Doodad Kind of Town


Oops! Make that a Decade’s Baker’s Dozen!
December 30, 2009, 12:44 am
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Oh, damn! I knew something like this would happen…

In every scribbled list and every rough draft I made of my top films for the last decade, one film title was consistently present. And then when I posted my final list, it had inexplicably disappeared.

So consider this a red-faced amendment to the list below. Because frankly I’d be be embarrassed to put my name on any Decade’s Best list that left out the David Lynch masterpiece, Mulholland Drive.

I’ve never been a lover of Lynch’s work, only an occasional. often puzzled admirer. But Mullholland Drive is something else again: an insane, impenetrable, surreal Hollywood dreamscape, both beautiful and bizarre. It seems to be about something – it may be about nothing. I’ve never really cared. It’s just so beautiful and thrilling to watch that, for me, it resists all attempts at interpretation.

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A Decade’s Dozen: My Own Top 12 Films of the "Aughts"
December 27, 2009, 10:05 pm
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Much as I love making lists, there’s a certain list I’ve tried to avoid compiling for weeks now. That’d be my list of the Best Films of the Decade – the ‘aughts’ or the ‘naughts’ or the ‘aughties’ or the ‘naughties’ or whatever the hell we’re calling these last ten years.

God knows, I’ve jumped on every “best of” meme in the film blogosphere this year with reckless enthusiasm: 20 best actors, 20 best actresses, 10 best characters, 15 best dancers…etc., etc., etc. You name it, I’ve listed it. Yet the very idea of reliving ten years worth of film viewing to glean a mere ten ‘best’ experiences fills me with inertia. Where do you even start with an assignment like that? What criteria do you use?

And here’s the danger of making “best of” lists: the list you make one day may not be the same list you’d make a week later, when you’re in a different mood or just able to remember a particular scene or performance or line of dialogue that might not have been in your brain just a few days before. I know this is the case with me, because the Ten Best Films of the Decade list I submitted to the LAMB just last week is significantly different than the list of 12 such films (because who can stop at just 10?) I’ve compiled below. So, as of December 27, here are the one dozen films I will remember most fondly from the decade gone by, in alphabetical order:

All or Nothing (2002, Mike Leigh)


Because there had to be a Mike Leigh film on the list, and – while Happy Go Lucky was a very close contender – it’s this bittersweet domestic drama of life in a London council housing estate that has lingered in my memory. Lesley Manville and Timothy Spall play the couple who have lost their joy in life and in each other, and are just scraping by, emotionally as well as financially. As he does in all his films, Leigh makes the ordinary details of their lives positively riveting, and their heartbreak palpably real.

The Aviator (2004, Martin Scorsese)
Because I’ve never gotten over the injustice of its losing the Best Picture Oscar to Million Dollar Baby, and so I’ll take any opportunity to lavish praise on it. To my mind, it’s easily the best biopic of a decade that’s seen plenty of good ones. Leonardo Di Caprio’s portrayal of Howard Hughes is multi-layered and brilliant.And I love the film’s palette, those touches of sepia-golden-brown and vibrant aqua blue that suggest the tinted photographs I used to see in my grandmother’s albums.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001, Sharon Maguire)

Because compared to any other romantic comedy of this decade, it’s positively subversive. Unlike other rom-com heroines, Bridget Jones doesn’t earn true love by getting a makeover or learning to take her career ambitions less seriously; instead, she’s loved “just as she is,” extra pounds and bad habits intact. Because in a decade where rom coms are as much about crass commercialism as matters of the heart (see this post on 27 Dresses– if you’ve ever suspected that rom coms are art-directed to have the same effect as the latest Pottery Barn catalogue, you’re right!), this film is blessedly free of product placement; its heroine dresses badly and lives in a crappy, non-descript apartment. Because it is very sweet, very funny, the characters are lovable and the performances are winning. Because I’ve seen it more time than any other film released in this decade and I’m incapable of channel-surfing past it whenever it’s on.

Capote (2005, Bennett Miller)

For reasons that have little to do with the performances of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote and Catherine Keener as Harper Lee, undeniably fine as those performances are. The early scenes in this film, set in Kansas at the time of the murders on which Capote’s “In Cold Blood” are based, are breathtakingly evocative of time and place. They sent me reeling into primal memories of my own, early ’60s rural Midwestern childhood. Even the farmhouses felt like places I’d visited as a child. How could Bennett Miller – born in 1966 and raised in New York City – have achieved that? Also notable for being the only film this decade that, in my experience, completely silenced the middle-aged movie talkers. As the showing I attended, you could barely hear anyone breathe, let alone talk, so riveted were they by the story.

Chicago (2202, Rob Marshall)

Because it brought back the movie musical, and yet remains the best of the lot released in this decade. It gets both the story’s dark cynicism and razzle-dazzle just right, and it successfully adapts the stage play’s “musical vaudeville” structure to a film narrative. The Kander/Ebb score sounds great, the performances are wonderful, and its helluva lot of fun. And, like the aforementioned Bridget Jones’s Diary, it’s a film I’m incapable of channel-surfing past.

Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days (2007, Cristian Mungui)

Because on its face, it’s both an abortion drama and a story of friendship tested, but it plays like a thriller and leaves your breathless. It proves yet again that a good story, told honestly and straightforwardly, is the most compelling film experience of all. Anamaria Marinca’s performance is emotionally devastating.

The House of Mirth (2000, Terence Davies)

Because it is beautiful, heartbreaking, gloriously well acted, and one of the finest literary adaptations on film. I can get lost in this one, just as easily as I once got lost in Edith Wharton’s novel. Gillian Anderson is a revelation as the doomed heroine, Lily Bart. And though it has nothing to do with the quality of the film itself, I have lovely memories of driving through softly falling snow – twice – to see this at the Wilmette Theatre during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

I Served the King of England (2006, Jiri Menzel)

Because I’m a sucker for any good movie that shows me fifty years of a country’s history as seen through the eyes of one compelling, if ultimately deluded, character. In the 90s, it was Farewell My Concubine and China; in this decade, it’s I Served the King of England and Czechoslovakia. As the ambitious hotel waiter at the story’s center, Ivan Barnev gives a tragicomic performance that is worthy of Chaplin in both its physical grace and pathos.

The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)

Because I left the theatre saying “That wasn’t just a good film, that was a great film,” and even though the particulars of the story are a bit fuzzy to me two-and-a-half years later, I can clearly recall the emotion behind that statement. A drama centered on an East German surveillance operative whose life is changed by the people he listens in on. It may sound a bit like The Conversation; it’s every bit as good, but ultimately, this one is a story of personal awakening and redemption. The late Ulrich Muhe gives a performance of quiet power.

A Serious Man (2009, Joel and Ethan Coen)

Because there had to be a Coen Brothers film on the list, and it had to be this one. Because it’s a perfect, ingenious marriage of the Coen’s signature over-the-top comedy and serious rumination on the meaning of life. Because it has the best ominous, ambiguous ending since, well, No Country for Old Men.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005, Marc Rothemund)

Because some films get under your skin, but this one got all the way into my bones. I saw it almost a year ago, and only last week had (another) nightmare about it. Sophie Scholl. a member of the White Rose student resistance movement in Nazi Germany, lost her life in return for circulating anti-war pamphlets at her university. Her story is told her with restraint and without stylistic excess, and is all the more powerful for that. German actress Julia Jentsch gives a heartstopping performance in the title role, showing us how an ordinary young woman demonstrates extraordinary courage and conviction. If you’ve ever thought about what it would be like to die for something you believed in, this film will show you in unflinching, unsentimental detail. It is unforgettable.

The Squid and the Whale (2005, Noah Baumbauch)


Because there are lots of dysfunctional family dramas around, but I can’t think of another one that is so lacerating and sad and honest all at once. There have also been a fair number of pompous academics portrayed on film in this decade, but Jeff Daniels’ performance will make you both cringe and cry like no one else’s I can recall. Noah Baumbach’s semi-autobiographical drama of a couple’s divorce and its effect on their two teen-aged sons is uncomfortable in ways that feel absolutely real and unsparing in exposing every one of its characters at both their most vulnerable and most despicable.

Honorable Mention: Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001, Steven Spielberg); Black Book (2006; Paul Verhoeven); The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, Julian Schnabel); Dogville (2003, Lars von Trier); Frida (2002; Julie Taymor); Happy Go Lucky (2008, Mike Leigh); Hunger (2009, Steve McQueen); Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003: Peter Jackson); O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000, Joel and Ethan Coen); Once (2007; John Carney); The Piano Teacher (2001, Michael Haneke); Pride and Prejudice (2005, Joe Wright); Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle); Wall-E (2008, Andrew Stanton).



Happy Holidays from Doodad Kind of Town!
December 24, 2009, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ll be back next week. In the meantime, please enjoy this timeless Christmas tune from the incomparable Judy Garland.



When "Feel Good" Movies Don’t Feel Good: "The Devil Wears Prada"
December 19, 2009, 12:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So the other night, I was exhausted after a day of work and Christmas shopping, and decided to kick back with a relaxing, mindless “feel good” flick. After a little channel surfing, I landed on the F/X channel and “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Except there was a problem. I couldn’t experience it as mindless entertainment, because I couldn’t shut my mind off. And I couldn’t call it a “feel good” flick, because I didn’t remotely feel good about what I was watching.

For all its appealing comic performances and slick, stylish production values, “The Devil Wears Prada” is ultimately just one more piece of noxious Hollywood propaganda in which ambitious professional women are vilified and punished, not merely for being good at their work, but for having the audacity to savor the prestige and material rewards of their success. It shows us, yet again, that any woman who dares to occupy an executive suite can not simultaneously be possessed of a soul, a heart or a sustained, loving relationship with a man.

And that’s before we even get to the film’s rank hypocrisy. Set in the offices of the fictional Runway magazine, “Prada” delivers repeated, if feeble, slaps on the wrist to the fashion industry for setting unrealistic, unattainable standards of physical perfection for women. Yet at the same time, it shamelessly invites us to ogle and revel in the cool stuff and glamorous locales this very industry promotes. Not for nothing was the clothing here designed and styled by legendary “Sex and the City” costumer Patricia Field. This film was deliberately marketed to amateur-class fashionistas; when it purports to spit its audience’s enthusiasms back into their faces, it’s hardly credible.

Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestley, the chic, ice-cold editor of Runway (based, oh-so-loosely on Vogue‘s Anna Wintour) and Anne Hathaway is Andrea, the wide-eyed new college grad who works as her assistant, although she believes she’s better equipped for investigative journalism than for latte-fetching. Miranda, preoccupied with running the magazine and setting fashion trends, is chilly and detached, incapable of small talk and given to pouring out interminable lists of unreasonable demands with no opportunity for clarifying follow-up questions from the beleaguered, befuddled Andrea. Streep has the good sense to play Miranda as soft-spoken , yet intimidatingly withering and brisk at the same moment. Temper tantrums aren’t her style, but her quietly tossed-off sarcasm is every bit as devastating. (“Please move at a glacial pace, you know how that thrills me,” she wearily tells a dawdling underling.) Hathaway, for her part, has an appealing, accessible quality that outweighs her character’s sense of entitlement. So far, so good.

And actually, the first half of the film is kind of fun, in that Andrea not only learns how to work with (or around) Miranda, but she increasingly gets a kick out of her own competence. She trades her schlubby sweaters and scuffed flat shoes for Chanel jackets and heels, and learns how to put on lash-thickening mascara that makes her big, doe eyes positively pop! And Andrea becomes exceptionally good at looking after Miranda, so much so that she unseats snipy little Emily Blunt as Miranda’s primary assistant and lands the coveted assignment of accompanying her to the Paris runway shows.

To my mind, there’s nothing terribly troubling or sinister about all this. This is what we do as young adults: we learn how to persevere and even thrive in tough work situations, we try on new identities, we find out what we love and what we’re good at, and often our lives evolve into something quite different from what what we’d originally imagined.

But, in keeping with its other hypocrisies, “The Devil Wears Prada” encourages us first to marvel at Andrea’s ingenuity and pluck, then to disapprove of the transformation those qualities effect. Youthful ambition and experimentation are equated with betrayal and “selling out.” I can see why Andrea’s friends think that – they’re young and inexperienced themselves – but I’d like to think the screenwriter might have a little more perspective. Alas no, the script (and, I assume, the Lauren Weisberger novel on which it based) lays it all on pretty thick. When Andrea is forced to attend a nighttime fashion event on her boyfriend’s birthday, he lays into her – not for missing his birthday, but for betraying her former “anti-fashion” principles to actually show up for her job, for Christ’s sake! She’s already working at Runway in the daytime, why is it wrong for her to fulfill her work obligations at a nighttime function? IT’S HER JOB! And when Blunt loses her favored spot on Miranda’s staff – and with it, the trip to Paris – Andrea has to tell her, but not at the office. No, the bad news is delivered to Blunt while she’s in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast after being hit by a taxi, so we can’t possibly miss the unfairness of it all.

By all accounts, the film considerably softens the edges on the Miranda Priestley character as compared to the original novel, and in Streep’s typically masterful performance we do see glimmers of Miranda’s superlative fashion instincts and grace under pressure. But she still isn’t allowed to be entirely human or to go entirely unpunished. In the course of the film, her husband walks out (not the first husband to do so, it’s hinted), tired of playing second-fiddle to the magazine. In the scene where Miranda breaks this news to Andrea, she’s shown looking wan and vulnerable, her makeup off but her dignity intact. And though Andrea pushes her, she keeps most of the details to herself and refuses to break down or accept sympathy. You can read that as coldness if you want, but I read it as maintaining a perfectly proper boundary between employer and employee.It’s Streep, in fact, who almost saves the movie, and her nuanced and ultimately sympathetic portrayal of Miranda works against every tired “Boss from Hell”/”Lonely at the Top” bromide the film peddles.

Andrea’s moment of truth comes in Paris when she expresses shock that Miranda has pulled away a plum assignment from her longtime, long-suffering second-in-command (played by a droll and delightful Stanley Tucci) and awarded it to an up-and-coming French editor in order to keep her own position intact. Andrea claims she could never do such a thing, and Miranda points out that she already has: by telling Emily she would not be making the Paris trip. Being in charge, it turns out, means sometimes you have to tell people they aren’t’ going to get the promotion they’ve dreamed of. (Well, duh.) And Andrea recoils in horror at the notion that she could actually be so cold as take away someone’s dreams and goes running back to the allegedly cozier and less mercenary world of investigative journalism.

Couple of things I don’t buy here. First, I don’t care whether you work at Vogue, Runway, or Podunk Weekly. If you’re in an editorial position, someday you’re going to have pull someone off a story or fire someone or otherwise derail someone’s career dreams. Goes with the territory. It isn’t necessarily evil or unethical – if people aren’t performing or aren’t right for some assignment, they need to be told. An employer is not your mother. She’s not going to tell you how beautiful and wonderful you are and feed you cookies and give you hugs; she needs a job done and she wants you to do it. And second, I didn’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for Tucci’s character because if he really wanted to get out from under Miranda’s thumb, maybe he should have used his contacts in the fashion world and found a new job himself, not waited for years and years for his boss to bestow it on him.

But those are realities that aren’t necessarily apparent to young up-and-comers, and Lauren Weisberger was all of 26 when she wrote the novel on which this film is based. This 2003 interview on Salon reveals her to be stunningly disingenuous about the furor her book caused and the offense taken by the fashion publishing industry on Anna Wintour’s behalf. And some of that same disingenuousness finds it way in to the film. Unfortunately, I’m looking at “The Devil Wears Prada” from the other side of 28 years in the corporate workforce, and it all seems pretty whiny (and bordering on offensive) to me. And I’m apparently too old and grouchy to shrug this off as escapist fun. anymore.



There’ll Be Some Changes Made….
December 11, 2009, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl!” – The Osmonds

Well, maybe not, but if that one bad apple is Pervy McPerverson, and he’s bombarding your blog with leering comments, than you have to take action.

Starting today, I am tightening up the commenting restrictions on Doodad Kind of Town. No more anonymous comments here; you must, at minimum, be registered on OpenID. And if you leave a comment on a post that is more than 3 weeks old, I’ll have to approve it before it gets posted.

My apologies to any regular readers or any legitimate film blogger who stops by with an intelligent – or even a cantankerous – observation to share. Please be sure assured this is NOT aimed at you.

Thanks for your understanding. Blog on!



Let’s Get Quizzical
December 6, 2009, 1:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve often lurked at Dennis Cozzalio’s blog, though I’ve not made my presence known there. I hope, however, he won’t mind if I take a crack at his latest quiz. (My apologies for missing the accreditations on some of these questions . I’m having challenges with cut-and-paste functionality in the new version of Internet Explorer), so I actually had to transcribe these one-by-one.

1. Second favorite Coen Brothers movie.


Well, my top 3 would be Fargo, A Serious Man, and O Brother, Where Art Thou. I’ve never taken the time to rank those three, but off the top of my head, I’d probably go with “A Serious Man” in the Number 2 position. (Fargo would be number 1.)

2. Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible. Lawrence of Arabia.

3. Japan or France? France. My knowledge of Japanese cinema is embarrassingly paltry.

4. Favorite moment/line from a Western. Does this count?

5. Of all the arts movies draw upon to become what they are, which is most important or the one you value most? Writing, writing, writing. You can have great actors, great photography, and a director who’s working his/her heart out to shape the story -but if the script is weak, the film will still be an essentially empty experience.

6. Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (the Naughties) I don’t think that A. I. (Artificial Intelligence) really got its due.

7. Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem. My knee jerk response to this is Woody Allen, but since everyone beats up on him these days, I’m going to go with a film – Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties. I first saw in 1977 as a college freshman and thought it was a masterpiece. When I re-visited it a couple of years ago, I was appalled by it. It was grotesque just for the sake of being grotesque.

8. Hebert Lom or Patrick Magee? I’ll pick Herbert Lom because he’s in the Pink Panther movies I watched with my dad (a die hard Peter Sellers fan) as a kid. It’s a sentimental choice.

9. Which is your least favorite David Lynch movie? I haven’t seen that many, but I’d go with Inland Empire. It’s not that I didn’t admire the originality and the audacity of it, but it was a real grind to get through. I tend to consider it as three and half hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

10. Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? I’m going with Gordon Willis, just based on his work during the Golden Age of Woody Allen.

11. Second favorite Don Siegel movie. Oh, God, I don’t even have a first favorite Don Siegel movie. How about Two Mules for Sister Sara. ?

12. Last movie you saw on Blu Ray/DVD? In theaters? In a theater – An Education. As for the DVD, I don’t’ remember; most films I’ve watched at home recently have been from On Demand or recorded from TCM. My last OnDemand rental was Shrink. My last DVR viewing was Fat City. Probably the last thing I watched on DVD was the pilot episode of Thirtysomething.

13. Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-Ray?My DVDs are all content to be DVDs for the moment, since I’ve yet to acquire a Blu-Ray player. I have do have plans to purchase one after Christmas however, and the first Blu-Ray disc I’m planning to buy is Wings of Desire.

14. Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse? I had to look these people up on IMDB. Then the lights came on. Gotta go with Mintz-Plasse – Mc Lovin!

15. Actor/Actress you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything? I would pay good money just to watch Maggie Smith take out the trash. No one can make a meal out of ordinary line of dialogue or a simple reaction shot like Dame Maggie. She even classes up crap like The First Wives Club and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.

16. Fight Club – yes or no? Yes.

17. Teresa Wright or Olivia De Haviland? DeHaviland is like Hollywood royalty, but I’m going with Teresa Wright, just for Shadow of a Doubt.

18. Favorite Line/Moment from a film noir:
“There’s a speed limit in this town, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.”
“How fast was I going, officer?”
“I’d say around ninety.”(Double Indemnity,of course)

19. Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a dummy or any other unsuccessful special effect. I honestly can’t think of one, but there’s a TV moment from Monty Python’s Flying Circus where one of them is fighting an obvious stuffed-toy lion as if it’s a true life-or-death battle. That always makes me laugh.

20. What’s the least you’ve spent on a film and still regretted it? My friends treated me to Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry for my birthday several years ago, and I still felt like I deserved some sort of recompense just for sitting through it.

21. Van Johnson or Van Heflin? Van Johnson

22. Favorite Alan Rudolph film. Look at the header of this blog and take a wild guess.

23. Name of a documentary you feel more people should see. I think every Catholic who makes excuses for pedophile priests should be forced to watch Deliver Us from Evil.

24. In deference to this quiz’ professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone being stranded. John Sayles’ Limbo.

25. Is there a moment in your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, which caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation ? If so, share. Attempting this quiz – particularly questions 3, 11, 36, 46 and 50.

26. Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? I’m going with Geraldine Fitzgerald just because she played the salty old grandmother in Arthur, one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

27. Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who? Sadly, no. If just one of us did, I’d have a great answer, but no. We’re all one-of-a-kind.

28. Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why? Salo: the 120 Days of Sodom. Surely I don’t have to explain why.

29. Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambiance. No one movie sticks out for me. When I think of memorable, winter-feeling scenes, I always remember the montage of NYC-after-a-snowstorm images in the “Splat!” episode of Sex and the City (the one where Kristen Johnson falls out a window, and Carrie decides to move to Paris with Alexandr Petrovsky.) They make an unusually hushed and lovely punctuation point in the show, and they perfectly capture the way the world looks and feels on the morning after a big blizzard has hit and moved on.

30. Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones? Jeffrey Jones, just for the fact that he was the Emperor in Amadeus. “There it is.”

31. The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever) I got nothing. But I’d like to take this opportunity to wish that someday, someone makes a TV show or film about a small town in Indiana that actually reflects the reality of living in a small town in Indiana. It’s obvious to me that no one who writes a film or sitcom set in the Hoosier State has ever actually been there; the things that are true about small-town Indiana are far funnier and more interesting than the generic Hicksville stuff invented by the scriptwriters. There, I feel better now – thank you for allowing this Hoosier native to go off-topic and speak her mind.

32. Second favorite John Wayne movie. True Grit

33. Favorite movie car chase. I don’t much care for car chases – ironically, they tend to put me to sleep . (I tend to shut down and tune out when I’m overstimulated by noise or frantic visuals.) If I had to choose, I’d go with the one in The French Connection.

34. In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic of not-so- classic film. I’d really like to see an updated reworking of A Face in the Crowd with the Lonesome Rhodes character re-envisioned as a female talk show host.

35. Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon? I’m going with Feldon, since I can’t think of what Barbara Rhoades has been in.

36. Favorite Andre de Toth movie. Sorry, I got nothing.

37. If you could take one filmmaker’s entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? I don’t think I’d miss any of the films Richard Attenborough directed if they suddenly went away . Even, if you just got rid of A Chorus Line, that’d make the world a better place.

38. Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it. Dogville. First time out, I thought it was vile. Rewatching it a few years later, I came to a greater appreciation. I realize that VonTrier intended it as a criticism of America in general – I’m not sure it’s entirely valid in that regard, but it is a cogent (and sometimes mordantly funny) take on the oversentimentalization of small-town life.

39. Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? I’ll get back to you on that after I get around to watching La Ronde (currently in my DVR queue.)

40. In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors, and which member would you most resemble, physically or in personality? I have to pick the Cutters. Since I was at Indiana University when Breaking Away was made and was an extra in the bleachers during the start of the race scene, it has a deep and lasting significance for me. As for which one I’d be – can we consider Dave’s mom one of the group?

41. Your favorite movie cliche. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy experiences some sort of deep personal growth and wins girl back. Or Girl gets Boy…. either way.

42. Vincente Minelli or Stanley Donen? Stanley Donen.

43. Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence. Does this count?


44. Favorite moment of self- or selfless-sacrifice in a movie. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a really powerful depiction of a young woman who stands up for what she believes in and is willing to die for it, even though she’s frightened. Doesn’t get much more selfless than that. The moment when she says good-bye to parents on the night before her execution will rip your heart out – not so much because of Sophie’s courage, but the way her parents let her go. They’re obviously heartbroken beyond words, but they don’t make her feel worse by falling apart themselves.

45. If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? Based on the annoying crowds at the multiplex lately, my first impulse is to get rid of the Twilight groupies.

46. Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson? I don’t know who these women are.

47.Favorite eye patch wearing director. John Ford

48. Favorite ambiguous movie ending. Toss up between Limbo and No Country For Old Men. (Bonus answer- least favorite ambiguous ending was the series finale of The Sopranos.)

49. In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for? I’m thankful for the recurring half-price Criterion Collection sales at Barnes and Noble. My DVD collection expanded significantly this year because of them.

50. George Kennedy or Alan North? I’ll go with George Kennedy because I’m really not sure who Alan North is.



Weird Moments from TV Christmas Specials, Part 1
December 5, 2009, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Grace Jones version of “The Little Drummer Boy” from Pee Wee Herman’s Christmas special. Enjoy!