Mr. Shoop’s Surfin’ Summer School Midterm

Dennis Cozzalio posted his Summer 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 go!

1) Favorite quote from a filmmaker

One of my favorites is Bergman’s observation that Melies was a natural filmmaker because “he was a magician by profession.”

Some of the context of the statement is:

When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. . . . All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside. . . . Fellini, Kurosawa and Bunuel move in the same fields as Tarkovsky. Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own tediousness. Melies was always there without having to think about it. He was a magician by profession.

2) A good movie from a bad director

The Island by Michael Bay. Good only in comparison to the rest of his filmography, perhaps, but pleasantly unexpected insofar as the action was supplemental and not its sole raison d’etre.

3) Favorite Laurence Olivier performance

Rebecca.

4) Describe a famous location from a movie that you have visited (Bodega Bay, California, where the action in The Birds took place, for example). Was it anything like the way it was in the film? Why or why not?

San Francisco is my favorite movie city and the most photogenic, and visiting inevitably evokes a mental montage of images from Vertigo, Bullitt, Dirty Harry, even The Rock. But it was somewhat disappointing to find out on the tour of Alcatraz that there is no sewer system beneath the prison, just solid rock.

5) Carlo Ponti or Dino De Laurentiis (Producer)?

Sure, Ponti discovered Sophia Loren and married her and, in terms of their post-1955 careers, go ahead and give him credit for Le Mepris, Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point, and The Passenger.

But if not for Dino, would we have Diabolik, Barbarella, and Flash Gordon? I think not. Plus, he gets extra credit for the underrated Barrabas starring Anthony Quinn. And say what you like about the tonal inconsistency of The Bible but its omnigeneric quality reflects the source and, as Abraham, George C. Scott devastatingly fills the emotional lacunae of Genesis.

6) Best movie about baseball

I haven’t seen any baseball movies except Field of Dreams, so I’m sure it’s not it.

7) Favorite Barbara Stanwyck performance

Double Indemnity.

8) Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Dazed and Confused?

I have a soft spot for Milla Jovovich: Dazed.

9) What was the last movie you saw, and why? (We’ve used this one before, but your answer is presumably always going to be different, so…)

Secret Beyond the Door, Joan Bennett’s fourth movie for Fritz Lang. It turns out to be a rip-off of Rebecca, stuffed with cheap psychoanalysis and ornamented with a Bluebeardian conceit. Why? Because it was on BBC2 at 3:00 in the morning.

10) Whether or not you have actually procreated or not, is there a movie you can think of that seriously affected the way you think about having kids of your own?

I haven’t seen a movie that affected what I think about having kids some day, but I know I’ll never let my wife see Rosemary’s Baby just in case it affects her! I can imagine that movie singlehandedly destroying the trust in a marriage.

11) Favorite Katharine Hepburn performance

I couldn’t watch Star Trek: Voyager because of Capt. Janeway’s irritating Hepburn impersonation, but now I can’t watch Katherine Hepburn because she reminds me of Capt. Janeway.

12) A bad movie from a good director

The Good German, which I finally saw this week. What a piece o’ crap. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid was a better recreation of 1940s filming practice.

13) Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom– yes or no?

Does not having seen it mean I’m ignorant, or innocent? I don’t know.

14) Ben Hecht or Billy Wilder (Screenwriter)?

Hecht.

15) Name the film festival you’d most want to attend, or your favorite festival that you actually have attended

I wish I could have gone to Paris for the Brian De Palma Retrospective at the Pompidou centre in February 2002.

16) Head or 200 Motels?

Haven’t seen either.

17) Favorite cameo appearance (Try visiting here and here for some good ideas! This question was inspired by Daniel Johnson at Film Babble)

David Bowie in Zoolander is the ultimate cameo because the movie stops for a moment to revel in what a great coup he is.

18) Favorite Rosalind Russell performance

His Girl Friday.

19) What movie, either currently available on DVD or not, has never received the splashy collector’s edition treatment you think it deserves? What would such an edition include?

Freebie and the Bean, with Alan Arkin and James Cann, is still unavailable on DVD. In 1974 it was the original buddy cop action comedy and made no attempt to hide its innate homoeroticism (or homophobia), rendering “revisionist” takes on the genre like 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang redundant from the outset.

It’s another great San Francisco movie, by the way.

20) Name a performance that everyone needs to be reminded of, for whatever reason

Often overshadowed by his larger parts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt in The Big Lebowski. His every syllable is perfection.

21) Louis B. Mayer or Harry Cohn (Studio Head)?

LBM.

22) Favorite John Wayne performance

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

23) Naked Lunch or Barton Fink?

Barton Fink.

24) Your Ray Harryhausen movie of choice

Have to admit I haven’t seen Sinbad, Jason, or Titans, nor even One Million Years B.C.

25) Is there a movie you can think of that you feel like the world would be better off without, one that should have never been made?

Pleasantville. For all of the reasons that Robert Fiore already listed to describe Altman’s O.C. & Stiggs: “smug, self-satisfied cynicism, a contempt for his targets that defeats satire.” It’s so axiomatic it’s practically a punchline that analogies fall apart when taken too far, but Pleasantville took a semi-clever metaphor and extrapolated it to incoherent allegory.

24) Favorite Dub Taylor performance

The Wild Bunch.

25) If you had the choice of seeing three final movies, to go with your three last meals, before shuffling off this mortal coil, what would they be?

When it comes down to it, who wants to spend their final hours in this world watching Godard? Give me The Empire Strikes Back for the best music and best lightsaber battle of the most fun movie trilogy. Not to mention thematically appropriate, sorrowful yet hopeful.

For a light-hearted emotional release put on The Big Lebowski for me, a cheerful movie that even provides a degree of solace: “The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there, the Dude, takin’ ’er easy for all us sinners.”

Then if I needed some bucking up before facing the executioner, not much could equal the tear-jerking resolve of Ronald Colman in A Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to, than I have ever known.”

Of course some of its impact would be lost if I’m being punished for a crime I committed, but it would presumably ensure I don’t resent it. Unlike Sydney Carton at least I’m getting what I deserve!

26) And what movie theater would you choose to see them in?

The Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, where the screen rises out of the stage floor deus ex machina style.

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4 thoughts on “Mr. Shoop’s Surfin’ Summer School Midterm

  1. natebell says:

    I gotta say, you’re very, very good at these quizzes. Where on earth did you find that Bergman quote? Excellent comments on P.S. Hoffman, Pleasantville, and San Francisco. Bonus points for using “Bluebeardian” in a sentence.

    Scanning the comments section, I’m surprised and delighted that so many people named Sleuth as their favorite Olivier performance. He’s excellent in Rebecca, and his turn in Marathon Man is very flashy, but it’s his portrayal of Andrew Wycke that teases out all that’s best (and worst) in him. He’s also the best reason to see The Boys from Brazil, in which he plays a geriatric Nazi hunter.

  2. Nobody says:

    I thought of answering Sky Captain as my favorite Olivier performance but some others had already thought of it. I haven’t actually seen Sleuth (or Marathon Man or The Boys from Brazil) but I’m looking forward to seeing Henry V on the big screen next month as the BBC sponsers some screenings around the country of classic British films. (The others are Goldfinger, Brief Encounter, The Wicker Man, The Dam Busters, and Withnail & I. Recommendations?)

    By the way, I fixed the link for the Bergman quote. Apparently it’s from page 73 of Laterna Magica, but I found it on Nostalghia.com, the Tarkovsky website that’s a part of mastersofcinema.org (the other masters being Bresson, Dreyer, and Ozu).

  3. natebell says:

    I didn’t care for Brief Encounter when I first saw it, but I now believe it to be one of English cinema’s supreme masterpieces.

    If you haven’t seen Goldfinger yet, do so!

    I’d also recommend Wicker Man as a cult curiosity, but its reputation has been somewhat sullied by the Cage version.

    “How’d it get burned? How’ditgetburned! How’ditgetburned! How’ditgetburned!”

  4. Nobody says:

    I have the double-disc Deluxe edition of Goldfiner in fact but was disappointed by it when I watched the Connery films for the first time this year. Apart from its historical significance as the film that introduced the gadgets, the Aston, and Shirley Bassey, Bond himself is quite passive in it, meekly strolling around Goldfinger’s compound for much of the film instead of doing anything!

    I think From Russia With Love is the best; his fight with Robert Shaw on the train stands up even to Daniel Craig’s level of brawling!

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