Monday, 11 March 2013

Miss Jean Brodie’s Modestly Magnificent, Matriarchally Manipulative Springtime-For-Mussolini Movie Quiz

My attempts to share in those carnivals of cinephilia that are Dennis Cozzalio’s epic movie quizzes in the past have been stymied by my tendency to over-think answers and his cunning capacity to sometimes diagnose my areas of disinterest (the dastard). Now, however, I’ve finally gotten in on this act.

1)      The classic movie moment everyone loves except me is:
The last shot of The Third ManYes, it’s a visually clever and, on first viewing, darkly funny defiling of cliché happy endings. But under the superficial punch is a facile quality that leaves a bad taste in my mouth now. Greene’s attempt to transplant a passion play onto a selfish and sleazy profiteer feels dishonest to me, and the film’s moral complexity is reduced to a cheap and cynical laugh line. Runner-up: the finale of On The Waterfront.

2)      Favorite line of dialogue from a film noir
“He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?”

3)      Second favorite Hal Ashby film
Harold and Maude (the favourite’s Bound for Glory).

4)      Describe the moment when you first realized movies were directed as opposed to simply pieced together anonymously.
This is lost in the mists of my time, but it was probably during one of my six hundred childhood viewings of Jaws.

5)      Favorite film book
Phil Hardy’s Encyclopedia of the Horror Film.

6)      Diana Sands or Vonetta McGee?
Vonetta. Like everyone in Repo Man, she has a lifetime pass from me. Plus she was just great.

7)      Most egregious gap in your viewing of films made in the past 10 years
Many potentials for this answer, especially considering that one person’s egregious is another’s whatever.

8)      Favorite line of dialogue from a comedy
You’re kidding, right? Out of the entire history of comedy on film, one line? Well all right then… “You’re willing to pay him a thousand dollars a night just for singing? Why you can get a phonograph record of Minnie the Moocher for seventy-five cents. For a buck and a quarter you can get Minnie.”

9)      Second favorite Lloyd Bacon film
42 Street (favourite is Action in the North Atlantic).

10)   Richard Burton or Roger Livesey?
I’ll go against the expected go-against-the-expected here, and say Burton.  Livesey was great but within a fairly narrow range. Burton was spectacularly reckless with his talent and could be downright awful, but occasional hit extraordinary heights.

11)   Is there a movie you staunchly refuse to consider seeing? If so, why?
Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

12)   Favorite filmmaker collaboration
Powell and Pressburger.

13)   Most recently viewed movie on DVD/Blu-ray/theatrical?
You mean, what did I watch last night? Operation Amsterdam.

14)   Favorite line of dialogue from a horror movie
“Fight death all your days, and die, knowing you know nothing.”

15)   Second favorite Oliver Stone film
Talk Radio (favourite is The Doors).

16)  Eva Mendes or Raquel Welch?
Raquel. 100 Rifles, bitches.

17)   Favorite religious satire
The Papal fashion show in Fellini’s Roma, just ahead of Bunuel’s The Milky Way.

18)   Best Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block)
The one I had on the New York Times’ old film forums about the difference between Taxi Driver and Se7en.

19)   Most pointless Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block) 
The one I had with the same guy about Training Day.

20)   Charles McGraw or Robert Ryan?
Both are pillars of awesome. But Ryan.

21)   Favorite line of dialogue from a western
“Let’s go.”

22)   Second favorite Roy Del Ruth film
Phantom of the Rue Morgue is my first, second, and third favourite. 

23)   Relatively unknown film or filmmaker you’d most eagerly proselytize for
Jean Rollin. Or Seijun Suzuki. Or...

24)   Ewan McGregor or Gerard Butler?
Ahhahahahahahahahaha Ewan.

25)   Is there such a thing as a perfect movie?
Do you want me to quote Kael at you? Is that really what you want?

26)   Favorite movie location you’ve most recently had the occasion to actually visit
I live about three hundred yards from where The Coca-Cola Kid was shot. But the question asks for favourite so I’ll say…Union Station, Chicago -- where they shot the shoot-out in The Untouchables. Sadly, not that recent.

27)   Second favorite Delmer Daves film
The Hanging Tree (favourite is The Red House).

28)  Name the one DVD commentary you wish you could hear that, for whatever reason, doesn't actually exist
Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, and Willis H. O’Brien talking about making King Kong, constantly interrupted by asides from Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong.

29)   Gloria Grahame or Marie Windsor?
Again, both awesome. But Gloria. For The Big Heat.

30)   Name a filmmaker who never really lived up to the potential suggested by their early acclaim or success
George Lucas.

31)   Is there a movie-based disagreement serious enough that it might cause you to reevaluate the  basis of a romantic relationship or a friendship?
I have a friend who likes both Gangster Squad and Les Miserables. Every day is a struggle to forgive. 


Robert said...

I eat these lists up when he does them. But, for me, they do more to expose the gaps in my film knowledge than anything. Many of them I have no base to answer from.

I esp. appreciate your Third Man, Touch of Evil, Jaws, and King Kong answers. And I'll watch pretty much anything with Robert Ryan in it. Never analyzed it to figure out why. He's just very appealing - maybe as a man who thinks he's better than he is, but then actually is, cause he is. Yeah... never analyzed it.

Roderick Heath said...

As I said above in jokey fashion, Robert, Dennis pitches these things cleverly just past the usual range of cult figures and, I think, makes everyone wonder at least once during the quiz about what they haven't been watching.

As for Ryan, well, he was just an excellent actor, with a capacity to suggest wearied pathos, authority, aggression, savagery, romanticism - all within the same tall and rangy frame. MacGraw had a similar rock-solid, utterly real quality, convincing and impressive particularly when called upon to be cruel or brutal (c.f. Spartacus), although what I've seen of him doesn't quite possess the same expressive range as Ryan. Unlike too many actors, especially those who try their hands at tough guy roles these days, you had the feeling that if you hit either, they wouldn't instantly fold up like a Murphy bed.

Robert said...

He's so mean to my secret life-long crush Myrna Loy in Lonelyhearts and so rascally in The Naked Spur, but I still can't hate him. He even helps keep The Outfit on its wobbly wobbly feet (though the couple of Timothy Carey moments help immeasurably). As is your way, you've summed him up perfectly.

Roderick Heath said...

I think if one has seen Ryan suffering through The Set-Up and Act of Violence, where his soul seems to be threatening to be coming apart at the seams, one has enough to counterbalance some of his more overtly nasty characters. Even in the silly film I reviewed below, Ice Palace, the best moment in the film is when his righteous character blows his top and clobbers Richard Burton.

Robert said...

Act of Violence and The Set-Up are two I haven't seen - and apparently Netflix doesn't want me to. I'll find 'em, don't you worry.

Patrick said...

I would have figured you for a Transformers guy. I always disliked (strongly) Michael Bay, but watched Transformers for some reason and actually got a kick out of it. The second one was fairly weak, but the third one (the moon one) was tolerable. I do understand if you have a dislike of anything by Bay.

Roderick Heath said...

Hi Patrick. Well, yeah, like you I mildly enjoyed the first Transformers - the idea of essentially making an '80s nerd-gets-the-girl flick and surrounding it with sci-fi pizzazz wasn't such a bad one, and it flew a long way on pure absurd energy, and I had a sense of the Spielberg aegis keeping Bay damped down with focus on something like character dynamics. But the second one was so bad, and such a total capitulation to Bay's worst traits, that I have a hard time believing the third one could yield pleasure for me, especially without Megan Fox, whose character I actually found the most interesting in the first one, and I entirely understood Fox's fury at Bay for the way she was treated in the sequel. Also, you're right that I am a Transformers guy, as I grew up with the TV series and original animated movie, but that's part of my problem; I couldn't stand how little grasp Bay had on the characterisation and mythos of the Transformers themselves; for Bay they're just obstacles and opponents in a video game. I will certainly admit to hating on Bay a lot, for in spite of his undeniable chutzpah and kinetic energy his films are despicable for me on several levels. But I do have some liking for The Rock, which was a transitional work between the last of the '80s-style action films and the more recent brand.