Tuesday, July 08, 2008

ANSWERS TO O’BLIVION PART 3: PROPRIETARY PICTURES, DIRTY SECRETS, FILM CRITICISM, more DIFFICULT-TO-IMPOSSIBLE CHOICES and THE FILIPINO PERSPECTIVE



(This is Part Three, the final segment of a three-part digest of the best answers from Professor Brian O'Blivion's All-New Flesh for Memorial Day Movie (and TV) Quiz. Part one can be seen here. Part two can be seen here. My own answers are on the way in the next few days. Patience, Ma!)

25) Bulle Ogier or Charlotte Rampling

Ms. Rampling continues to impress and is still quite attractive for what the French describe as a "woman of a certain age" (Peter Nellhaus)

Rampling. Did Ogier ever fight a killer whale? I didn’t think so. (Dave S.)

I always thought that Charlotte looked like John Hurt with tits. I fell in love with Bulle about 32 years ago, and the flame still burns. (Flickhead)

Going back to blonde for this one, cuz she's a Rivette girl -- Bulle Ogier (Ryland Walker Knight)

I have a huge crush on Rampling. She is, perhaps, at her most beautiful in Zardoz, which is good because otherwise you might realize you’re watching Zardoz. (John P.)

Charlotte Rampling, who is in the Bone Structure Hall of Fame with Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn and Catherine Deneuve. (Robert Fiore)

At work I fielded a phone call from Charlotte Rampling once, and she was every bit as snooty as her Georgy Girl character. I loved it, finding out she was exactly as I wanted her to be. Charlotte all the way. (Campaspe)

Charlotte was in Swimming Pool and Orca, she goes well with water.
(Adam Ross)

My friend was watching the Academy Awards with his then-girlfriend when she observed, "Helen Mirren is really sexy for her age." To which he corrected, "Helen Mirren is sexy, period." That's how I feel about Charlotte Rampling. (Bemis)

Ogier was a doll when she was younger, but Rampling has aged much, much better. Also, Rampling didn’t attempt to follow in Deneuve’s iconic role as Severine, so Rampling wins hands down with me. (Paul Clark)

26) In the Realm of the Senses— yes or no?

Have not seen it. But I did finally see Salo, the 120 Days of Sodom which you asked about last year. It bored me stiff. (Jonathan Lapper)

Yes, but not my favorite Oshima. That would be The Ceremony. (Peter Nellhaus)

Sure, if I ever make it through the whole damn thing. (Dave S.)

No, but only because I'm an ignorant bastard and don't know what this is. (Flower)

It's been eons since I saw it (at home on VHS, must have been early 90s) but I remember thinking it was interesting but quite anti-erotic; the guy I was dating fell asleep. As a seduction ploy I got much better results with 8 ½. So I'm going with no. (Campaspe)

Absolutely. Great film. (Weeping Sam)

27) Name a movie you think of as your own (Thanks, Jim!)


They're all big productions but due to eerie similarities in my life and relationships I have always taken Dodsworth, Brief Encounter & Manhattan very personally and I don't care to watch them with anyone else who won't understand why they get it all so exactly right and how extraordinarily dead-on they all three are. (Jonathan Lapper)

If I told you, it wouldn't be my own, you sneaky so-and-so! (Peter Nellhaus)

I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record on this one, but I’m going to go with The Life Aquatic. I really feel all alone on this one. Not only that, but when I watch it, it feels like Wes Anderson said, “Hey, you know what we should do? We should make a movie just for Bill.” And then he did. (Bill)

Years ago I would’ve said La Vallée (1972). But I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now. (Flickhead)

Casablanca. But I have to share it with my father. (Chris)

Riffing on what Emerson wrote, I would have to say the overall body of work of Vincente Minnelli. Casablanca and Rules of the Game are my favorite films, but I feel protective of Minnelli because students sometimes don't know what to do with his inimitable blend of color, lushness, melodrama, humor and passion. That doesn't mean they are 'wrong' in their responses, but that, when they laugh at the heightened emotions during the climactic fair scene in Some Came Running, I feel like Michael talking to Fredo in The Godfather, Part II: "You broke my heart...You broke my heart!!" And that's true of The Band Wagon, Meet Me In St. Louis, Father of the Bride, The Bad and the Beautiful...some of these movies get good responses, some bad, but they are immensely dear to me, and even if I hate the feeling of disappointment when folks reject their pleasures, I love the feeling when they connect with a student, and those passions get translated from screen to audience. (Brian Doan)


Although it is critically acclaimed, canonical material and I have no business making personal a film that belongs to so many, Breathless. I often hear people ask “what is the use of Breathless nowadays, when all it's techniques have become commonplace?” well I don't know what movies they are watching, but my 15 year old self was swept up in how different this was from anything I had ever seen before. I remember every shot of Belmondo killing the police officer, and think of it as the moment when my definition of movies broke, and I was forced to come up with a new way of watching film. Breathless has lost none of its impact, it redefines cinema every time it is played. And I take every insult leveled at it as a personal sting. It's mine now, and I'll never let it go. (Krauthammer)

Father Goose with Cary Grant & Leslie Caron. I feel like I stumbled upon a little known secret. (John P.)

I can't imagine showing Gus Van Sant's Last Days to anyone and expecting them to get it, except Manohla Dargis.... (W. Australopithecus)

Risky Business, (came out the summer after I graduated high school); The Right Stuff, (unseated Star Wars as my favorite movie [even though it took a few years for me to acknowledge]. A perfect synthesis of my boyhood passions—the space age and the movies. Raising Arizona, A Room with a View (apparently, any movie from the ‘80s that begins with the letter R.) (Mr. Middlebrow)

For this question we turn to our guest respondent, Beatrice Welles: "Every movie my daddy ever made! You can't see them unless you GIVE ME MONEY!" (Robert Fiore)

Letter from an Unknown Woman. I will probably never see this in a theater with an audience simply because, like Jim, I cannot bear the thought of the morons tittering over anything that doesn't seem sufficiently "realistic." (Campaspe)

Shock Treatment (1981) - it's finally gotten a little bit of love recently, but it was a hard 25 years being an unrepentant fan of this movie. (Robert H.)

I Love Trouble. Because I’m the only person I know who loves, loves, loves it! (Larry Aydlette)

The Coen Brothers’O Brother, Where Art Thou? The movie was shot entirely in my adopted state of Mississippi, and large chunks were shot in and around Jackson. On each of the three times that I saw the movie in the theater, the theater was jam-packed with people who would hoot and holler whenever they recognized an onscreen extra or a location. “Look, look, look, there’s Jethro, mama! There he is!” “Yessir, that’s him. What on Earth did he do to his hair?” I now do volunteer work for the local film society, members of which include people who worked on O Brother, so the movie feels like a family affair in some small way. Also, as must be obvious by the number of times that I saw it live, it’s my favorite Coen Brothers feature, and I can quote most of the movie, accents and all, at any point. In fact, my brother’s fiancé and I bonded, initially, by recreating stretches of the movie. (Walter Biggins)

I'm not feeling terribly proprietary these days, but I have to say that after heavily researching and writing an essay on William C. de Mille's terrific proto-feminist drama Miss Lulu Bett for the Silent Film Festival last year, I feel very connected to the film and to the personnel involved. (Brian Darr)

Galaxy Quest. No one understands our love. (Stennie)

Whenever I've shown someone Soderbergh's The Limey and tried to explain why it's so good, and the editing is brilliant, and the soundtrack so well done, and the whole thing is an exercise in postmodernism, all I've gotten are pitying stares. Fine, that just means there's more for me. (California)

#28) Winged Migration or Microcosmos


Neither. To me, they both seem like commercials for documentaries rather than actual documentaries. (Dave S.)

I didn't care for the latter, so I never saw the former. (Brian Doan)

Winged Migration is pretty enough, but Microcosmos is kinda mindblowing. (Krauthammer)

Microcosmos, for the lesson of its intense sex scene. Snails know that it's important to slow it down. (Patrick)

Impressive aerial photography in Winged Migration, but as any little boy can tell you, bugs beat birds every time. (Paul Clark)

29) Your favorite football game featured in a movie

Favorite game is probably MASH, but I love the final game in North Dallas Forty because of the uncanny way it mirrored the actual Dallas playoff game of the season before last when Romo dropped the snap at the end. (Jonathan Lapper)

I liked the uniform Christina Ricci was wearing in Black Snake Moan. (Peter Nellhaus)

Black Sunday… terrorist blimp versus stadium! Rah! (Dave S.)

Harold Lloyd in The Freshman. (John P.)

"Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, this time I think we go up-a da middle." Horsefeathers. This is what Oliver Stone should have watched before making Any Given Sunday. Or maybe he did. (Campaspe)

Son of Flubber (Bemis)

Robert Aldrich made The Longest Yard hilarious. (Anne Thompson)

All I can think of is that football games never work as well on film as baseball games do. I wonder why that is? Is it something about the pace, about the rhythm of the games? (Lucas McNelly)

OK, not actually a football game (and arguable the worst part of the movie), but when Flash Gordon is running around Ming's throne room with a metal egg doing football maneuvers all around the Imperial Guard, that's kinda fun. (Chris Oliver)

30) Wendy Hiller or Deborah Kerr

A Powell question. Wendy Hiller some days, Deborah Kerr others. Depends on which Powell I'm watching. (Jonathan Lapper)

I disliked the film they were both in, Separate Tables. I would have to choose Kerr because of Black Narcissus, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, and Bonjour Tristesse on the top of the list. (Peter Nellhaus)

Deborah Kerr. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. That is all. (Bill)

Deborah Kerr--I absolutely love Black Narcissus and Bonjour Tristesse and The Innocents. Hiller's all right, but I found I Know Where I'm Going! really disappointing, aside from a few scenes, and she was in A Man for All Seasons, which might be the most boring movie ever (and, yes, it appears I have a double standard, since that doesn't much affect my opinion of Robert Shaw). (Schuyler Chapman)

They're both quite wonderful, but the edge goes to Kerr, great in nunneries, musicals, wheelchairs, and military uniforms. Plus, you can't beat starring in Otto Preminger's best film. (Brian Doan)

Deborah Kerr. To put Wendy Hiller ahead you have to put an awful lot of weight on I Know Where I'm Going!, because of the disparity in volume of work. Kerr even did more pictures for the Archers. (Robert Fiore)

Kerr, for having the guts to get down and dirty in The Gypsy Moths. (Aaron)

31) Dirtiest secret you have that is related to the movies


I have never seen Kazaam. Never. Don't tell anyone. As for a real dirty secret I'm not sure I have one. I love movies and watch what I can. Plenty of big ones I still haven't seen but I'm not keeping it a secret so I'm coming up empty on this one. (Jonathan Lapper)

Little Mike (Twin Peaks) Anderson bangs statuesque blonde hookers. (It’s true! It’s true!) (Flickhead)

I purposefully and excitedly watched Striking Distance when I was a teenager. (Schuyler Chapman)

I was 30 before I saw Gone with the Wind. And I didn't like it. (Chris)

According to Theyshootpictures.com, these are the top ten greatest films that I haven't seen yet: Persona, Ordet, Andrei Rublev, Panther Panchali, Au hasard Balthazar, The Mirror, Greed, The Conformist, Pickpocket, The Leopard. I also think that Mel Gibson is one of the most interesting and talented directors to appear in the last ten years. I win. (Krauthammer)

I still haven't seen Pink Flamingos. (Peter Nellhaus)

Other than having sex while watching a non-porn movie or being turned on by a flick, I guess my dirtiest secret related to the movies is the fact that I don’t get Audrey Hepburn. At all. (Dave S.)

Eek! Er, um…no, you probably don’t mean it like that. Well, not having seen Dracula yet is pretty bad, right? So is not having seen 8 ½, which I haven’t. (Bill)

I like surfing movies, and Fassbinder bores me silly. (Brian Doan)

John Ford's The Searchers puts me to sleep, but Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break is a work of insane genius (as also noted in Hot Fuzz). And I don't care if you think less of me for feeling that way! (Steven Santos)

I don't really like Citizen Kane or Casablanca or Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday or Nashville or Katherine Hepburn or John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart or... oh, just one secret? (Brian)

I love, love, love Cabin Boy. (John P.) (Try the London broil, John!—Dennis)

I have no movie secrets. If I love Yolanda and the Thief and the world does not, then the world is WRONG, wrong, wrong. (Campaspe)

I was a silent financier of Leprechaun 2. (Adam Ross)

I like to watch. (Larry Aydlette)

I love The Stupids. (Weigard)

I guess this isn’t very dirty, but here goes- in the past twenty years, the only times I’ve cried have been while watching movies. (Paul Clark)


I recently admitted it on another blog comment, so I might as well do it here too: I went with a young woman I was dating to a nearly-empty late evening screening of Chicken Little and we made out the entire movie. Yeah, 32 is a little old for that, I know. (Brian Darr)

When I saw Independence Day on opening weekend with a packed house, I enjoyed it, and even convinced myself that it was a good movie. (Chris Oliver)

I'm a film major a few weeks away from getting my Bachelor's and I haven't seen a single Bergman. (California)

32) Name a favorite film and describe how it is illuminated and enriched by another favorite film.

Contempt. I understood what Godard was doing in filming the statues when I finally saw Voyage in Italy. (Peter Nellhaus)

Groan-inducing as it may sound, I really love Showgirls for its humour and bad taste. The film that illuminates Showgirls for me is Starship Troopers, also directed by Paul Verhoeven. Because the humour in Starship Troopers was missed by so many people upon first viewing, it makes me question Verhoeven’s intent with Showgirls(Dave S.)

I wish I could be more original with this answer, but after watching There Will Be Blood again recently, I really appreciated how it builds off of both The Shining and Barry Lyndon. (Bill)

Phantom of the Paradise is the Rosetta Stone that unlocked the secret behind Brian De Palma's movies: They're all comedies. (Schuyler Chapman) (Okay, Scarface, but Casualties of War?—Dennis)

Lost Highway is one of my favorite movies of all time, I love how it was basically a remake of Detour filtered through the O.J. Simpson trial. (Erin)

Again, Casablanca. For me it's the distillation of everything I love about Bogart. And every other film I see with him serves to open up or accentuate another facet of his performance. (Chris)

Prince of the City, which is illuminated by The Last Temptation of Christ because the road to salvation is often a messy and destructive one in which you will suffer for trying to do the right thing and your own imperfections make it that much harder. (Steven Santos)

Having seen Titus and adored it, I appreciated Ran on a number of levels when I worked pretty extensively with it the following year in a course I took. It wasn't just the idea of Shakespearean adaptation, but the attention to adapting the material to such diverse media stuck with me quite a bit. (Brian)

I think the two Imitation of Life versions really form a dialogue about race, caste, class, and women's issues in the U.S. over the course of 25 years. (Campaspe)

Seeing Marion Davies films after viewing Citizen Kane and realizing that for all "Kane's" greatness, its one major flaw is that it destroyed Davies' acting reputation for several decades; even Welles admitted as such. (The bio Citizen Hearst, issued in the early sixties, also did a hatchet job on Davies' work.) (VP81955)


My appreciation of Popeye deepened when I realized it's essentially McCabe and Mrs. Miller for kids. (Bemis)

See question #27 for the favorite film. Along with being an intentional mishmash of mythologies ancient (The Odyssey) and more recent (Mississippi blues/folk culture), O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a farce that provides multiple laughs with every minute, and offers a warmhearted and complex understanding of the region that I call home. Set during the Depression, it’s also an extended riff on Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels. In that film, socially conscious filmmaker John Sullivan (think Frank Capra, but with less wit) wants to make a politically relevant movie about the working class. Never mind that he doesn’t know, or even want to know, anyone who’s actually poor. His film is entitled O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and Sturges spends the next 90 minutes poking fun at the distance between Sullivan’s film and poverty as it’s actually lived. The Coens, by consciously stealing that title and setting their film in the same era as Sturges’s classic, one-up Sullivan by creating a farce with flat characters that’s nevertheless truer to human experience than anything Sullivan could have created. In fact, in some ways, I think the Coens’s masterpiece is precisely the crackpot comedy Sullivan might have made after his comeuppance and revitalization via a Disney cartoon at the end. O Brother, Where Art Thou? has the anarchic, anything-goes spirit and aesthetic daring of a great 1940s cartoon but, unlike Sturges, the Coens are submersed in history all the same and address the ugly racial and class politics that Sturges elides and in fact lampoons in his Sullivan caricature. O Brother updates Sullivan’s Travels while also mimicking it. It’s not the first time they’ve flirted with Sturges—see the great, horribly underrated Hudsucker Proxy—but O Brother is the most potent, direct distillation of their love affair/argument with the great 1940s filmmaker. (Walter Biggins)


I think I’ve mentioned this before too, but it’s the best example I can come up with. After reading some of the things Jim Emerson had mentioned about Cutter’s Way, I watched it last fall. Great movie, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was watching the priomordial soup out of which The Big Lebowski was born. Amateur detectives, slackers perhaps, and I about lost it when one of the characters starts filling up a suitcase with underwear. (Weigard)

Autumn Sonata, Stella Dallas, The Rapture and High Tide are three mother-daughter dramas that resonate with my own mother abandonment issues. When I saw Kieslowski's The Decalogue, Thou Shalt Not Steal, I finally understood why my mother left me and my younger brother. She felt incompetent. (Anne Thompson)

All I can think of now is that scene in Band of Outsiders where Anna Karina walks into the poolroom and they’re playing the big love theme from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Knowing the Demy film, it’s clear that the song has no place in that context- the two movies could hardly be further apart and still be speaking the same language- yet there it is. In Umbrellas, the song is almost unbearably sad, certainly enough to bring tears to my eyes as it swells during the climactic scene and we reflect on what the characters have lost, and gained, during the film. But out of context, all that significance is lost and it’s just a popular song, to be listened to and tune out like any other. Movies are nothing but commodities, Godard is saying, to be taken apart and picked over willy-nilly. Yet I also can’t help but reflect on the difference between the standalone song and the way it works in Umbrellas, which in turn makes me think of the importance of all the elements of a film to its ultimate effect. In the end, a movie is much more than the sum of its component parts- take one on its own and it’s just not the same. This may not even be the idea Godard is going for here, but that’s the idea I take away, and that’s enough for me. (Paul Clark)

You know, I could ruminate on this question for several more hours, thus delaying even further my responses to this quiz, or I could simply admit that I don't have a clue what this question means and leave it at that. I choose the latter. (Stennie)

Another question that's too good to answer: this one, especially, is something I want to think about, turn over in my head, all by itself, until I have a good answer. If I don't complete wimp out, this quiz could give me half a summer's worth of blogging material... (Weeping Sam)

It took me years to get one of the best (and nastiest) jokes in Life of Brian--the Spartacus reference, which now seems so obvious that I don't know how I could have missed it. The chorus of crucifixion victims crying out "I'm Brian!" is a wicked inversion of the "I'm Spartacus" scene, in fact an answer to the latter, as if the Pythons were saying "that's a great story, but from everything we've experienced in human nature, and read about for 4,000 of human history, that's just not how it works." (Chris Oliver)

The Limey isn't the same if you haven't seen Poor Cow, Teorema, Easy Rider or Vanishing Point. (California)

Probably an obvious example, but the way Unforgiven comments on and expands upon Clint's entire screen person... it'd be an excellent story and piece of filmmaking by any standard, but familiarity with everything from Dirty Harry to Eiger Sanction really brings it home in that movie. Curiously, that shot of him in the rain like a total sap in Bridges of Madison Country is enriched in much the same way. (The Bandit)

I've always seen Kirk Douglas in Ace in the Hole as character and real life father to Michael Douglas' character in Wall Street (Jamie)

33) It’s a Gift or Horsefeathers


The eternal Norman Z. McLeod question. It's a Gift primarily for the scene of Mr. Muckle. (Peter Nellhaus)

Horsefeathers, because the Marx Brothers are a gift! (Dave S.)

Horsefeathers, not so much because I love the Marx Brothers (though I do), but because I sheepishly admit to not having known It’s a Gift existed. (Chris)

I have a theory that Norman Z. McLeod sucks the funny out of movies. I feel that It's a Gift is one tenth of the movie it could have been, especially when you consider other Fields films like The Bank Dick, and the two he did with the Marx Brothers, while still amazing, are my least favorite of their golden period. Horsefeathers still wins, because I'm a dedicated Marxist, but it could have been their best without McLeod. (Krauthammer)

It's a Gift. This is an interesting contrast. In the general scheme of things, the Marx Brothers rank well ahead of W.C. Fields. However, like the novels of Raymond Chandler, all of them (up to Day at the Races, anyway) are cherished but none particularly sticks out. Duck Soup sticks out a little the way Farewell My Lovely does for Chandler, but the whole gestalt is what counts, not any given movie/novel as a work of art. It's a Gift on the other hand is a movie that rises above the level of the comedian's work, and seems to portray the genuine travails of a human being. (Robert Fiore)


This is a little confusing. There are silent slapstick shorts (say that three times fast) by both of these titles, made, respectively, in 1923 and 1928. I suspect that Dennis means the 1934 version of It’s a Gift, starring W.C. Fields, and the 1932 version of Horse Feathers (note the difference in title), starring my beloved Marx Brothers. These two are both features, and the connection is that they’re both directed by Norman MacLeod, which is why I think Dennis links these two and not the two otherwise unrelated shorts. So, if we’re comparing the features, Horse Feathers wins in a walk, because the idea of Groucho Marx as president of a university is the most inspired idea for a slapstick comedy ever, and it’s one of the few Marx Brothers in which Zeppo is a) present, and b) funny. (Walter Biggins)

Horsefeathers. My father often took me and my brother to see the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields at The New Yorker. We never cared for Fields. We recognized how he felt about Baby LeRoy. (Anne Thompson)

I await the day in which I see It's a Gift with a theatre full of appreciative moviegoers. I've seen Horse Feathers that way, and it'll be hard to beat. (Brian Darr)

34) Your best story about seeing a movie at a drive-in


I was in the back seat with my girl friend of the time. For a Few Dollars More was playing on the screen. I never got to see the Leone film until a few years later. (Peter Nellhaus)

As a 9-year-old horror fan, I begged my father to take to see The Exorcist when it was released. Being sane, he refused. By the time I was 12, The Exorcist came back to our town at the drive-in on a double bill with John Wayne’s McQ. This time, my father took me. After watching the Wayne first feature, The Exorcist began. I don’t remember when it happened, though I know it built up gradually… I began to formulate the thought (though not in these words) that this was adult horror and it was about things my little brain couldn’t comprehend. In other words, it was freaking me out, and I was going to have nightmares forever if we didn’t leave NOW! My father, again being sane, dutifully prepared to leave the drive-in at my request. Though sane, my father is a little cruel, and he suggested I look at the screen as we drove away. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Regan McNeil vomit all over Father Karras. Image. Stuck. In. My. Head. Forever. (Dave S.)


Okay, so, I’m at this drive-in, right? And there’s this sniper there, too, right, but get this, BORIS KARLOFF shows up and…wait, that wasn’t me. Never mind. I’ve never been to a drive-in. (Bill)

I could relate the old chestnut about tripping during Giant Spider Invasion plus Night of the Cobra Woman, but no need to incriminate anyone here. (Flickhead)

Seeing Jurassic Park in the summer of '93, my mom and me running from our car to the bathroom, terrified that the raptors were going to jump off the screen and eat us. Well, that's how I felt anyway. It's possible my mom was just humoring me, but it was still a blast. (Flower)

What's a drive-in? (Erin)

Drive-ins were on their way out as I was growing up, and so many of my "memories" of them come from seeing them in other films: the hilariously campy projections in The Thin Blue Line, the re-creations of 50s teen lust in Grease, the assassin's bullet cutting through the night sky in Targets. My own drive-in memory is connected to The Empire Strikes Back, and seeing it on a warm summer night's re-release, and enjoying the serendipity of night falling just as the Millenium Falcon roared into space: sky and screen blending into one glittering, star-ridden space. (Brian Doan)


No specific time, but any chance my wife and I have to visit the Parma Motor-Vu in Parma, ID. It's the oldest business in town, their 1955 popcorn popper still works great, they serve grape soda, the parking area is often flanked by corn stalks, and the old highway is right behind the screen so sometimes you can see truckers passing by.
(Adam Ross)

I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit at a drive-in in Maine while my family was on vacation. My dad fell asleep halfway through, so my mom decided to let him sleep and find her way back to our room. We were nearly at the Canadian border before she realized she must have made a wrong turn somewhere. (Bemis)

I have fond memories of attending the 1987 premiere of Alex Cox's Straight to Hell at the Pickwick Drive-In in Burbank, sitting in my pal Sam Kitt's vintage convertible. It was quite a scene. (Anne Thompson)

Not a story per se, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world who can cop to seeing Cop and a Half five times at a drive-in (it ended up being the second feature time and time again). (Aaron)

1976 - The Bad News Bears. Whole family went, all packed into the family station wagon -- Mom, Stepdad, Grandma, and us three kids. When the movie was over, Grandma said "Little boys don't really talk like that." Three kids replied in unison: "Yes they do, Grandma." Also: in college in Bellingham, WA, I recall being buried under lots of blankets and so forth to get snuck into the Samish Twin Drive-In. For years, the first S was missing from their sign, so from the freeway you could see their sign loudly advertising: "AMISH TWIN DRIVE-IN THEATRE." Of course, meeting up with Sal and Dennis at the SoCal Drive-In Society was a fun time too, and one I hope to repeat this summer! (Stennie)


Oh, Dennis, you’re gonna love this! It’s gotta be seeing Grindhouse last year at the Mission Tiki. I know I went to the drive-in with the family when I was a kid, but I really can’t remember any of the details. So last year’s experience is all I really have to go on. What fun! Great company (the Captions, Inc. gang is the best, bar none) and interesting movie, to say the least. I really had no idea what I was in for when I decided to go. As per usual for me, I avoided any and all info about Grindhouse once I decided to go. So the gore and violence came as something of a surprise. Yes, I knew that Tarantino was involved, but I had no idea about the zombies. And how sweet were Paul and Steve – knowing that I hate that kind of stuff, I heard them checking with Dennis occasionally to make sure I was okay. Thanks, guys! (Sharon)

The first movie I ever saw was Song of the South at the drive-in, complete with one of those "Ant and Aardvark" cartoons at the beginning. I've still never had a chance to see it again. Years later, I did mushrooms in the abandoned lot of the same Drive-In, underneath the dilapidated screen. I also went to see an all-night women's prison movie marathon at the drive-in once, but it was really boring, so not a good story. (Chris Oliver)

Freebie and the Bean. God knows what it was double-billed with some four to six years after its release, but somehow one of my earliest filmgoing memories was this Rushian slice of '70s awesomeness. (The Bandit)

35) Victor Mature or Tyrone Power

Uh, Tyrone Power. Is this a trick question or something? (Jonathan Lapper)

Mature fought prehistoric creature on screen once, didn’t he? Yeah, him. (Dave S.)

Or, Cry of the City versus Nightmare Alley. Ty’s the one. Victor, on the other hand, carries the look of a man suffering unending heartburn. (Flickhead)

Tyrone Power: maturity is overrated and power is an often hilarious delusion. (Ryland Walker Knight)

How old do you have to be to take this quiz? (Brian)

Man, I really need to get my TCM back. (Mr. Middlebrow)

I think of Tyrone Power as the star of adventure movies I deem too boring to watch because Tyrone Power is in them. Victor Mature is a subject I have to look into further, based on My Darling Clementine. (Robert Fiore)

We all want Power, but being Mature does us all more good in the long run. As for the actors, I guess I’d have to research some more. (Paul Clark)

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


(First Post) Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!! Nooooooo!!!!!!! No more questions about film criticism and where it's going. My god, thousands of children have perished in China, more lay dead in Burma, Iraq is in complete disrepair, people are living in their cars because they've lost their homes... Okay, sorry. But really, for the time being at least, I'm afraid I have had my fill of this question. Sorry. Hate to end my quiz on a sour note. Sorry.

(Second Post) Ah, I don't want to end my answer on a sour note. Here goes:
I think film criticism is moving in better directions despite what so many seem to think. Print critics losing their jobs is not a good thing but many immediately find a home online where they can be even more analytical and thought provoking without deadlines and an editor breathing down their neck or looking over their shoulder.

Bloggers like Girish and Jim Emerson allow film criticism to become a group discussion in which differing points of view are celebrated and help to bring the films in question to a richer understanding for all.

I think the days of deeper, richer more profound analysis of film and what film means lay ahead of us. With the freedom to exchange ideas and the access of the great films of cinema history I think film criticism is on an upward slant. It's just that the technology, the modes of its transport are changing. But the criticism itself is evolving into something that I never had growing up, reading the opinions of hallowed authors and historians who left no room for dissent. (Jonathan Lapper)

Film criticism means pointing out films that are of interest for a variety of reasons, even if the goal is to entertain. Based on current evidence, film criticism is headed to the blogosphere while a handful of print critics get syndicated. (Peter Nellhaus)

Having recently developed an obsession with Italian gialli, I can tell you that I think the way a film is perceived is very much a product of the time it is being reviewed. Today, so many films that were ignored or maligned in the 70’s are being rediscovered as classics. It’s just another way that film criticism is subjective. Unfortunately, “professional” film criticism has been heading to blurb-ville for a long time now, and it shows no sign of letting up. You know, comments like “The feel good movie of the year” splashed across a movie poster or ad…? All this seems to have more to do with the critic than it does the film. The good news is that fan-based reviews are all over the Internet in blogs and websites, and that’s where you can get the real goods about movies. (Dave S.)

Film criticism, as the phrase is generally used, doesn’t mean all that much to me, unless it’s found on a blog where the film in question can be discussed. So, I guess, “film criticism”, to me, is the “opening argument”. (Bill)

At this point, nothing, nowhere. (Flickhead)

Film criticism is my chance to read what others are thinking about the movies I'm seeing. It's an opportunity to understand how others are processing the same information. If I like a movie, I want to know why others liked it or why they didn't, and, if I disliked a movie, I want to know why others did or didn't. It helps me, I think, get a more nuanced perspective on a film I've just watched. I'm not sure where it's going. I've never been terribly good at predicting outcomes. (Schuyler Chapman)

At its best, when taken seriously, film criticism is a prime opportunity for some (to put it plainly) philosophy. However, such a posture takes a lot of time, and effort. The weekly criticism rarely achieves this in any explicit fashion, but if you pay attention you can understand what some of the great critics do as something akin to hermeneutics: a balance between interpretation and examination that reflects the critic as well as the picture in as honest and thorough a manner as possible. What I want more of is holding one's experience accountable. Why is it that Armond White cannot find fault in Spielberg? Why can't Walter Chaw see that Iron Man affords him the same reading that he gave of The Darjeeling Limited? I really dig reading those guys, even when I think they're off base, but as much as they do attempt to account for their personal taste in reviews, there's still that posture of superiority that irks me. It's what I try to cede. I try to assume most movies are smarter than me. I try to be generous. Clearly, I've failed myself as often as I think those two fine writers have failed other films but what I don't sense in their writing is a true curiosity... One of the reasons I think Matt's criticism will be missed is because he always seemed curious about the object at hand. But such curiosity takes time, and effort, and diligence, and it's rare. Hell, I'm quick to turn against movies. I didn't care for Gone Baby Gone, but a little last fall simply because I turned away from it inside five minutes; I tried again recently and found myself no less turned off; I think it apt and rote and at worst plain boring and stupid. Still, I value that Cumbow essay that got me looking again. I'm always willing to look again. The thing that won me over to Walter Chaw was his giveaway introduction to a review of Inside Man where he said he was wrong about 25th Hour. After a long uneasiness with Armond White I finally understood him a little better after my buddy Steve's interview with him and his defense of The Darjeeling Limited boiled down to the brilliant, obvious, contrarian statement that "films don't have acts." (Of course, I simply don't believe in acts as a structure; plenty of others do; that's a big argument to get into, which I plan to avoid, here.) So, I think criticism, as a practice, will always be lively, even if its financing continues to die -- or just dry up. As long as people take it seriously, as its own art, as an opportunity for all kinds of cool thought, then I think it will be fine. It's not some giant living in the hills; it's this. This is what I do and, to a certain extent, this is film criticism, too. Like Bordwell said a couple weeks ago, maybe if blogs slow down a bit they can be better, and more thoughtful, and afford more conversations instead of shouting matches. Because I think that blogs are the future of this art, this practice. I mean, here I am, commenting on a blog. A blog I read and enjoy, a blog most worthy of that list, because its owner and proprietor is so invested in the worth and continued, thoughtful practice of criticism -- and fandom, let's be honest. Cuz, why write about this -- why write this -- if you aren't a fan, if you don't enjoy it? (Ryland Walker Knight)

I hope it's headed towards the death of the blurb and star ratings, and more attention to the mutual significance of form and content. And more attention to foreign film at the cost of the summer blockbuster. (Brian)

I'm running low on time so this will be shorter then I would have liked. Film criticism, like any criticism, is vital for keeping the art alive. Without writers, lectures, or video essays on film we would not be able to better collect our thoughts on film, we would never learn how to think critically and understand film on a deep level without criticism. I think Jim Emerson says that he likes the critisism as much as the movies, I wouldn't go that far, but I do believe that film would be in a sorry state without people thinking about it. I'm optimistic about the future, I don't think that paid criticism is dead by any means (although print criticism may be soon) and these blogs can be as vital as those by paid critics sometimes, your recent essay on Speed Racer being one out of countless examples. There will always be the need for a full time critic, who can watch much more than I could, and who is not bogged down with things like “school” or “work” which can severely cut into online publications. It's definitely is going to change in the next ten years, and I hope for the better. (Krauthammer)

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

It means making sure people are aware that film is more than entertainment. It's headed, on one level, down the crapper. That's the argument you hear all the time. But on another level, and this is where these blogs come in, film criticism is headed in exactly the right direction, towards a pure discussion of art. (El Gringo)<

I don't know where it's headed, but I do think the recent turbulence in the profession is the result of film criticism moving away from monologue and towards discussion. I know that my aforementioned small group of readers motivates me to examine my ideas with greater clarity and consideration than before. If anything's going to keep film criticism going, it's the need to resist experiencing art in a vacuum. Either way, I'll keep writing as long as people keep reading. (Bemis)

At its best, film criticism offers an exchange of ideas about art, and how art reflects human experience and longings, and provides an opportunity for me to crystallize thinking about both. In the past, the exchange has been mostly one-sided—the critic writes, I read and reflect, and that’s that. With the spreading influence of blogs, the back-and-forth exchange has become more immediate and conversational; fact-checking and corrections occur in real-time; writers actually see how their readers respond to their work. I’ve said before that the collective blogs like The House Next Door—where multiple writers are corralled together under the influence of an overriding editor—are where online criticism is headed, simply because it’s a model that allows room for a lot of writing styles and genres to be discussed under a single rubric. (It’s also the format closest to print journalism, which is something the Web 2.0 embracers should keep in mind in case they get too smug.) The biggest issue that’s always faced film criticism is that criticism is writing, which means that it’s at least one step removed from the medium it’s discussing. Online, however, that gap can be bridged to some degree, because an online essay can include screen grabs, sound files, and movie clips in a way that’s not available to print. Three recent articles—one on Spielberg’s editing style, one an elaborate defense of Tony Scott’s filmmaking, one on Jia Zhangke’s compositions and editing in Platform—use screen grabs not as mere eye candy but as contextual illustrations that bolster their points. I hope that, as early cinema’s works fall increasingly under public domain, we see more essays illuminated by extensive clips as well as stills. (Walter Biggins)


Film criticism is a way to educate an audience about a film and why it needs to be seen in order to better understand yourself and the world around you. With the advent of website and blog reviews, there are now more educators than ever before. Strangely, I don’t think the number of listeners has increased proportionately. I also fear that the whole milk of criticism has become two percent and is fast headed toward skim. May the cream continue to rise and be consumed. (Patrick)

I grew up reading the greats: Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, Richard Corliss, Molly Haskell, Vincent Canby, Dave Kehr, David Ansen, David Edelstein, Stanley Kaufmann, David Chute, David Denby, John Powers, Jim Hoberman, Richard Jameson, David Thomson, Michael Wilmington, Joanthan Rosenbaum, Todd McCarthy, Roger Ebert, Stephen Schiff. They helped to define what movies are, they grew up as the medium did, and wrote and set the tone for cultural debate during the 70s and 80s when the cinema was most exciting. Those days will never come again. Where do you think it’s headed? The truth is: our generation of moviegoers raised on newspapers and reading will not be replaced by more of same. We know that our children love movies and see them in theaters, on TV, on DVD, on laptops and mobile phones. They also learn about movies and discuss them in different ways, on Facebook, on Yahoo, on blogs. As the medium and the media evolve, so too film criticism, which will be more responsive and more narrow-focused to the individual. And it will be on video, too. (Anne Thompson)

The more film criticism I read, the more I value insight over opinion. It’s one thing to say why you like something, but it takes a deeper appreciation for film in general to be able to pull ideas from movies, especially ones that don’t wear those ideas on their sleeve. And this only really comes from experience and the guidance of others who’ve come before you. The more you open yourself up to ideas that may be eccentric at first glance, the more confident you can be in your own, provided you’re able to back them up. I think that the proliferation of Internet criticism can only help this, because rather than continuing the old-guard notion of criticism as a monologue, it instead promotes a great exchange of ideas. The critic no longer resides in his ivory tower, but instead uses his work to open a dialogue with his readers. Ultimately, I think this will be a good thing, especially once Web criticism can shake off the stigma of being the smelly stepcousin of the printed variety and achieve the equal status that the best online criticism (this blog included) already deserves. (Paul Clark)

What it means to me is that ability to find and avoid films based on a consensus of voices I trust, of being able to scan Metacritic and see what films are worth seeing and what are not. Also, the ability only a critic has to dig deeper into a film, into themes and motifs and all that juicy goodness. What scares me is that as more and more film criticism moves from the newspaper to the internet, it gets harder and harder to know what voices you can trust and what voices are full of shit. At the same time, there are now more voices than ever that I trust. So...I guess I'm torn. Cautiously optimistic, you might say. (Lucas McNelly)

I'm more interested in film than I am in film criticism. Whenever I see these questions about film criticism I'm reminded of Whit Stillman's movie Metropolitan and its character Tom, who wasn't into fine literature but enjoyed reading literary criticism. He held his own at intellectual parties by quoting what essayists had to say about great literary works, even though he'd never read the literary works themselves. I don't find fault any with film criticism, but I'd rather watch another movie than read a review of one I've just seen. I'd also rather watch one than write about one, which is probably why my own review blog has been so meager in recent months. (Stennie)


Where it's headed? I don't know - I imagine it will continue roughly as it is. Academic critics will keep rolling along, someone somewhere will be reviewing new releases every week, giving them stars and trying to steer the public toward better films - probably all of us, though, rather than trained professionals - either way - I am going to end with thought from yesterday, that last movie I ended up seeing, in fact: The Awful Truth. Which, as it happened, was shown with an introduction from Stanley Cavell, who wrote about it in Pursuits of Happiness. Two things came to mind - first, I was thinking about why Cavell is so good (for I think his film writing is among the very best there is): it's that he shows us things that are in the films, and in the world, that we might not have thought of. That's what critics should do - make us see things we didn't see - in the film, or in the world, related to the film. And the other - a reference to his description of what marriage is, what a good marriage is, what the comedies of remarriage show: a "deepening of the conversation." That is what criticism should be - a conversation about films, and about life, through films... This might be the answer to the "important comedies" question too - because this is what the contenders do. Rushmore - Groundhog Day - O Brother Where Art Thou - Life of Brian - Fallen Angels (the Kinoshiro half anyway) - White: they tell us about life, they give us life as conversation, and a way of talking about the world, of inventing ourselves and taking responsibility for ourselves in the world... So - if we keep talking about films, criticism should make it, in the end. (Weeping Sam)

Bonus:

AND THE ENTIRETY of NOEL VERA’S QUIZ RESPONSES, all answers derived from THE CINEMA OF THE PHILIPPINES! Hands-down the most unique and informative of another cinematic culture answers ever offered on an SLIFR quiz! Thanks, Noel!

9 comments:

bill said...

Reading over these answers, I regret that, when I was doing this quiz and I got to the "move-that-informs-another-movie" question, I didn't take the opportunity to point out that The Ice Harvest is the evil twin of Groundhog Day.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Nice one, Bill. I love both of those movies-- Ramis' best, I figure-- but I never thought of the two of them together. I've been wanting to see The Ice Harvest again, and now I see a double feature looming.

I thought your answers were terrific, though, even though you initially missed the boat on this one.

bill said...

Thanks, Dennis. These quizzes are fun and daunting, but I'm never fully satisfied with my answers. What's that quote about poetry? "A poem is never finished. It is abandoned." That's pretty much how I feel about these quizzes.

Anyway, as for Groundhog Day and The Ice Harvest, I came to that realization after watching the latter for the third or fourth time (I love them both, too). This was a while ago, and I would have a hard time describing what I mean, but I'm certain that I'm on to something.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Seems a good place to start might be to think about how both Bill Murray and John Cusack's characters are trying to escape situations of their own making-- Murray's existential trap born of his own personal deficiencies and deep-seated malaise, Cusack's criminally oriented circumstances in which he ends up reconnecting with a man whose own miserable life he already escaped for himself-- while being thwarted by nature and, in Murray's case, maybe even God. I wonder what else might crop up from viewing these movies side by side.

bill said...

Yes, I thought of that (well, some of that) when I was typing my comment, but I feel sure there was more to it. Curse my feeble memory!

It occurs to me just now that, had Ramis kept the original, even darker ending (which, honestly, I'm glad they changed) the parallels would be even more striking. [SPOILER]Murray is freed following his total redemption, whereas Cusack is rewarded for his more modest redemption by being backed over by an RV.[/SPOILER] But I prefer where Ramis leaves The Ice Harvest, with the "pancakes in heaven" exchange with Platt, and with that GREAT Peter Wolf song over the credits.

Oh, and speaking of redemption, there's also the fact that Murray's comes from connecting to the simple goodness around him, while Cusack's existential crisis comes from sinking deeper into grime and violence.

Anyway, they would make a great double feature, I think.

Krauthammer said...

I actually just watched Persona yesterday, ohmygodjesuschrist. THIS is why I'm glad there are canons.

Apparently now my #10 is... lets see... Letter From an Unknown Woman. Whee.


It never stops.

California said...

I saw Persona on wednesday, too! How odd.

And I'll need to find a new dirty secret: I've now seen two Bergmans. Fanny and Alexander was just wonderful.

Sharon said...

Galaxy Quest. No one understands our love. (Stennie)

Stennie, I understand! I love that movie! It tops my list of movies that inexplicably weren't monster hits. My siblings love it too. When I was home for Christmas a couple of years ago, I was flipping channels and came upon it. I shouted "Galaxy Quest is on and all three of my siblings came running. I think we all own a copy on DVD!

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