I couldn't resist answering this quiz from the strangely-named blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule:
What film made you angry, either while watching it or in thinking about it afterward?
Crash – not because of its indictment of racism, but because of the manipulative filmmaking style
Chewbacca. Easy answer but the truth.
One of your favorite movie lines
Owen Wilson as Eli Cash in Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, reading from his book Old Custer: “The crickets and the rust beetles scuttled among the nettles of the sage thicket. Vamanos amigos, he whispered, and threw the busted leather flint craw, over the loose weave of the saddle cock, and they rode on in the friscilating dusklight.”
William Holden or Burt Lancaster?
William Holden. They're both great, but somehow Lancaster is a little too pretty, whereas Holden has demons and humanity.
Favorite John Ford movie:
It'd have to be The Searchers. I saw it in a college film class, and it brought me to tears when John Wayne picks up little Debbie to take her home--after always saying heretofore that he was going to kill his kidnapped niece when he found her because she'd been 'tainted' by her Indian captors. I also really love Ford's My Darling Clementine. My dad's favorite Ford film is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which is also great.
What film artist (director, actor, screenwriter, whatever) has the least–deserved good reputation, artistically speaking. And who would you replace him/her with on that pedestal?
Least deserved? Frank Darabont, Robert Zemeckis, Ron Howard. Most of the people I'd replace them with have good reputations already, even if the idiotic Academy chooses not to reward them with Oscars.
Barbara Stanwyck or Ida Lupino?
It’d be cooler to say Ida Lupino, since she was a pioneer of both indie filmmaking and female directors. But I love Barbara Stanwyck, with her mix of sultry femme fatale and loving beauty.
Showgirls—yes or no?
No. I remember when I lived in New York it was starting to gain traction as a midnight movie, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Eraserhead, and I'd just roll my eyes. Irony or no irony, it's just a sensationalistic skin-flic.
Most exotic or otherwise unusual place in which you ever saw a movie:
Either in a parking lot in Portland’s Central Eastside industrial district, with old mental hygiene films projected against an outer warehouse wall, or on a Disney cruise as part of the “Ebert & Roeper Film Festival at Sea”, which I covered on assignment for a travel magazine.
Favorite Robert Altman movie:
Short Cuts—when I did my ‘Best Films of the 1990s’ list for Willamette Week in 2000, it was ranked #2. I called the movie "an endlessly fascinating probe of everyday moral dilemmas and what makes everyone from a birthday clown to a phone sex operator tick."
Best argument for allowing rock stars to participate in the making of movies:
The first example that comes to mind is George Harrison producing “Monty Python’s The Life of Brian”, but I’m guessing the question refers more to rock stars acting or directing. One of my favorite movies is Two Lane Blacktop with James Taylor and Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson. But neither of them are really rock stars. Somehow Mick Jagger in Freejack doesn't seem like a good enough argument, though.
Describe a transcendent moment in a film (a moment when you realized a film that just seemed routine or merely interesting before had become become something much more)
I’d have to go with the Claire Denis film Beau Travail, about a French Foreign Legion outpost in Africa. Denis devotes much of the film to the Legion’s endless training regiments, and somehow the ritual is elevated to something abstract and operatic.
Gina Gershon or Jennifer Tilly?
Neither. Gina Gershon has a toughness I like, but I’m turned off by how she kind of snarls with her lips. Jennifer Tilly seems like a tramp who’s been sucking on helium.
Favorite Frank Capra movie:
I must confess the only one I’ve seen is It’s a Wonderful Life, which I appreciate but don’t love. I really should see Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but the clips always kind of make me cringe.
The scene you most wish you could have witnessed being filmed:
The helicopters attacking to “Ride of the Valkyries” in Apocalypse Now. I've always found it of astonishing visceral power, whether one's a hawk or a pacifist. But then again, perhaps because I love that scene so much I wouldn't have wanted to be there for its filming. That would have taken the sense of magic away from what's being seen onscreen. Maybe instead I'd choose the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan of the D-Day invasion. For damn sure I wouldn't have wanted to be there in real life, and the filming of that scene is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen in all of cinema.
Robert Ryan or Richard Widmark?
Robert Ryan, but I love both of them, and each has starred in numerous minor classics from my favorite period, American Film Noir. Widmark’s great in a couple movies by the great Sam Fuller—Pickup on South Street being one of them. I’ve often thought of him saying snidely, “Don’t wave your flag at me” when someone gets patriotic with him. It was comforting amidst all the “United We Stand” rhetoric of a couple years ago. And Ryan is in too many to mention, although The Set Up and Men In War come immediately to mind.
Name a movie that inspired you to walk out before it was finished:
Freddy Got Fingered – I had to review it, so it was probably unethical of me to walk out. But I just couldn’t take the bestiality anymore.
Favorite political movie:
Robert Redford’s The Candidate, with the D.A. Pennebaker documentary The War Room (about Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign) a close second.
Your favorite movie poster/one-sheet, or the one you’d most like to own:
I’m partial to several that Valarie and I already own: Le Samourai, Vertigo, The 400 Blows, Wings of Desire, 8 1/2. I bought my Le Samourai poster several years ago at Cinema 21's annual sale, and I went through this wrenching drama to get it. There was only one copy of the poster, and the guy in line directly ahead of me was planning to buy it for a friend. I begged and begged him to let me buy it. I explained how it was perhaps my favorite movie of all-time, and I'd come to the sale only to buy that poster. He finally relented, only after refusing several times, asking it to be rolled up for him, and then sliding it over to me, pointing his finger in my face, and lecturing me about my skewed priorities.
Jeff Bridges or Jeff Goldblum?
Jeff Bridges—he’s an underrated actor, and one of the best of his generation, I think. I’m particularly fond of his performance in the under-seen Fearless, about plane-crash survivors, not to mention The Big Lebowski, my favorite Coen Brothers film.
Accepting the conventional wisdom that 1970-1975 marked a golden age of American filmmaking in which artistic ambition and popular acceptance were not mutually exclusive, what for you was this golden age’s high point? (Could be a movie, a trend, the emergence of a star, whatever)
I love the movie Francis Ford Coppola made in between the two Godfather movies: The Conversation, with Gene Hackman as a wire-tapper experiencing a crisis of conscience. I also love Chinatown, of course, as well as Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.
Grace Kelly or Ava Gardner?
I know the underlying question is between the wholesome, pure Kelly and the sexy Gardner who broke Frank Sinatra’s heart. I don’t have a strong personal feeling for either, but I’d lean toward Grace Kelly because I love Hitchcock’s Rear Window, which she’s fabulous in.
With total disregard for whether it would ever actually be considered, even in this age of movie recycling, what film exists that you feel might actually warrant a sequel, or would produce a sequel you’d actually be interested in seeing?
Danny Boyle told me in an interview once that he’d like to make a sequel to Trainspotting, which I think would be cool. And while I’m OK with George Lucas not making episodes 7-9 of Star Wars (he won’t be able to screw it up that way), part of me would have loved to see what transpired after Return of the Jedi.