagers, who were not impressed, but didn't complain.
10) Most appropriate punishment for director Tom Six
I do not believe I have ever heard of Tom Six, or any of his movies. Please do not enlighten me.

11) Best under-the-radar movie almost no one else has had the chance to see
Dark and Stormy Night, by Larry Blamire of The Lost Skeleton of Cadvera "fame". It's a ton of fun, and 90-year old Betty Garret is in it! As far as I know, if you missed its premiere at the Egyptian last year, you missed it.
Stop the presses! It is now available on Netflix! Rent it today!

12) Sheree North or Angie Dickinson
Dickinson bared it all with Capt. Kirk and the captain of the Nostromo in Big Bad Mama. So, Sheree North (who was on Lost in Space).

13) Favorite nakedly autobiographical movie
8 1/2, and by extension, Stardust Memories.

14) Movie which best evokes a specific real-life place
The Lord of the Rings trilogy perfectly evokes Middle Earth - which is real to me...

15) Best Director
Del Lord, unless you mean for 2010. For 2010, still Del Lord.

16) Second-favorite Farrelly Brothers Movie
Never seen one. May it ever be so.

17) Favorite holiday movie
The Thin Man. Best Christmas ever!

18) Best Actress
Again, it's weird to say, but Angelina Jolie.

19) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson 
Bo Svenson wasn't in Mitchell, so him. He wasn't in Final Justice either.

20) Of those notable figures in the world of the movies who died in 2011, name the one you’ll miss the most
My crystal ball says "Clint Eastwood".

21) Think of a movie with a notable musical score and describe what it might feel like without that accompaniment.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Actually, I think it would work pretty well. In some ways, the Maricone score could be replaced by whistling wind and creaking hinges and maintain the same feeling.

22) Best Screenplay
Duck Soup

23) Movie You Feel Most Evangelistic About Right Now
Some of our nephews have never seen any Marx Bros. so we've been hyping them. We've recently  recommended The Fall to several people as well.

24) Worst/funniest movie accent ever
With respect to Hrundi V.  Bakshi, we just saw the Mystery Science Theater version of Werewolf. Although it takes place in Albequerque, it has very few native English speakers (even Joe Estevez seems to be having trouble). The leading lady seems to be Russian or something and her attempts at an American accent are a stitch. "You mean... a waarwolf?"

25) Best Cinematography
I've got The Fall on the brain - it certainly is beautiful.

26) Olivia Wilde or Gemma Arterton
Umm, I saw Quantum of Solace, so... which one was in that?

27) Name the three best movies you saw for the first time in 2010 (Thanks, Larry!)

And I thought I'd seen all the great musicals and screwball comedies!

28) Best romantic movie couple of 2010
I guess I'll have to say Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, same as every year.

29) Favorite shock/surprise ending
When Jimmy Stewart kills himself at the end of It's a Wonderful Life - in my version anyway.

30) Best cinematic reason to have stayed home and read a book in 2010
Since we don't go out to see movies - yay Netflix! - how about Best Reason to Fall Asleep on the Couch while Watching a Movie? I did that a lot. How about National Treasure, 1 or 2? Not a 2010 movie, but that's when I watched it.

31) Movies in 2011 could make me much happier if they’d only _______________ 
Stop taking themselves so seriously.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Theme Cocktail - Xmas 2010

So, here we are, at my sister's house for the holidays. Shortly after we arrive, she says, "Now, let's work on a theme cocktail for the holiday." Without realizing it, we had been having theme cocktails every year: pomegranate cosmos, Dark and Stormies, Bert of Paradises...

She had a recipe for a rum/brandy/cider based drink, but I'm only using it as a starting point. I picked up a bottle of Laird's Applejack (quite nice - just a whiff of apple in the fragrance) and some Allen's 100-proof ginger brandy (kind of nasty, and weak on the ginger). We also got some ginger beer for Dark and Stormies. We don't have any cider - yet.

Laird's and ginger beer is pretty good. With Allen's, it is less good.

This is a post in progress. I'll update it as we taste and try. If you have any suggestions, or fears for our sanity/sobriety, please post.

Update: Well, we didn't get far in this direction. We went to The Boston Shaker, a cocktail gear shop in Davis Square, Somerville MA. We browsed their extensive selection of bitters (including two locally made chocolate bitters - chocolate and xocolatl mole), but in the end, bought a bottle a Trader Tiki's Passion Fruit syrup. They included a recipe for Pieces of Eight:

1/2 oz. lime juice
1-1/2 oz. lemon juice
1-1/2 oz. Passion Fruit syrup
1-1/2 oz. rum


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Movies

Don't like 'em.

But if I did, here are a few I'd recommend:
  • Hogfather: Based on the Terry Pratchett Discworld stories, this comprises 2 90-minute British TV specials. Discworld's version of Santa Claus, the Hogfather, has been nobbled by the Assassin's Guild, and in his place Death (Ian Richardson) will be delivering the presents. It's funny, surprising and a bit dark - wait until you find out what the Tooth Fairy has been up to. It's probably better if you've read some of the Discworld books. Best of all, you can stream it instantly, along with the non-holiday themed Colour of Magic.
  • The Bishop's Wife: Cary Grant is an angel who seduces Loretta Young, to make her husband, the Bishop (David Niven) jealous. It really sparkles, with wit and a real touch of magic. It may be my favorite Christmas classic.
  • Lady in the Lake: Robert Montgomery's famous spin as detective Philip Marlowe. Everybody remembers that it is filmed from the detectives point of view, so you never see Montgomery, except maybe in a mirror. But most people forget that it takes place over the holidays.  
  • Santa Claus: Mystery Science Theater 3000: This is the one with the Mexican wrestler space Santa Claus, not to be confused with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which Cinematic Titanic mst'ed. This is very very bad, but it is available by streaming.
I'm sure that I'm forgetting a few, but, honestly, I'm just not that fond of the genre. Christmas in Connecticut, for instance, was a fine movie with too much Christmas for my taste. And here's a deep dark secret, which you must never repeat: I think It's a Wonderful Life is a great movie, a true classic. But a) overexposed and b) too much Christmas.

In conclusion, I'd like to say, "Bah humbug", but that's another holiday cliche, so I won't.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Flying Down to Rio

Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, the French Austin Powers is back, in OSS 117: Lost in Rio. We saw last saw him in Cairo: Nest of Spies, and liked him a lot.

Now the smugly nationalist, racist, sexist bumbling spy has been sent to Rio to buy a list of French Nazi collaborators from an old Nazi. Once there, he teams up with female Israeli agent. She's pretty sharp, but he can't take her seriously, because, of course, she's a girl, and besides, there's something about Jews...

They run into some Carioca hippies, get lost in the jungle, etc. It ends with a gratitous triple Hitchcock reference: Vertigo, Saboteur, and North by Northwest. Can't hate that.

I felt this sequel was slightly less awesome than the first entry, but can't wait for the next.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back Again

Let's Do It Again is one of the three movie Sidney Poitier made with Bill Cosby, along with Uptown Saturday Night and A Piece of the Action. They are a friendly fun take on the black experience - kind of anti-blaxploitation.

Poitier and Cosby, two ordinary blue-collar dudes in Atlanta, belong the the Sons and Daughters of Chaka lodge, which is going to lose its building to redevelopment. Lodge leader Ossie Davis explains this in a nice secular revival type meeting, very Black positive without being Black power. Cosby comes up with a way to get the money for a new building:
  1.  They will go to New Orleans, where the middle weight boxing championship is being held.
  2. Poitier will use his hypnosis trick to make the contender (outrageously outclassed Jimmie Walker) into the champ.
  3. They bet all of the lodge's money on Walker at 5:1
  4. Profit
In the process, we get to see Poitier and Cos goofing around New Orleans with their wives, we get them dressed in wild pimp getups to impress the gambling bosses, and a some Safety Last style skulking around Walker's hotel room. Fun and funny, but a little aimless, with an almost improvised feel to it, especially Cosby's little rants.

Well, they pull it off and get away with the dough, but the gangsters they won it off of track them down, and now they have to do it again.

I liked this a lot. It's fun and family friendly without being toothless. I see this as sort of anti-blaxploitation: it's an African American viewpoint, it's got hustlers, gamblers and pinpsuits, but it's all in fun. Another way to look at it is like Amos and Andy, with Cos as Kingfisher, gambling with the lodge's funds. But again, the rascals are earnest and honest, not lazy and no-account. So in a way, these movies are a political statement - a radical, middle-of-the-road statement.

In conclusion, I have to mention the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack, sung by the Staples Singers. The title song alone is worth the price of admission. If you are going to be competing with Superfly, you need something like this.