Friday, July 13, 2007

FRIDAY SCREEN TEST: Jeff Ignatius

Proprietor of the most elegant site in the Friday Screen Test cohort (edging out Burbanked), Jeff Ignatius' Culture Snob has been on the blog circuit seemingly since the Internet was just a twinkle in Al Gore's eye. Debuting in 2003 as part of the patriarch journal site Diaryland, Culture Snob has enough fun material in the archives to keep you occupied well into the last third of a 24-hour Bill Pullman marathon on TNT. Jeff is not only gracious enough to give us his Top 100 Albums, but he has also crafted a Box Office Power Rankings criteria that almost makes too much sense. I found Culture Snob through its marvelous Misunderstood Blog-a-thon in May that ended up being far from misunderstood -- it just plain rocked.

I WANT IT!:
'This Is Spinal Tap's Stonehenge, so that I might protect it from being trod upon by a dwarf.'

SO THERE'S THAT: 'In 1991, my girlfriend at the time nannied for Gary Sinise and Moira Harris, and I spent a week (or two?) helping out in the Chicago apartment where she was living. She was in Curse of the Starving Class at Steppenwolf. I never met him. But I can say I cared for two of Gary Sinise's kids.'

NOW PLAYING AT CULTURE SNOB CINEMA: 'Although movies are too collaborative for me to subscribe to the auteur concept, I love to see filmmakers whose body of work reveals themes that might not be apparent from the separate movies. Peter Weir is fascinated by diaspora and isolation. Christopher Nolan appears healthily obsessed with destructive obsessions. Egoyan loves to explore perspective and the mutability of truth. So I would probably program marathons by filmmaker to highlight themes. Compare Memento to Batman Begins, for example, or Picnic at Hanging Rock and Fearless and The Truman Show.'

DAYS OF ESSAYS PASSED: 'I can't think of any particular prompt, but at some point in the mid-1990s, for a period I wrote an essay about every movie I saw, and the one that sticks in my faulty memory is Atom Egoyan's Calendar. Steve Buscemi's Trees Lounge and Hitchcock's Vertigo were also important movies for me at that time, and what I wrote about them helped me better understand how movies work and my relationship with them. Writing about film turned me from a passive viewer to an active participant.'

WE'RE GOING TO THE PICTURES!: 'We typically watch two to three movies a week at home. I'm also watching something during my twice- or thrice-weekly workouts. (Presently I'm re-watching the first season of The Wire.) We've gone "out" to the movies three times so far in 2007: Pan's Labyrinth, 28 Weeks Later, and -- at the drive-in -- Spider-Man 3. Because of a flat tire, we caught far more of Ghost Rider than we wanted.'

BOUND TO THE BOOK: 'I don't see the point of period chamber dramas of the Merchant Ivory variety. They seem better suited to novels than cinema, and -- more to the point -- they seem a particularly bad match for what movies do well.'
PREPARE FOR LANDING: 'The final depiction of the plane crash in Fearless. The beautifully re-created violence is balanced by the patience and ache of Gorecki's third symphony, and the choices related to non-music sound and dialogue are surprising and meaningful without drawing undue attention to themselves.'

TALK LIKE A CULTURE SNOB TODAY: 'Lesser-known lines from This Is Spinal Tap, such as "I envy us." "Inconceivable" and related dialogue from The Princess Bride.'

DON'T JUDGE ME: 'My movie education is woeful, in part because I wasn't a film major -- I've never even taken a film course -- and in part because movies have always been an avocation rather than a vocation. From the BFI's most recent polls, I've never seen (although I own it), 8 1/2Battleship Potemkin, Bicycle Thieves, Rashomon (recorded on the DVR at home), La R├Ęgle du Jeu, Seven Samurai, Singin' in the Rain, Sunrise, or Tokyo Story.'

THE YEAR THAT WAS: '1999 seems like a particularly good year: American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, eXistenZ, Fight Club, The Insider, The Iron Giant, Magnolia, Three Kings, Toy Story 2. Those are nine relatively wide-release movies that I'd be happy to watch at any time. That was also the year I met the woman who would become my wife, so it's special for that reason, too.'

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3 comments:

Burbanked said...

The misery at having my site "edged out" in the elegance category by Culture Snob (and - sob - rightfully so) is pretty much completely mitigated by the fact that Jeff gives not one, but TWO shoutouts to Fearless, the greatest movie no one has seen.

And did I ever mention that I helped Fearless get made...? No...? And the fact that I ham-handedly mentioned that just now was pretty much without elegance, wasn't it?

crap.

Adam Ross said...

Elegant or not, I hope you at least got a few bucks in the mail after The Simpsons mentioned Fearless on Marge's fear of flying episode (not that I have any idea how royalties work).

Burbanked said...

Hm. I might need to contact my agent.

Hm. I might have to get an agent.