Friday, January 25, 2008


To explore Paul Clark's blog Silly Hats Only, is to discover he's responsible for roughly 15 percent of all movie-related writings on the Internet (with Edward Copeland and Kim Morgan filling in much of the rest). In addition to his regular blog, Paul is the curator of The Muriel Awards, an online alternative to mainstream film awards now in its second year. And all those wonderful, exhaustive movie lists at The Screengrab? Paul is part of the creative team behind them (The Most Unnecessary Sequels of All Time is my favorite, a nose ahead of The Most Important Nude Scenes of All Time). If you still have time after reading Paul's Top 100 List, Top Films by Year, what movies he hasn't seen and his personal movie awards -- then check out his contributions at Listology and his blog dedicated to new screenings. Like I said, he's been known to write a few words about film.

YOUR EARLIEST MOVIE MEMORY: 'My early memories of going to the movies are kind of amorphous- I remember that I went, and I remember the theatres, but the movies themselves all blend together in my mind. The first one I remember sure was when they rereleased Fantasia when I was 4 or 5. Even then I loved going to the movies, but I remember that as I watched this movie, I started sinking in my seat for a very strange reason- I didn't like it. This was an odd feeling for me, and when I was leaving I felt a little unsure of whether to tell my parents this because I thought I might get in trouble. Then on the way home I overheard them talking about how it wasn't the sort of movie they thought it would be, and I took that opportunity to chime in about my feelings. So seeing a movie at this age actually became an invaluable experience for me, teaching me that not only are some movies better than others, but also that it's OK to dislike a movie. The rest, as they say, is history. As for Fantasia, I'm guessing it would play better for me now, but I'm always a tad uneasy about watching it again. It's got a lot to overcome, after all.'

LAST DVD YOU BOUGHT-- ' I finally bit the bullet and bought the Back to the Future trilogy, which as it turns out is another key movie from my childhood. I've always loved the original, but I like to think my DVD collection is "all killer, no filler," which is why I wasn't so sure I wanted to pick up a box set that also included parts II and III. I suppose I was just holding out in the hope Universal would release them separately, but eventually I just got tired of waiting. Plus the price was right, which didn't hurt.'

FAVORITE GROSS-OUT MOMENT -- 'I'm sure this is a cliché answer, but for me it doesn't get any better than the scene near the end of Cronenberg's remake of The Fly, when Jeff Goldblum vomits acid on John Getz. It's disgusting as hell, but it's not just about the ick factor. I love that while the film makes Getz's character such a rat, by the time this happens in the story our urge for him to get his comeuppance is swept aside by our pity and revulsion for what Goldblum, playing a character we used to like, has brought upon himself. And yeah, seeing someone's flesh and bones dissolve before our eyes is a pretty awesome sight.'

A MOVIE YOU'RE ASHAMED TO SAY YOU HAVEN'T SEEN, AND WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE? -- 'I'm not really ashamed of anything I haven't seen, to be honest. But to answer your question, I could pick something highbrow and nerdy here, but I would say that the most glaring omission in my moviegoing history would be how little of the Shaw brothers' output I've seen. Oh sure, I've seen a handful of classics- Come Drink With Me, Infra-Man, 36th Chamber of Shaolin- but other than that I'm woefully underversed. No Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, no A Touch of Zen, not even Five Deadly Venoms. Which means that whenever someone says "Toad Style is immensely strong and immune to nearly any weapon," all I can think of is the Wu-Tang Clan song. I guess my excuse is that I was kind of a latecomer to serious movie-watching. I didn't start watching movies regularly until I got to college, and I got so wrapped up in watching the canonical classics I missed out on a lot of the great genre offering.'

Death Wish- 'Been ages since I last saw this, but I've always found the Death Wish films to have been a mixed blessing for Charles Bronson's career, since while they were his bread and butter, they limited him as an actor. He's best known for movies like this, but he could be a sublime character actor- not just in his sixties work but also in his final role in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner- and I wish we could've seen more of that side of him onscreen.'
Sleeping Beauty-

Turner Classic Movies recently wrapped up a month of guest programming, if you were a guest programmer on TCM what three films would you pick to best represent your tastes, or a favorite genre or theme?: 'I'd want to do a program called "When Fantasy Intrudes on Reality," featuring in no particular order, Cocteau's Orpheus, Belle de Jour (my favorite film), and either The Red Shoes or the original miniseries version of The Singing Detective. Mostly this would be an excuse to program some of my favorite movies, but if we match them up by theme then so much the better.'

What kind of movie do I enjoy reviewing?: 'A good one! More specifically, a movie that takes me somewhere I've never been before cinematically. Perhaps the best feeling one can have as a serious moviegoer is that ecstatic kind of surprise that's only possible when you didn't see a movie coming. Whenever this happens, I'm able to not only delve into my feelings about the film itself, but the strange effect it has on me as well. The best recent example of this is Gone Baby Gone, which was so much better than I was expecting out of a movie directed by Ben Affleck.'

LAST TIME YOU WERE AT A DRIVE-IN: 'This was when I was 11, and my parents took me and my little brother to see Major League. As Cleveland Indians fans, we pretty much made them take us.'

IS THERE AN ERA OR GENRE YOU'RE OBSESSED WITH?: 'I love that era in movies
between the advent of widescreen and the fall of black and white as a commercial format. More specifically, I adore black and white 'Scope movies. If I ever owned a rep theatre, I would book as many BW 'Scope movies as possible, that's how much I love them. So many great examples of this from the period- The 400 Blows, The Apartment, Last Year at Marienbad, Lola, Yojimbo, Advise and Consent, The Innocents, Branded to Kill, In Cold Blood, and my personal favorite, The Hustler. Plus more recent examples like Manhattan, The Elephant Man, even this year's Control. If I was a director, I'd fight tooth and nail to make at least one movie in black and white 'Scope.

I WILL 'BREAK' YOU: 'I'm generally a pretty easygoing guy, and most of my friends are as well, so when we don't see eye to eye on movies, the conversation almost gets heated. However, I recently posted a debate between me and my colleague Scott Renshaw over at Screengrab about the final shot of Breaking the Waves. Simply put, he thinks it takes the film to another level, while I think it's the only thing holding it back from being a masterpiece. We were pretty civil about it, and it became more a debate about ideas than opinions, which is what any fruitful debate between movie lovers is really about.'

FAVORITE BOOK ON THE SUBJECT OF FILM: 'Honestly, I haven't read too many of them, and even fewer cover-to-cover. So I hope you'll forgive me if I choose an obvious one- Hitchcock/Truffaut. I especially love the tone of the interviews, less subject/interviewer than master/student. And Truffaut brings so much knowledge to the table that the interviews never become one-sided or fawning.'

DESCRIBE THE FREQUENCY OF YOUR FILM VIEWINGS: 'An average of one a day, more on weekends. But a strange thing happened when I started writing for Screengrab, in that I started watching fewer movies for the first time than I did before. Most of my columns are about classic films, and I like to watch a movie again before writing about it, in order to refresh my memory. Sadly, between re-watching movies, writing about them, and working at my day job, I don't have as much time as once did for catching up with unseen classics while still keeping up with new movies that interest me. But now I'm getting paid to write, which eases the pain a little.'

THREE THINGS YOU'VE LEARNED FROM MOVIES: (a) French actresses are invariably more comfortable in their sexuality than American actresses, which gives them a distinct advantage in the hotness department. (b) "Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall, there was this one: ‘Matters of great concern should be treated lightly.’ Master Ittei commented, ‘Matters of small concern should be treated seriously.’” (originally from Hagakure, by way of Ghost Dog). (c) When someone asks you if you're a god, say yes

Email DVD Panache if you are interested in being featured on Friday Screen Test.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this nice info, it's so useful for me.

Richard Sambera said...

This online information is very interesting for me, especially when he discusses ngobrol seputar bisnis online hmmm.. its could be more interesting.

Anonymous said...

verry interesting, please visit my blog at seoulmate bliblog. thanks