Friday, August 01, 2008

FRIDAY SCREEN TEST: Season 2 wrap-up

Well folks, we've made it through another season of Friday Screen Test. I'll admit there were times when all the pressure from city, state and international interest groups to shut it down became a little too loud to ignore -- but luckily I was able to avoid being served for seven whole months (it's an art). And though there were new outlets for my free time introduced to me this year, the series prospered on. But it may not have been that way were it not for the generosity of many of this year's contributors, those who had the gumption to contact me and volunteer their time. Otherwise, I would have had to seek them out on my own, and I'm not sure I would have had the time for it. And as always, don't hesitate to email me if you want to take the plunge and become a Friday Screen Tester yourself!

Because of these free will enlistees, I was introduced to blogs and writers I was entirely unfamiliar with, which in turn increased the variety of the series. I am grateful to all of this year's contributors, as without their entertaining answers, the series wouldn't be worth reading. And it's because of them that Friday Screen Test remains a blast for me to produce, as I'm continually introduced to more and more film fans. The 2009 series will begin in January, and will again feature new (and more) questions.

If you're wondering "why stop now?" the answer will become more apparent in August, as a project I've been working on through July will hopefully come to fruition. Thanks again for reading, and if you missed any of 2008, here's a week-by-week recap:

ANNIE FRISBIE: 'My husband and I got into a very heated argument over Forrest Gump. I said he couldn't possibly think it was a good movie. He got very offended by that remark. Back when I worked at Kim's Underground, I used to have knockdown drag out fights about movies all the time. I once got so upset during a "discussion" of Lee Marvin that I threw a plastic soda bottle.'

PAUL CLARK: '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.'

JOE BALTAKE: 'I love the films from the 1960s and especially miss the breezy, star-driven films that Doris Day and Frank Sinatra made. However, I am really obsessed with the film musical because the genre as been so cruely abandoned by moviegoers and because it makes male moviegoers so uptight. Since when is it a negtive comment on a man's sexuality if he goes to and likes film musicals? My dad loved them. He loved all movies. He had no problem with the idea of going to see Gigi and, believe me, he was all-man. (My wife has the same memories of her father.) The film musical must be rescued! It must be saved, I say.'

RYLAND WALKER KNIGHT: '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.)'

NATE YAPP: 'Tim Lucas's 1128-page magnum opus Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, bar none. Everything you thought you knew about Mario Bava, Italian cinema, horror is either illuminated to a greater degree or(better) completely tossed in the wastebin. The sheer comprehensiveness of the work makes me giddy.'

ED HARDY, JR.: 'I grew up near the drive-ins in Union City, CA so I have a ton of drive-in memories: there was Army of Darkness at a birthday party, or the time my family was pictured in a local paper's "Death of the Drive-in" story watching Back to the Future in our drop-top Impala. The last film I saw there was David Fincher's The Game. It was too dark to see anything and I had to see it again in a theater. They closed the drive-ins down not too long after.'

MARTY MCKEE: ‘70s crime dramas. I’ve seen just about everything from Dirty Harry to Psychopath. It’s a time when cinema wasn’t afraid to be rough and gritty and realistic in its portrayal of action and the criminal element, and I find it fascinating. Plus, there were so many very good action directors working then—Don Siegel, Richard Fleischer, Phil Karlson, Jack Starrett, John Flynn, I could certainly go on—that, for all their obscurity, were better at their craft than all the Doug Limans and Paul Greengrasses of today.'

BOB TURNBULL: 'My favourite soapbox film - Ocean's Twelve. People tend to hate it because it didn't make sense or the heists were stupid or because they can't stand Julia Roberts. I can't help them on the Julia front, but the plot does actually hold together. And the plausibility of the heists doesn't really matter - it's an art film and a playground for Steven Soderbergh. I had pretty much this same conversation with a friend and a new acquaintance at a Christmas party this year (I'm pretty sure we drove several people from the kitchen), but all was well in the end as we agreed that Takeshi Kitano rules.'

ERICH KUERSTEN: 'Robert Redford in 3 Days of the Condor is the freakin' antichrist of 1970s cinema; his bland attractiveness as a smug publisher-CIA agent heralds the end of gritty, ugly depth in our lead male actors. He bosses around Faye Dunaway like a spoiled kid with his dad's new trophy wife; Tom Cruise must have been taking a lesson.'

GARETH MOSES: 'I have quite an appalling DVD habit. I love having thousands of movies I adore at my fingertips so I can bore my friends and family with examples of shots or sequences (Lined up on the wall arranged in different ways: Criterion, Hitchcock, Hammer etc…/). My most recent haul included This Sporting Life, Green For Danger, Blood From the Mummy's Tomb, Lifeboat and a pirate of Island of Lost Souls.'

JONATHAN PACHECO: 'When I was just a couple of years old, I remember sneaking into the living room while my older brothers and uncles were watching Just One of the Guys. I remember a surprising amount of details about the film, especially the language and the nudity. And it was only PG-13!'

ARBOGAST: 'I'm a horror man, a lifer. I live it and breathe it, everything from the silent era right up to the 80s, after which I started being a lot more selective in my ardor. During the franchise horrors of the Reagan era, I went into a kind of latency period, laying low until Freddy and Jason and Michael and Pinhead all retreated to their respective hells.'

JAMES FRAZIER: 'I haven’t been able to become obsessed with any particular genre or era because there is so much I haven’t seen. It’s not really a genre, but one of my party tricks is where I’ll have someone name an actress, and I’ll proceed to list all of her nude scenes, what year the film was made, how good the scene was, and a list of other details.'

ANDREW JAMES: 'A really great movie. The perfect movie. That very rare 5 star film. They're so much fun to review because (a) they're easy to review and (b) it feels good coming up with all of of those positive adjectives and (c) I love to convince people to check out something that I know they'll love. '

FLETCH: 'It's certainly not a favorite, but the standout gross moment that comes to mind is seeing waaaay too much of Bill Macy's ass in The Cooler.'

MELISSA PRUSI: 'I remember when I was a little kid my big brother being really excited that The Poseidon Adventure was going to be on TV, so of course we turned it into a big event. We had our snacks all laid out and planted ourselves in front of the TV right before it started, and nobody was allowed to talk during the movie. For a few weeks afterwards I practiced holding my breath in case I ever had to swim underwater for a long time.'

KINDERTRAUMA: 'I have a huge soft spot for the Spelling/Goldberg-produced television movies of the '70s, and would love to force TCM host Robert Osborne to watch Satan's School for Girls, Crowhaven Farm, and Home for the Holidays.'

GAUTAM VALLURI: 'I have a wide range of films that I love and as I had already mentioned earlier, I have a great love for the independent films of the 1960s and the 1970s. But then again I love a lot of films outside this particular era. I never really believe in going by genres because they are not that reliable most of the time. I think its safe to just say that I'm obsessed with films.'

MARILYN FERDINAND: 'In 1973, with a bunch of friends, to see The Last Detail. Somewhere along the line a spider on the windshield was drowned by half a bottle of gin. I’ve always wondered if the movie was good.'

CHRIS POGGIALI: 'When I was in the second grade, I got in trouble for twisting myself up in my desk trying to recreate the final shot of Barry Robins in Bless the Beasts and the Children. I’ll never forget the blood rushing to my head and the (upside down) sight of Mrs. Lambert at the blackboard pointing at me and yelling, “Chris, get up! Stop fooling around and get up!” So that ending immediately comes to mind. But the key word is “favorite,” so I’ll have to say It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.'

DAVID HUDSON: 'Premieres. I just enjoy the occasional opportunity to get word out early on a film, whether that word's positive or negative. Of course, it's not long before that early word is drowned out by louder, better positioned voices, but it's fun while it lasts.'

JOSEPH CAMPANELLA: 'Joseph Pilato for his performance in Day of the Dead (George Romero, 1985). I wouldn't say he's better than Daniel Day-Lewis, but he is.'

CRAIG KENNEDY: 'My childhood is a haze of age-inappropriate drive-in movies that my father used to drag my older brothers and me to in the mid-70s. He used to pack us into the station wagon and head to the multi-screen Valley Drive-In for a double feature. More often than not, I'd be asleep in the back by the time the second movie came on, but I have fragments of memories from a bunch of different movies. It's hard to say which came first, but I'll go with Walking Tall or perhaps the re-release of Billy Jack.'

: 'I'd go with three films I saw back-to-back-to-back for the first time when I was thirteen: Vertigo, Lolita and Blue Velvet. One jackpot of a trip to Blockbuster and my mind was opened to cinema's transgressive possibilities.'

: 'This is a really hard question, and I don't think I could provide an absolute answer, but one theme I always go back to is the way the glamour close-up––an image type and use of technology that has remained virtually unchanged since the beginning of cinema––can be used to wildly different ends in different contexts. So I'd show three films featuring some of my favorite close-ups: Pandora's Box, Pickup on South Street, and something where Judy Garland's lips quiver––maybe A Star is Born, maybe The Clock. If TCM deemed that too wonky (and they probably should), I'd probably put together a Lubitsch triple feature, because there are so many of his films I've never seen, and TCM never shows anything but Design for Living and Trouble in Paradise.'

JEREMY RICHEY: 'Melanie Griffith was one of the brightest flames that burned throughout the seventies and eighties. How ironic it is then that her one Oscar nomination would come for Working Girl, a film that effectively blew her once mighty flame out.'

IBETOLIS: 'We all know that the Oscar's are a sycophantic charade at the best of times, woefully unable to recognise brilliance when it lands on their face. So it's no surprise that a) 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days was omitted from the Best Foreign Film category and b) it's lead actress, Anamaria Marinca, who incidentally gave one of the greatest performances seen in the past 10 years, was never even mentioned, I'd like to give the Oscar to her.'

SCOTT KNOPF: '2003 was a great year for female performances. Salma Hayek playing Frida Kahlo, Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven, the Zellweger/Zeta-Jones duo in Chicago, and Nicole Kidman in The Hours. Kidman went home with the Oscar but if I had done the voting things would have turned out a little differently. And the Oscar goes to... Diane Lane in Unfaithful! I've championed for Miss Lane for a very long time and watching her get so close to the gold only to have it stolen away from her was a travesty. Unfaithful is an incredible film and her performance knocks the pants off of some fake-nose donning Virginia Woolf. Sorry, bit of a sore subject.'


elgringo said...

Wow, I ended the series?
That's awesome.
Glad I was able to participate.

Adam Ross said...

In hindsight, I should have teased yours as "a very special Friday Screen Test season finale."


Thanks again for doing this Adam. It was a pleasure to grace the pages of your site, even if it was for just a brief moment.