Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Done Been Lassoed in by the Internet Memes: 15 Movie Questions

Swiped from the hands of Rachel, The Girl with the White Parasol. Following her lead, I hereby tag whoever wants to fill this thang out to fill it out. If you do, feel free to leave a link in my comments. I'd love to read 'em.

*Edited once I realized I left out no. 6, durr-hay.*

1. Movie you love with a passion

 The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935.

I just about wore out the old VHS of this one when I was a wee sprite. There's almost a homey vibe to this macabre slice of camp, and it's camp done classy, and smartly, with hilariously warped humor. Skeptical? Then you've never met Dr. Pretorious, as played by Ernest Theisiger. That erudite, bitchy madman.

Plus, you've got Karloff, the achingly doomed Colin Clive, and Elsa Lanchester, whom I maintain is still one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, "unconventional" as that beauty may be. Not to mention one hell of an actress.

Another treasured movie I'm passionate about is The Nightmare Before Christmas, which I associate a lot with this one. How can you not, when you compare Sally to both The Bride and The Monster?

2. Movie you vow never to watch

Old Yeller, 1957

I actively avoid movies about animals. Something in the plot always puts the animals in peril, or they die. It's supposed to be heartwarming and teach you about life, but I call bullshit. THERE IS NOTHING EDUCATIONAL OR UPLIFTING ABOUT INJURED OR DYING ANIMALS. And I don't care how you try arguing with me differently, I refuse to watch. Put Marley & Me on the list, too.

3.  Movie that literally left you speechless.

Now you get to call me a hypocrite, because I'm choosing Jeux Interdits (Forbidden Games), 1952.

Even knowing about the infamous puppy scene I watched it, thanks to that damn Pauline Kael's review. I was left speechless afterward because I was crying. Crying and crying and crying. And then I cried. I couldn't stop for the longest time after I finished watching.

While the puppy scene--and the whole movie--wrenched my heart out, maybe I find it preferable to other animal and children related movies because there was nothing mawkish or manipulative about it. Directors wanting to make a beautiful but simple movie about war or growing up should all be required to watch this one. The frank and touching performances from the children, Brigitte Fossey and Georges Poujouly, combined with the haunting strain of guitar music and the slapstick comedy from the rustic parents demonstrate more raw human feeling than any other movie I've seen.

But I warn you: it will tear you apart. Big time.

 4. Movie you always recommend.
The Big Lebowski, 1998.

Why? Because it has a little bit of everything for every type of viewer. On a basic comedy level, it's pure gold. But do you also like Raymond Chandler mystery noirs? Beautiful parodies therein. Like Westerns? You've got the wonderfully weird "Stranger" narrator played by Sam Elliott. Are you a Busby Berkeley fan and an acid rock fan? You've got the "Gutterballs" sequence set to "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by The First Edition. Do you like bowling? Are you a disaffected hippie? Disaffected Vietnam vet? Disaffected nihilist? It's all here.

You can't find another movie with more opportunities for in-jokes and one-liners that you can (and will) repeat ad infinitum with your group of friends. This movie is a good way to judge friends, by the way: do they like it? They're your friends. They don't? Oh, I guess they don't exist. For example: my last birthday, my friend took me to Seattle's Lebowskifest. There I saw an exact clone of Jeff Bridges in perfect Dude garb. Therefore, my friend is a good friend. See how it works?

"You're like a child, who wanders in in the middle of a movie and wants to know--"

5. Actor/actress you always watch no matter how crappy the movie.

This is tricky for me, because if I really like an actor, it honestly makes me cringe to see them in something I know--and you can tell they know--is bad bad bad. However, I'll pick Roddy McDowall, because he once said:

I absolutely adore movies. Even bad ones. I don't like pretentious ones, but a good bad movie, you must admit, is great.
That makes me feel a little bit better if I inadvertently catch him acting in something crappy, hoping he maybe enjoyed making stuff like Fright Night and, hell, possibly even Laserblast.

6. Actor/actress you don't get the appeal for. 

There are a few, but I'll give the nod to Doris Day. I touched a little on why here, but to reiterate: she's just too bland. I mean, she's adequate and  her voice is okay, but there's just no excitement. Granted, I loved Love Me Or Leave Me, and I got a corny kick out of Pillow Talk, but both movies could have been vastly improved with a more dynamic female lead. Although I get the inkling it was that non-threatening, white-bread vibe that probably attracted a lot of post-WWII audiences: as my dear grandma used to say, "why can't people just be ordinary?" And Doris was in spades.

The runner-up spot belongs to John Wayne, who's a big blank if ever I saw one, and Sarah Jessica Parker, who's all right in a few things, but I never understood why everyone thinks she's such an irresistible romantic comedienne.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you'd love to meet. 

...All of them? I don't know. I actually sorta fear meeting people I really respect, because what the hell would we have to say to each other? Lots of awkwardness would ensue, I'm sure. But for the sake of the meme...Lauren Bacall. 

 Her autobiography By Myself was maybe the first Hollywood bio I ever read, and remains one of the best. She managed to make somebody with her looks and talent come across as the lovable and even at times goofy underdog throughout. Plus, um, married to Bogie and witness to the Rat Pack and stuff? Too damn cool to not want to meet. Frankly, any of the surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood--Maureen O'Hara, Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland, Mickey Rooney, Ann Blyth, etc.--I'd most definitely give my eyeteeth to meet and quiz about ye olden days.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you've seen. (Picture required)

Leonard Nimoy, but only as Mr. Spock from the original series in the '60s.


9. Dream cast. 

Oh, gee, I dunno, I've never ever contemplated casting anything before (*cough*this guy*cough cough*and this guy over here). Really, either of those would be a nerd dream come true pour moi, but once again, for the sake of the meme, I'll come up with something original.

I know, I know! How about taking Philip Pullman's mid-'90s trilogy His Dark Materials, stack them up in Mr. Peabody's Way-Back Machine, and actually make a good movie version in one of my favorite dream-casting years, 1945?

Something along the lines of:
Jo Ann Marlowe as Lyra Belacqua (this sadly forgotten kid's cameo role as a young Hedy Lamarr in 1946's The Strange Woman pretty much gob-smacked me with her talent)
George Sanders as Lord Asriel
Vivien Leigh as Mrs. Coulter
Gary Cooper as Lee Scoresby 
Orson Welles as the voice of Iorek Byrnison the Bear

Actually, you know what? I might extrapolate on this some more in its own blog post, so I'll stop right there. Plus I can't think of any other actors right now. But can't you imagine the art deco, Wizard of Oz old school special effects and everything? Hee. Be pretty tough to sneak the controversial religious material past the censors, though...but still, what are dreams for?

10. Favorite actor pairing.
There are a lot, but I'm going with Carole Lombard and John Barrymore in Twentieth Century, 1934. 

Screwball comedy at its finest, natch. Both actors reach unheard of heights in zaniness, and feed off each other like nobody's bidness.

11. Favorite movie setting.

The magical, totally unrealistically spotless and loopy Paris of Amelie, 2001.

In particular, the cafe she works at and her rad apartment. I want that apartment, man.

12. Favorite decade for movies.

Guess I'll cop Rachel's answer and go with the '40s, or mid-'30s to mid-'40s, however you want to put it. So many greats in that time I can't even handle it. Film Noir, Citizen Kane, George Sanders' hottest decade...good times.

13. Chick flick or action movie?

Action movie, simply because I've been won in lately by superheroes like Batman, Superman, and most recently Thor. Most still bore me to tears, granted. But I'll basically take anything over what "chick flick" usually signifies, at least for the past twenty or thirty years. '90s rom coms? The worst.

14. Hero, villain, or anti-hero?

Anti-hero. More compelling than the hero, and more dimensional than the villain.

15. Black and white or color?

I would say depends on the movie, but really it depends on the actors. Some look great in color, yet don't come off in black-and-white, and vice-versa.

You know who's a beautiful exception and looked equally shizam either way? That's right, my girl Viv.

Column A

Column B

And that's the way it's done.



  1. Yay, you posted. So you'd cast Vivien Leigh for Bathsheba Everdene, Catwoman, and Mrs. Coulter? Hmmm. And nobody could ever blame you for finding Spock/Leonard Nimoy sexy, although my heart belongs to Doctor McCoy and DeForest Kelley. I don't mind Zachary Quinto, but I found his Spock incredibly depthless by comparison. And are the 90s romcoms really worse than the 00s specimens, or was I just more tolerant back then?

  2. Vivien Leigh basically stars as everybody in my head: Daisy Buchanan, Tess Durbeyfield, Raskolnikov....

    Notice George Sanders makes the cut each time, too.

    Y'know, I was never really attracted to DeForest Kelley until I saw an old Western where he starred as a gambler with a heart of gold. He was DAMN fine in that. And of course I've always been fond of everybody's favorite curmudgeonly Dr. Bones, setting the scene for darker successors, like Dr. Perry Cox from Scrubs and Dr. House.

    Quinto's take on Spock was excellent (except for the drastically out of character junk the script made him do), but he just wasn't my Spock. My Spock has a deep, sonorous voice and a penchant to sing about hobbits. Only I ignore that last part and pretend it never happened.

    I wouldn't know if '00s rom coms are better or worse than '90s outputs, simply because I don't watch them. I finally learned to put my foot down, after various helpings from the previous decade strengthened my resolve.

  3. Have you seen the BBC's Doc Martin? I went through all four seasons last summer. Another fine entry in the curmudgeonly doctor genre, although from what little I saw of House, Martin's pretty low-key by comparison.

    Yeah, I had fun with the 2009 film, but I had to take it as different-characters-with-the-same-names. I know you can pass it all off as "Oh, the alternate universe made everyone turn out different" but it just didn't quite work. On a side note, when Quinto's Spock started kissing Uhura, I did sort of wish she would start giving off a heavenly golden glow, a la the love interest in "This Side of Paradise."

    Yeah, I just ave up on romcoms so it could be that '00s has some real gems I'm missing out on. I'm mainly judging their quality based on synopses and reviews. But it did seem to me that the 90s, for all the outrageously bad and cloying offerings, did have a few films that at least tried to break out of genre conventions, whether they were great or not. It also seemed to be a time when filmmakers were ransacking old movie classics for ideas, as well as Austen and Shakespeare so you at least had the comfort of knowing they were stealing from the best.

    But now? It just feels like the results of increasingly cynical pitching sessions, with some dirty jokes tossed in. Occasionally you get something like 500 Days of Summer (which I liked okay, didn't love) but most of it...ugh.

  4. It's funny you should mention Doc Martin, since I recently caught an episode on PBS for the first time. I should Netflix it, I was quite entertained.

    That's one plus in the 2009 movie's favor: they stopped soft-focusing the hell out of the ladies like they did to spore-happy girl in This Side of Paradise.

    It's true, there was a huge surge of Austen and Shakespeare movies in the '90s, and that's never bad. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't swoon to Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy with the rest of my BBC-nerd friends.

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