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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Professor Dewey Finn's Ostentatiously Odd, Schoolastically Scattershot Back-to-School (of Rock?) Movie Quiz
After yet another hiatus, Dennis Cozzalio of the Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blog has posted another of his famous movie quizes, and as usual, I'd like to play along. Previous installments answering questions from Professor Hubert Farnsworth, David Huxley, Professor Fate, Professor Russell Johnson, Dr. Smith, Professor Peabody, Professor Severus Snape, Professor Ed Avery, Dr. Anton Phibes, Sister Clodagh, Professor Arthur Chipping, Miss Jean Brodie, and Professor Larry Gopnick are also available.

1) Band without their own movie, from any era, you'd most like to see get the HARD DAY'S NIGHT or HEAD treatment

And here I must admit that this sort of movie does little to excite me. I enjoy music, but I don't really know it or obsess over it the way do, for example, with movies and beer. So when you ask for a quasi-fictional movie featuring lots of music performances, I'm not overly enthused, even if you grab some bands that I'm intrigued by. That being said, perhaps a dramatization of The Mars Volta's ouija board fueled shenanigans while touring and making The Bedlam in Goliath would be an interesting watch...

2) Oliver Reed or Alan Bates?

This is a close one, both actors I know and like, almost a draw really, but I'll go with Oliver Reed due to slightly more familiarity with his stuff...

3) Best thing about the move from physical to streaming media in home video

The answer, pretty obviously, is convenience. There are plenty of inconvenient bits about streaming media, but that's a topic for the next question, and streaming really is more convenient in many ways. No need to handle physical media, swap discs, walk across the room (the horror!), no worry about scratches/deterioration, no storage space needed, and when something is available, it's available on a whim, right now, ready to watch. Also, one of the bad things about streaming - lack of selection - can also lead to good things, like watching something you would never normally watch, simply because it's available and easy to access...

4) Worst thing about the move from physical to streaming media in home video

Total inconsistency in availability, the lack of a truly comprehensive service, video quality, dependence on the internets, boneheaded DRM swindles, the fact that you never actually own what you're watching, the list is long and distinguished. One thing that never gets brought up: lack of special features or things like audio-commentary. I know only the nerdiest of nerds actually pay attention to commentary tracks, but the flowering of information that occurred during the DVD era was unprecedented and beautiful, and I have a feeling that it will wither away and die as we move towards streaming, which is sad.

5) Favorite Robin Williams performance

This is a surprisingly difficult choice. I'm not big on Williams' big, showy performances, but he still has a pretty impressive catalog of serious stuff or things where his boisterous qualities are more seamlessly integrated. I keep thinking of Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, and of course, Dead Poets Society. That will have to do...

6) Second favorite Carol Reed movie

Night Train to Munich, coming in behind The Third Man.

7) Oddest moment/concept in rock music cinema

The marching hammers in Pink Floyd The Wall. In fact, that whole movie, but especially the marching hammers...
Marching Hammers
8) Favorite movie about growing up

This is an impossible one, as the concept is nebulous enough to include all coming-of-age stories, of which there are many. Too many. But I'll give an answer that I'm positive that no one else will give: Real Genius. One of a handful of seminal nerd movies that prefigured the rise of the geek a decade or two later, it still speaks to the geek in me.

9) Most welcomed nudity, full or partial, in a movie (question submitted by Peter Nellhaus, class of 2004)

I love that Dennis pawns this question off on someone else ("It wasn't me, it was that pervert, Peter Nellhaus!"), and since he will probably never post his answers, he will doubly get away with not looking like a total perv. As for me, my mind is straying more towards surprising nudity that was not unpleasant (with the actual unpleasant surprise being in the next question), and the first thing I thought of was Rosario Dawson's eye opening (and pretty ridiculous) scene in last year's Trance. Simply was not expecting it, and while the movie is completely absurd, I've always been in love with Rosario, so there you have it.

10) Least welcomed nudity, nude or partial, in a movie (question submitted by Peter Nellhaus, class of 2004)

A long while ago, I was marathoning a bunch of ghost movies near Halloween (this is pre-6WH, but I still watched a bunch of horror movies before Halloween every year), and thought hey, this Ghost Story movie is pretty famous, let's give it a shot. And I was totally unprepared for the full frontal male nudity right at the beginning of the movie. It's not just that it was unexpected as that it's very nearly the first thing you see in the movie, and it immediately precedes death. So yeah, it sticks in my mind.

11) Last movie watched, in a theater, on DVD/Blu-ray, via streaming

In a theater, it was Guardians of the Galaxy, which I very much enjoyed. On BD, it was Under the Skin just this morning, and I'm not totally sure what to make of it. I liked it well enough, but the overly obtuse approach rarely works completely with me... And on streaming, it was the superb The Silence of the Lambs, which I watched because of a recent Filmspotting SVU episode where they discussed all the Hannibal Lecter movies.

12) Second favorite Bertrand Blier movie

I have not seen one, let alone two Betrrand Blier movies, so alas, I must take my first mulligan in this quiz...

13) Googie Withers or Sally Gray?

Googie Withers, mostly just because I really love The Lady Vanishes. Even though she has only a small role, this is more than I can say for Sally Gray, who I'm wholly unfamiliar with...

14) Name a piece of advice derived from a movie or movie character that you've heeded in real life

When in doubt, run to The Godfather "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man" or "Don't ever take sides with anyone against the family... Ever" (because it's lonely out there on that rowboat).

15) Favorite movie about learning

So I'm going to disqualify sports or martial arts movies, as training montages, while sometimes about learning, are perhaps too easy of a target. The problem is that you're left with a bunch of inspiration teacher stories, of which there are many. I'll go with Dead Poets Society for obvious reasons, but I'll throw out a lesser known instance that isn't quite as sappy or manipulative The Emperor's Club. Not a perfect movie, but well worth checking out.

16) Program a double bill of movies that were announced but, for one reason or another, never made. These could be projects cancelled outright, or films that were made, but at one time had different directors, stars, etc., attached-- and your "version" of the film might be the one with that lost director, for example (question submitted by Brian Doan, class of 2007)

This is a tough one too! Despite my reservations, I would genuinely like to see Alejandro Jodorowsky's take on Dune, so that's first on the docket. The next immediate choice that came to mind was Stanley Kubrick's version of AI. I actually like Spielberg's version, but I also have no doubt in my mind that Kubrick's vision would have been better. For a different pairing, I'd like to see Ken Russel's take on Dracula paired with David Cronenberg's Frankeinstein, both of which were rumored at one point or another.

17) Oddest mismatch of director and material

It's hard to call it a mismatch, because these are all good movies, but it's hard to believe that Mad Max director George Miller also directed the Babe movies. But since they work, I'll have to go with the default of John Huston directing Annie...

18) Favorite performance by your favorite character actor

This is a tough one because of the sorta nebulous line between actor and character actor, and the fact that character actors tend to be in small, bit parts rather than big showy roles. So I'll throw two out there: Ted Levine's creepy turn as Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs (just because that's on my mind, though I don't know how much of a character actor Ted Levine really is), and Stephen Tobolowsky's perfect Ned Ryerson ("Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"?) from Groundhog Day. Bing!

19) Favorite chase scene

I'm going to narrow this down a bit and eliminate car chases from the running, as they seem like their own thing. What does this leave us with? For me, The Terminator. The entire movie is really just one big chase scene, but for my money, nothing beats that final chase towards the end of the movie. It's easy to forget just how effective that appearance of the endoskeleton was back in the day.
The Terminator Endoskeleton
We take such things for granted these days, but it was such a big shock, and the design was so brilliantly sinister that I can't quite get over it.

20) Movie most people might not have seen that you feel like proselytizing about right now

I have two relatively obscure movies that I love that few others have seen: the 1933 polemic Gabriel Over the White House and the intriguing video game documentary Playing Columbine. Of course, part of the reason they're underseen is that they're not very well distributed, though I believe they are now both available on Youtube (you may need to pay). They're both pretty fascinating films, and worthy of a larger audience! Oh, and sorry, I have to include a third one: Gambit, a most excellent heist film starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. It was on Netflix a while back, but then it went off and now you have to buy it (apparently there is a somewhat recent remake, though I can't imagine it being as worthwhile as the original).

21) Favorite movie about high school

Lots of choices here, with The Breakfast Club coming immediately and obviously to mind, and then I thought of Better Off Dead..., which is perhaps slightly more obscure (but not really obscure in any sense).

22) Favorite Lauren Bacall performance

I hate to go so obvious on you, but come on, The Big Sleep.

23) David Farrar or Roger Livesey?

So what you're saying is that I need to bone up on my Powell & Pressburger. Yes, another mulligan here, though I have a sneaking suspicion that I've seen these guys in something, nothing is jumping out.

24) Performance most likely to get overlooked during the upcoming awards season

I'm guessing Scarlett Johanssen won't get much official love for Under the Skin. I think Ralph Fiennes has a much better chance for The Grand Budapest Hotel, but sometimes movies released early get overshadowed later on...

25) Rock musician who, with the right project, could have been a movie star

Well, this is a common answer, but there's a reason for that: Jim Morrison could indeed have made an impact in that 70s movie scene... if he had cleaned himself up, that is...

26) Second favorite Ted Post movie

That would be Hang 'Em High, with Magnum Force pulling in number 1. Beneath the Planet of the Apes has its charms and who knows, if I watched all three of these tomorrow, I might put this in the #2 slot, but I'll stick with my gut on this one.

27) Favorite odd couple

The first one coming to mind is Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in Midnight Run, though there are many others that keep popping in as I write this (Riggs and Murtaugh anyone?) I know this is a movie quiz, but an honorable mention must go to Arya Stark and The Hound on Game of Thrones... a show that has its fair share of odd couples.

28) Flicker or Zeroville?

I know I just cheated by including television in the last question, but hey, this is supposed to be a movie quiz right? I have not read either of these books, but if I were to choose based on the blurbs, I'd go Flicker...

29) Favorite movie about college

Is anyone really answering anything other than Animal House? I could mention Real Genius again if I wanted to be contrarian, but I'll leave it at Animal House.

30) In a specific movie full of memorable turns, your favorite underappreciated performance

I was kinda stumped on this one (as per usual, the definition of underappreciated is difficult to lock down), but Craig Kennedy posted the perfect answer at SLIFR: "He's not exactly underappreciated, but George C. Scott generally comes after Peter Sellers when people talk about Dr. Strangelove and he shouldn't be. He's spectacular and I wish he'd done more comedy." Damn straight.

31) Favorite movie about parenting

Calling National Lampoon's Vacation a movie about parenting might be a bit of a stretch, but that's what I thought of first, so it's just going to have to do. It's also hilarious.

32) Susannah York or Sarah Miles?

Susannah York, mostly because she's Superman's mom. A bit part, to be sure, and I guess Sarah Miles has more artistic cred, but I'm sticking with York on this one.

33) Movie which best evokes the sense of place in a region with which you are well familiar

Rocky, even though the logistics of Rocky's jogging path are ridiculous, it really does capture a lot of Philly. I haven't seen it in a long time though, so there are probably much better choices here.

34) Name a favorite actor from classic movies and the contemporary performer who most evokes their presence/stature/talent

George Clooney is almost consciously trying to be Cary Grant, isn't he? And I suppose he's having success at that too.

35) Your favorite hot streak of any director (question submitted by Patrick Robbins, class of 2008)

It's hard to beat Standley Kubrick, whose entire career was basically a hot streak, even if he wasn't quite that prolific (especially in later years).

And that just about covers it. Already looking forward to the next quiz (which, if recent history is extrapolated, will be sometime in late 2015 - hopefully it will be a much shorter wait)...
Posted by Mark at 08:06 PM
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