I'm partaking in one of the seasonal Q&As hosted by Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. In comparison with the veteran commenters over at the site, I'm woefully uneducated, but this was a helluva lotta fun to do.
1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie
This includes musicals, right? If not, I’ll have to rack my brains a little harder, but if we are including musicals, then it has to be the Gideon & Jagger scene from All That Jazz. There are so many iconic moments in that film - the entire opening sequence for example - but the moment that hits me right in the solar plexus is this one. Seen out of context, it’s wonderful;
Peter Allen’s singing, the natural camaraderie between Ann Reinking and Erzsebet Foldi and of course, the dancing. But seen as part of the whole film, it becomes almost too much for me to bear. When I first saw All That Jazz, I rewatched this one scene maybe 10 times. Since then, I have no idea how many times I’ve watched that one scene, but it must be nearing the hundreds. The thought of Joe Gideon’s girlfriend and daughter working on that routine for hours, to get it just right for the notorious perfectionist. The knowledge that even if it wasn’t perfect, he’d be bowled over regardless. The fact that Kate is so loving and caring with Michelle, and thatall the basic ingredients for a happy family are here, ut yet Joe continues to sleep around and throw his life away. The part where Reinking plays Michelle’s stomach like a piano, glances at Joe and says “Pretty pictures.” Joe’s funky apartment, with all the theatre paraphernalia and those “whatchamacallit lights”. The part where the duo rush at Joe to kiss him. Finally, and most importantly, Joe’s face throughout. I don’t know how Roy Scheider does it. Amusement, regret, incredulity, sadness, pride - they’re all there. The killer: during the line, “And every gal only had one fellow”. His face at that point slays me. It’s a little flash of recognition, of regret and embarrassment and still you can see he’ll never change. Beautiful.
If we’re not talking musicals, Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek slow dancing in the dark to Nat King Cole in Badlands. I am so excited about the upcoming rerelease.
2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews
I have this unwritten rule, which states: if you are presented with a multiple choice question and one of the answers is connected to Laura (1944), this is your best bet.
3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie
You can’t go wrong with a most of his films, but I’ll pull out something a little different: Garbo Talks, while not a great film by any means, is entertaining purely because of Anne Bancroft. She plays this firecracker New Yoiker whose dying wish is to meet Greta Garbo. Every minute when she’s not on screen (a quite sizeable amount of time, tbh) is quite dull, but near the end Lumet grants her this great, lengthy monologue about the similarities between herself and Garbo. Fantastic acting.
4) Biggest surprise of the just-past summer movie season
The pregnancy quotient is way down on last year.
5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth
Remember the rule! Gene Tierney.
6) What’s the last movie you saw on DVD? In theaters?
On DVD: Raising Arizona. “Mighty fine cereal flakes, Mrs. McDonough!”
In theaters: The Strangers.
7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?
8) What were the films where you would rather see the movie promised by the poster than the one that was actually made?
It hasn’t been released yet, but I’d be 24% more likely to go watch the remake of The Women if it featured Vanessa Williams doing an impression of Annette Bening. Which, you know, I'm not completely sure it doesn't.
9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung
10) Most pretentious movie ever
11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie
12) Name the movie that you feel best reflects yourself, a movie you would recommend to an acquaintance that most accurately says, “This is me.”
Hannah And Her Sisters or Mean Girls.
13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo
To be honest, I really need to see more work by both women to make a fair judgement. But this is a blog, where fair appraisals aren’t required and I’m saying Dietrich purely because of her role in Witness For The Prosecution. The twist in the tail of that character! I’m still as gob smacked as I was the first time I saw it, years and years ago.
14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?
I usually sneak in sweets; peanut M&Ms, Minstrels, Smarties. Most vile? Buttered popcorn.
15) Current movie star who would be most comfortable in the classic Hollywood studio system
16) Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?
17) Your assignment is to book the ultimate triple bill to inaugurate your own revival theater. What three movies will we see on opening night?
Everyone needs a good laughing work-out, so I’ll kick start my theater off with three of my favourite comedies: His Girl Friday, Tootsie and The Lady Eve.
18) What’s the name of your theater? (The all-time greatest answer to this question was once provided by Larry Aydlette, whose repertory cinema, the Demarest, is, I hope, still packing them in…)
The Local. Okay, that's a terrible name. The Fleapit. No, that's worse. The Local Fleapit? PERFECT. Hilarity will ensue.
19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie
20) Most impressive debut performance by an actor/actress.
Angela Lansbury in Gaslight. She celebrated her 18th birthday on set! Watch the video, she talks about her experience on the film and there’s a photograph of the birthday, with Ingrid Bergman cutting her cake!
21) Biggest disappointment of the just-past summer movie season
Many, many subpar dramas. I know the summer isn’t prime drama season, but there were quite a few movies that looked promising enough until I actually watched the damn things. Smart People, Married Life, bleurgh.
22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung
23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated
The Dark Knight. I liked it a lot, but I mean - come on. It wasn't even the best film I saw that month, let alone the best film of all time.
24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated
25) Fritz the Cat—yes or no?
No. I prefer Tommy the Cat!
26) Trevor Howard or Richard Todd
Trevor Howard was in The Third Man. Nuff said.
27) Antonioni once said, “I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.” What filmmaker working today most fruitfully ignores the rules? What does ignoring the rules of cinema mean in 2008?
The best answer would probably be to say Paul Thomas Anderson, which I partly agree with. But I also have to pitch in a mention for Tom McCarthy, who has shown us, in a mere two films, that there is still room for bittersweet, character driven pieces and that Big Liberal Ideas can form an integral part of a film without overtaking it.
28) Favorite William Castle movie
29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie
Aren't most films ethnographically oriented? West Side Story, I guess.
30) What’s the movie coming up in 2008 you’re most looking forward to? Why?
Ah, so many. Blindness, because the book haunts me with regular nightmares and I’m curious to see how on earth it’ll translate to screen. Burn After Reading, because even the trailer makes me laugh. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Doubt. Synecdoche, New York.
31) What deceased director would you want to resurrect in order that she/he might make one more film?
I wonder how Hitch would have handled the 21st century? New technology and all.
32) What director would you like to see, if not literally entombed, then at least go silent creatively?
Tim Burton could keep mum for a couple of years and I’d be happy. Not for ever, you understand, just five years or so. Let some new ideas percolate around his brain. Spend some quality time watching dvds, catching up on recent actors who aren’t called Johnny or Helena.