Friday, February 08, 2008

FRIDAY SCREEN TEST: Ryland Walker Knight

While possessing a name that should at least get his foot in the door of the Mysterious International Traveler industry, Ryland Walker Knight lends his writing talents to a variety of blogs these days. You may have read his passionate support of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End over at The House Next Door, or his entertaning personal wrapup of 2007 on that same site. Outside of the House, Ryland maintains Vinyl is Heavy, along with a small cabal of contributors. If you're still questioning Ryland's enthusiasm, keep in mind that he wrote 7,000 words on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou for a college seminar paper (for which he earned a 'very positive grade'). But if that sounds like a few too many words, check out his Encounter blog, which serves up lots of images and video of all things that make us happy.

LAST DVD YOU BOUGHT: 'I guess that would be Ratatouille, which continues to dazzle and tickle me. I wanted to buy the Killer of Sheep set, but funds are being saved, while fingers are being crossed, for the holidays.'

FAVORITE GROSS-OUT MOMENT: 'I'd almost let Beatrice Dalle do me wrong like she does that young man in Trouble Every Day.'

EARLIEST MOVIE-WATCHING MEMORY: 'The problem with this question is that all my memory pre-1993 is hazy and probably based on stories other people, like my parents, have told me. But the one memory I latch onto from my youth is seeing Predator in Kindergarten. My dad rented it for me and I bragged to our dinner guests that it would be my first R-rated movie. The next year, my mom showed me Blade Runner cuz she thought (correctly) Harrison Ford was great looking and (correctly) I would like the SF elements, if not understand anything or enjoy the eyeball-gouging.'

TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES RECENTLY WRAPPED UP A MONTH OF GUEST PROGRAMMING, IF YOU WERE A GUEST PROGRAMMER WHAT THREE MOVIES WOULD YOU PICK TO BEST REPRESENT YOUR TASTES, OR A FAVORITE GENRE OR THEME?: 'I'm not one to cloak my obsessions, so I appreciate the opportunity to praise something really cool. This something, of course, incorporates a lot of other really cool things. I trust the shades of importance will become ever more apparent (as you read this answer, as you read my blog). Thus, I give you this = Three consecutive nights of Cary Grant: Marriage as "a" city, marriage as "the" city.
(1) Marriage reuniting in the city, His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940).
(2) Marriage outside the city, in private, on a train, North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959).
(3) Marriage failing in the city, and reuniting outside the city, in private, The Awful Truth (McCarey, 1937).'

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE AT A DRIVE-IN, AND WHAT DID YOU SEE?: '1993: Jurassic Park. I'm fairly certain.'

FAVORITE KIND OF MOVIE TO REVIEW: 'A movie I care for, and care to praise. Something with guts and smarts alike. Usually that something has elements of my liquid philosophy as well as a strong structural sense and interest in film itself.'

WHAT MOVIE ARE YOU ASHAMED TO SAY YOU HAVEN'T SEEN -- AND WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE?: 'A ton. I always say I've never seen a film by Dreyer, which is odd given how much of my early college days were spent watching every Bergman film I could find. Excuse? Something always comes up. Like, you know, life.'

Sleeping Beauty:
Death Wish:
Withnail & I: '(1) We demand some booze! (2) Richard E. Grant should be in more movies, and especially those written & directed by Bruce Robinson, as his performances in this picture and How To Get Ahead In Advertising are perfect, bloodthirsty, hilarious arguments for theatrical training.'

IS THERE A FILM GENRE OR ERA YOU'RE A LITTLE OBSESSED WITH?: 'Does Preston Sturges count as a genre? How about films about films? Or, I know, cops-n-robbers action films.'

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU VEHEMENTLY DISAGREED WITH SOMEONE OVER A FILM?: 'My distaste for Pan's Labyrinth has gotten me into some interesting debates in 2007, and I'm almost alone in loving the Pirates sequels, but here's the most recent, the trump card: Oddly, my dad pushed my buttons when he said, "I think Jaws is a better movie than 2001, yeah."
I tried to reply, "Apples and oranges..."
"Yeah, well, [that's my story and I'm sticking to it]."
"Okay, [but it's a left-field comparison that makes zero sense. Both are ostensibly excellent but, c'mon, you know that one is truly transcendent, right?]"
"Which one, Jaws?" (Dialogue edited for the sake of readability, and cuz my memory is hazy.)'

FAVORITE BOOK ON THE SUBJECT OF FILM: 'Tough to narrow down, for sure, but I keep a copy of Negative Space at the ready at all times. It's a deep well, for a variety of reasons. The most obvious being: Manny Farber knew how to use a comma. (Cities of Words, by Stanley Cavell, is more of a book of philosophy, but it's hanging in tough; VF Perkins' Film as Film is indelible; Tarkovsky's Sculpting in Time was an eye-opener, if initially opaque as a motherfucker; and Agee on Film should be required reading for all aspiring critics, right? There's plenty more, but you asked for one, not five or six or twelve.)'

DESCRIBE THE FREQUENCY OF YOUR MOVIE WATCHING: 'I'd wager about 3-5 films a week. This fall, though, I spent a lot of time watching The Wire on DVD. Now that I'm caught up, I imagine the film-watching will pick up. At least, until the semester starts again. Then it'll probably be down to 3-4 a week. Also, I'd like to exercise again on a regular basis. Yeah, don't want to get too doughy sitting in the dark, staying up late eating cookies.'

'(1) I learned to stand still in front of a T-Rex. ("Ian, FREEZE!")
(2) I learned to never turn to the dark side. ("Always stay on the sunny side of life.")
(3) I learned how to love, err, lust after blondes. Especially when they look like Naomi Watts. (Sorry brunettes, I still love, err, lust after you, too. Especially when you look like Penelope Cruz.).

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


Ryland Walker Knight said...

Thanks, Adam, for having me. These are always fun to read -- especially since I forgot about a lot of my answers. Be well.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ry,

For the record: your Mom and I took you to see ET at the drive-in when you were three weeks old. Your first movie theater excursion was between 3 and 4, on of the family matinees at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland: Robin Williams in Altman's POPEYE. Your second trip to the movies was GHOSTBUSTERS, which scared you too much. Alway regret that.

love, DAD