Professor Jennings’ Holiday Midterm

I’ve been meaning to take Prof. Dave Jennings’ Milton-Free, Universe-Explanding Holiday Midterm ever since Dennis Cozzalio posted it a couple weeks ago, but unfortunately my own grading obligations took precedence — till now!

1) What was the last movie you saw, either in a theater or on DVD, and why?

On DVD: The Wedding Party, because I’m trying to fill the lacunae in my De Palma viewing.

In the cinema: Stranger than Fiction, because I love meta with my fiction.

2) Name the cinematographer whose work you most look forward to seeing, and an example of one of his/her finest achievements.

Robert Yeoman; apart from his collaborations with Wes Anderson my favorite movie he photographed is CQ (actually three films in one) directed by Roman Coppola, Sophia’s more talented brother.

3) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson?

The Rock!

4) Name a moment from a movie that made you gasp (in horror, surprise, revelation…)

The Long Goodbye surprised me as everyone else has mentioned, but I could not believe it when Michael Caine’s Italian Job ended as it did.

More recently, Children of Men suprised me when someone dies in the first act.

5) Your favorite movie about the movies.

Haneke’s Cache, the best film about cinema since Rear Window.

6) Your Favorite Fritz Lang movie.

Cliched as it is, it has to be Metropolis.

7) Describe the first time you ever recognized yourself in a movie.

Johnny Depp in The Ninth Gate, when he was excitedly comparing variants between copies of the same book.

8) Carole Bouquet or Angela Molina?

Utter ignorance.

9) Name a movie that redeems the notion of nostalgia as something more than a bankable commodity.

Pixar’s Cars was refreshingly, even subversively nostalgic for gasoline-fuelled automobiles. Does that disqualify it? The movie itself was quite bankable as well…

10) Favorite appearance by an athlete in an acting role.

For its sheer novelty value, LA Laker Rick Fox’s short-lived acting career as a college recruiter in He Got Game.

11) Favorite Hal Ashby movie.

I like the films he edited for Norman Jewison — The Cincinnati Kid, The Russians Are Coming, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair — more than his own movies.

12) Name the first double feature you’d program for opening night of your own revival theater.

If it’s a double feature it would have to feature doubles, so:

A Zed & Two Noughts / Dead Ringers


Mulholland Dr. / Femme Fatale

I would also have a Double-Double Feature on Saturday // Sunday, in which each double feature is its own unit, but the fourth film synchretizes the first three:

Vertigo / Obsession // Rear Window / Body Double

Psycho / Dressed to Kill // Tenebrae / Raising Cain

13) What’s the name of your revival theater?

The Cinecure. (groan!)

14) Humphrey Bogart or Elliot Gould?

Much as I like The Long Goodbye, Bogart delivered Chandler’s memorable lines definitively.

15) Favorite Robert Stevenson movie.

Mary Poppins, though I’ve always liked the idea that he directed Kidnapped just because it was a Robert (Louis) Stevenson novel!

16) Describe your favorite moment in a movie that is memorable because of its use of sound.

Blow Out is my favorite movie about sound, though I was recently impressed with the sound design of THX 1138.

17) Pink Flamingoes– yes or no?

Just not yet.

18) Your favorite movie soundtrack score.

Though A Fistful of Dollars has the best two minutes in the history of film music, the best score is Once Upon a Time in the West. More recently I thought Birth had a great score from Alexandre Desplat.

But if “soundtrack score” means a collection of non-original selections then I’d say it’s a tie between the first Austin Powers movie and Kill Bill Vol. 1.

19) Fay Wray or Naomi Watts?

Been in love with Naomi since Mulholland Dr. and The Ring.

20) Is there a movie that would make you question the judgment and/or taste of a film critic, blogger or friend if you found out they were an advocate of it?

Pleasantville is one of the few movies I despise; however I would love to see an attempt to make sense of this incoherent film.

21) Pick a new category for the Oscars and its first deserving winner.

Most Gratuitous Product-Placement-turned-Cameo-Appearence.

And the Oscar goes to: Virgin’s Richard Branson (for Superman Returns and Casino Royale)

22) Favorite Paul Verhoeven movie.

Starship Troopers, though I like Basic Instinct as a “remake” of Vertigo.

23) What is it that you think movies do better than any other art form?

Manipulation, in the sense of controling the viewer’s experience. In theater, everyone sees the action from a (literally) different perspective, but in film everyone sees the same thing and cannot see anything outside the frame or before and after the cut.

For the viewer, it means that in fiction you’re able to identify with practically any type of character, but in documentaries it means you cannot trust anything you see because there is always a context out of sight.

24) Peter Ustinov or Albert Finney?

Ustinov forever, if only for his Nero in Quo Vadis.

25) Favorite movie studio logo, as it appears before a theatrical feature.

RKO’s original “A Radio Picture” logo with the three-dimensional globe.

26) Name the single most important book about the movies for you personally.


27) Name the movie that features the best twist ending. (Please note the use of any “spoilers” in your answer.)

That would have to be the ending invented for Polanski’s adaptation of Oliver Twist! Ha ha.

I thought the revelation in Oldboy was rather clever until I discovered it was stolen outright from Obsession. Now that is a great movie.

28) Favorite Francois Truffaut movie.

Haven’t seen enough to answer justly.

29) Olivia Hussey or Claire Danes?

I haven’t seen Luhrmann’s R&J but it doesn’t matter since Hussey is the definitive Juliet.

30) Your most memorable celebrity encounter.

Brushing past Sylvester Stallone at the LA Auto Show. My first thought was “Gee, the hair on that tiny man with the big head looks just like Stallone’s” before I did a double-take: “That midget IS Stallone!”

31) When did you first realize that films were directed?

Standing in line for Star Tours at Disneyland, I asked my dad why it said “from the imagination of George Lucas” or something. (Given his last name I thought he was Mexican for a long time.)

This was fun, though I wouldn’t have minded if it wasn’t Milton-free! Now I’m going to have to take Prof. Kelp’s Endless Summer Chemistry Test as well.

3 thoughts on “Professor Jennings’ Holiday Midterm

  1. Ryan says:

    Don’t forget Rick Fox’s role as “star athlete” in Holes.

    *edit* Whoa, check IMDB. He’s still working!

  2. Nate B. says:

    Wonderful post, N. The “Cinecure” theater is a pretty dream. Maybe one day, after the New Beverly closes down…

  3. […] his Suumer quiz this week. I missed the Spring Break edition but I had a great time doing the Holiday exam (oddly enough seven months ago to the day). Here we […]

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