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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Friday the 13th Marathon (Crossover and Reboot)
So the last couple of installments of the Friday series left nowhere for the series to go. I mean, what do you do after shoot Jason into Space? Theoretically, you could have devised another SF style sequel that takes place on Earth 2 (which was sorta hinted at the end of Jason X), but that's a bit of a stretch (not that the series is beyond stretching). So they were finally able to do the crossover they teased at the end of part 9, and then they went on to reboot the series just a few months ago. Results, as always in this series, are mixed.
  • Freddy vs. Jason: So New Line finally delivers on the promise shown at the end of part 9. I have no idea why it took them 10 years to do it - it certainly wasn't because they were trying to figure out a good story, because the plot is pretty abysmal here. The film starts with Freddy explaining his current predicament. After years of successfully terrorizing the kids of Elm street, it seems the town has finally succeeded in defeating him by getting everyone to forget who he is... Apparently, Freddy gets his power from the fear of the children, and if they don't know who he is, they can't be scared of him and thus he can't enter their dreams. This, of course, makes no sense in light of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, but since when do these things make sense anyway? So Freddy's plan is to summon Jason (currently vacationing in Hell, as per the 9th movie) and send him to Elm street to instill fear in the current generation of teens. Once again, this makes no sense at all, because you'd think that the kids would be more scared of the mask wearing homicidal maniac with the machete than Freddy, but apparently Freddy can exert some sort of control on Jason and so the first kill appears to be more of a Freddy type kill than a Jason type kill (this whole sequence of events is probably just as much of a stretch as having a new Friday set on Earth 2, but I digress). The townsfolk go nuts and we're off to the races. Again, it makes no sense, but whatever. We're here for the boobs and the blood, and there's actually quite a few cool things about this movie. While the film is ostensibly driven by Freddy, Jason gets the best kills by far. There's some nifty machete-work going on, and even a folding bed gag that'll open your eyes. Production values are high, so the film looks pretty good and the stuntwork and makeup are also great.

    Remember back in part VIII when I mentioned the missed opportunities of Jason running around in New York? For whatever reason, he only focused on the two kids from earlier in the movie, and it was a real letdown - he should have been mowing down people left and right. Well, this movie gets the concept right. After a while, Freddy loses control of Jason, who just goes on a rampage, killing everyone in sight. All of our teenage heros decide to attend a rave in a cornfield and of course, Jason shows up to crash the party. After foiling an attempted rape (see, Jason's not that bad a guy!), Jason makes his way to the rave and, like a kid in a candy story, starts hacking the crap out of everyone in sight. Someone sets him on fire, but he just plows on, setting the cornfield ablaze and slaughtering as many kids as he can.

    Jason attends a rave
    Jason attends a rave

    Later in the film comes the vaunted battle sequence between Freddy and Jason. This is pretty cool for a little while, but eventually gets somewhat boring. These are two villains who have amply demonstraited their invulnerability during the tenure of their resprective franchises, so there's not really any stakes to the fight, which is basically just an excuse to put each character through the ringer and deal out massive amounts of damage. This can be fun, but it's ultimately a pretty pointless exercise... like the movie as a whole. It's got some good stuff going for it and it's an entertaining watch, but it's pretty bad. **
  • It's the Gifts That I Hate (robot chicken)
  • Friday the 13th (2009 teaser)
  • The Slasher: Jason's Comeback (fake trailer)
  • Friday the 13th (2009): After being shot into space and crossing over with another franchise, the series had nowhere to go, so they decided to start over. The film was made under the Platinum Dunes banner (a production company run by Michael Bay who have been responsible for a large number of the recent horror remakes) and was directed by Marcus Nispel (who is most famous for the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, also a PD movie.) What we get is a back-to-basics type of movie. It's not a remake of the original Friday, but it plays out like a summary of the first 4 or so movies. You get the backstory of Jason and his mother in the first 5 minutes or so (which coveres the original Friday), you see Jason in his sack-face outfit for a while (like in part 2) before he dons his iconic mask (which happens in part 3), and you've got a camper who's trying to find his sister and hooks up with the final girl (part 4). The first 15-20 minutes or so of this are good stuff. Then the movie falls back into the standard slasher formula that typifies the series. This isn't in itself, a terrible thing for a reboot to do, but it also doesn't make for a great movie.

    There are some changes to the standard formula, I guess. Jason moves fast this time around, sometimes even running (he's played by Derek Mears, who is a big guy and seems to do a pretty good job behind the mask). He also seems to be a bit more shrewd and intelligent in that he actually sets traps and uses bait, etc... He's got a secret lair as well. I think my favorite thing about the movie is that it's possible to interpret the entire story as being about Jason protecting his weed. You see, the film opens with a small group of kids who are coming to Crystal Lake to collect their secret stash of marijuana that was planted earlier in the year. They find the plants, and Jason murders them. Later in the movie, a local yokel finds the weed and attempts to sell it to one of our heroes. Soon after, Jason kills him. They never actually show him smoking up or anything, but I'm pretty sure he's primarily just protecting his weed in this movie.

    There are some decent kills, and the aforementioned trap-setting is a nice touch, but for the most part, this movie doesn't set any new highs in the kills or gore department. The nudity department is well covered (er, uncovered? Incidentally, this may be the first time fake boobs have made it into the series, though I'm not positive about that...) though and in terms of characters you want to see die, well, there's one of the all-time great douchebag victims in this movie. His kill perhaps leaves something to be desired, but it was a great performance (a rarity for the series). Otherwise, the production values are high and the movie looks great, even if the plot is lackluster. Oh, and by the way, the ending is breathtakingly bad. I guess I get what they were trying to do, but they just failed miserably. Ultimately, this movie did exactly what it needed to do, but it doesn't exactly set the bar high. I'm interested in seeing what the next installment has in store for us, though I'm guessing it will just be more of the same. **1/2
Well, that about covers it for the series. I'll probably end up doing a wrapup post or two, because I know everyone's enjoying these posts sooo much. Perhaps someday I'll be able to describe why I like these movies despite how horrible they are. Anyways, sorry for the lack of screenshots in this post. It turns out that most of the ones I took for Freddy vs. Jason didn't turn out that well (or I didn't have much to say about them) and I saw the reboot in the theater, so no screenshots there. In any case, I'm sure my wrapup posts will have plenty of screens...
Posted by Mark on May 31, 2009 at 08:46 PM .: link :.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Crime Doesn't Pay
Over at the Whatever, China Miéville opines on the difficulties of ending a crime novel (or, at least, the whodunnit sub-genre):
Reviews of crime novels repeatedly refer to this or that book’s slightly disappointing conclusion. This is the case even where reviewers are otherwise hugely admiring. Sometimes you can almost sense their bewilderment when, looking closely at the way threads are wrapped up and plots and sub-plots knotted, they acknowledge that nothing could be done to improve an ending, that it works, that it is ‘fair’ (a very important quality for the crime aficionado - no last-minute suspects, no evidence the reader hasn’t seen), that it is well-written, that it surprises… and yet that it disappoints.

The reason, I think, is that crime novels are impossible. Specifically, impossible to end.
My first inclination is that this is a bit harsh. Surely there must be at least one crime novel that has managed to have a good ending (and sure enough, when I got to the end of the post, I found out that even Miéville acknowledges this). Statements like the above are just begging for dismissive responses. After all, the only thing one needs to disprove the statement is a single example. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Miéville was a troll. In an effort to explain himself, he offers three examples, one of which is perhaps the most infamous crime solver of them all:
...crime novels are not what they say they are. They are not, for a start, realist novels. Holmes’s intoxicating and ludicrous taxonomies derived from scuffs on a walking stick are not acts of ratiocination but of bravura magical thinking. (Not that they, or other ‘deductions’, are necessarily ‘illogical’, or don’t make sense of the evidence, but that they precisely do so: they make it into sense. The sense follows the detection, in these stories, not, whatever the claim, vice versa.)
From what I've read of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (which is not terribly much), I'd have to agree with Miéville here. Sherlock Holmes is an enjoyable character because of his immense intelligence and ridiculous powers of observation, but I always somehow feel cheated by this. There is a certain vicarious thrill when Holmes deducts the truth via details so small that no mere mortal would notice them, but at the same time, I always find myself annoyed when this happens because these details which Holmes uses in his logic were often not available to me as the reader. It's something of a cheat, what Miéville rightly calls "magical thinking." So yes, I did find myself let down by my first Sherlock Holmes story (and subsequent ones). Perhaps this is why the latest cinematic interpretation of Holmes makes him into an action hero and master of martial arts (Incidentally, I think I'd rather have the mystery with an impossible ending, thankyouverymuch. In reality, we'll probably get both.)
...detective novels are not novels of detection, still less of revelation, still less of solution. Those are all necessary, but not only are they insufficient, but they are in certain ways regrettable. These are novels of potentiality. Quantum narratives. Their power isn’t in their final acts, but in the profusion of superpositions before them, the could-bes, what-ifs and never-knows. Until that final chapter, each of those is as real and true as all the others, jostling realities all dreamed up by the crime, none trapped in vulgar facticity. That’s why the most important sentence in a murder mystery isn’t the one starting ‘The murderer is…’ - which no matter how necessary and fabulously executed is an act of unspeakable narrative winnowing - but is the snarled expostulation halfway through: ‘Everyone’s a suspect.’ Quite. When all those suspects become one certainty, it’s a collapse, and a let-down. How can it not be?
This is perhaps where Miéville falters. The point he makes here (it's the journey, not the destination) is fine by itself I suppose, but it ultimately comes down to the fact that we're disappointed by the ending because, well, it ended. Something similar could be said for almost any story. How many times have you finished a book or a movie or any other form of storytelling and wanted more? How many times have you wanted to spend more time with your favorite characters? In all stories that end, there are possibilies that are constricted by the finale. One might even argue that this is the point of storytelling (and sure, there's room for subversion and deconstruction there too, but such techniques rely on the original tropes to work in the first place).

Unfortunately, our desire for more isn't always a good thing. This summer's blockbuster movie fare is a reasonable example of this. X-Men Origins: Wolverine revealed nothing of particular consequence. We'd have probably been better off not knowing the specifics of Logan's past. Vague insinuations of a mysterious past did a pretty fantastic job in the first two movies. Similarly, I had always loved the brief glimpses of the future shown in James Cameron's Terminator films and wanted to see more. So along comes Terminator Salvation, which adds nothing of particular consequence to the series. I haven't read it in a while, but Terminator: The Burning Earth did an excellent job telling pretty much the same story, so perhaps such efforts are not always doomed to failure. As Miéville notes, all of this may be due more to "authorial inadequacy" than anything else. It is quite easy to provoke interest in a plot or a mystery, but more difficult to solve it in an entertaining manner.

I think some authors tend to write themselves into a corner by exploring intriguing ideas. Ideas that are so intriguing that they don't want to give them up when they realize that there is no adequate solution. Stephen King seems like one of these people. Look no further than the third Dark Tower tome, which ended on a cliffhanger several years before the release of the next book (by which time he had concocted a not-so-convincing answer to the cliffhanger, then rushed on to tell a different story, perhaps hoping to distract us from his cliff-hanging shennanigans). Other stories I've read of his do similar things (I mean seriously, the hand of God came down and saved them should not be a valid option for saving your characters from an inescapable position).

Long form television series suffer from this as well. The X-Files and Battlestar Galactica are two that come to mind for me. Each has a pretty underwhelming ending (did X-Files ever even end? Does anyone care?), and I have to say that part of the reason I haven't progressed past the first season of Lost is that I'm pretty sure the ending will be pretty lame. And I have to admit that I'm less outraged about Firefly now that I realize that it probably would have gone on too long and ended poorly. Of course, like any true geek, I'm still outraged, just not as much as I used to be.

But I digress. I think what Miéville is really saying here is rather simple: it's hard to write a crime story with a good ending. This isn't exactly earth shattering news. It's hard to write a good ending to any story, let alone something like a crime novel (which I admit presents more of a challenge than some other genres). I don't think it's inaccurate to say that most attempts fail, just as Miéville claims. Sturgeon's Law seems particularly relevant here, but I don't think it's impossible to write a good ending to a crime novel. To his credit, Miéville does cite one example of a successful crime novel ending (alas, this book does not appear to be available, uh, anywhere). After all, while Sturgeon's Law states that 90% of everything is crap, there is still 10% of everything that is not! But what do I know, apparently I'm easy on people who write "bad" endings.
Posted by Mark on May 27, 2009 at 08:04 PM .: link :.



Sunday, May 24, 2009

Video Game Podcasts
Thanks to my recent interest in video games and with the end of one of my favorite movie podcasts, I've been looking to video game podcasts to augment my time. Alas, the pickins are somewhat slim. Still, there have been a few bright spots and I've found some other promising prospects as well.
  • Listen Up! - This podcast (formerly known as "1up Yours") is put together by the fine folks over at 1up.com and can be quite entertaining. There are generally about 4 people on the program at any given time - the regular lineup seems to change up semi-frequently (though at the beginning of the year, several people left 1up to work for other publications or even game companies), but there seems to be a pretty constant core 3 people right now, with a rotating 4th person. Each episode runs about 2 hours or so and has a similar format. Each person talks about what games they've been playing that week (which generally takes up about half the show), followed by a segment or two on news, interviews, or questions from their audience. These guys play a lot of games (it is, after all, their job), probably wayyy more than you or I do, but I've found it to be somewhat interesting even when I'm not that familiar with the games they're talking about (which is most of the time). Since they're reviewers, they will often be playing games and giving impressions about them before release (this can be annoying when they say they played a game but can't talk about it because of a press embargo or something). All in all, it's a solid podcast, and they put out a large amount of content on a regular schedule. This has become one of my two main podcasts every week (the other being Filmspotting).
  • The Brainy Gamer Podcast - The companion podcast to Michael Abbott's excellent video game blog, it often features interviews and commentary with prominent journalists or video game professionals. A typical episode runs about 1- 2 hours or so. There's no set format really, so you can get an in depth discussion or a series of smaller discussions. Abbott is an intelligent guy and a decent interviewer, and the show often tackles subjects in ways you don't normally associate with gamers. New episodes seem to be published once a month, towards the beginning of the month. Depending on what's going on, it could be a single episode or multiple episodes (for instance, during the GDC conference, he published a couple of episodes at once, and he had a nice 3 part holiday edition as well). It's not as regular as Listen Up, but it's high quality stuff.
  • Out of the Game - This one's a bit of a cheat since it doesn't focus exclusively on video games, but I gather it's put together by several former video game journalists who like to get together and talk about interesting stuff. There's no real set format for the show, but they seem to come to each episode with a plan and that seems to work out well. It seems to be something of a media diet type show, where each person talks about what they're reading/watching/playing... though it covers other topics as well (and often, they'll discuss interesting ideas that are presented in the book/movie/tv show/game rather than just doing the standard review). The episodes come out around every other week and are typically somwhere between 1.5 and 2 hours long. This has become another of my favorite podcasts, perhaps because the people on the show are always discussing ideas and concepts that are really interesting...
  • A couple of now-defunct podcasts I like are Game Theory (no website anymore) and the long defunct Mastercritic (which was mostly movies, but was put together by people who worked on video games and who did occasional video game episodes).
It remains to be seen whether or not any of these will spur video game playing the way Filmspotting (then Cinecast) spurred moviewatching, but so far, I wouldn't say that it has (perhaps because video games take so much longer to play - it's much easier to keep up with a movie or two a week than it is to play 10 games a week.) Still, I find these podcasts pretty interesting and so long as they continue, I'll be listening...
Posted by Mark on May 24, 2009 at 09:05 PM .: link :.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Friday the 13th Marathon (parts IX & X)
Coming down the homestretch, the next two Fridays feature what could charitably be described as high concept plots.
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday: After the unsuccessful debacle that was part VIII, Paramount shelved the Friday franchise and eventually sold it to New Line Cinema (known in the industry as "the house that Freddy built"). The filmmakers decided to take the series in a completely different direction, attempting to establish something of a mythology for Jason and devising a bizzare body-hopping scheme that Friday fans seem to either love or hate. So this winds up being the least Friday-like movie in the series. Indeed, while Jason appears in the film, most of his screen time is spent inhabiting the bodies of other characters as he hops from one to the other in an effort to reincarnate himself. It turns out that Jason can only be reborn in the body of another Voorhees. Also, he can only be killed by a Voorhees. As such, there are a few Voorhees women in the movie and... damn, this is a pretty bonkers idea to hinge the movie on. I have to respect the filmmakers' ambition to do something new and interesting with the series and I actually like the idea here, but in what has become the refrain for the series, there were some problems in the execution. The film starts out promisingly enough, with Jason stalking a scantily clad woman through the woods when suddenly the enter a clearing, giant lights turn on and an FBI swat team unleashes an assault on Jason, eventually dropping a fucking bomb on him and blowing him up. From there, things start to go awry, but I have to admit that I found myself enjoying this film.

    Creighton Duke, Dopey Bounty Hunter
    Creighton Duke, Dopey Bounty Hunter

    The one thing that really elevates this film above some of the others in the character of Creighton Duke, a nutty bounty hunter who has sworn to hunt down and destroy Jason, once and for all. To give you an idea just how dopey this character is, I present this exerpt from a hard-hitting interview with Mr. Duke:
    Robert Campbell: I'm going to say a couple of words to you and I want you to say the first thing that comes into your mind.
    Creighton Duke: Okay.
    Robert Campbell: Jason Voorhees.
    Creighton Duke: That makes me think of a little girl in a pink dress sticking a hot dog through a doughnut.
    I swear to God, that's in the movie. He actually says that, and I'm not taking it out of context either. It's fucking brilliant, isn't it? By the way, this is probably a good time to mention that this movie actually features a few bona-fide actors and actresses. The aforementioned Creighton Duke was played with campy glee by Steven Williams (of X-Files and 21 Jump Street fame). In the dialogue above, the character of Rober Campbell is played by Steven Culp, who is most famous for Desperate Housewives but has also done some good work in movies (he was a great RFK in Thirteen Days). And, of course, Erin Gray from Buck Rodgers. Anyway, the movie can be fun if you're in the right frame of mind, but it's ultimately not that great (shocking, I know). There are a few good kills and the filmmaking is slightly slicker than previous installments. Unfortunately, the story doesn't make much sense, especially when measured against the rest of the series. Then again, the rest of the series represents something of a retcon nightmare, so it kinda makes sense to completely go off the deep end, right? RIGHT? Also amusing is that this movie is subtitled "The Final Friday" while there are still three more films in the series (well, one more, a crossover, and a reboot, but still). Actually, I respect what the filmmakers were going for here, and there are some interesting elements that they were able to pull together, but this is ultimately lacking and it doesn't fit too well with the rest of the series... But it has a nice final shot, previewing what will happen in a later movie (alas, it would not happen for another decade or so... but we'll cover that in the next post). **1/2
  • Crazy Ralph Tribute
  • Freddy vs. Jason (trailer)
  • Friday the 13th (2009 - trailer)
  • Jason X: At this point in the series, there really wasn't anywhere to go. So what the hell, let's send Jason into space! There's actually not much to say about this movie. It's exactly the sort of silly fun you'd expect "Jason in space" to be. It features one truly iconic kill (which will be chronicled in the extended entry) and another that is a reprise of an older iconic kill (with an added twist that really perfects the notion). It also features an odd cameo by director David Cronenberg, who plays a government official who helped capture Jason and freeze him. I'm seriously baffled by the appearance of such a good director in such a bad movie, but then again, perhaps this lends creedence to my uncredited Francis Ford Coppola cameo theory (see bottom of linked post). The movie is also notable for nanobot technology that completely rebuilds Jason, turning him into, no shit, Uber-Jason. I kinda like the new look, but it also seems pretty dated (which is pretty impressive considering that this movie isn't that old).

    Uber-Jason
    Uber-Jason

    This is actually the first Friday movie made after Scream, which probably explains the ridiculous premise and tongue-in-cheek feel to most of the movie. Straightforward slasher movies of the sort the Friday series thrived on aren't made anymore... So this is a movie I had a lot of fun with, but which is also pretty obviously a bad movie. It also leaves the series nowhere to go, hence the recent reboot (which will be covered in the next post). **1/2
More screenshots and comments in the extended entry below...

Jason

Jason go boom

Jason vaporized

This comes from the previously mentioned opening sequence of part IX, where Jason is blown up by the FBI. It's a great opening that film never actually recovers from...

Kane Hodder and Elvis

Oh irony, thy name is Kane Hodder. He's the one on the right there, and believe it or not, he's the actor who has portrayed Jason since part VII. The irony here is that he's also playing one of the swat team guys who took down Jason... and his swat character ends up being killed by Jason later on. Heh.

Robert Campbell, hard hitting journalist!

The aforementioned Steven Culp, striking the hard hitting journalist pose.

Jason Burgers!

This is pretty damn funny. After Jason is blown up, a local diner has a burger sale to celebrate. The burgers look like hockey masks.

The Necronomicon

Look familiar? That's right, this is the Necronomicon from the The Evil Dead films. It turns out that Army of Darkness was being filmed in the same area, so they were able to borrow the Necronomicon and use it as decorations at the Voorhees mansion (did I mention the Voorhees mansion? No? You're probably better off not knowing...)

Freddy!?

Yes, the ending of this film implies that there will be a Freddy/Jason crossover. It was apparently done as a lark, but then some people thought it would be a good idea. Ten years later, it became reality (it will be covered in my next post).

Face in liquid nitrogen

Frozen Face

Face Smash

Not much left

Yes, one of the all-time great kills in the series. Jason grabs the teenage scientist who is studying his "dead" body, thrusts her head into liquid nitrogen, pulls it out and slams it on the table, smashing her face into itty, bitty pieces.

Bang Bang

Bang

So it turns out that the spaceship Jason is on features a robot. Who dresses up in Matrix-like gear and blasts the crap out of Jason. Notice in the second screenshot that approximately half of the bullets she's shooting are hitting the walls around Jason, and not Jason himself. Of course, all the damage she deals out means nothing since Jason is rebuilt by nanobots, after which his first order of business is to absent-mindedly knock off the robot's head (her head survives).

Sleeping bag gag perfected

The ship Jason is on features a holodeck-like room, so our heroes program a scenario to distract Jason, with hilarious results. In the scenario, two teenage girls appear in a crystal lake setting and tell Jason that they love alcohol, marijuana, and premarital sex before both cliimbing into their sleeping bags. In a reprise of the sleeping bag kill from part VI, Jason beats them to death with each other.

So that wraps up this installment. Stay tuned for the last two films in the series and maybe some more posts, because I know you all love these movies as much as I do, right? RIGHT?
Posted by Mark on May 20, 2009 at 07:00 PM .: link :.



Sunday, May 17, 2009

Subterranean Filmsick Blues
To celebrate a significant milestone in his life, Alonso Moseley (best fake blogger name evar) of Acrentropy has posted a new filmic compilation and made a contest out of it:
On May 17th, between 7pm and 8pm EST, I will post my newest clipshow to YouTube. The first person to email me (alonzomosleyfbi@yahoo.com) the complete and correct list of 88 titles will win a DVD prize pack. There's no fee to enter, but only one entry per person, please.

I'm doing this all out of my own pocket to celebrate the upcoming birth of my first child in June (and this is easier than passing out cigars to all of you). So tune in on May 17th, and good luck!
So I figure I'll take a shot. I doubt I'll be able to get all 88 films, but these things are fun anyway (for reference, this is the same guy who did 100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers and 100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers: The Centennial Edition). Here's the video:


And here are my guesses (the * denotes when I'm not positive, but still reasonably sure):
  1. Back to the Future
  2. Fight Club
  3. The Princess Bride
  4. Reservoir Dogs
  5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  6. The Untouchables
  7. L.A. Confidential
  8. Midnight Cowboy * (Is that Ratso? Gah, haven't seen this movie often enough to tell...)
  9. Casablanca
  10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone * (Could be any one with Quidditch, right? I'll go with the first one though.)
  11. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
  12. Dogma
  13. Psycho * (this had me stumped for a bit, but I think I nailed it down)
  14. Not sure. 26 seconds in. Update: Commenter grasskit notes that this is probably the godfather, but I'm pretty sure it's The Godfather: Part II (Because the first is already in the vid, and why would you include the third?)
  15. When Harry Met Sally...
  16. Not sure. 29 seconds in, John Wayne in a raccoon hat? Update: Kaedrin friend gmichailovic mentions that this is probably The Alamo (1960). Duh, he plays Davy Crockett.
  17. The Muppet Movie * (Could be one of their other movies I guess)
  18. Not sure. 31 seconds in.
  19. Mean Streets *
  20. The Blues Brothers
  21. Stupid tapdancing musical of some kind. 38 seconds in.
  22. Run Lola Run (Lola rennt)
  23. Not sure. 41 seconds in. I want to say Mary Poppins but... you know what, I'm virtually positive this is Mary Poppins, even though I haven't seen it in like 25 years. Let's go with that.
  24. Heat ("Cause she's got a great ass... and you got your head all the way up it!")
  25. Little Shop of Horrors *
  26. The Conversation
  27. Not sure. 47 seconds in. Is that Paul Newman? Update: Kaedrin friend Larry thinks this might be Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a movie I have not seen, but which might be right.
  28. Ocean's Eleven
  29. JFK
  30. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets * (I think? Hard to see there...)
  31. The Fugitive
  32. Pulp Fiction
  33. Not sure. 55 seconds in.
  34. The Truman Show
  35. Die Hard
  36. Not sure. 59 seconds in.
  37. Dirty Harry
  38. Groundhog Day
  39. The Wizard of Oz *
  40. Not sure. 1:05 in. I want to say Once Upon a Time in the West, but Charles Bronson was Harmonica, and that doesn't look like him...
  41. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  42. A Clockwork Orange
  43. Shakespeare in Love *
  44. Not sure. 1:12. Looks like a silent comedy type of thing, an area I'm not too familiar with...
  45. Not sure. Not much to go on here, and it's not ringing a bell...
  46. Glengarry Glen Ross
  47. All About Eve *
  48. Shrek * (no idea which one, so I'll go with the original)
  49. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  50. Sneakers
  51. Not sure. 1:18 in. Obviously a Steve Martin movie. Possibly Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but I'm not sure...
  52. Midnight Run (this was obviously going to be in here somewhere)
  53. Full Metal Jacket
  54. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (seriously? 3 HP movies?)
  55. Raising Arizona
  56. Boogie Nights
  57. Not sure. 1:24 in. Song says something about cheaters, and this is reminding me of something like The Color of Money, but I can't tell... Update: Commenter grasskit notes that this is Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which makes sense.
  58. Not sure. Obviously a war movie, probably Vietnam era, but still not sure.
  59. Annie Hall
  60. Back to School
  61. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
  62. Platoon
  63. Cool Hand Luke *
  64. Rio Bravo *
  65. Not sure. 1:36 in. B&W western.
  66. Also not sure. This silliness seems like a movie I would have seen. Update: Commenter grasskit notes that this is The Meaning of Life, another movie I need to catch up with...
  67. The Shining
  68. Juno
  69. Scent of a Woman *
  70. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  71. Ed Wood
  72. Scarface
  73. The Incredibles
  74. The Godfather
  75. Not sure. 1:49 in. Is that Steve McQueen? Update: Kaedrin friend gmichailovic thinks this might be Breakfast at Tiffany's, which might be right...
  76. Animal House
  77. Office Space
  78. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  79. Young Frankenstein
  80. Not sure. 1:56 in. That looks like Carrie-Anne Moss, so perhaps one of the Matrix movies or Memento?
  81. The Thing
  82. Not sure. 1:59 in. Lawrence of Arabia? Update: According to commenter grasskit, this is Life of Brian. I need to watch more Python...
  83. Citizen Kane
  84. On the Waterfront *
  85. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  86. Blazing Saddles
  87. Not sure. 2:06 in... Update: Another from commenter grasskit: The Great Escape. Again, I've not seen it, but it looks right.
  88. Also not sure. Stupid musicians. Update: Finally, another from commenter grasskit: I'm Not There.
Wow, someone from the Academy Awards needs to hire Alonso to produce some montages for the next Oscars! Seriously awesome work there. I don't know how he does it...

So I'm reasonably sure of about 68 out of 88. Of those, there are a few I'm not positive about (again, marked with an *), but I think I did alright considering how hard some of those were... Of the ones I don't know, I made a couple guesses, but I'm pretty sure they're wrong. Can you help fill in any of the gaps?

PS - Sorry, the next Friday the 13th Marathon post will have to wait a bit - this was too fun to pass up (and in a rare bit of convergence, it aligns with my posting schedule too)...

Update 5/18/09: Several of the unknowns have been provided by friends and a helpful commenter. The new ones have been added above...

Update 5/21/09: It appears that the answers were announced yesterday. Looks like we did pretty good, but there were a handful of ones we didn't get (I'm kicking myself on a couple of them, but for the most part I haven't seen the ones that were missing from my answers.)
Posted by Mark on May 17, 2009 at 07:05 PM .: link :.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Link Dump
A few links for your enjoyment:
  • Aliens Board Game: Ok, I admit, this is pretty much the reason I'm doing a link dump tonight instead of something more substantial. Longtime readers know I love this game, so cut me a break...
  • Tank! - I wonder how many people will get the reference.
  • Patrick Duffy Compilation - There are no words.
  • LoadingReadyRun - Watchmen Watching: Who watches the watchers of the Watchmen?
  • Texts From Last Night: It's like bash.org for people with cell phones.
  • Business Card Fail: This is... awesome? This can't be real.
  • Kevin Smith Part 1 : Sellling Out And Salty Language: What can I say, I'm a sucker for Kevin Smith interview type stuff, and there are several followups to this one. In addition, I love those Evening With Kevin Smith DVDs and have watched them multiple times (the first set is brilliant, the second is not as much, and the third, well, he spends like 45 minutes answering a question about his dogs, which started to grate at about the 20 minute mark. Anyway, the first Evening is highly recommended if you like Smith's brand of raunchy humor.)
  • Carousel: Utterly amazing short film by Adam Berg (no credits on IMDB at this time) consisting of "an epic ‘frozen moment’ cops and robbers shootout sequence that included clowns, explosions, a decimated hospital, and plenty of broken glass and bullet casings." It's kinda hypnotic... amazing stuff.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for more Friday the 13th madness on Sunday...
Posted by Mark on May 13, 2009 at 08:11 PM .: link :.



Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friday the 13th Marathon (parts VII & VIII)
The marathon continues with the last two Paramount Fridays, which are both pretty horrible and feature what I shall term "Soggy Jason" since he spends a significant amount of time underwater between and during both films.
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood: After the high point in part VI, this seventh installment starts a precipitous decline. Like part V, I like the concept of this installment, but the execution is somewhat lacking. The idea of a final girl who exhibits psychic powers and thus proves to be a good match for zombie-flavored Jason is an excellent one, and the way Jason is defeated is actually somewhat effective. There is one classic kill that I'll go over in the extended entry (and that we'll revisit when we get to Jason X) and Jason's new (soggy) look is very impressive. I'm no expert, but you can supposedly see evidence of every bit of damage Jason took over the course of the first six films (like the axe to the head, the chains around the neck, the propeller to the jaw, etc...). From what I've heard, the MPAA really destroyed this film by making sure all of the gore was removed. I've seen bits and pieces of the cut footage, and that would have gone a long way towards improving the film because what remains is kinda plodding and stupid (this is, of course, not unusual for the series, but it is usually offset by boobs and blood, of which there is very little in this movie). This film is also notable because it's the first time that Kane Hodder played Jason. Hodder is apparently a fan favorite, but that might just be because he played Jason for 4 films. You can instantly recognize a Hodder Jason by the way Jason seems to be constantly heaving his chest as if he became asmatic in his old age. He also established a sorta visual OODA loop for Jason's movements, which sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. Ultimately, this is a pretty unremarkable film. Not the worst in the series, but probably in the bottom quartile. **
  • Scooby Doo and Jason (Robot Chicken, probably should have been posted next to Part V)
  • Jason on the Arsenio Hall Show
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (trailer)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan: And the series bottoms out in this eighth installment, which would be more aptly named Jason Takes A Cruise. The trailer for this film is actually pretty great (see link above), but apparently budget constraints forced the filmmakers to minimize filming in New York and they also had to deal with the MPAA censors again, thus nulifying most of the gore. Even so, the movie is just an atrocious turd. There are exactly three good moments in the film. First is when Jason is chasing Kelly Hu, and the film is sorta zooming in as Jason slams open some double doors. Second is when one of the kids, who has been established as a good boxer, decides to throw some punches at Jason. Funnily, Jason lets the boxer throw these bunches, and finally the kid tires himself out and Jason throws a punch that knocks the kid's head off. The head flies off the roof of a bulding, bounces down the fire escape and slams into an open dumpster, causing the lid to slam shut. It's the best kill in the movie (there is another interesting kill when Jason slams a burning hot sauna rock into some kid's chest, but the execution is a bit off). Finally, when they finally get to New York, our two heroic kids are being chased by Jason through the streets and end up in a little coffee shop. The final girl tells the waitress that she's being chased by a homicidal maniac with a machete, and the waitress says "Welcome to New York!" in a horrendously steriotypical New York accent (more on this incident in the extended entry). I know those three things sound pretty cool, but they only take up about 1 minute of screen time combined. The other 99 minutes are pretty excruciatingly bad.

    Jason in New York

    The big problem here is one of missed opportunities. First, 90% of the movie takes place on a boat (i.e outside of Manhattan), and even when they're in Manhattan, most of the time is spent running around unpopulated and indistinct alleys and sewers. Second, even when they do make it to populated areas like a subway or Times Square, Jason is intently focused on the two kids and mostly barely acknowledges anyone else in the city. This is most disappointing and a true betrayal of the core murderous tendencies of Jason, who should have been hacking his way through the entire population of Manhattan (this is something that the trailer sorta implied and a later film kinda gets right, so we'll revisit this discussion later). Finally, I know that continuity is not one of the hallmarks of the series, but still, what the hell is going on with the continuity of this film? So our final girl hero was traumatized by a childhood swimming accident where she encountered young-Jason, who attempted to pull her underwater. She's haunted by this incident and is hallucinating all throughout the movie, seeing young-Jason all over the place and freaking out. The problem is that young-Jason looks nothing like the real young-Jason from the earlier movies. I don't mean they changed the character design to make him more grotesque or something (that happens in every movie), they just grabbed some normal-looking kid. What the hell? The whole point of Jason was that he was deformed and had no hair, and so kids picked on him and camp counselors didn't care about him drowning. And then the ending. I like Devin Faraci's in-depth description of the ending:
    Which brings us right around to Jason's death. Killing the bad guy should be the highlight of one of these films - we're all rooting for him, but we also want to see him get his just desserts. I honestly don't think you should even start a slasher movie until you've figured out a good, unique death for your killer. Friday the 13th Part VIII certainly has the unique part down pat. At the end of the movie Jason chases Survivor Girl into New York's sewers where she learns that on the 13th of every month the tunnels are flooded with toxic waste.

    The filmmakers are now tying our disbelief to a rocket and trying to light the fuse. What the fuck kind of nonsense is this? Even people who buy the rest of the film's portrayal of New York City have got to sit up and wonder how they're expected to accept this nonsense. Watching the film again I began to wonder how anyone looked at the script and thought that this was a decent idea. Why not establish that meteors strike Central Park on the 13th of every month? Or that the Sanitation Department's Disintigrator Trucks hit the street on the 13th of every month? How do you decide which totally nonsensical and absurd and so pulled from your ass that it's still brownish plot device to use?

    However the filmmakers came to this brain-damaged conclusion, they went ahead and made it even worse. The final moments of the movie see Survivor Girl and her boyfriend climbing a ladder to avoid the wave of toxic sludge headed towards them. Meanwhile, Jason, who is just below them, looks at the wave and does two equally incredible things: he says, in a little boy's voice: "Mommy, don't let me drown again!" and then starts vomiting water. I don't even understand what the vomiting is supposed to signify - I heard that Jodorowsky saw this and thought it was, and I quote, "totally fucking weird." But it gets better: when the wave of toxic waste hits Jason (who, it should be said, has the appearance of a felt muppet once his mask has been removed), he promptly starts de-aging back to the Japanese kid with the thick head of hair. I am no expert on hazardous waste, but I will stake my entire reputation as a writer on this claim: Toxic waste will not de-age you. Ever. No matter what. If you believe that it will, or if you wrote this movie, I strongly urge you to go play in some toxic waste at your earliest possible convenience.
    Yeah, so this is a bad movie in almost every respect. Even the stuff I like about it is pretty bad (the highlights are mostly unintentionally funny moments) and I don't think there is any saving this movie. Again, this movie is conceptually sound, but there are a lot of serious problems in execution. It's just poorly made in every aspect and it represents the lowpoint of the series (which is saying a lot). *
More screens and comments in the extended entry...

Jason kills a girl in a sleeping bag by slamming it against a tree

The best kill in part VII is when Jason finds a girl in a sleeping bag, drags her along, picks her up by the sleeping bag and slams her against a tree, killing her. This was hard to catch with screenshots (it's very dark), but it's a great moment and it's referenced again later in the series in Jason X (we'll cover that in the next entry).

This psychiatrist is a douchebag

So in part VII, this psychiatrist pictured above brings the final girl back to a cabin on Crystal Lake where she accidentally used her psychic powers to drown her father. He's hoping that the powerful emotions will trigger her psychic powers because he's a douchebag and wants to get credit for the research or something. Anyway, he's one of the better victims in the series because you're rooting for him to die so horribly... alas, his kill isn't that impressive (though it may be a lot better uncut).

Jason and his weedwacker

Jason finds his way into a toolshed in this movie and thus becomes a big fan of using gardening and landscaping implements to kill people.

Jason unmasked

Psychic girl does some psyonic damage to Jason that causes his mask to come flying off and this is what we see. I have to give the makeup guys credit - this is a pretty cool look for Jason.

Jason is confused

Ha ha

I forgot about another moment I liked in part VIII. Our heroes escape from the cruise ship on a lifeboat and eventually make it to Manhattan. Jason, of course, was swimming along side them and also makes it to New York. As soon as he gets out of the water, he looks up and sees this hockey sign. It's a funny moment, which brings part VIII's acceptable runtime up to about 1 minute, 10 seconds.

Waitress: Welcome to New York

This is the aforementioned waitress who says "Welcome to New York" when told that the final girl is being chased by a homicidal maniac.

Is that Francis Ford Coppola?

I'm pretty sure the guy on the left is Francis Ford Coppola, engaging in an uncredited cameo (from the same coffee shop with the waitress above).

Well, that wraps up parts VII and VIII. Next up is the body-hopping part 9 and the spacetacular X. Stay tuned.
Posted by Mark on May 10, 2009 at 03:22 PM .: link :.



Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cinematography and Art
A topic that has been coming up recently is how many video game makers seem to eschew the label of artist when talking about their work. The "are video games art?" discussion has gotten old and tiresome for many people even as the debate continues on in many forms. Part of the reason this is interesting to me is that it was never even really a question in my mind - video games were as legitimate an art form as any other. Perhaps this comes from growing up with games, but whatever the case, I'm interested in the subject, particularly because it seems like many of the most influential video game creators aren't keen on describing themselves as artists.

One of the things that is often brought up in these discussions is the similarities and differences between video games and movies. It's often said that movies were considered "artistically legitimate" right off the bat, and that may very well be the case, but I was watching a documentary called Visions of Light this weekend that touched on something relevant to this discussion. The doc follows the history of cinematography in movies and features many prominent cinematographers. I uploaded a short clip to youtube in which Stephen Burum (who worked on The Untouchables, among many other films) talks about how many of the classic DPs characterized their work:


Interestingly, it seems that many of the pioneers of cinematography didn't consider themselves much of an artist. I think there's also a similarity between a cinematographer and a video game designer (or coder, or artist, or any of the hundred other jobs it takes to make a modern game) in that they can both describe what they do as craftsmanlike. In the video above, the cinematographers didn't admit to making art, instead referring to stuff as an "interesting effect," which is a phrase I bet a lot of video game makers use. I don't think this really settles anything, but it is perhaps more evidence of the fact that art is in the eye of the beholder. In the comments to my last post on the subject, my friend Dave posed the question "can something still be art if its creators don't consider it art?" I think the answer is yes.
Posted by Mark on May 06, 2009 at 08:46 PM .: link :.



Sunday, May 03, 2009

Professor Peabody's Hysterical Historical Wayback Spring Break Film Quiz
Every so often, Dennis Cozzalio of the Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blog posts a long movie quiz filled with tough questions. I did one of these a little while ago and now there's a new one, so here are my answers:

1) Favorite Biopic

Well, I don't especially care for biopics in general, so it's kinda tough to pick a favorite. There are a lot of biopics that I like, but don't love. Goodfellas (if I were forced to pick one, this might be it), Lawrence of Arabia (excellent filmmaking, but the person at the heart of the story remains a bit impenetrable), and Amadeus (which is great because it gets at Mozart through Salieri, an approach I wish more biopics would take) are pretty darn good.

2) Dyan Cannon or Tuesday Weld?

And so we come to the first question where Dennis gives a choice between two people I've never heard of and I pretend to care which one I choose. Well, let's see. Dyan Cannon did some groundbreaking work in Kangaroo Jack, but Tuesday Weld was in Once Upon a Time in America and Thief, so I'll have to go with Tuesday.

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

This is tougher than it sounds, because, well, pretty much any SF movie made before 1970 qualifies, and most after that as well. Also, much of SF isn't really about predicting the future. For example, a common answer to this question is Escape from New York... but do you really think that John Carpenter was predicting that New York would become a futuristic prison? I don't think so. Anyways, let's just go with The Day After Tomorrow, because that really set the bar for verisimilitude.

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

Oh man, I really don't care. By the end of this quiz, I'll probably start replacing these choices with my own. You've been warned.

5) Favorite Raoul Walsh movie?

Well, I haven't seen any of his movies. However, this quiz has inspired me to put White Heat at the top of my Netflix queue.

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

A great question. Several answers come immediately to mind, including some of my favorite movies of all time. The Terminator was James Cameron's second film (after Piranha Part Two: The Spawning) and Alien was Ridley Scott's second film (and perhaps his best) coming on the heels of The Duellists (a so-so film). Both had done at least one short film or TV beforehand, but as features go, those are some pretty big leaps.

The Terminator
The Terminator

7) Ice Cube or Mos Def?

I'm mildly surprised to be familiar with each actor's oeuvre. I'll go with Mos Def because he seems to be more consistently good (though he has his debacles), while Ice Cube started off with a bang and has been moving steadily downhill ever since.

8) Favorite movie about the music industry

The most obvious choice is This Is Spinal Tap which is certainly deserving of the title. For a less obvious choice, let's go with The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, if only for that scene when the band is playing and Robocop stops the music, mid-song, because he hears someone crying in the audience. Brilliant.

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

Without a doubt Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, though I do quite enjoy all the Road Runner cartoons as well...

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

This is a tough one because it's hard to gauge how much respect a given director really has these days, especially on the internet. I'm going to go with Johnny To. When it comes to Hong Kong action movies, directors like John Woo, Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam get all the praise, but To has been nothing short of fantastic and is definitely the best director working in Hong Kong today (for example, take a look at Triangle, where To completely outclasses Hark and Lam). He got some critical praise recently with his Triad Election films, but for the most part, his movies don't get much of a release in the US. Last year's Mad Detective had its widest release at 1 theater, but it's a fantastic film (it made my top 10 of 2008 once I finally got my hands on a copy). For a modern director, he's quite prolific too. Anyway, for a more conventional pick, I might go with Michael Curtiz. Casablanca is certainly a classic, but Curtiz doesn't seem to have quite the following that you'd expect.

Mad Detective

11) Ruth Gordon or Margaret Hamilton?

I guess Ruth Gordon, because of Harold and Maude and Rosemary's Baby. Of course, those are the only two movies I've seen from either Actress, but at least they're good ones...

12) Best filmed adaptation of a play

The one that immediately comes to mind is Glengarry Glen Ross. A couple of other interesting choices I found were 12 Angry Men and A Few Good Men (didn't even realize that was a play.)

13) Buddy Ebsen or Edgar Buchanan?

*sigh* I guess Buddy Ebsen, because, you know, Jed Clampett.

14) Favorite Jean Renoir movie?

Well, I've only seen two of them, but I guess I'll go with La grande illusion. I watched it for a film class in college (one of my two electives). It's not exactly a thrilling film, but it was a good film to watch in an academic setting.

15) Favorite one-word movie title, and why

Jaws, because it it describes the movie and evokes tension without really giving anything away (incidentally, Jaws might even qualify as a "Sophomore film which represents greatest improvement over the director's debut" though it depends on how you consider Spielberg's TV work, particularly Duel)

16) Ernest Thesiger or Basil Rathbone?

I don't know, Basil Rathbone? It's a cool name and he was apparently Sherlock Holmes or something.

17) Summer movies—your highest and lowest expectations

Well, my highest expectations would probably go to Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino movies never seem like they'll be very good, but then I get to the theater and am usually blown away in one way or another. Some of the casting choices give me pause though (in particular, Eli Roth and maybe even Brad Pitt, though I don't mind either as much as some people...) And for low expecations, I'll go with the 80s toy franchise duo of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. For a full list of upcoming movies I want to see even though I know they'll suck, check out the bottom of this post... (incidentally, I was very wrong on at least one of those picks, probably more).

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?

That's a tough one. It'd probably one of the old classic Disney movies, perhaps a Pixar movie or even some Miyazaki (for a young child, I think My Neighbor Totoro would probably work best). If my child is particularly brilliant, perhaps I'll start them on Star Wars. But I just know it will be something like Dora The Explorer: The Movie.

19) L.Q. Jones or Strother Martin

Once again, I've never heard of either of these. However, I'll go with L.Q. Jones, not because he was in The Wild Bunch, but because he was in Lone Wolf McQuade and he steals every scene he's in...

L.Q. Jones in Lone Wolf McQuade
L.Q. Jones in Lone Wolf McQuade

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

In theaters, I saw a sneak preview of Star Trek (and liked it a lot). On DVD, I watched Freddy vs. Jason, ending my recent Friday the 13th Marathon, even though the movie ended up being more of a Freddy movie than a Jason movie (and yes, it's bad, like all those movies). On Blu-Ray, I saw Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter which was fine, I guess, but lacks context. The disc also had a fake documentary about Behind the Hood which was pretty good. Ultimately, rereading the book was more worthwhile.

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

At home. Mostly because there are more movies available outside of theaters than inside theaters. Thanks to Netflix and Hulu and other stuff, there's just more to see and it's also more convenient and cheaper.

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

Weird Science was just on tv and I was reminded of Dylan Kidd's inspired choice for best female comedic performance of all time on an episode of Filmspotting: Kelly LeBrock as the fantasy girl, Lisa. She is indeed brilliant in that film and of course, she was not nominated. It's a choice I probably never would have thought of, but it's spot on. It's a shame that she never went on to do much else. I blame Steven Seagal.

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

Is this a joke? I suppose Kristen Stewart shows some promise (I thought she was good in Adventureland)

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)

Repeating myself: Grave of the Fireflies, for reasons belabored in that post. I still find it odd that most people find this film so sad... I found it infuriating. But then, both of those traits make it difficult to watch. It is an exceptional film though, and it's one of those films that you could pull out to traumatize people who think that you can't tell real stories with animation. Incidentally, it's kinda cruel to point to that AV Club article, as it's a pretty comprehensive list... Most of the stuff I considered shows up there.

25) Beyonce Knowles or Jennifer Hudson?

I never saw Dreamgirls... and don't really want to, but Beyonce.

26) Favorite Robert Mitchum movie?

Out of the Past, though it's not like I've seen a ton of Mitchum movies and I'm not particularly in love with that one...

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

I got nothing here.

28) Maria Ouspenskaya or Una O’Connor Kane Hodder or Derek Mears?

Ok, I warned you. I'm overriding Dennis' question and replacing it with my own. The funny thing is that I don't really have a good answer. Kane Hodder, I guess. Though Derek Mears has potential. This is one that needs to be revisited after the next few movies come out.

29) Favorite Vincent Price movie?

I am woefully deficient in my Vincent Price knowledge. I've only seen a couple. For now, I'll say The Abominable Dr. Phibes because I saw it recently and was struck by how much some recent films seem to take from it (notably Se7en and Saw). I've already placed a number of Vincent Price movies in my Netflix queue, basing some of my choices on the selections of Dennis' readers.

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

Once again, it's sometimes difficult to tell when something is flying under the radar, especially on the internet where there can be a dedicated following to even the most obscure of movies, but I figure my top 10s are a good place to start (incidentally, there's no way to narrow this down to 1 movie). From 2008, we've got Teeth, The Bank Job, Mad Detective, Timecrimes, Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón, The Promotion, and Spiral. A good pick from 2007 that's making the rounds on cable right now is Stardust and a good pick from 2006 would be James Gunn's excellent Slither. There are some movies I've heard of that still haven't been released but that sound awesome, notably Trick 'r Treat. I could probably list off a dozen others from the past few years, but I'll leave it at that.

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

More people I haven't heard of, though at the risk of making myself out to be more of a fan of The Beverly Hillbillies than I actually am, I'll have to go with Granny.

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.)

This is one of those questions that is so broad that almost anything could qualify, to the point where I'm having trouble coming up with a single example.

33) Elliot Gould or Donald Sutherland?

Finally, a choice between two people where I've seen a couple movies featuring each. I'll have to go with Donald Sutherland for this one, because he did some fine work when he was younger and as a reader at Dennis' site notes, "he's made an excellent transition into elder statesman, whereas Gould is really off my radar."

34) Best performance by a director in an acting role

Another tough one because there are a lot to choose from. The obvious choice is Orson Welles in Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil (or even in a movie he didn't direct, like The Third Man), but if Clint Eastwood counts, I'd say he was damn good in Unforgiven.

35) Favorite Barbara Stanwyck movie?

Double Indemnity, though that may be the only movie of hers that I've seen...

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?

I don't know that there's a single answer for this one, but history is an obvious choice, even if I don't read that much of it. I do read a lot about technology and the like, which I find interesting and illuminating. And lately, I've been reading a lot about video games, if that counts.
Posted by Mark on May 03, 2009 at 08:38 PM .: link :.



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