This Labor Day our host doffs his cap and turns his lectern over to BRINGING UP BABY's David Huxley, who in between missing dinosaur bones and missing feline of larger-than-your-typical-domestic proportions, was able to conjure up thirty questions that at this moment lovers of film all over the country (dare I say world? By George I will!) are diving into with abandon.
But I tarry too long...to the questions!
Orson Welles CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1965). How 'bout it, Criterion?
2) Greatest Criterion DVD/Blu-ray release ever
It's hard to argue with the recent restored Blu-ray of THE RED SHOES. There are films I've loved instantly (SEVEN SAMURAI), films I've come to love over time through repeated viewings (SLACKER, THE RULES OF THE GAME), but this iteration of THE RED SHOES makes me realize that despite having seen the film, I actually never saw the film before, you know?
3) The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon?
Next to CASABLANCA, there's no better Bogart performance in my mind than Sam Spade in THE MALTESE FALCON. Tough, cynical, tortured and hilarious - sometimes all in the same scene. And as much as I love THE BIG SLEEP, it suffers from a serious lack of Peter Lorre/Sidney Greenstreet awesomeness.
4) Jason Bateman or Paul Rudd?
I think Paul Rudd's got more range as an actor, but no one can turn a phrase quite like Bateman. He can make a dozen more films like THE EX and he still won't lose the good grace gained from three perfect seasons of Arrested Development.
5) Best mother/child (male or female) movie star combo
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Wait, whaddya mean he's not her son?! (I kid, I kid...how about Ingrid Bergman and Isabella Rossellini)
6) Who are the Robert Mitchums and Ida Lupinos among working movie actors? Do modern parallels to such masculine and no-nonsense feminine stars even exist? If not, why not?
Right now it doesn't appear like anyone out in Hollywood is even remotely interested in having or nurturing a career like either Mitchum or Lupino. Leonardo DiCaprio comes close I guess, but "close" in this case is still a long way off.
7) Favorite Preston Sturges movie
SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (1941), though I admit my exposure is only that and ALL ABOUT EVE, which is also great.
8) Odette Yustman or Mary Elizabeth Winstead?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead just needs that "one" film and she's going to explode. One more shame SCOTT PILGRIM didn't do better at the box office.
9) Is there a movie that if you found out a partner or love interest loved (or didn't love) would qualify as a Relationship Deal Breaker?
C'mon, honestly? Of course not. Different strokes, folks...it's what makes the world go 'round. That being said, if my wife didn't at least appreciate CASABLANCA, she'd need to sleep with one eye open.
10) Favorite DVD commentary
All of the GODFATHER commentaries by Francis Ford Coppola are fantastic, as are Martin Scorsese's commentaries for older films like THE RED SHOES and THE SET-UP. So let's split the difference and say THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD, which besides being one of my favorite films features both on the commentary. Once again, all hail Criterion!
11) Movies most recently seen on DVD, Blu-ray and theatrically
DVD: MOTHER, Blu-ray: THE RED SHOES, Theater: PIRANHA 3D
12) Dirk Bogarde or Alan Bates?
13) Favorite DVD extra
Kevin Smith's hour-plus presentation of deleted scenes from DOGMA.
14) Brian De Palma’s Scarface— yes or no?
Sure, though I don't have any strong feelings for it one way or the other.
15) Best comic moment from a horror film that is not a horror comedy (Young Frankenstein, Love At First Bite, et al.)
Ken Foree completely pimped out with a fur coat in DAWN OF THE DEAD.
16) Jane Birkin or Edwige Fenech?
17) Favorite Wong Kar-wai movie
CHUNGKING EXPRESS (1994)
18) Best horrific moment from a comedy that is not a horror comedy
When I was a kid the rabbit in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL scared the hell out of me.
19) From 2010, a specific example of what movies are doing right…
Crime films are getting good again, and making it to more theaters: THE SQUARE, A PROPHET, ANIMAL KINGDOM...
20) Ryan Reynolds or Chris Evans?
Chris Evans hasn't been in any shitty romantic comedies (that I recall), has been in a great Danny Boyle film (SUNSHINE), and will play my favorite comic book character. 'Nuff said.
21) Speculate about the future of online film writing. What’s next?
As more and more people find a voice online, it's going to get harder to write about film for a living, or to even get paid for it. For every fresh, articulate voice that rises with something to say and the means to intelligently express it, there will be a greater number of uninformed, ill-mannered and childish squawks that will strive to drown those voices back into the fetid stream of the underground. Let's hope they fail.
22) Roger Livesey or David Farrar?
Have you seen Davids Farrar's entrance in BLACK NARCISSUS? So ridiculous it instantly becomes awesome.
23) Best father/child (male or female) movie star combo
No jokes. Kirk and Michael Douglas.
24) Favorite Freddie Francis movie (as Director)
Shame to say I've never seen any of his films, but I just added CRAZE (1974) to my Netflix queue based on its description (Jack Palance sacrifices women to an African Doll. Anyone interested: look under Freddie Francis and add SLASHER CINEMA).
25) Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth?
BRINGING UP BABY.
26) Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig?
27) Name a stylistically important director and the best film that would have never been made without his/her influence.
Kurosawa may still have made it, but without the films of John Ford we might have a very different SEVEN SAMURAI.
28) Movie you’d most enjoy seeing remade and transplanted to a different culture (i.e. Yimou Zhang’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.)
TAXI DRIVER transplanted to Brazil, a la CITY OF GOD.
29) Link to a picture/frame grab of a movie image that for you best illustrates bliss. Elaborate.
Rather than the obvious Christ reference, I prefer to see the final shot of Hal Ashby's wonderful BEING THERE (1979) as the visual representation of Chance the Gardener's state of mind, which seems to be as close to bliss as my admittedly tired mind can fathom.
30) With a tip of that hat to Glenn Kenny, think of a just-slightly-inadequate alternate title for a famous movie. (Examples from GK: Fan Fiction; Boudu Relieved From Cramping; The Mild Imprecation of the Cat People)
BRIDESMAID OF FRANKENSTEIN.
Goodnight, folks! Remember to tip your waitress!