Thursday, January 08, 2009

A few last words (for now)

You know that scene in Summer School where the one student suddenly shows up for the final exam after leaving to go to the bathroom on the first day? And his excuse is "my zipper got stuck"? Well, I'm sorry to say that my zipper is stuck, and I don't know how long it will be before I can return.

Beginning next week, a fairly radical career change will force me to suspend my blog (and commenting) indefinitely. I'll be back when I can, but I'm not sure when that will be. Thanks to everyone who has helped make giving this blog up such a difficult thing to do. I'm not worried about leaving DVD Panache unattended for so long, I just hired a nice married couple and their young boy to look after the place while I'm gone.

And since this is the last you'll get from me for a while, here are some last words:

-- I don't know what the riot act is, but given the opportunity, I would rather read it myself, thank you.

-- Finding out exactly how those World War I fighter planes could fire their machine guns without hitting the propeller was one of the greatest revelations in my life.

-- What would I like on my Tombstone? Cheese and pepperoni, yes. But also, black olives.

-- Explaining the combined plots of Terminator and Terminator 2 cannot be done in less than 6 minutes. For T3, figure in another 30 seconds.

-- They key to great Eggs Benedict is using more hollandaise sauce than you think you should. That's right, pour it on.

-- The key to a successful night of Trick-or-Treating is obnoxiousness. It also helps if it's Halloween.

-- There is no greater mystery to mankind than the motivation for someone to have their first name printed on a vanity license plate.

-- Notice to video game designers, you've had 25 years and I still don't have a Last Starfighter game. How much longer must I wait?

-- The most powerful demonstration of human emotion is slamming down a phone while yelling "goddammit!"

-- One of my foremost goals for the rest of my life is to try Baked Alaska. Where do you find it? Does anyone even make it any more?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christmas break is over -- time for a quiz

I don't know how he does it, but Dennis Cozzalio has once again called class to order and served up a dandy of a final for 2008. Dennis puts these out about three times a year, and I'm always excited for what he cooks up, because each one is harder than the last. Here's my effort:

1) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD or Blu-ray?
Theatrically -- Synecdoche, New York. DVD -- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (my marriage is stronger than ever after introducing my wife to ear bore worms, the Genesis Project and the Moons of Nubia).

2) Holiday movies— Do you like them naughty or nice?
I really don't care for the traditional Christmas classics. I would rather watch Eyes Wide Shut, Black Christmas or Gremlins.

3) Ida Lupino or Mercedes McCambridge?
I'll go with McCambridge for providing a voice to a cherished memory from my childhood: Brad Bird's Family Dog from the series Amazing Stories.

4) Favorite actor/character from Twin Peaks
I have to say it's David Lynch himself as Gordon Cole. His scene in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a riot, and a great way to begin the movie.

5) It’s been said that, rather than remaking beloved, respected films, Hollywood should concentrate more on righting the wrongs of the past and tinker more with films that didn’t work so well the first time. Pretending for a moment that movies are made in an economic vacuum, name a good candidate for a remake based on this criterion.
Get a load of this: Dead Heat, as a remake of Dead Heat and a sequel to Heat. When Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is having trouble cracking a crime syndicate, he brings Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) back from the dead using technology pioneered by Roger Mortis (Treat Williams), of Dead Heat fame. While dealing with the fact that he's now a zombie, McCauley finds life on the other side of the law difficult, and soon goes back to his criminal habits by bringing his old gang back ... from the dead! In addition to his usual suspects in L.A., Hanna now has to deal with an army of undead criminals lead by McCauley. It ends with a bang, as Hanna realizes that the best way to defeat a zombie is to become one himself.

6) Favorite Spike Lee joint.
I don't feel that strongly about any of Spike's joints, but I'll say Inside Man for being an original take on the heist movie, with some Hawks-ian influence thrown in.

7) Lawrence Tierney or Scott Brady?
Hard to choose against Tierney, and his late career highlights were superior: Reservoir Dogs, Silver Bullet, even a hilarious guest spot on The Simpsons!

8) Are most movies too long?
Yes. Not too long ago Universal wouldn't let David Lynch cut Dune any longer than 120 minutes, now a studio wouldn't blink at it going over 180 minutes.

9) Favorite performance by an actor portraying a real-life politician.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in Gangs of New York ("That, my friends, is the minority vote!").

10) Create the main event card for the ultimate giant movie monster smackdown.
The Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth against Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan) from Rocky III.

11) Jean Peters or Sheree North?
Sheree North -- she's Babs Kramer!

12) Why would you ever want or need to see a movie more than once?
Many reasons, but the biggest for me is to re-live the feelings a movie produced the first time I saw it, and possibly find more to love about a movie.

13) Favorite road movie.
It's easy to say Two-Lane Blacktop, so I'll go with PeeWee's Big Adventure.

14) Favorite Budd Boetticher picture.
The only one I've seen is Seven Men From Now, which I loved. I really need to pick up the Boetticher box set that recently came out.

15) Who is the one person, living or dead, famous or unknown, who most informed or encouraged your appreciation of movies?
Roger Ebert. I enjoyed reading movie reviews before I started following Ebert, but it was his reviews that made me seek out older reviews and read about movies I had never seen (or heard of). Even now as I read more critics, I still think my tastes are most closely aligned with his, and I agree with his reviews almost all the time.

16) Favorite opening credit sequence. (Please include YouTube link if possible.)
This took a lot of thought, but right now I think the answer is The Holy Mountain. I think it's actually my favorite part of the movie, bleeding with the warning of "you have no idea what you're in for." Used to be a few clips of it on YouTube, but none are found today.

17) Kenneth Tobey or John Agar?
I'm honestly not familiar with either of these men, but Kenneth Tobey was in a 1977 TV movie called Don't Push, I'll Charge When I'm Ready, a title so cool it has left me speechless.

18) Jean-Luc Godard once suggested that the more popular the movie, the less likely it was that it was a good movie. Is he right or just cranky? Cite the best evidence one way or the other.
I agree that our perceptions of movies are easily colored by popular opinion, here's an example: Roger Ebert (again with Roger Ebert!) called Dune (again with Dune!) the worst movie of 1984, and many other critics followed course. Watching it for the first time this year, I really couldn't see what was so awful about it. I mean, it has a lot of problems, but I still enjoyed watching it. It could have been that everyone was prepared to hate Dune because of its troubled production history, and the fact that a reasonable-length movie couldn't possibly do the book justice.

19) Favorite Jonathan Demme movie.
Neil Young: Heart of Gold.

20) Tatum O’Neal or Linda Blair?
I just watched Tatum O'Neal in the Faerie Tale Theatre version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She does a good Goldilocks.

21) Favorite use of irony in a movie. (This could be an idea, moment, scene, or an entire film.)

I love this question. My first instict was to say Tati's Playtime, since it's essentially a celebration of irony and the comedy of everyday life. For one crushing example of irony, I'll say the ending to Bicycle Thieves.

22) Favorite Claude Chabrol film.
It appears I've never seen a Chabrol film, but it seems obvious that my favorite would be Les Biches (based on the awesome title).

23) The best movie of the year to which very little attention seems to have been paid.
Though I didn't see many movies this year, The Visitor is one I enjoyed immensely and should be seen by as many people who saw The Dark Knight.

24) Dennis Christopher or Robby Benson?
Dennis Christopher was in Dead Women in Lingerie, Robby Benson wasn't.

25) Favorite movie about journalism.
Lot of contenders here, and I'm down to two: Ace in the Hole (for its utopian view of small market newsrooms in the 50s) and Zodiac (for its realistic depiction of a huge newsroom in the 70s).

26) What’s the DVD commentary you’d most like to hear? Who would be on the audio track?
Another hard one, how about Sergio Leone (in broken English) on any of his films, or better yet Stanley Kubrick on 2001 or The Shining. There's so few interviews with both of those directors, and I would love to hear them in their own words talk about their films.

27) Favorite movie directed by Clint Eastwood.
Play Misty for Me.

28) Paul Dooley or Kurtwood Smith?
Kurtwood Smith, if for no other reason than my longstanding code of never doing anything that would make Kurtwood Smith mad at me (same for Michael Ironside).

29) Your clairvoyant moment: Make a prediction about the Oscar season.
Synecdoche, New York
wins for something, the acting Oscars don't go to anyone playing a historical character.

30) Your hope for the movies in 2009.
To see more of them.

31) What’s your top 10 of 2008? (If you have a blog and have your list posted, please feel free to leave a link to the post.)
I honestly don't think I saw many more than 10 new movies in 2008. I'll probably release my top 10 for that year in 2012. I'll come back and edit this post, promise.

BONUS QUESTION (to be answered after December 25):

32) What was your favorite movie-related Christmas gift that you received this year?
Two that stand out: Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (had never seen the whole thing, damn what a great Christmas movie) and the new Criterion edition of Bottle Rocket, a great movie and Wes Anderson always gives us outstanding special features.