THE REVIEWS ARE IN!
“I love these things! Very thought-provoking, and it is so cool to read everyone else's comments.” – Sheila O’Malley
“Dennis, you are a godsend. This is just what I need on an otherwise miserable Friday afternoon.” - Filmbrain
Holy schnieke! They loved Professor Irwin Corey’s quiz! So, then, here we go, down the primrose lane of memory, recalling Professor Corey’s picks for his own personal Honor Society, the “best” answers from his Spring Break Quiz. It really should be said that gathering up the “best” responses was a surprisingly gargantuan task, and that’s simply because there were nearly 90 submissions to the last quiz, and such a rich percentage of them were ether well-reasoned, impassioned, funny as hell or otherwise witty, wise and wonderful. And the large volume of them is the reason why these answers will be presented in easier-to-digest sections (I’m projecting four at this point) spread out over the next week, culminating, of course, in the next big SLIFR quiz, which has been compiled and assigned a seasonally appropriate educator as our guide.
By the way, Professor Corey’s picks for the Honor Society spotlight should by no means be interpreted as endorsements of any one point of view or comment. He certainly doesn’t care if I (Dennis) agree with any or all of the responses (though for a goodly portion of them, I certainly do)—he’s just interested in highlighting what he considers to be the most entertaining, thought-provoking, hilarious and/or provocative of the bunch.
Personally, I love this massive project (which seems to get more massiver every time out) because I simply love reading the answers, and I love keeping the company of a gratifyingly intelligent and passionate group of bloggers, writers and film fans who choose to grace these virtual pages with their presence. I truly hope that everyone who took part in Professor Corey’s quiz, as well as those who took a break this time out, or who have never participated before, will come back for the next installment. In compiling all this discussion over the weekend, I noticed too a very interesting development that may have more to do with creeping exhaustion than anything else (you’ll have to be the judge): at certain points, because of the format in which I’ve chosen to present these comments, and certainly through no contrivance of mine, the answers often seem like a dialogue between the people who provided them rather than the isolated comments they originally were. So even if it’s just a delusion, it’s a happy one, one in which I can imagine all of us getting together one last time and rehashing the thoughts inspired by Professor Corey’s inquiring mind.
PART ONE: MULTITASKING, ACADEMY OF THE OVERRRATED, SLY REFERENCES, POWELL-PRESSBURGER, THE OSCARS, WEAVING/PEARCE, GREAT INSIGHTS and SAM FULLER
1) What movie did you have to see multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?
FLICKHEAD: Star Wars, three times in 1977. And my first impression was right on the money: it’s shit.
FILMBRAIN: Took me two viewings of Gone With the Wind to realize that it's just an overblown soap opera, unworthy of the praise heaped upon it.
JIM EMERSON: Eyes Wide Shut. It took me a second time before I even
realized how to watch it.
FLOWER: Raging Bull. It's an ugly, unpleasant movie, and yes, that's almost certainly the point. Do I appreciate the film for its artistry? Sure. Do I like it? I sure as hell do not, and three viewings haven't convinced me otherwise.
STENNIE: Ninotchka didn't do much for me the first time I saw it, but on subsequent viewings it's wormed its way into my heart.
DAMIAN: I didn't really "get" (and consequently didn't enjoy) 2001 the first time I saw it. Took me a couple more viewings, as well as reading some literature on it, to properly love and appreciate it for the great masterwork it is.
PACHECO: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Looked forward to it, then saw it and absolutely abhorred it, but didn't know if that was my final decision. Then I saw it again on DVD and I was absolutely blown away.
NATHAN M: Bonnie and Clyde. I still don't know what I think.
SHEILA: Breaking the Waves. I loved it the first time. Or thought I did. Saw it a second time and realized that it was a piece of SH*T.
MOVIESZZZ: Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. First time, I thought “As a Western, this isn’t up to his past films”. But, then I realized it was a commentary on the Western myths, watched it again, and fell in love with the film.
MORE-ONIONS: I've seen Barry Lyndon 4 times and frankly the jury's still out.
RON: Platoon. Just keeps getting worse
MATTHEW: Doctor Zhivago. I'm normally a big David Lean whore, but I still can't tell about that one.
CHRIS (2): A lot of movies. But I’ll steal Jim’s answer: Eyes Wide Shut. Rarely have I gone from thinking a film was a total miss to a masterpiece simply upon repeated viewings. The second viewing opened my mind to it, and the third viewing sealed the deal.
DANIEL L: Magnolia. Kind of fascinating the first time I saw it -- looked more and more like a big, showy ball of nothing after repeated viewings.
ADAM ROSS: I saw Eyes Wide Shut on three consecutive nights when it first came out. Each time I walked out with a different impression of it, and it wasn't really until my fifth viewing when I really wrapped my head around just what I it worked so well and what Kubrick was trying to say with it.
RYLAND WALKER KNIGHT: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is only getting better.
BEMIS: I could barely make it to the end of Barry Lyndon the first time I tried; four viewings later, I think it's a masterpiece (one I have to be in a very specific mood for, however). Interesting how many Kubrick titles pop up with this question.
ROBBIE KENDALL: Thoroughly Modern Millie, saw it as a child over a hundred times and as of today, I’m still not sure. The beginning is so good and the ending is so very bad.
SETH: The Rules of the Game. Is there a more tiresome cult of unexamined reputation than that of Jean Renoir? Lazy staging, uninteresting dramaturgy, tedious pseudo-humanism, a total indifference to the art of editing… M. Renoir, this just in: I don’t *care* how big your heart is, art involves artistry.
DR. CRIDDLE: Anthony Minghella. The English Patient was a half-interesting hodgepodge of better movies, most of which were directed by David Lean. Cold Mountain was cinematic pain.
KEN LOWERY: Eyes Wide Shut. In fact, I'm still on the fence. But I can't stop watching the damn thing.
GARETH: Wings of Desire, and it's still nonsensical to me.
JOSEPH B.: I remember seeing Fight Club in the theater 3 times- I thought it was OK the first time, dangerous the second time, and fell in love with it a third time.
MARTY McKEE: Blade Runner. I’m still surprised at how popular it has become, particularly considering it was neither a box-office hit nor a critical success upon its original 1982 theatrical release. I didn’t like it when I originally saw it, not in a theater, but on VHS around 1983 or 1984. Yes, it’s a visually stunning piece, but the acting is flat and the story barely extant. Still, the building critical raves over the decades had me believing that maybe I (and nearly everyone else who saw it then) was wrong, that Blade Runner was a masterpiece. It was unquestionably an influential movie as far as its production design was concerned. A friend and co-worker who is a huge Blade Runner fan convinced me to watch it again last year on DVD, the first time I had seen it in its original aspect ratio and without Harrison Ford’s notorious narration. I still don’t think it’s a good film. Sean Young’s robotic performance doesn’t convince me that Ford would fall for her (of course, he despised her in real life) and the turgid pacing feels deathly. Blade Runner is not very much fun, outside of Rutger Hauer’s scenery-chewing, which led to a short career as a leading man in genre films worse (Split Second) or not much better (Wanted: Dead Or Alive) than this one.
JEFF McM: Somebody just said Blade Runner (thumbs down, it's a snoozer) so I'll say De Palma's Mission to Mars, a film with a horrible narrative and completely uninteresting characters but enough perversely enchanting visuals to at least merit a couple of reviewings. Even though the movie ultimately still fails, I never fail to chuckle at Don Cheadle's line about arguing with plants.
ROB: Jackie Brown - After Pulp Fiction, JB seemed too low-key and understated on my first viewing, but the fifth or sixth time through, the film suddenly clicked for me, and of course Robert Forster is magic.
LARRY GROSS: Peter Weir's The Year of Living Dangerously struck me the first time I saw it as overlong, with too many endings and no point of view. On the second viewing it started to come together and make sense. On subsequent viewings I came to the conclusion it was one of the strongest mainstream narrative films of the 80's and easily, now, Weir's best film.
ROBERT FIORE: I'm still trying to decide whether Apocalypse Now is Coppola's last good movie or first lousy one.
PAUL C: Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossibl was sort of diverting the first time I saw it, but I was just coming into my own as a movie lover at the time. I was 18 years old, right around the age when anyone who fancies himself serious about movies scoffs at anything so low-class as a Hollywood action movie. But the intervening years have made all the difference- I’m now something of a De Palma nut, and at the same time I’ve become much less dismissive of mass entertainments, provided they’re well made and stylish. And Mission: Impossible is certainly both of these. Even with the explosions, expensive effects, and convoluted storyline, this thing is tense as hell, and seeing it again following my prolonged exposure to De Palma’s has made it really shine in my eyes. It’s no Blow Out, but it ranks up there as one of his best pure thrillers, alongside Raising Cain and Body Double.
STEVE: demonlover was the first time I was ever exposed to the stylings of Olivier Assayas. Needless to say, I didn't understand what he was on about the first time around -- I thought he was just glossing on Videodrome. A second viewing, though, convinced me I was off my nut and the media-conspiracy plot was merely indicative of larger concerns vis-a-vis disconnection in the modern world. Having since caught up with a couple other Assayas films, I can say with assurance that I like the guy, but demonlover definitely ain't the place to start with him.
DAN ALOI: Spaceballs. I fell asleep the first time I saw it in a theatre, which certainly didn't help; and the jokes seemed to fall flat. A couple viewings later I really enjoyed it. This is well before I formed a strong negative opinion of the source material ...
BRIAN: I'm constantly in the process of re-evaluating my feelings about films, so I'm tempted to say "all of them, and I still haven't decided yet". But an example of a film I didn't much like when I first saw it, but now consider a masterpiece and a major touchstone for me: The Searchers by John Ford. And one that on first viewing I found utterly enchanting and one of the best films the year it came out, but after a second had to demote to "interesting curio" status: Tuvalu by Veit Heimer.
THOM McGREGOR: I'll no doubt anger most of the true film fans who comment on your blog when I write: Casablanca and Chinatown. I tried to make myself like them, 'cause they're good for me and I would be smart and classy to like them. And I watched them both three times, but I just don't like either of those classics! I found them boring! So shoot me!
PEET: The Shining. True innovation always takes some getting used to: Kubrick’s film so drastically deconstructed the genre in which it operated that it falls flat when judged by the usual conventions (which Stephen King chose to respect). In many ways, Kubrick’s cold adaptation represents the antithesis of King's warm psychological fiction. Taken on their own terms, though, the film and the book are equally frightening in a diametrically opposed fashion.
CAMPASPE: Brazil, which, after reading Dennis's re-appraisal a while back, I may have to see yet again.
2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated
BILL: There are so, so many. Do enough people like The Boondock Saints for that to count? The fan base for that movie truly baffles me. For a more controversial choice, I’ll say Au Hazard Balthazar. I didn’t hate it or anything, but it really didn’t do anything for me at all. Except that I did like the donkey, and wished him well the whole time.
FILMBRAIN: Schindler's List
a. fan: Marilyn Monroe, who cannot possibly measure up to her cultural placement as All-time Sex Goddess of American Cinema.
JIM EMERSON: I honestly do not understand the appeal of Charlie Chaplin. (But then, I don't like clowns -- especially when they're sad clowns.) His visual style (as someone once observed) consists mainly of pointing the camera at himself. I know millions love him, but I don't.
SHARON: Woody Allen. Not funny, terrible actor, mediocre director.
FLOWER: Casualties of War. I like a lot of De Palma's movies, but here the whole thing, noble intentions and all, implodes under the weight of the director's operatic/hysterical touch.
STENNIE: Oliver Stone. Does he even count anymore, or is he a laughing-stock now?
DAMIAN: Quentin Tarantino. Whenever I hear this guy praised as a "genius," hailed as "the next Scorsese" or referred to as the "voice of a generation," my heart just sinks (and no, I am not particularly looking forward to Grindhouse).
PACHECO: Fight Club or The 400 Blows (a good film, but is it as great as people say?)
CHRIS: Peter Jackson. Still shocked people take him serious as a director.
MORE-ONIONS: Ridley Scott, post Alien and Blade Runner
Schuyler Chapman: I am prepared to be blasphemous: Akira Kurosawa
CHRIS (2): Federico Fellini. The man had about one or two good ideas and then relied on Nino Rota to paper over his lack of imagination with groovy music. One great movie: 8 ½. One very good movie: La Dolce Vita. One pretty good movie: The White Sheik. And then a whole lot of irritating crap, including the unspeakably insufferable La Strada.
PATRICK: Jack Lemmon. I have a lot of problems with his acting choices - particularly in Short Cuts when he's trying to remember the name of his grandson.
BEMIS: Crash. There's a Best Picture winner featuring Tony Danza. Awesome.
GARETH: Lars von Trier, even though there are moments I love in his work, and he may yet redeem himself.
JOSEPH B.: The scene with a flying plastic sack in American Beauty- and the people who found it deep and compelling.
JEFF McM: I'll go on a limb and say Richard Linklater, who could have staged all of his 'films' as plays.
DAN E.: Capra-corn makes me want to vomit. The only one I've liked is It Happened One Night. It's A Wonderful Life would be great if it left any part of it in slight doubt.
JEREMY RICHEY: Kevin Smith, I absolutely can not stand this man's films and have never been able to grasp the appeal of them.
LARRY GROSS: I know this is heresy but: Andrei Tarkovsky. Yes their moments of genius and staggering beauty in every one of the films, BUT--the mix of adolescent self-absorbed grandiosity, the slavophil mysticism that was outdated in Dostoyevsky's time, and the imperious on-again-off-again relation to narrative is cumulatively infuriating. He makes David Lynch look like Henry James. Yes, Tarkovsky's struggle with Soviet censorship was heroic (if not a little masochistic) and yes he was a great inspiration to many other important film makers but he was basically a lousy film maker.
PAUL C: I’ve never understood the love for The Graduate, a film that practically ties itself in knots attempting to demonize its most compelling character. How is it that sixties audiences fell in love with the bland Elaine, or rooted for the self-absorbed Ben Braddock? How fortunate for Dustin Hoffman that Midnight Cowboy came along, lest he be typecast as a mopey killjoy. Meanwhile, the film characterizes Mrs. Robinson as a sexually-aggressive predator, but for my money she’s the only character worth watching here. Hell, when Ebert expressed this sentiment to her in an interview, she smiled and countered, “of course, that’s why I took the role.” For me, this throws the film out of balance- instead of an expression of youth breaking free of its elders, The Graduate feels mostly like a feature-length expression of the old credo “don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Why else would the filmmakers not have given the films’ older characters first names?
STEVE: Is the fact that Parker Posey can't act at all yet is still beloved by many supposed to be part of that ironic-hipster image she's been granted or something? Explain it to me, people.
LANCE TOOKS: The Sundance Film Festival.
TMORGAN: All important filmmakers of the late 20th century, take a step forward. Uh, not so fast there, Jean-Luc Godard.
SETH GORDON: Hal Hartley. And it does boggle the mind that Joel Schumacher still gets work.
DAN ALOI: Synchronistically enough... Star Wars. Bombastic pop-religious-military mythology, dumb comic relief, plastic models, a sexless love triangle (whiny kid, cocky mercenary, bitchy princess) and an asthmatic villian do not an epic make. The threequel that came later was a massive waste of money, effort and talent and exemplified how hype cannot overcome dross.
BRIAN: No offense to the good professor, but how about the word "Overrated"? It's a club I refuse to wield. It screams that not only does the emperor have fewer clothes than generally accepted, but also that anybody who doesn't see so is some kind of inferior being.
THOMAS MOHR: I’ll stick to directors, and the list is endless: Godard, Bergman, Allen, Antonioni, Chaplin, Jarmusch, von Trier etc. etc. But I’ll probably go for Lynch, one of the worst bullshitters of them all.
3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another film or bit of pop culture within another film.
DAVE: It always seemed to me that the way the 4 main characters in Evil Dead 2 look around the cabin as noises whoosh past them was a nod to the reaction shots in The Birds when Tippi and the rest of the folks at the wharf-side restaurant are watching the gas station go up in flames.
BILL: There are dozens upon dozens, but off the top of my head, the meticulous recreation of Sonny’s ass-beating of Carlo from The Godfather (complete with missed punch) on The Simpsons (with Marge in place of James Caan).
FLICKHEAD: All 101 minutes of Agnès Varda’s Les Cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma (1995).
EDWARD COPELAND: "Listen the last man that said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat" -- Cary Grant in His Girl Friday
SEAN: The end of Leos Carax's Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf referencing Jean Vigo's L'Atalante.
FILMBRAIN: The “Kool Thing” dance sequence in Hal Hartley's Simple Men -- a beautiful nod to Bande à Part
JIM EMERSON: I love the hooded "children of rage" in David Cronenberg's The Brood -- a conscious hommage to Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now.
PETER NELLHAUS: The scene in The Dreamers when everyone sings along with The Girl Can't Help it.
FLOWER: Cagney shouting, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?!" in One, Two, Three.
SHEILA: I love Cary Grant's ad-libs which refer to his other parts in other movies, or just to himself. Like in His Girl Friday when he is trying to describe the character played by Ralph Bellamy and he says, "He looks like that actor - you know - Ralph Bellamy". Or the whole "Jerry the Nipper" joke that starts in The Awful Truth and then is continued in the jail-cell scene in Bringing Up Baby. Katharine Hepburn tells the sheriff that poor David Huxley is ACTUALLY "Jerry the Nipper" - a criminal on the run - and David shouts at the sheriff, "Don't listen to her, officer. She's just making that up out of motion pictures she's seen!" [Yes. And that motion picture would be The Awful Truth - starring you.]
MOVIESZZZ: I know it is a rather silly choice, but A Very Brady Sequel was one of the funniest, smartest pop culturally aware films out there.
SCHUYLER CHAPMAN: Body Double: the simultaneous reference to the poster for Slumber Party Massacre and Ferrara's Driller Killer.
ADAM ROSS: There's a scene in Gremlins 2 of Leonard Maltin reviewing the movie Gremlins only to be attacked by gremlins. This attack is supposed to be happening during the time period of Gremlins 2, which raises way too many questions: Why was Leonard Maltin taping a review for a movie that came out six years ago? In the Gremlins 2 universe, was Gremlins actually a documentary, since the characters in it exist in Gremlins 2 and obviously lived through the original movie? Did the events of Gremlins 2 inspire a similar documentary? Why didn't any of the characters in Gremlins 2 simply say 'didn't you see the movie Gremlins?' when trying to explain the monsters?
SHAWN McGUIRE: I love the parachuting scene in Top Secret where they are engaging in an emotional scene mid-fall, the ending of which pans over to a fireplace suspended by a parachute. It's one of the most wonderfully ridiculous parodies of the Hollywood romance genre.
RAMI: Here's an obvious one but it was the first one that popped into my head. Brian De Palma's homage to Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin utilizes the Odessa Steps sequence but surgically removes any socially redeeming value and turns it into a kick-ass action sequence.
BEMIS: In The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie watching The Third Man on one of his many televisions is juxtaposed with Rip Torn and Candy Clark unknowingly reenacting the same scene.
TRITICALE: I don't even recognize half the names in those questions, and never saw most of the rest. I do have some thoughts on number three.
If I were a film buff the baby carriage on the stairs in Bananas (the one Woody Allen movie I've seen) would probably be my favorite reference, but it was too deliberate. Instead I'll vote for the look on Bronco Billy's face when the bank robber knocked the piggybank out of the kid's hand.
WEIGARD: Someone already mentioned one that I was going to say – James Cagney’s “Little Rico” line from One Two Three -- so I’ll mention the other one, from the same film: Cagney threatening to pound a grapefruit into Otto’s face (from his similar scene in The Public Enemy). I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes this movie!
JOSEPH B.: I always admired the bit in Swingers when the gang is talking about what director stole from who, then Liman cuts to the gang walking down the street like the fellas in Reservoir Dogs.
ROB: The Buzz Lightyear/Zurg subplot in Toy Story 2 - it's the only Star Wars reference that's ever made me laugh, especially in how it's resolved.
MATTHEW: In Bowfinger: "Did you know that Tom Cruise didn't know he was in that vampire movie until three months later?"
JEREMY RICHEY: Every frame of Roman Coppola's fascinating C.Q. The obvious references ranging from Modesty Blaise to Barbarella are obvious but the more you watch the film the more it gives you. A really lovely valentine to the 1960's and many of its most unique films.
SFMIKE: Margaret Hamilton as a Texas Witch singing “The Star Spangled Banner” in Brewster McCloud.
ROBERT FIORE: The part in Animal House where D-Day yells "Ramming Speed!"
BOB TURNBULL: The long shot in Boogie Nights that ends by following the woman into the pool and underwater - a reference to the even better single shot in I Am Cuba (which travels down from several levels in a hotel into the pool).
STEVE: "You'd do it for Randolph Scott." "RANDOLPH SCOTT!"
AARON: Dick Miller – as a private investigator, if memory serves – standing in front of the Rock All Night one-sheet in the remake of Runaway Daughters.
CAMPASPE: Kirk Douglas screening The Bad and the Beautiful in Two Weeks in Another Town. Close second is Jean-Paul Belmondo, in Contempt, explaining why he is wearing his hat in the bathtub: he's being "Deeeen Marrrtahn, een Some Came Runeeeng."
4) Favorite Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger movie
SEAN: The Red Shoes. But Black Narcissus is close and A Canterbury Tale is gaining fast on the outside.
CERB CHAOS: Strangely enough, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp has always been a personal favorite. With it’s wonderful use of color (a given in most Powell/Pressburger films) its great sense of time, conveying not only Colonel Blimp, but also all the changing mores in England at that time, and how Deborah Kerr plays three different love interests during the film. That this movie, with all its layers upon layers, was based off a political cartoon caricature is astounding.
FILMBRAIN: A Matter of Life and Death.
THAT LITTLE ROUNDHEADED BOY: Stairway to Heaven.
SHEILA: I have only seen The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus and I have to go with Black Narcissus because I adore nuns, and I adore Deborah Kerr - and nuns having nervous breakdowns due to sexual tension - with the Himalayas in the background? And Deborah Kerr in a habit? Please count me in.
MOVIESZZZ: The Red Shoes. Easy choice.
RAMI: It was Black Narcissus but now its The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. The opening is hilarious the first time and heart-breaking the second.
SETH: Two for the price of one! Favorite black and white: A Canterbury Tale. Favorite color: Black Narcissus. But choosing between the two would be like choosing between sunset and sunrise. Neither is more beautiful.
JOSEPH B.: A Matter of Life and Death (aka Stairway To Heaven)- Powell and Pressburger films always exemplified the beauty withheld in glorious Technicolor, but they never matched the fevered intensity of this one.
PAUL C: The Red Shoes. I don’t like ballet- that mom carted me along to ballet performances as a kid, trying to instill culture in me, didn’t help. But The Red Shoes makes as good a case for cinema as a dance medium as anything Busby Berkeley or Arthur Freed ever produced. And Technicolor has never been more ravishing, particularly not the vivid reds that made Moira Shearer’s red hair shimmer on the screen.
AARON: Tales Of Hoffman
But there’s always that underappreciated gem, The Small Back Room.
LANCE TOOKS: A Matter Of Life and Death, a film that literally invaded my dreams as a kid. David Niven’s doomed English pilot falls in love with American switchboard operator Kim Hunter… over the plane’s radio while hurtling toward the earth! “I love you…” he says, “…because you’re life, and I’m leaving you.”
Close Runner-up: Every other film they made.
BRIAN: Finally a softball. I Know Where I’m Going!
CAMPASPE: God, I love them all. But I will go with my first impulse, I Know Where I'm Going!. No, Thief of Baghdad. No, The Red Shoes. No, Black Narcissus... I can't do this.
5) Your favorite Oscar moment
FLICKHEAD: Jerry Lewis pronouncing “James Wong Howe.”
BILL: I’m one of those few who really liked Letterman as a host, and I’ll give two favorites: his montage of other actors auditioning for his role in Cabin Boy, and this joke (paraphrased): “One of tonight’s nominees is called Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, which, coincidentally, is how Arnold Schwarzenegger first
asked Maria Shriver out on a date.”
EDWARD COPELAND: Woody Allen's post-9/11 appearance
SEAN: When I win the pool.
FILMBRAIN: Roberto Benigni literally stepping on Steven Spielberg. Don't get me wrong, I dislike Life is Beautiful, but its winning must have made ole' Steven see red. Spielberg's face as Benigni climbed on the chairs is priceless.
JIM EMERSON: Stanwyck receiving her honorary Oscar and saluting her "golden boy," the late William Holden. And David Watkin receiving the award for best cinematography for Out of Africa and chiding the voters that all the beautiful landscape shots they just applauded in the clips, and for which he was given the award, was actually shot by the second unit.
SHARON: Well, here’s one of them: Last year, Stephen Colbert greeting the audience saying, “Good evening, godless Sodomites.” Comedy gold.
CERB CHAOS: Again, young viewer here: After the Three Six Mafia won their Oscar for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” Jon Stewart said “For those of you keeping score at home, it’s Martin Scorsese 0, Three Six Mafia, 1.” That cracked the whole family up.
PETER NELLHAUS: When Bob Hope says, ". . . or as it's known at my house - Passover."
TLRHB: Walking through the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt and dreaming what it must have been like at the first Oscars.
SHEILA: The clip of the streaker running behind David Niven in 1974 is one of my favorite live-television moments of all time. Also - Niven's brilliantly dry response to it:
"Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings."
I also adored Russell Crowe's acceptance speech. I just was very moved by it, and by his whole demeanor.
SCHUYLER CHAPMAN: 2002: Cut to David Lynch and Robert Altman having a nice laugh as Ron Howard ascends to the podium to receive the Best Director award that rightfully belonged to one Altman or Lynch. I like to think they were laughing at Ron and his atrocious movie.
CHRIS (2): Jack Nicholson saying: “And the award for Best Picture goes to… Crash.” I have seldom laughed so hard in my life.
RYLAND WALKER KNIGHT: I liked it when Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit won and they put the bow-tie on the little gold man.
BEMIS: Anna Paquin's breathless acceptance speech - I wish every winner could be so guilelessly honest about how fun it is to win an award.
SETH: Number 6 in David Letterman’s "Top Ten Signs the Movie You're Watching is Not Nominated for an Academy Award:” "It's a beautifully made documentary about two kids in the inner city trying to realize their dream of playing professional basketball."
STEVE: I thought Stanley Donen dancing and crooning with his honorary Oscar was pretty damn charming.
LANCE TOOKS: Stephen Boyd applauding psychotically when someone else’s name is called… oh waitaminnit, that was the MOVIE named The Oscar.
BRIAN: The first time I ever set out to watch the Oscars on my own volition was after the 1988 movie year, and what did I see but the Rob Lowe/Snow White jawdropper of an opening production. I suppose this has something to do with my inability to take the whole phenomenon too seriously, even though I enjoy and am fascinated by it.
PEET: I have a short memory when it comes to the Oscars, but I loved how Ben Stiller introduced Best Visual Effects last year, fully dressed in chromakey blue.
THOMAS MOHR: As I’m a total cry-baby, it’s definitely the “Bringing out the Dead” (sorry) montage. Every friggin‘ year.
6) Hugo Weaving or Guy Pearce?
SEAN: Hugo Weaving, one of the best voices in contemporary film.
SHARON: It’s gotta be Hugo. I just watched V for Vendetta again, and without his amazing performance, that film would have been nothing.
PETER NELLHAUS: A choice of desert queens! I'm going with Guy mostly because of L.A. Confidential.
FLOWER: That would be Hugo Weaving, Mister Anderson.
SHEILA: Guy Pearce. I love Hugo Weaving too (especially in Proof which is when I first became aware of him) - but Pearce is more versatile, I think. Or at least he's gotten roles that get to show more versatility.
MOVIEZZZ: Can’t tell the difference, but I’d go with Pearce.
DR. CRIDDLE: For Ravenous and The Proposition, Guy Pearce
7) Movie that you feel gave you the greatest insight into a world/culture/person/place/event that you had no understanding of before seeing it
DAVE: Apocalypse Now and the Vietnam War. Before that it was just something I heard about on the radio or saw bite-sized chunks of on TV.
FLICKHEAD: One movie? Insight? Gee…let me think…
BILL: Bloody Sunday. There must be a movie and answer that better fits your question, but I can’t think of one right now, and even
though I knew something about the events in Derry in 1972 before seeing Greengrass’s film, I was not any kind of expert. While watching it, I remember thinking, “Was it really like this?” I later found out that, unfortunately, it was. But it was the movie that made me find that out.
FILMBRAIN: Idi i Smotri (Come and See)
a. fan: City of God. I had never heard of Brazil’s Favelas before I saw this. After I saw it, I felt like I had lived there.
JIM EMERSON: Reds -- for what it must have been like for idealistic Americans to believe in the Soviet myth, from the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the exposure of Stalin's massive crimes, and the feelings of betrayal and disillusionment that followed.
PETER NELLHAUS: I've been seeing films from Iran. There have been several good films, but the one that I think would help people understand the clashes of culture best, in a very friendly way, is Secret Ballot.
TLRHB: Star Wars. I had never really understood Tatooine before Star Wars. Sure, I'd heard about it: a mostly arid environment, dangerous nightlife scene, more than one sun. But it took the great documentarian Georges Lucas to open my eyes.
FLOWER: Well, Star Trek II gave me great insight into what it's like to be a lonely, frustrated, genetically enhanced superman waiting for an opportunity to quote Moby Dick.
STENNIE: Michael Powell's Edge of the World opened my eyes to a world I didn't even know existed.
DAMIAN: I know I've said this many times before and will no doubt have cause to say it again, but Schindler's List changed my life. As someone who was relatively ignorant of the Holocaust prior to seeing the film (as were a lot of people my age unfortunately), it certainly opened my eyes to the enormity of that dark period in history, but it also confronted me with how truly evil we human beings can be as well as illustrating the extreme level of nobility and heroism of which we are capable. As a friend of mine said: "Few films have unpacked quite so beautifully or honestly both the darkness and the light within the human soul."
CHRIS: The Wind Will Carry Us.
SHEILA: The first thing that comes to mind is Maria Full of Grace. I knew OF those girls ... but that movie delved into that whole world in a way that was truly eye-opening and horrible.
SCHUYLER CHAPMAN: Pather Panchali
MATTHEW: Lawrence of Arabia put me on a Middle East WWI obsession that still continues.
CHRIS (2): Geez. Why not ask “So what’s the meaning of life anyway?” I will say that Peter Watkins’ Edvard Munch provided me access to a tortured, creative mind in a way I never thought possible on film (or in any other medium.)
DANIEL L: Ray's Apu Trilogy.
CINEBEATS:Hôtel Terminus. When I first saw the film back in 1988 I didn't know much about Klaus Barbie and the "ratline" set up by the U.S. & the Vatican to get Nazi war criminals out of Europe. The movie deeply disturbed me on many levels.
I've also got to mention Let's Get Lost since I saw the film with no previous knowledge about Chet Baker when it was released and after seeing the movie I fell in love with guy and his music.
RYLAND WALKER KNIGHT: I just watched Battle in Heaven and it made me yearn to be a part of Mexico for, I'd say, a month or two. Then I'd have to high-tail it back to Gringoville USA.
RAMI: I had very little knowledge of how to handle a situation wherein snakes would be on a plane. Thank goodness then for Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man. JK. Its probably a three way toss up between seriousness Jafar Palahani's The White Balloon which completely opened my eyes to the world of simple trials and tribulations for two children in Iran, the crippling poverty and abuse of the elderly in Umberto D and Werner Herzog's examination of the transformative madness of nature in Grizzly Man.
KEN LOWERY: Lately, God Grew Tired of Us. The Lost Boys (and Girls) of the Sudan have more reason than anyone in the world to be pissed off, burned-out shells of human beings, and yet so many of them are kinder than anyone I know who has lived a more privileged life. Africa's one great big mystery to me, and this clarified things a little.
MARTY McKEE: I never realized that bar bouncers were such legendary heroes—almost like modern-day cowboys—until I immersed myself into the romantic world of Roadhouse. How could I have known that the best bouncers are known by name and legend in sleazy, dirty taverns all across the country? That, just like the Amish, whenever a bouncer runs into trouble that he can’t handle alone, he just has to put out a call, and his fellow bouncers will drop what they’re doing and travel cross-country to help out, even if it means side-stepping local law enforcement to stop the local rich guy from smashing car dealerships with his monster truck.
ROB: JFK - I knew very little about the Kennedy assassination before seeing JFK, and it spurred me to devour everything I could find on the subject.
DAN E: I don't understand a lot of things. I'm white. I'm male. I'm from the suburbs. For the sake of argument, I guess I'll go with Do the Right Thing. From my limited perspective, it seems very intelligent and realistic when it comes to race relations.
ROBERT FIORE: I wouldn't say I had no understanding of the era, but Topsy Turvy is one of the few historical movies that made me feel "Yes, that's what it was like." Barry Lyndon is another.
PAUL C: Without a doubt, Peter Watkins’ La Commune (Paris, 1871). This six-hour movie, originally made for French TV, examines an event that’s passed over by most history books in the U.S.- the rise and fall of Paris Commune, an experimental government formed by workers and intellectuals following a successful uprising against the French government. Watkins, rather than turning the story into a conventional period piece, shoots it like an extended news special, complete with period-incorrect man-on-the-street interviews, talking heads, and even intercut footage of a government news program that criticizes the Communards. The result is a movie that captures the spirit of the Commune better than any conventional telling ever could, while connecting it to the better-organized but less ambitious protest movements of today.
AARON: Matinee, with its early 60s monster movie-mad youngster as protagonist, provided insight into what it must have been like in that simultaneously golden and terrifying era.
LANCE TOOKS: Aldrich’s The Longest Yard was the first time I sat through a football game without falling asleep. Up until that day my father was really worried about his first-born son.
SETH GORDON: Inside Seka
BRIAN: Tell me it's not my imagination; these questions are harder than the previous profs', aren't they? I could give a thousand answers here, or more. Singling out one film feels all but impossible, especially since it's not exactly easy to verify the accuracy of perceptions. I'm really interested in the concept of cinema-as-tourism. Nevertheless, I'm going to give a sarcastic non-answer: Real Genius, which taught me everything I'd need to know about college several years before I'd actually attend one.
THOM McGREGOR: Dune. Culture: Outer space spice mining. World: Absurdist Lynchian soundscape. I love to listen to this movie. Plus it's full of hilarious dialogue and giddy imagery.
CAMPASPE: When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. The movie's window on that world was so clear and sharp that even rather opaque aspects of Japanese social interaction were plain as day.
8) Favorite Samuel Fuller movie
JIM EMERSON: The Big Red One -- followed closely by The Naked Kiss and White Dog.
PETER NELLHAUS: Forty Guns because of the opening sequence of the riders, which can only be seen in wide screen to be appreciated.
TLRHB: Park Row. Why? Because I've never seen it and I've been waiting dog years for them to put it on DVD!
CHRIS (2): Pierrot le Fou but I guess you don’t mean as an actor. The opening scene of Naked Kiss is the best work Fuller ever did, but the rest of the film doesn’t live up to it. In general, I find that his films share brilliant moments with dull ones which is part of what makes him so fascinating. Favorite, I suppose I’ll go with The Big Red One though Forty Guns is an awful lot of fun.
RAMI: Pickup on South Street is the total package. Plus Thelma Ritter gives her best performance ever in it.
LANCE TOOKS: Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss. Fuller’s one of my favorites, but I’ve never understood how anyone can defend the moronic White Dog… anyone really believe the NAACP had enough clout to keep a movie out of theaters? More likely the studio saw what a piece of sh** it was and found a convenient way to cut & run.
CAMPASPE: Pickup on South Street. Ah, Thelma!
COMING NEXT: BELLUCCI/CUCINOTTA, HAPPY PILL/SAD PILL, BOORMAN, OATES/DERN, ASPECT RATIOS, TRUFFAUT’S CRYSTAL BALL, HERZOG and RAMPAGING BEASTS
Monday, July 09, 2007
THE REVIEWS ARE IN!