Sunday, May 17, 2009


As usual, from Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

1) Favorite Biopic

Most will agree that Biopics don'treally tend to be that great. I personally like biopics of musicians, though, because they have that built-in structure of a musical. As such, it's a shame that last year's Cadillac Records didn't get more love, since it's a more fun and interesting flick than Ray or Ring of Fire.

2) Dyan Cannon or Tuesday Weld?

Tuesday Weld. If nothing else, she's got a much cooler name.

3) Best example of science fiction futurism rendered silly by the event of time catching up to the prediction

I'm watching this old Flash Gordon serial now, and it cracks me up that the Hawk Men's flying city is kept aloft by an anti-gravity beam--that is powered by slaves shoveling radium into an old-fashioned coal furnace!

4) Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon or Troy Donahue & Sandra Dee?

Oh, Frankie and Annette obviously. Troy and Sandra are so dull in comparison.

5) Favorite Raoul Walsh movie?

White Heat, with a second-place trophy to They Drive By Night.

6) Sophomore film which represents greatest improvement over the director’s debut

Well, George Lucas' first movie was a really dopey dystopia film called THX-115, which I really hate even though I know it has it's fans. So I reckon American Grafitti is a pretty massive improvement over tha. I really had a tough time coming up with any kind of answer to this.

7) Ice Cube or Mos Def?

As a rapper, Cube. As an actor, Mos.

8) Favorite movie about the music industry

I'm going to exclude Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, since it's about the music business that exists in Russ Meyer's fantasy life. Probabloy a Julian Temple/Sex Pistols double feature of The Great Rock n Roll Swindle (giving the industry's side of the story) and The Filth and the Fury (giving the musician's side).

9) Favorite Looney Tunes short (provide link if possible)

My all-time favorite is probably Fritz Freling's Three Little Bops. Beyond that, I've gone through some changes in my favorites over the last decade. For Chuck Jones' stuff, my favorite was always What's Opera, Doc?, but now I'd probably say his masterpiece is One Froggy Evening. But then there's Bob Clampett. 10 years ago, I had minimal knowledge of Clampett, but thanks to the Looney Tunes DVD's, and the advocacy of John Kricfalusi (particularly during the night of his favorite cartoons that he presented at The Egyptian one year) and Jerry Beck, Clampett now looms over all the other Warner Bros. directors. And there are a lot of great Campett cartoons in my mind, but I think my favorite is one called The Hep Cat, mostly for the little song the cat sings near the beginning ("The leans and the fats all think I'm the cat's, I must have an awful lot of Oomph!"). As for Tex Avery...well, I really think of him more in association with his MGM stuff, but Porky's Duck Hunt might be my favorite of his Looney Tunes. Or one of his Daffy shorts, anyway.

10) Director most deserving of respect or upwardly mobile critical reassessment

I've given this answer before, but it seems to me that Ralph Bakshi, for all his faults, is a much more interesting and important filmmaker than he's ever given credit for.

11) Ruth Gordon or Margaret Hamilton?

Ruth Gordon all the way!

12) Best filmed adaptation of a play

Glengary Glenn Ross? That's the only one that really jumps to my mind.

13) Buddy Ebsen or Edgar Buchanan?

Jed Clampett beats Uncle Joe.

14) Favorite Jean Renoir movie?

Well, seeing as I've only seen two, I'm probably not qualified to answer, but Rules of the Game is pretty amazing.

15) Favorite one-word movie title, and why

Baffled! I don't really know why, thta title just always used to crack me up when I saw it in the video store back in the 80's.

16) Ernest Thesiger or Basil Rathbone?

OK, that's a tough one. I generally like wacky character actors like Thesiger better, but Rathbone did so much cool stuff over his career that I have to go with him.

17) Summer movies—your highest and lowest expectations

Meaning this summer? My highest expectation is for Ingloroius Bastards, despite being underwhelmed by the trailer. Soul Power! is pretty high on my list, with Raimi's Drag Me To Hell following up. Lowest expectations are kind of incalculable in this environment, but if Wolverine were to prove marginally entertaining, it would exceed my expectations by a huge margin.

18) Whether or not you’re a parent, what would be your ideal pick as first movie to see with your own child (or niece/nephew)? Why?

God, after thinking about this for a long time, I come back to the obvious answer: The Wizard of Oz. It's the movie I associate with childhood, and I think it makes a great zero-point for children's movies.

19) L.Q. Jones or Strother Martin

I'll go with Stother Martin, since Google can't even tell me who I.Q. Jones is. Google and I are having a failure to communicate.

20) Movie most recently seen in theaters? On DVD/Blu-ray?

Theater, While the City Sleeps at the Egyptian. DVD, The Wrestler, which was much better than I expected (number 2 on my 2008 list, right after Let the Right One In). (It's been about a month since I typed that answer, but I'll let it stay.)

21) Do you see more movies theatrically or at home? Why?

Many more at home. Always been that way, but now days I can honestly claim that it's because I just don't have much time.

22) Name an award-worthy comic performance that was completely ignored by Oscar and his pals.

Well, we could go all the way back. Did Groucho or Harpo ever get a nod? Who got awards the year Duck Soup came out? I don't feel like looking it up right now, but I bet the answer is pretty embarrassing.

23) Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens or Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart

I honestly have no idea who these people are. EDIT: OK, I checked up on it. I haven't seen any of the movies these kids are in, but just from word of mouth, Zac and Vanessa seem to be in a musical that has actual singing and dancing, while Robert and Kristen are in a vampire movie in which, apparantly, nobody gets killed. So I'm going to give it to Zac and Vanessa.

24) Name a great (or merely very good) movie that is too painful to watch a second time (Thanks to The Onion A.V. Club)

I don't think it's a bad movie (far from a great one, for sure), but there's no way I could emotionally take watching AI again.

25) Beyonce Knowles or Jennifer Hudson?

I have to say, I think Beyonce has more acting chops.

26) Favorite Robert Mitchum movie?

Night of the Hunter. Not even much of a contest.

27) Favorite movie featuring a ‘60s musical group that is not either the Beatles or the Monkees

I like The Rhythm Masters' performance in Get Yourself a College Girl.

28) Maria Ouspenskaya or Una O’Connor?

Ouspenskaya, so great in The Wolfman.

29) Favorite Vincent Price movie?

Theater of Blood

30) Name a movie currently flying under the radar that is deserving of rabid cult status.

The documentary Capturing the Friedmans got a lot of attention when it came out, but has since disappeared from the popular consciousness. It really shouldn't have--it's one of the most fascinating stories committed to film in years.

31) Irene Ryan or Lucille Benson (or Bea Benaderet)?

Oh, I'll go with Irene Ryan. So funny that that's her name, it sounds so odd for a woman that I always think of as a jug-toting hillbilly.

32) Single line from a movie that never fails to make your laugh or otherwise cheer you up. (This may be obvious, but the line does not have to come from a comedy.)

The trick to a great comedy is filling the cast with great comic actors. Then the funny lines aren't just the ones the writers intended to be funny, but every line one of them says. You may not catch them on the first viewing, but if it's one of those comedies that you end up watching over and over, you start to catch them around the fifth viewing, when you're starting to memorize the entire dialogue. I'm sure there are better examples than this one, but John Candy always cracs me up in The Blues Brothers when he is sitting in the club with two cops waiting for the band to come on, and orders drinks for the table. "Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips." There's no reason why that line should be funny, but it just kills me every time.

33) Elliot Gould or Donald Sutherland?

Sutherland by a very narrow margin.

34) Best performance by a director in an acting role

Jim Jarmusch smoking his last cigarette with Harvey Keitel in Blue in the Face (or was it Smoke?)

35) Favorite Barbara Stanwyck movie?

Oh, that's easy. Definitely The Lady Eve. Or Double Indemnity. Or Ball of Fire. Or Babyface. Or 40 Guns (not a very good movie, but she's fantastic in it). Or...

36) Outside of reading film criticism or other literature about the movies, what subject do you enjoy reading about or studying which you would say best enriches or illuminates your understanding and appreciation of life, a life that includes the movies?

Reading about the history of American music in the 20th century gives me a great insight into who we are as a people and a country.


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