What wouldn't I give to be spat at in the face?

My answers to the latest SLIFR pop-culture query: “PROF. BRIAN O'BLIVION'S ALL-NEW FLESH FOR MEMORIAL DAY FILM (AND TV) QUIZ.

If you love movies and love talking about movies with people who love movies, and you haven't found Dennis' brilliant blog, you're missing out. Follow the link to take the quiz yourself and read other responses (after reading and commenting on mine, natch).

1) Best transition from movies to TV (actor, actress, producer/director, movie/show)
Alec Baldwin, on “30 Rock.” It’s like everything he’s done up to this point has been in service to this.

Runners-up: The troika of Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and James Callis, on “Battlestar Galactica.”

Martin Sheen was one of the great things about “The West Wing.”

2) Living film director you most miss seeing on the cultural landscape regularly
I would love to have seen more from Paul Brickman.

3) Eugene Pallette or Charles Coburn
Pallette purely on the strength of his addled patriarch in My Man Godfrey.

4) Fill in the blank: “I pray that no one ever turns _____________ into a movie.”
Any Geico TV commercial. Don’t scoff, it could happen.

5) Jane Greer or Veronica Lake
. Better still: Kim Basinger playing a hooker “cut” to look like Veronica Lake in L.. A. Confidential.

6) What was the last movie you saw in a theater? On DVD? And why?
Theatre: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; how could I not? The first half hour was a pure delight—everybody was loose, having fun. Lots of great hot-rodder moments straight out of American Graffiti. The rest was pretty serviceable, but eventually it got kind of sloppy (who said “P-O’d” in the ‘50s?) and didn’t really hold up very well. I had to admit after a while that they either A) didn’t write Marion’s part very well, or B) Karen Allen isn’t much of an actress. By the end, I mostly wanted to see Shia LeBouef cast in something as Russell Crowe’s little brother.

DVD: Out of Sight; This is cinematic comfort food for me. Having just completed my second semester of law school, which included a course in criminal law, I’ve been jonesing to rewatch it with an eye toward all the possible instances of accomplice liability and applications of the felony-murder rule. It’s a testament to the movie’s greatness that I had stopped thinking about law school by the time it got to the first freeze-frame.

Tivo: Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story: For some unexplained reason, we’ve started getting IFC instead of TCM, and Tivo thought I would enjoy this. I did—especially the way it utterly disabuses the viewer of any thought about the “glamour” of being an actor. Makes kind of a good companion piece to Shakespeare in Love. I’d still rather have TCM, though.

7) Name an actor you think should be a star
Nathan Fillion. I’ve been unconsciously appreciative of him ever since he played the cad boyfriend in Blast from the Past; now, having thoroughly enjoyed his performance in Waitress and recently discovered “Firefly,” via Hulu.com, I consider him and grievously undervalued asset.

8) Foxy Brown or Coffy
Jackie Brown

9) Favorite TV show still without its own DVD box set
“The Six Million Dollar Man.” If the glimpses of similar childhood faves that I’ve gotten from Hulu are any indication (“Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”) I’m probably much better off with my memories of the show as seen through the uncritical eyes of a ten-year-old.

10) Jack Elam or Neville Brand
Big Jack.

11) What movies would top your list of movies you need to revisit, for whatever reason?
Given the number of answers that I’ve had to pass on for this quiz, it seems like I have a lot of catching up to do before I do any “revisiting.” In another year or two, my son will be old enough to start watching movies, and that should make for some pretty interesting revisitations.

12) Zodiac or All the President’s Men
It’s been a million years since I saw the latter and I have yet to see the former, though given all the praise that’s been heaped on it, that should be rectified soon.

13) Using our best reviewer-speak, what is an “important” film comedy? And what is to you the most important film comedy of the last 35 years?
An “important” film, regardless of genre, is one that challenges the status quo. An “important” comedy would be one that has all the wit and intelligence of a respectable drama, but gets authentic laughs in unexpected ways. Even though it wasn’t a film, I thought this was what made “Arrested Development” so great (if fatally misunderstood and underappreciated). Generally, it seems the most “important” comedies are probably satire and/or black comedies, a la Dr. Strangelove, Three Kings. ‘Course, pretty much everything the Coens have done has defied conventions, proving (at least to me) that even a just-for-kicks comedy can earn a place in the canon. Even though it didn’t quite live up to the hype, I thought Borat went fearlessly where film hadn’t before, though I doubt you could have Borat without This is Spinal Tap. And Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind definitely felt like a paradigm shift to me.

All that said, I think it has to be Monty Python’s Life of Brian (See question 22, infra)

14) Describe the ideal environment for watching a movie.
Not to get too curmudgeony, but it’s really not fun to go to the movies nowadays. Between the general discourtesy that pervades and the fact that my home theatre 5.1 system is pound-for-pound as good or better than the average multiplex, the answer is: My sofa with my wife, some really great cheeses and pâtés, and a glass of Italian red (that, ironically, probably costs less than a coke at the theatre).

15) Michelle Williams or Eva Mendes
Anne Hathaway

16) What’s the worst movie title of all time?

17) Best movie about teaching and/or learning
Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Talk about “everything I need to know I life I learned . . . “ Now that I think about it, this might be a contender for #13.

18) Dracula (1931) or Horror of Dracula (1958)

19) Why do you blog? Or if you don’t, why do you read blogs? (Thanks, Girish)
I like to think of my blog as a virtual water cooler, around which I and anyone who cares to join me can hold forth on whatever pop-culture ephemera seems noteworthy. I read blogs for mostly the same reasons, though many of my regular blogs have more of a political bent to them. I wish that I spent more time blogging and less time reading blogs, but I have reconciled myself to the reality that I’m a deficit blogger—I will always consume more than I produce.

20) Most memorable/disturbing death scene
Adam Goldberg being slowly stabbed in Saving Private Ryan.

21) Jason Robards or Robert Shaw
Robert Shaw. Robards is no slouch, but was he Quint and a Bond baddie? Didn’t think so. Oh, and Doyle Loneghan. And The Taking of Pelham 123. Yeah, Shaw was a total badass.

22) A good candidate for Most Blasphemous Movie Ever
If “blasphemy” is “an irreverent or impious act, attitude, or utterance in regard to something considered inviolable or sacrosanct,” then my answer is Pearl Harbor. Get thee behind me, Bruckheimer and Bay.

I find it curious how people answered with Monty Python’s Life of Brian. If you really watch it, there’s noting against God or Jesus or even any of Jesus’ teachings. It’s a 90-minute riff on that old bumper-sticker chestnut: Dear Lord, save me from your followers. I like to think that if God exists, and if we’re made in his/her/its image, then a sense of humor is essential to the creator’s divine nature. Jesus would totally get this movie. Seems to me, too, that JC, surveying the landscape of modern religion, politics and pop culture would have much greater quarrels with the self-anointed arbiters of holiness than mischief-makers and gadflies like the Pythons. I suspect God is far more indulgent of fools than hypocrites.

Now, if you want to talk about the most heretical movie ever, Life of Brian is surely a contender. And God bless ‘em for it.

23) Rio Bravo or Red River
Yikes. This might be in the running for #31 . . . I’ve seen snatches of both, but never really sat down and watched either.

24) Werner Herzog is remaking Bad Lieutenant with Nicolas Cage—that’s reality. Try to outdo reality by concocting a match-up of director and title for a really strange imaginary remake.
David Fincher’s Mary Poppins

25) Bulle Ogier or Charlotte Rampling
I have no idea who Bulle Ogier is, but it’s immaterial: it would pretty much be Charlotte Rampling, regardless.

26) In the Realm of the Senses— yes or no?
No strong opinion, so . . . sure, why not?

27) Name a movie you think of as your own (Thanks, Jim!)
Apparently, any movie from the ‘80s that begins with the letter R:

Risky Business came out the summer after I graduated high school and quickly established itself, at least to me, as something more than another teen-sex romp. It had some pretty keen insights into the priorities, anxieties and insecurities of 17-year-olds in the early ‘80s. It certainly struck a chord with me.

The Right Stuff was and remains a perfect synthesis of my boyhood passions—the space age and the movies. It eventually unseated Star Wars as my favorite movie (even though it took a few years for me to acknowledge as such). It also turned me on to the idea of film as literature, complete with themes, allusions, and tropes. “Hey, Ridley, you got any Beemans?”

Raising Arizona was my first date with my then hottie girlfriend (now hottie wife). It also introduced me to a whole new way of thinking about what movies, especially comedies, could be.

A Room with a View was something we saw for the first time while living in Italy. I was astonished that it was recently remade for PBS. What’s the point of remaking perfection?

28) Winged Migration or Microcosmos
Haven’t seen either. I have a feeling I’d be more of a Winged fan.

29) Your favorite football game featured in a movie
I’m tempted to say The Longest Yard (the original), and call it a day. I feel like I should throw Heaven Can Wait some love, even though the actual games are pretty tangential to the whole affair.

30) Wendy Hiller or Deborah Kerr
Kerr for Eternity.

31) Dirtiest secret you have that is related to the movies
Hanover Street and assorted crimes of omission too, too numerous and grievous to mention.

32) Name a favorite film and describe how it is illuminated and enriched by another favorite film.
Monster’s Inc.’s nod to Feed the Kitty. That’s not exactly the question, I know.

Equally lame but more to the point: High Anxiety (which I first saw as a young teen having only seen The Birds) became considerably funnier as I worked my way through the Hitchcock oeuvre. How about the way The Hudsucker Proxy riffs on Cool Hand Luke? “Lose a blue card, and they DOCK ya!”

33) It’s a Gift or Horsefeathers
Can’t say.

34) Your best story about seeing a movie at a drive-in
Best I can do is one of the typical “hide under a blanket in the back,” from the days before they charged by the carload.

35) Victor Mature or Tyrone Power
Man, I really need to get my TCM back.

36) What does film criticism mean to you? Where do you think it’s headed?

Right now, it doesn’t mean much. I’m pretty ambivalent about where it might be headed, though I’m thankful for the role that blogging generally, and Dennis’ blog especially, has played in letting regular Joe movie lovers participate in the conversation.


Mrs. R said...

Getting your TCM back won't help you with Tyrone Power and will help you very little with Victor Mature. Both were with 20th Century Fox, and TCM doesn't show Fox movies.

Tyrone Power was a much, much bigger and more highly thought of actor, however, the star of "The Mark of Zorro," "The Razor's Edge," "Blood and Sand," "Nightmare Alley," and many other films.

Bet said...

Holy Craparoonie - I'm just now seeing this. I need to do this in my blog.

headbang8 said...

Horsefeathers. Take it from me.

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