Thursday, December 14, 2006

Professor Dave Jennings’ Milton-Free, Universe-Expanding Holiday Midterm

Professor Dave Jennings’ Milton-Free, Universe-Expanding Holiday Midterm by Dennis Cozzalio has a marvelous little survey on it. I'd seen it up, but hadn't appreciated it until I read Marty McKee's answer's over at Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot. I'm not sure why.


1) What was the last movie you saw, either in a theater or on DVD, and why?

As it happens, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which is hardly the most interesting thing I've watched recently.

2) Name the cinematographer whose work you most look forward to seeing, and an example of one of his/her finest achievements.

There are a number of tempting choices, but since Dean Cundey seems to have gotten plenty of props, I'll go with Vilmos Zsigmond, mostly because I'm so in love with the look of The Long Goodbye at this moment.

3) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson?

Joe Don. I think they're both better than they're given credit for and both are sentimental favorites for me, so Joe Don is only taking it by a hair for me.

4) Name a moment from a movie that made you gasp (in horror, surprise, revelation…)

There's a moment in Singapore Sling with a kiwi...

5) Your favorite movie about the movies.

Ed Wood, with The Purple Rose of Cairo in a close second. I'm not even sure for third, that'd be damn tight, too.

6) Your Favorite Fritz Lang movie.

M edges out Scarlet Street, but not by much.

7) Describe the first time you ever recognized yourself in a movie.

I suspect it was Star Wars, as I was at the time living with my uncle and having to work long hours at his moisture farm... Ok, no, but the whole wanting to move on to something better, all that. I suppose that's pretty universal.

The first time I saw something deeper would probably be The Elephant Man. I was, of course, just a fat kid who got teased and nothing near as dark as the horrors there, but when you're a kid, everything's writ larger.

I've certainly seen myself in smaller things since, but I suppose, I still have a fairly grandiose view of myself.

8) Carole Bouquet or Angela Molina?

Carole Bouquet.

9) Name a movie that redeems the notion of nostalgia as something more than a bankable commodity.

It may be the season, but I'll go with A Christmas Story. Although A Prairie Home Companion has jumped way up here.

Honestly, I'm pretty damn sentimental, so I could list these forever. I love nostalgia.

10) Favorite appearance by an athlete in an acting role.

I'm having more difficulty with the question than perhaps I ought to. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I somehow doubt I'm supposed to answer with Burt Lancaster or Burt Reynolds, both of whom are substantially more famous as actors than atheletes. But then I come to Buster Crabbe and Fred Williamson, who aren't as famous as actors and are more famous as atheletes, but still strike me as more famous as actors than as atheletes to me at this point.

Given that, my choice for a performance by someone I'm sure remains more famous as an athelete than as an actor is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane!

11) Favorite Hal Ashby movie.

Being There.

12) Name the first double feature you’d program for opening night of your own revival theater.

I'd open with Once Upon a Time in the West and Duck, You Sucker. That's a bit odd, since I'd certainly specialize in trash. I mean, I live in Seattle where there is already a solid revival theaters, The Grand Illusion, as well as the repertory screen at one screen at The Varsity and midnight screenings every week at The Egyptian, so I don't have a specific desire to show more normal classics here, as much as I love many of them... and know that I would slip more in occasionally.

13) What’s the name of your revival theater?

Probably The Bleeding Tree.

14) Humphrey Bogart or Elliot Gould?

Why don't you just ask "your left hand or your right hand?" I guess I have to go with Bogie.

15) Favorite Robert Stevenson movie.

Mary Poppins.

16) Describe your favorite moment in a movie that is memorable because of its use of sound.

The opening sequence of Once Upon a Time in the West.

17) Pink Flamingoes-- yes or no?

Absolutely 100% yes.

18) Your favorite movie soundtrack score.

Crap! There are so many that I love. I want to say Vampyros Lesbos, as I've been listening to it a lot recently and it's inordinately groovy. But the honest answer is Once Upon a Time in the West by Ennio Morricone.

19) Fay Wray or Naomi Watts?

Fay Wray. Naomi Watts was one of the few things I liked in the remake. But Fay Wray is so perfectly iconic. And really, I think the performances is the original are much better than they're given credit for, especially hers.

Oddly, answering every other one of these choices, including the ones that follow, I recognized that both actors had a famous role in common, but naturally answered with my general choice between the actors. With this one, and only this one, I naturally answered for the specific role.

I'm leaving the answer the same, as my natural reaction, but I'm not sure I would have given the same answer if I'd naturally answered in the same manner of the others.

20) Is there a movie that would make you question the judgment and/or taste of a film critic, blogger or friend if you found out they were an advocate of it?

I've learned to respect that people have all kinds reasons to like all kinds of movies, so I can't think there's any one movie that would drive me off, but if a person likes too many of the kinds of movies that have been winning Oscars the last 10 years or so, like Forrest Gump, Braveheart or A Beautiful Mind, I'd be reserved in trusting their judgment on other things.

Speaking of which, if someone said, "Man, is that Ron Howard capable of making a bad movie?", I'd look at them pretty funny from then on.

21) Pick a new category for the Oscars and its first deserving winner.

Roger Corman should get some kind of lifetime achievement award. Without question. If having one's name attached to a decent share of crappy movies is a good reason to not give it out then someone needs to rescind the one they gave Dino De Laurentiis.

That said, if I were to create a category, I'd either create some kind of genre award, which would certainly be wasted on crap, or else I'd create the lifetime achievement in nudity. In the latter category, I'd give the first award posthumously to Robert Altman, who always handled nudity incredibly well and included it remarkably often for a non-genre director. I'd give the second to Edwige Fenech, just because...

22) Favorite Paul Verhoeven movie.

As it happens, I've been meaing to write an extensive appreciation of Verhoeven for some time, as he's a major favorite and is many of the things I aspire to be, so when I say Robocop, it's an earnest appreciation of the brilliance of that film and not a throwaway.

23) What is it that you think movies do better than any other art form?

Envelop an audience in the moment.

24) Peter Ustinov or Albert Finney?

Albert Finney.

25) Favorite movie studio logo, as it appears before a theatrical feature.

I love the classic Universal with the prop plane. I wish I could come up with something else, just to buck the crowd, but it's awesome!

26) Name the single most important book about the movies for you personally.

How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime by Roger Corman. I read it every year or so and take new inspiration from it each time.

27) Name the movie that features the best twist ending. (Please note the use of any “spoilers” in your answer.)

I'd be very, very happy if they put a ten-year moratorium on twist endings. I think they're wasted these days.

I'm happiest when they are a nice bit of frosting on top of a movie that would work just great without the twist. As such, my answer is Planet of the Apes. There are at least two other movies on my top 10 that I also think have nice twists.

28) Favorite Francois Truffaut movie.

The 400 Blows.

29) Olivia Hussey or Claire Danes?

Olivia Hussey.

30) Your most memorable celebrity encounter.

The one that stands out is when I saw Micky Dolenz, who I'd absolutely love to meet. Unfortunately, he was having what seemed to be a rather unpleasant conversation on a pay phone, so I respectfully left him alone.

31) When did you first realize that films were directed?

I don't recall not knowing that... nor do I recall not aspiring to it.

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