Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another Bunch of Answers for the Good Professor!

It's time once again for me to provide my replies to Dennis Cozzulio's seasonal movie geek quiz over at Sergio Leone and The Infield Fly Rule (you can find past installments here and here; I like that this season's quiz is attributed to Bigger Than Life's afflicted educator Ed Avery). These are always extremely fun posts to do, and I find Cozzulio's always surprising questions (to which I proudly contributed this time around) to be a brain-bending exercise that's totally rewarding! So here we go:

1) Depending on your mood, your favorite or least-loved movie cliché.
It used to be that my least favorite was the high-speed car chase leading to an auto smashing into a fruit stand or something. Then, in the 90s, it turned into the huge object (car, truck, tire, cow) being flipped up over end and flying into the air, hitting the camera (that one we're still seeing after 20 some odd years of it). Now I find myself shaking with rage every time someone vomits on camera, even if it's a little kid who's being sick. And I really hate it when someone throws up as a cheap acting ploy to show audiences how upset their characters are. How many times have YOU ever vomited spontaneously because you were shocked, nervous or saddened? For me, the answer is NEVER, and I suspect the same is the case for a lot of other normal people. I even manage to swallow my pukey feelings when I see or smell something disgusting; I only drive the porcelain bus when I'm dead drunk, which is almost never. Regardless, vomiting is just something I don't enjoy seeing in movies; I give upchuck passes only to Bad Santa, The Exorcist, The Sopranos and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. By the way, I have no "favorite" cliches because they just tend to remind me of the filmmakers' laziness.

2) Regardless of whether or not you eventually caught up with it, which film classic have you lied about seeing in the past?
It's been a long time since I've lied about seeing a movie. I'll be one of the seemingly few to admit it: I used to lie a lot when I was around 20, in order to seem smarter than I really was. Now that I've seen a lot more stuff (including most of the things I used to lie about), I find I enjoy telling people I haven't seen something they love because it somehow reminds me to either catch or avoid an important title. Plus I learned through experience that the actual key to intelligence is being able to admit to not knowing something. This said, the last movie I can remember fibbing about seeing was Black Narcissus. And I still haven't seen it; I've tried, but (kill me now) I find it boring, and can never finish it.

3) Roland Young or Edward Everett Horton?
Roland Young is the ultimate Cosmo Topper (when is Johnny Depp going to star in a Topper remake?), and he's great in And Then There Were None. But, let's face it: Edward Everett Horton had the more spectacular career, because he was just simply funnier. What a career he had: Top Hat, Trouble in Paradise, Design for Living, The Gay Divorcee, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Arsenic and Old Lace, Thank Your Lucky Stars, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Cold Turkey, plus he played the Mad Hatter in the superior 1933 version of Alice in Wonderland. And then, of course, there's his Rocky and Bullwinkle connection as the narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales. Easy to make this choice.

4) Second favorite Frank Tashlin movie.
I've not seen a lot of his cartoons, so they're unfortunately not being considered as deeply as they should. I respect The Girl Can't Help It, but I don't absolutely love it, so it would be a strong #2. My favorite is his Bob Hope comedy Son of Paleface. I do love the wackiness of Who's Minding the Store, too. And I can't bring myself to watch Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Movies about the toxic environment of Hollywood send me spiraling downward into a maelstrom of bad feelings.

5) A Clockwork Orange--yes or no?
Of course, yes. I'd like to meet the person who votes "no" and bust them in the yarbles--if they have any yarbles. (I'm kidding here--I'm strictly non-ultraviolent.)

6) Best/favorite use of gender dysphoria in a horror film (Ariel Schudson)
Leaving Norman Bates in Psycho behind as the obvious choice, I pick Roman Polanski in The Tenant. He looks better in drag, too!

7) Melanie Laurent or Blake Lively?
I prefer a woman who seems sexy AND clever, so Melanie Laurent's for me. I just hope she has some more great movies in her post-Inglourious Basterds future!

8) Best movie of 2011 (so far…)
Since its official release was in January, I'd have to go with my second favorite 2010 movie, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. I'm sure this will change once I see The Tree of Life later on this week.

9) Favorite screen performer with a noticeable facial deformity (Peg Aloi)
Well, I do love Owen Wilson most of the time, and that nose would definitely have to count as some sort of deformity. And Stacy Keach obviously had a cleft palette at one point, while George Macready had an awesome scar across his face for most of his career and Joaquin Phoenix has that weird upper lip. But what kind of film fan would I be if I didn't say Rondo Hatton? May seem obvious, but he's impossible to ignore in this regard.

10) Lars von Trier: shithead or misunderstood comic savant? (Dean Treadway)
Misunderstood comic savant, definitely; you only need to see The Five Obstructions or The Boss of It All or The Idiots to understand this. Regarding the recent controversy: Trier obviously suffers from depression, and as a fellow sufferer, I know that you say a lot of shocking things when you are deep in the throes of it. These things can seem funny to you at the time, because you have such a dark internal world and the horrors going on outside of it can seem so ultimately absurd that you lose all sensitivity for what kinds of comments are going to piss people off. Thus, I fault him not one whit for saying what he said at Cannes (I got the joke). I could say something here that could piss some people off right now, but I won't (self-censorship can be key when you're depressed; this is something that Trier doesn't have much control over because he's an uber-edgy artist who's perpetually banished that particular survival skill). However, this is no reason to think of him as a shithead.

11) Timothy Carey or Henry Silva?
Oh, why must I choose? I love them both! But, in the end, it has to be Timothy Carey, because he was as fascinating off-screen as on. If that's possible...

12) Low-profile writer who deserves more attention from critics and /or audiences
Jean-Claude Carrière: Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de Jour, Taking Off, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, That Obscure Object of Desire, The Tin Drum, Danton, The Return of Martin Guerre, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Cyrano De Bergerac, Birth, The White Ribbon. What a career! Yet I've never even seen one article on him, and even most rabid film fans wouldn't be able to recall his filmography, if challenged.

13) Movie most recently viewed theatrically, and on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming
Theatrically: Cave of Forgotten Dreams; DVD: Grandma's Boy; Streaming: Citizen X

14) Favorite film noir villain.
Dan Duryea in just about anything, but particularly in Criss Cross. I love that guy! SO slimy, yet so debonair about it!

15) Best thing about streaming movies?
Low cost, high accessibility. Worst thing? TOO MANY CHOICES! Sometimes I cannot decide what to watch, and it makes my head explode. I usually have to revert back to TV watching in these instances.

16) Fay Spain or France Nuyen? (Peter Nellhaus)
This is the sort of question that inspires nothing in me. Fay Spain seems more like a TV actress than a movie one (though she did play Hyman Roth's wife in Godfather II). And France Nguyen was somewhere in Battle for the Planet of the Apes, South Pacific and the underrated The Last Time I Saw Archie. But neither inspire me to pick one over the other, so I pick neither and move on...

17) Favorite Kirk Douglas that isn’t called Spartacus. (Peter Nellhaus)
Paths of Glory is his best movie, but maybe not his best role: I pick his nasty huckster Chuck Tatum from Ace in the Hole instead, with Seven Days in May, Paths of Glory, Lonely Are The Brave, The Bad and The Beautiful and The Man from Snowy River following close behind. Spartacus is good, but it doesn't even really enter into the question.

18) Favorite movie about cars.
Oh, this is easy: the ultimate car movie--H.B. Halicki's 1974 crack-up Gone in 60 Seconds. A car lover's dream/nightmare, that movie!

19) Audrey Totter or Marie Windsor?
Totter is good in The Set-Up and Lady in the Lake, but she's only in them a tiny bit. Marie Windsor--on top of having an unforgettable face, voice, and demeanor--is terrific in Cat Women on the Moon, The Fighting Kentuckian, The Narrow Margin, and is wonderfully cutthroat in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing. Windsor, for sure!

20) Existing Stephen King movie adaptation that could use an remake/reboot/overhaul.
I'd like to see someone do a slightly better job with Cujo. But The Stand obviously needs to be made correctly, by an A-lister. I hear it's in the works, too.

21) Low-profile director who deserves more attention from critics and/or audiences.
Joan Micklin Silver, the superb writer/director who gave us Between The Lines, Hester Street, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, Crossing Delancey, Finnegan Begin Again, and the criminally underappreciated Chilly Scenes of Winter. My very favorite female director, for sure, and among my favorite directors in general. Very few artists are keyed into the rhythms of everyday life better than she. The fact that I've seen not one critical essay breaking down Chilly Scenes of Winter's radical time-juggling structure makes me wonder if the best critics out there have ever even seen it. Everybody needs to get on the ball on this one.

22) What actor that you previously enjoyed has become distracting or a self-parody? (Adam Ross)
It pains me to say that Robert De Niro has, these days, rarely reconnected to what originally made him a movie star: a wild charisma and a certain hunger to inhabit new characters. I DID like his performance in Everybody's Fine, though--that's the chanciest thing he's done in quite some time, because it was his warmest character maybe since Awakenings. He's just taken the scary, staring asshole guy thing a little too far.

23) Best place in the world to see a movie.
Two answers: the perfectly stunning Fabulous Fox in Atlanta, GA (where, during their summertime movie series, you can get a great old or relatively new movie, trailers, a cartoon, and a ancient-feeling singalong with the Mighty Mo Organ, all in the confines of the most beautiful theater you've ever stepped into, and all for eight bucks). And, in NYC, the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, because you can bet the projection is going to be crystal clear, and that the programming lineup is going to be outstanding. Plus, you might see an actor or director you love giving a talk after the film! Honorable mentions go to the wondrous Plaza Theater and Starlight Six Drive-In, both also in Atlanta. Even New York theaters have nothing on them! I consider myself lucky to have three of the undeniably finest film venues in the nation here in my home city.

24) Charles McGraw or Sterling Hayden?
No contest. Sterling Hayden. A complete bad-ass of the first order. He'd gut ya as soon as look at ya. And he could surprise you with every role he took on!

25) Second favorite Yasujiro Ozu film.
The End of Summer (1961). Gorgeous movie, through and through.

26) Most memorable horror movie father figure.
Max Von Sydow in The Exorcist. (Get it?)

27) Name a non-action-oriented movie that would be fun to see in Sensurround. (Sal Gomez)
Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff. I figure Sensurround would be a fun and suitable effect for the flying and rocket launch sequences.

28) Chris Evans or Ryan Reynolds?
I'll go with Chris Evans, 'cuz he was in Sunshine and Scott Pilgrim (and was pretty hilarious in the latter). Watching a paper clip for two hours would be better than sitting through almost anything with Ryan Reynolds (though I liked him in Buried and Adventureland). But that guy has the goofiest face in the world. How the hell did HE become a movie star?

29) Favorite relatively unknown supporting player, from either or both the classic and the modern era.
For the classic era, I'm going with Burt Mustin (above), whose name's not well-known, but whom I guarantee has many fans out there who smile inside when they see him pop up in movies like The Lusty Men, The FBI Story, Executive Suite and The Reluctant Astronaut, as well as on TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Monkees, and All In The Family (his appearances on the latter series would always elicit moans of delight and copious applause from the live audience). And for the modern era, I'm going with the always likable Rick Dial (below), from Sling Blade, The Apostle, and Crazy Heart. Both are non-actors who spent most of their lives in other fields--Mustin was a salesman and Dial was a sports announcer--before stumbling on to avidly natural screen acting talents. I find their career trajectories to be extremely heartwarming.

30) Real-life movie location you most recently visited or saw.
The fountain at Lincoln Center, used most memorably in The Producers, (seen below), Ghostbusters, and Black Swan.

31) Second favorite Budd Boetticher movie.
Ride Lonesome (1959). Seven Men From Now would come in third, and The Bullfighter and the Lady fourth. We all know what's #1.

32) Mara Corday or Julie Adams?
Julie Adams has that slightly feral look that I like in some women (Jessica Harper and Claire Forlani have it, too). Plus she was in Bend of the River, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Private War of Major Benson AND The Last Movie!

33) Favorite Universal-International western.
Refreshingly simple! Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann, 1950)

34) What's the biggest "gimmick" that's drawn you out to see a movie? (Sal Gomez)
I avoid 3D like nobody's business; I really think Avatar will be the last 3D movie I'll ever see, because it seriously made me wanna jump off a bridge after viewing it. (THIS piece of crap is the future of movies? Someone give me a saw so I can cut my own head off.) I did really wanna go and catch the 2010 William Castle retrospective at Film Forum in NYC--you know, Emergo, Percepto, and the Punishment Poll? All that stuff? But I really think the last time it happened for me was in 1973 upon the release of Wicked, Wicked in Duo-Vision. I begged my parents to take me to see it at the drive-in. Not a good movie, that, but ever since I've had an undying fascination with split-screen! Honorable mention: the phone gimmick used to promote Bob Clark's 1974 horror classic Black Christmas; in the ads for the film, they encouraged you to call a given number, which led you into a scary vortex of phone-centric chaos, which matched the movie perfectly.

35) Favorite actress of the silent era.
She only did one movie, but, boy, was it a winner: Maria Falconetti, from The Passion of Joan D'Arc. Louise Brooks comes in a close second. Miss Lillian Gish was obviously the most influential, though.

36) Best Eugene Pallette performance (Larry Aydlette)
His Mr. Pike in The Lady Eve is his meatiest role. But I find him even more hilarious, and more suitably cast, as political machine henchman Chick McGann in Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. His exasperated reactions to Jimmy Stewart's oh-gawrsh title character have me in stitches every time I watch it.

37) Best/worst remake of the 21st century so far? (Dan Aloi)
Matt Reeves' Let Me In (2010) is the best, with Steven Soderburgh's Traffic (2001) trailing behind it. The worst is Adam Sandler's awful, laughless 2005 mishandling of Robert Aldrich's The Longest Yard; Sandler and his director, Peter Segal, somehow managed to make an exciting story into an utterly stoic bore.

38) What could multiplex owners do right now to improve the theatrical viewing experience for moviegoers? What could moviegoers do?
With this, I suspect I have nothing to say that will differ from the comments of most filmgoers. First priority needs to be the sharpness, brightness and accuracy of the movie's projection (see my recent article about this issue here). And customers need to please, please, PLEASE stop texting or using your phone in any way during the movie; the only thing you could do in a theater that's worse is take a dump right in your seat. Here's what I'd love to say to anyone who texts or gabs while in a movie theater: "Just put the fucking phone down and pay attention! You DID lay down cash to get in here, did you not? JESUS! I can't fucking see one thing on this giant screen because you wanna play with your fucking bright-ass toy. Godammit!" Believe me, you do not wanna see that side of me. It's ugly.

(This is me right before I choked this woman's guts out.)


le0pard13 said...

Excellent answers, Dean. We agree on a few, certainly on WINCHESTER '73 and your moviegoer answer for the final question! Thanks.

Robert Fiore said...

Did you know Jean-Claude Carrière had written a comic book? It's called The Sky Over the Louvre, drawn by Bernard Yslaire. It's about Jacques-Louis David, Robespierre, and the birth of the Louvre Museum during the Reign of Terror. An English language version came out from the publisher NBM, and it's terrific.

Dean Treadway said...

That sounds like my kind of comic, Robert! Thanks for the info.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I wish I had thought to answer Silver on question #21. Outstanding choice.

And as one of the few who answered "no" on the Clockwork Orange question, I should warn you that I have yarbles as big as church bells.

Dean Treadway said...

Ahhh, that's just me trying to be funny, Ivan.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Well, the "balls as big as churchbells" bit plays a little better if I do it in that lisp of Dabney Coleman's from Dragnet (1987).

Dean Treadway said...

Just recently, when I was watching BAD TEACHER, I found myself sitting beside two groups. One was a gathering of females and I thought "Oh, no...they're going to be checking their phones constantly." On the other side was a 50-ish man accompanying his elderly mother. I was surprised to see that the girls were totally cool, while the 50-year-old man was checking his cell constantly and answering, to boot. 50 minute into this terrible fil, I asked myself "What am I sitting here for?" So I got up. I told the man "Get up, I'm getting out of here." Then I said, in a loud voice, "Do you know how rude that is, checking your phone like that? It's fucking rude and I have to get out of here." He stood up and, as I passed, he said "You need to get your own movie theater." I loudly said: "Suck my cock, motherfucker. I paid 12 bucks to get in here just like you did." The girls laughed, but one guy said "You need to watch your mouth." I left with this comment: "We ain't fucking watching BAMBI here. This is BAD TEACHER. I think you can fucking take it." And then I walked out.