Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Movie memedom

I was tickled to discover that I had been tagged by Nathaniel of The Film Experience for a particular movie meme -- particularly since it seems to be originating with him. I've therefore taken some time with these amusing, yet kinda thought-provoking questions.
  1. Popcorn or candy? If forced to choose, definitely popcorn, with slight butter. But I came into movie geekdom thanks to the Dartmouth Film Society, whose twice-weekly screenings at the Hopkins Center were in a theater that did not allow food. As such, I am now happy and content to make it through a three-hour long flick without the need for sustenance. (Also, I only buy popcorn at independent theaters that desperately need my concession cash.)
  2. Name a movie you've been meaning to see forever. I am almost embarrassed to say I have a PhD and I have still yet to see Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. I have seen the other nuclear-bomb film from 1964, Fail-Safe, which still freaks me out, but I really need to see Strangelove soon, or else my students will legitimately have reason to not respect me.
  3. You are given the power to recall one Oscar: Who loses theirs and to whom? For years, I have been telling my students that the ever-fabulous Anna Paquin should have lost to the even more fabulous Rosie Perez, whose performance in Peter Weir's Fearless is outstanding. That said, Paquin's 12-year-old self does fine, nuanced work in The Piano, so she can still keep the statuette. Instead, I would take it away from Geoffrey Rush for Shine. I liked the movie at first, but then over time realized how much I despised it. Rush gets by and wins the award for the tired-and-true "I'm afflicted!" performance that is ultimately uninspiring. Not to mention the fact that the actor that does the real work in Shine is clearly the unheralded Noah Taylor. In 1997, I would have almost been happy with anyone else nominated that year when the indies took over the Oscars -- Ralph Fiennes for The English Patient, Woody Harrelson for The People vs. Larry Flynt, Billy Bob Thornton for Sling Blade. My choice, however, is a surprising one for me, given how happy I was at the indie revolution: I really wanted Tom Cruise to win for Jerry Maguire. I felt that the role stood out as being very old Hollywood in a very new way, that Cruise embodied the likes of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, but with a 90s spin. Cruise will never get a role like that again (and, quite frankly, I have soured on him as an actor considerably since), but I still think that was his year
  4. Steal one costume from a movie for your wardrobe. Which will it be? If I'm allowed to cross-dress, I would chose almost anything from Carmen Miranda, who I have been threatening to go as for Halloween for years now, just because she is outrageous fun. But there's a bigger single costume item that I'd prefer more than anything: James Dean's iconic red windbreaker from Rebel without a Cause. It's classic, it's simple, and it's the coolest thing on film ever.
  5. Your favorite film franchise is... the "Before Sun" movies by Richard Linklater, i.e. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, both with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I am eagerly awaiting Before the Noontime Sun and Before the Solar Eclipse, though I hope they have fewer car chase sequences than the other two. (Wait, this isn't a franchise?)
  6. Invite five movie people over for dinner. Who are they? Why'd you invite them? What do you feed them? I'd probably have two dinner parties. Alfonso Cuarón, Billy Wilder, Atom Egoyan, Pedro Almodóvar and Francois Truffaut would probably produce some wonderful conversations between guys who really love the art of the movies; we'd have to have some wonderful seared duck, risotto and some good red wine. But I'd also love a gaggle of fun, spirited women who are icons in their own ways: Mae West, Katherine Hepburn, Emily Watson, Ingrid Bergman and Rita Moreno (with Kate Winslet also crashing the party) would make for lots of great stories, particularly after some good sauvignon blanc and lots of yummy hors d'oeuvres made with puff pastry and sauce.
  7. What is the appropriate punishment for people who answer cell phones in the movie theater? Decapitation. That way, they can't talk or hear. As ringmaster at Telluride this year, I threatened patrons with immediate deportation to the (fictional) Central South Dakota Film Festival.
  8. Choose a female bodyguard: Ripley from Aliens. Mystique from X-Men. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2. The Bride from Kill Bill. Mace from Strange Days. This is really simple: Mace from Strange Days. I would trust Angela Bassett with my life any day anyway, but the character is also the most even-headed of this group, and the only one proven to defend a grown man. (The fact that I actually have an article out there on Strange Days, the first one I ever got published, also helps.)
  9. What's the scariest thing you've ever seen in a movie? How about the scariest thing I didn't see? I ran from the theater in college at the meathook sequence in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, because I couldn't stand the sight of the girl getting hacked to bits with a chainsaw on a meathook. It took me three additional attempts at watching the movie before I finally discovered you don't see anything there, that my mind had filled things in just a wee bit much.
  10. Your favorite genre (excluding comedy and drama) is? I confess to having a soft spot for two of the most unrealistic (and related) movie genres out there: the musical and the melodrama. That's why I really love Mexican cabaret melodramas (cabareteras) from the 1940s, since they combine the two genres so beautifully. You've never really lived until you've seen Aventurera when the exquisite Ninón Sevilla, fallen on bad times, sings and dances defiantly, only to discover that the mother of her rich, new lover is actually... the madam of the brothel that forced her into prostitution in the first place!! I also got to spend a 1-1/2 hour van ride with Ms Sevilla who turned out to be more than gracious and, in her 70s when I met her, still with the verve and spirit that she had in the movies years before.
  11. You are given the power to greenlight movies at a major studio for one year. How do you wield this power? I would bring directors from outside the United States to see what they could do with a larger budget in English, perhaps in the hopes that they could become the next Billy Wilder who invigorates American cinema. Tops on my list: Lucretia Martel from Argentina, Christoffer Boe from Denmark, Wong Kar-Wai from Hong Kong (who is actually getting this chance), Alvaro Velarde from Peru.
  12. Bonnie or Clyde? Bonnie. She is doomed, doomed, doomed and by the end when she asks him what he would change and he answers "nothing," she knows it -- and she sticks by him anyway. She's a class act.
  13. Who are you tagging to answer this survey? (Three or more) Dan (aka JJ), who I am surprised didn't get tagged by Nat for this the first time around; Nell, because the world needs to know what the Movie Mom really thinks; Jenny, because she always has great responses to memes whenever I tag her; and Kathy, because I have a sneaking suspicion (as the medical doctor, shoe-happy, not-even-remotely-film-oriented person that she is) that she may have some fun answers to this meme.



i have never even heard of cabareteras so i'm thrilled to learn something new about the cinema this morning

Rusty said...

You not seeing "Dr. Strangelove" is a lot like my College Writing professor who had never read "Catcher in the Rye." I'm not even saying "Rye" is that good, but, at some point, you have to read it, don't you?

"Dr. Strangelove," on the other hand, is fabulous and amazing. For shame. If you ever want to borrow it you know where to find me.

J.J. said...

Anna Paquin was better than Rosie Perez that year.

KC said...

Good Lord, Jeff. Who are these people you mention? What are these...these moving pictures you speak of? *blank stare*

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