It happened again. I was just pining, wishing for a Film Quiz from Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. I had time, my mind was sharp, I was bored. I waited and waited, and finally gave up. Then, after I get busy and my mind gets mushy, this happens: PROFESSOR LARRY GOPNIK’S POST-HANUKAH, PRE-CHRISTMAS, POST-SCHRODINGER, PRE-APOCALYPSE SLIFR HOLIDAY MOVIE QUIZ.
I saw it early in the morning the day it was posted. It already had a half dozen responses. Time to get to work.
1) Favorite unsung holiday film
My legit favorite is probably Hogfather, the Sky TV Terry Pratchett Discworld 2-parter (does that count?). But I recently saw and rather liked the critically panned Reindeer Games, so I'll go with that.
2) Name a movie you were surprised to have liked/loved
My recent M.O. has been to watch recent movies that are considered bombs and kind of liking them. I call it "We liked that movie that everybody says is junk". The most recent, which I haven't blogged about yet, was Jumper. I am a big fan on Stephen Gould's intelligent young-adult SF novels, including this one. Based on the reviews, I assumed that they had missed the whole point, dropping the thoughtful investigation of what a normal nerdy kid would do if he found out how to teleport, and made a stupid action movie. Which was kind of true, and kind of wasn't. I wound up liking it a lot, and hoping they do the two sequels.
3) Ned Sparks or Edward Everett Horton?
Got to be E.E. Horton for everything from The Gay Divorcee to Fractured Fairytales. But I frequently drop into Ned Sparks nasal drawl when I the urge to sound cynical and deadpan comes over me. So he's a strong runner-up.
He was great as a lap steel player in a Hawaiian band in Hawaii Calls.
4) Sam Peckinpah's Convoy-- yes or no?
Heck, yeah. My favorite trucker movie, bar none.
5) What contemporary actor would best fit into a popular, established genre of the past
Not sure if he is still "contemporary", but Roberto Benigni would be a good character actor in classic slapstick - someone like Grady Sutton or Franklin Pangborn.
6) Favorite non-disaster movie in which bad weather is a memorable element of the film’s atmosphere
Wizard of Oz - no, I like the tornado, but the movie is not really a favorite. Key Largo? Body Heat (hot and sticky is bad weather too)?
7) Second favorite Luchino Visconti movie
The only one I've ever seen is Death in Venice. So, Boccaccio '70.
8) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD/Blu-ray?
Theatrically, a Deanna Durbin double-header: her first and last features, Three Smart Girls and For the Love of Mary. on Blu-ray, Keanu Reaves first directorial outing, Man of Tai Chi, another movie I was surprised to have liked.
9) Explain your reaction when someone eloquently or not-so-eloquently attacks one of your favorite movies (Question courtesy of Patrick Robbins)
I tend to splutter when people say dumb things, or try to earnestly explain what they are missing. I never convince anyone.
10) Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell?
Joan, an icon for a long career from pre-code to TV. But I haven't seen any Torchy Blane movies, so I could change my mind later.
11) Movie star of any era you’d most like to take camping
I hear that Gable was a big outdoors man, so he might be handy to have along, but let's face it: Jayne Mansfield.
12) Second favorite George Cukor movie
A lot to choose from. I'll take Pat and Mike.
13) Your top 10 of 2013 (feel free to elaborate!)
It looks like I watched exactly 10 movies from 2013 in 2013, so I could just put those in order, but - It's a trick question! It doesn't say movies from 2013 or even top 10 movies! So, in no special order:
1. Top movie: Bringing Up Baby, same as always
2. Top 2013 movie that we saw in 2013: Pacific Rim
3. Top 2013 movie that we haven't seen yet: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
4. Top shop: Discovered the Rasputin Records and DVDs in our neighborhood. 3 used DVDs for $10!
5. Top DVD bought from above: Addams Family and Addams Family Values box set
6. Top breakfast spot: Olympus, a Turkish cafe with lots of outdoor seating. Ms. Spenser's dog likes to hang out there while I have a mocha and a gozleme or boreki or pistachio burma.
7. Top bar: Cascal, a pan-Latin tapas bar, again with a large outdoor plaza. I would walk to the library with the dog and drop in for drink at an outside table on the way back. They have interesting things like mango caipirinhas, mushroom empanadas and ciabatta with corn kernels and herbed olive oil. Too expensive to do on every trip though.
8. Top musical event: Bob Dylan's AmericanaRama - last show of the tour at Shoreline Amphitheater, with Wilco and My Morning Jacket, plus Bob Weir and John Doe dropping in.
9. Top bummer: Ms. Spenser spent the summer back in Tallahassee, working on her dissertation.
10. Top joy: Ms. Spenser came back from Tally!
14) Name a movie you loved (or hated) upon first viewing, to which you eventually returned and had more or less the opposite reaction
I don't re-watch a lot of movies, and when I do, they are usually ones that I love. The biggest swings of opinion have been from Good to Meh or the reverse.
15) Movie most in need of a deluxe Blu-ray makeover
2001: Space Odyssey
16) Alain Delon or Marcello Mastroianni?
Delon is an icy beauty, but Mastroianni has sense of humor, and a heart. And his dance with an older, fatter Anita Ekberg in front of scenes from La Dolce Vita in Intervista is amazing.
17) Your favorite opening sequence, credits or no credits (provide link to clip if possible)
Yojimbo - especially the dog, even though that's post credits (so I couldn't find a clip that included it).
18) Director with the strongest run of great movies
Not sure if this is a run, but Billy Wilder directed 27 films, and at least 22 were classics.
19) Is elitism a good/bad/necessary/inevitable aspect of being a cineaste?
Sure, isn't that the difference between cineaste and just film lover? Like the difference between gourmet and gourmand.
But the trick is to be an elitist about any movie you want - scorning people who don't appreciate the artistry of Wm. One-Shot Beaudine or the aerial photography of Coleman Francis, for instance.
20) Second favorite Tony Scott film
Funny, it looks like I've only seen True Romance, which we loved.
21) Favorite movie made before you were born that you only discovered this year. Where and how did you discover it?
It's more of a series: The Mike Shayne detective movies starring Lloyd Nolan. What a card.
22) Actor/actress you would most want to see in a Santa suit, traditional or skimpy
Fun fact about Danny Trejo - he is a wizard with the claw machine, and he gives all of the stuffed toys he wins to kids in the hospital. He'd make a great Santa (traditional), maybe with the beard from Bad Ass.
23) Video store or streaming?
Netflix DVD-by-mail. When we lived in Tallahassee a few years ago, we dropped the disc subscription and went with streaming only, and started going to a local cult video store, Video 21. It was fun, but I still like the convenience and selection of Netflix. We like to use streaming more for TV shows.
24) Best/favorite final film by a noted director or screenwriter
I feel like some famous blogger just addressed this, but I can't quite put my finger on it...
I want to answer with the most "WTF" final film, like Wilder's Buddy Buddy or One-shot Beaudine's Billy the Kid Meets Frankenstein's Daughter. But I'm going to re-use my answer to #1: Reindeer Games.
25) Monica Vitti or Anna Karina?
Monica was an amazing Modesty Blaise, but Anna Karina was my dream-girl when I was a New Wave fanboy - infâme? Non, une femme!
26) Name a worthy movie indulgence you’ve had to most strenuously talk friends into experiencing with you. What was the result?
I don't do that often, and as a result, I used to watch a lot of movies by myself (now I make Ms. Spenser watch with me). We did cajole some friends into watching Buckaroo Banzai and were shocked when we came out and discovered that they hated it.
27) The movie made by your favorite filmmaker (writer, director, et al) that you either have yet to see or are least familiar with among all the rest
I guess our favorite filmmaker is Akira Kurosawa. I haven't seen The Lower Depths yet.
Dutch mystery writer/Buddhist Jan Willem van der Wetering tells about watching a movie in Japan that seems to be The Lower Depths, although he couldn't tell because he didn't speak or read Japanese. He perceived it as a heart-warming story of how poverty brings neighbors together to help each other. I am told by people who have seen the movie that he missed the point by a mile.
28) Favorite horror movie that is either Christmas-oriented or has some element relating to the winter holiday season in it
Rare Exports, which I haven't seen, but sounds awesome. Really, I don't watch much horror.
29) Name a prop or other piece of movie memorabilia you’d most like to find with your name on it under the Christmas tree
An Interocitor - or at least a catalog from Electronics Service Unit #16.
30) Best holiday gift the movies could give to you to carry into 2014
That Desolation of Smaug be good.