Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): The End of Summer in Early to Mid Autumn

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The End of Summer in Early to Mid Autumn

This is a response to "DR. ZACHARY SMITH'S LOST IN THE SPACE AT THE END OF SUMMER MOVIE QUIZ" by Dennis Cozzollo at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

Yeah, I know it's not the end of summer by any stretch of the imagination. But I've been wanting to tackle this list for a while and now is a convenient time, so let's call this the "Lost in the Space When I'm Taking a Vacation That I Should Have Taken at the End of Summer Movie Quiz," put it on automatic posting and call it a day. (Save for Monday, I probably will not be able to respond to comments, but I will respond to them in a week when I return. In the meantime, automated posts will be popping up every day so keep checking in.)

The list is after the jump.


1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie

So many. I'll take three, starting with Martin Scorsese's intro to Mean Streets. After Marty's spoken intro over black, and Harvey Keitel wandering around a dark, cramped apartment room after jerking awake (room abuzz with city sounds), he lies back down, head hits the pillow, Ronettes burst onto the soundtrack and we whirl giddily around a projector, followed by home movies under appropriately gritty typed-out looking credits. This is what cinema used to be capable of, and I think it still could be. Speaking about itself, about the outside world, about its own history, about the rapture of watching movies, and doing so in the voice of a strident, simple, but rapturous popular culture (fused with street culture and a culture of the arts). Beautiful. The other two musical moments are Easy Rider and Last of the Mohicans - you can read about them, and more importantly watch the clips in question at the bottom of this entry.

2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews

I've hardly seen any of Ray Milland's work, but even if I were more familiar with The Lost Weekend, I suspect Andrews would retain the edge. For his work in The Best Years of Our Lives, if nothing else - he may give the best and most resonant performance in a great cast.

3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie

Ah, good one. Though it's certainly not the best, and I wouldn't call it my favorite either, I've always had a soft spot for Running on Empty. It captures a flavor and texture of backroads, semi-rural American towns (see the early sequence when River Phoenix rides his bike through the woods) in a way few other films have. But my favorite might be The Verdict - let me use this opportunity to point you to my recent review, which hopefully you've already read. If not, let me know your thoughts on the film (if you've seen it).

4) Biggest surprise of the just-past summer movie season?

That I saw so few movies, though given the past few summers that shouldn't be such a surprise.

5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth?

Tough. Rita I guess, though I've been especially found of Tierney as of late. But yeah, it's probably always gotta be Rita.

6) What’s the last movie you saw on DVD? In theaters?

On DVD, The Verdict (let me point your...oh whoops, already did. Sorry). In theaters, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?

I was going to say Earthquake, with Charlton Heston as the hero (only he could match wits with a natural disaster) and Walter Matthau as a drunk. I saw about half of it on TV when I was eight or so. A look at Allen's IMDB filmography reveals he did not produce, direct, or write Earthquake (maybe he was gaffer?). I take a pass.

8) What were the films where you would rather see the movie promised by the poster than the one that was actually made?

I thought Margot at the Wedding had a great poster but I hated the movie.

9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung

Tony Leung.

10) Most pretentious movie ever

Mystic River (based largely on the ending) & King Kong (based largely on the whole thing)

11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie

The one with boobs (another pass, please...)

12) Name the movie that you feel best reflects yourself, a movie you would recommend to an acquaintance that most accurately says, “This is me.”

Combination: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Godfather Part II, Lawrence of Arabia, Masculin Feminin, Vertigo...all of which happen, not so coincidentally to be among my favorite movies.

13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo

Garbo - which I didn't think would be the case until I saw her in action. Stills don't really capture her appeal for some reason - I never "got it" until I saw Queen Christina.

14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?

Popcorn and popcorn with what the theaters like to call "butter"

15) Current movie star who would be most comfortable in the classic Hollywood studio system?

Though it's a cliche, George Clooney. And he knows it, the smug bastard.

16) Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?

Haven't seen it.

17) Your assignment is to book the ultimate triple bill to inaugurate your own revival theater. What three movies will we see on opening night?

The 400 Blows - Breathless - Paris Belongs to Us, in that order.

18) What’s the name of your theater? (The all-time greatest answer to this question was once provided by Larry Aydlette, whose repertory cinema, the Demarest, is, I hope, still packing them in…)

The Axiom.

19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie

I'd like to be clever and not say Duck Soup. Sorry, it's Duck Soup.

20) Most impressive debut performance by an actor/actress.

Drawing a blank. All the performances I thought were debuts, when I look them up, weren't.

21) Biggest disappointment of the just-past summer movie season

I suspect it was Indiana Jones, but I avoided it so I can't say Indiana Jones in good faith. Even though I kind of just did.

22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung

Maggie Cheung, I guess.

23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated

The Dark Knight. Very good, very entertaining movie, but neither the Second Coming nor the greatest film of the past 30 years.

24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated

Probably something I haven't seen, and won't see until it's on DVD and I'm kicking myself for not supporting it in theaters.

25) Fritz the Cat—yes or no?

Well, I'd like to see the movie but I imagine it's terrible.

26) Trevor Howard or Richard Todd?

The Milland syndrome yet again. Howard by default.

27) Antonioni once said, “I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.” What filmmaker working today most fruitfully ignores the rules? What does ignoring the rules of cinema mean in 2008?

David Lynch, I suppose. Ignoring the rules of cinema in 2008 would probably entail a bit more respect for the rules in the first place, ala Godard or Truffaut. Free spirits borne of discipline. This isn't really happening nowadays. In regard to form, I expect a revolution around the corner, but it hasn't come yet.

28) Favorite William Castle movie

Does Rosemary's Baby count?

29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie

Masculin Feminin (cheating, but not really).

30) What’s the movie coming up in 2008 you’re most looking forward to? Why?

W. It will probably be terrible, but the bizareness of the concept and Oliver Stone's penchant for knowing no bounds are very intriguing to me.

31) What deceased director would you want to resurrect in order that she/he might make one more film?

Dreyer

32) What director would you like to see, if not literally entombed, then at least go silent creatively?

A cruel question. Let's be nice and say a temporary vow of silence so they can contemplate their own creative resurrection. Peter Jackson.

33) Your first movie star crush

Lady in Lady and the Tramp. Don't psychoanalyze me, please.

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