Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

The 15 Questions Movie Meme

The R contingent of my online buds, Ruth and Ronan, each contributed fun and wonderfully varied answers to the 15 Question Movie Meme making its way across the blogosphere. I recommend each of their posts. As they usually do, the R’s have piqued my interest with their inspiring film answers. The origin of this internet movie survey Ruth noted in her post:

“Anna from Defiant Success blog first came up with this movie meme back in May…”

I must admit, though, I’ve grown somewhat tired of tagging others in such blog meme exercises. Perhaps, I’m getting old and cranky… or just plain lazy. Either way, I’m looking for volunteers instead of conscripts. So, if anyone reading this would like to join in, please feel free to do so. With that out of the way, let’s begin.

1. Movie you love with a passion.

I’m in great company what with this film leading off Ronan’s post, as well. The 1946 It’s a Wonderful Life was simply Frank Capra’s finest film. Even James Stewart admitted that it was his, too, years later. However, for the elation audiences reach by the film’s end, it is essentially a dark-themed movie. Stewart’s George Bailey character is by accounts a good man wronged.

He’s kept in place by circumstances beyond his control. The Bedford Falls native has his boyhood dreams of travel and adventure seemingly crushed by a life of familial obligation. He’s lived in his own world of self-sacrifice toward his father, younger brother, and the small close-knit community around him. Its story-line is one that touches, at times wrenchingly, life’s inequities and what-if’s.

And though it has many, many moments of sheer joy within it, Capra counterbalances it with some pretty stark situations that are nightmarish and recognizable by all who sit and watch it. Like Capra’s pre-war Arsenic and Old Lace film, it is its dark undertone that brings out its best parts. It’s a Wonderful Life bestows a heavenly sense through its use of a little Hell. In other words, you’re not going to have a silver lining without that dark cloud to show it off.

2. Movie you vow to never watch.


Sorry, but all the clever trappings of a story told in reverse (à la Christopher Nolan’s Memento) are unlikely going to change my mind about seeing Irréversible. My justification is the primary focus in this post. The beautiful Monica Belluci aside, I’m with blogger Dennis Cozzalio on this. I know my friend Ronan took this one in, but he’s a braver man than me.

3. Movie that literally left you speechless.


The film can still leave me stunned after all these years. Schlindler’s List. Ruth’s selection for this question also did the same, but I’ve only been able to view that movie once as opposed to this Spielberg film.

4. Movie you always recommend.


For a time, I had picked The Maltese Falcon as the one I’d recommend to friends and strangers. That is, until I finally saw Casablanca.

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.


He’s never been big box office, he is not notoriously bad behaved, and his collaborations (and commentary tracks) with director John Carpenter are legendary. Yet, Kurt Russell has been an exceptional actor throughout his career (one that began in his childhood with Disney films). He continues to be criminally underrated and rarely gets the credit he deserves. No matter what film he’s in, he’s always interesting in the role and he’s never sleepwalked a performance (a combination, I might add, that’s rare to find). If he’s in a movie, I’m watching it.

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal for.


Renee Zellweger. Let’s move on… nothing to see here.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Either of the two in my answer to question 10 (one of them was the same as Ruth’s selection).

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen. (Picture required!)

Easy, Marlene Dietrich. She’s not necessarily what you’d call a classic beauty, but man, she remains the sexiest woman I ever saw on-screen. I instantly fell for her in the 60s after I watched Golden Earrings (1947) for the first time on television one summer — her co-star Ray Milland and I didn’t stand a chance:

9. Dream cast.

In film history – the entire cast of The Godfather was pretty impressive.

In fantasy – director Alfred Hitchcock, male lead Cary Grant, female lead Audrey Hepburn, supporting male Humphrey Bogart, and supporting female Barbara Stanwyck.

10. Favorite actor pairing.

Another easy one to answer. Two of my all-time favorite actors in the same movie: Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in their only pairing, Charade. There was only one Cary Grant, and Audrey will forever be my preferred Hepburn. I’ll take them in Paris over Bogart and Bergman, any day (and that’s saying something considering that you know my answer to question 4).

11. Favorite movie setting.

Of late, I’d have to say the planet LV-426 (from Alien and Aliens):

12. Favorite decade for movies.

The 70s. I’ve mentioned it before: I was born in the 50s, grew up during the 60s, but I survived the 70s. No decade in my life was as tumultuous and taxing. But through the maelström of economic recession, oil crises, Vietnam, Watergate, terrorism… disco, its affect upon cinema produced a memorable score of films that continue to influence filmmakers and draw filmgoers alike even today. From the big and important films (The Godfather, Chinatown, Jaws, Star Wars) to the small and decidedly underestimated (Halloween, The Long Goodbye, The Driver, Sorcerer), this decade had it all… and in spades. Lastly, though the decade did not invent or even introduce the character of the anti-hero, that protagonist certainly came into its own during this distinct ten-year stretch.

13. Chick flick or action movie?

Is there any doubt that it wouldn’t be the action movie?

14. Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Knowing my answer to question 12, how can it not be the anti-hero? With the 70s icons Michael Corleone, Dirty Harry Calahan, Jack Carter, Popeye Doyle, and Travis Bickle (along with the Stranger from High Plains Drifter) to back me up, I think I’ve got the guns to back that affirmation.

15. Black and white or color?

I chose the lead image for this meme post purposely as a hint toward my answer to this final question: Black and White. While I enjoy color in film as much as the next person, I have a special leaning for the monochrome. Partly, because I grew up watching a lot B&W movies on (a black & white) TV. But, primarily because of the imagery that came out of it — cinema is the art of moving pictures. My old college photography instructor (the one who taught dark room techniques) had us shoot nothing but B&W film for his course. “Why?”, we asked. “Because color sometimes lies or distracts.”, was his answer. He wanted to teach us how to create great pictures, not necessarily great color.

Some, not all, images are attractive for their coloration, and not much else. Drain them of their hue, and they’re not as interesting. A beautifully composed and formed image highlights or supports the subject the photographer wants to reveal to the viewer. And it will be striking whether there is pigment in the frame or not. This has application for film scenes and cinematographers —  I’d watch North by Northwest and Lawrence of Arabia in black and white without issue. Those that worked in B&W cinema didn’t fall back on color, even later when they could. And whatever beauty some of the great filmmakers of the era gathered on film by means of shades of gray (like the Capra film from question 1) did so by their skill and artistry. And I continue to admire that.

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23 Responses to “The 15 Questions Movie Meme”

  1. Naomi Johnson

    Your great choices have me wanting to watch a great film. This may be a Charade day. Might even do this meme if I can swipe 90% of your answers.

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    • le0pard13

      I never tire of watching Charade (maybe my wife does, though). And I’d love to see you answers to this meme, Naomi. Thanks.

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  2. rtm

    Yay, I’m glad you’re doing this, Michael and many thanks for the kind shout-out.

    Oh I’m with you w/ Irreversible. Even my friend Vince who saw it wish he could ‘un-see’ most of it, definitely not something I’d see even if someone paid me!

    I love that you have the same answer for #1 as Ronan, it’s definitely one of my favorite classics. Can’t believe I’ve just seen it less than a year ago! I will watch Casablanca soon, I think the fact that you recommend it here is the final push I need to finally watch it!

    So we share an admiration for Audrey Hepburn, wouldn’t it be nice if all three of us could have coffee with her together? A girl can dream 😀

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    • le0pard13

      Yeah, Irreversible is right up with SALO for notoriety. Both have their defenders, though, which adds to my curiosity. It’s ust not enough for me to pull the trigger.

      If I’m the one to make you finally see Casablanca, then I consider that a feather in my cap. I never tire of that classic.

      Ah… the lovely Audrey. I’d be there, no questions asked. Thanks, Ruth.

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  3. dirtywithclass

    …i guess i’m the only blogger who actually found Irreversible worth watching around these parts. Not that it was a “pleasant” movie, but i think it did have a point. And i think i might try to watch “Its a Wonderful Life” after seeing it on it get so many recommendations.

    Also, I liked how in depth you went with your last answer

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  4. Ronan

    Really liked your answers Michael and I found your reasoning on the last particularly interesting. I love Black and White films, I just think there is more potential, cinematically, with colour. Having said that, I agree that a great film is a great film, whether it’s shot in B&W or colour. 12 Angry Men is a good of example of this, I don’t think colour would add anything much to that film because it is all contained in the script and performances. Nice header image from Manhattan, one of my favourite B&W film stills. I think It’s A Wonderful Life struck a chord with me because it conveys a strong message of putting those around you before yourself and your own legitimate, even noble ambitions. The film says to me: ‘Bloom where you are planted’. About Irreversible, watching that film was definitely a case of not being able to ‘unring the bell’.

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    • le0pard13

      I do agree with you that there is more potential when color is added to the toolbox palette of filmmakers. My admiration comes from the fact that the early pioneers did so much with less, and their work still passes the test of time. I guess the analogy could be one of long form poetry and the haiku. Both the former and latter can be beautiful and inspiring. But damn, doing so with less really is sheer artistry.

      ‘Bloom where you are planted’.

      I really like your message re: It’s a Wonderful Life, Ronan. And I’m still looking to keep that certain bell quiet. Thanks so much, my friend.

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  5. Novroz

    Interesting answers, Mike. Now, I am the only one I know who havent done this meme 😉

    I like the details you put in each answer. It’s a wonderful sounds like a great movie, probably very difficult to find here 😦
    I am curious with why you don’t like Renee.

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    • le0pard13

      I enjoyed your post today that came from this, Novroz. There’s only 14 questions left… not much really, if you’d like to give it a go, I mean. I’m always interested in your thoughts about film :-).

      If you ever do get a chance to check it out, I would like to know your thoughts about It’s a Wonderful Life.

      I think Renee Z is a decent actress, just not a great one. And certainly not worth the hype she was given awhile back around the time of Chicago (don’t get me started on Rob Marshall and that film). And I better stop there ;-).

      Thank you very much for your comment, Novroz.

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      • Novroz

        Thank you, Mike 😀 … ah, unfortunately some of the questions here aren’t interesting enough to think about…I’ll pass. But I admit that reading everyone’s list is really fun.

        I am planning on doing top-5 for the number where you mentioned Renee 😉 … I hope I won’t break some fans’ hearts. But that would be for September.

        I understand what you’re saying about her, I think she was great in Bridget Jones, her Brit accent was believeable, but that’s about it…I don’t watch enough of her to share my opinion. I wasn’t impressive with her movie with Jim Carrey (I forgot the title).

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  6. The Sci-Fi Fanatic

    L13

    I must tell you that I really enjoyed your list. Part of the problem for me with these lists [personally when tasked] is how difficult it is to narrow down my selections or even think of selections that might be far off my radar.

    I loved your choices M! They are spot on fantastic and would really echo many of my own choices if given a chance to think about it.

    A great selection and as always a very thoughtful post. These memes are always harder than they look.

    Best,
    sff

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    • le0pard13

      Thank so much, SFF. Sometimes, the movie memes seem simple enough… till you start them. Then, your choices (the ones you thought were so easy) take on a life. You’re on your own when you answer these, and you’re not under oath to answer truthfully, yet I feel the need to take it as honestly as those you’ve come into contact through the web. Perhaps, it’s that sense of community and sharing. Certainly, there’s common interest in the subject and I guess that counts for something. I’m not quite sure why I’m waxing philosophically here. Perhaps, it’s the kind words we run into that inspires this… like yours here, my friend.

      Best,
      M

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  7. Joel Burman

    Such a nice list. I got to tell you I’m so jealous of you having the opportunity to see so many older films at the cinema. Have you done the “A life in movies blogathon”?
    I’d really love to see your take on that one, here’s mine (if you for some reason haven’t stumbled upon this meme before): http://www.joelburman.com/2011/05/a-life-in-movies/

    I’d totally agree on both Casablanca and Maltese falcon as classics to start of with of since they are timeless. I saw the Maltese Falcon just some months ago for the first time and wow is that a great film especially Bogie was superb in it! Its amazing that it 70 years old!

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    • le0pard13

      Very kind of you to say, Joel. And that looks like another great meme (I just took a brief look at yours right now and I’ll get back to it soon). I am doing a memory dump series at the moment, but I may give this a try, too. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting on this, my friend.

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  8. Rachel

    I love your movie memes because they give me great ideas for some films I haven’t seen. I’ve been watching tons of movies lately (by the time I finally come in from the outside, do some household upkeep, etc the only thing I have the energy left to do is flop in front of a movie:)) so if I can get my bum in front of the computer for any length of time I think I’ll take this one on, too.

    Hope all is well in SoCal. I’m putting together a little surprise package for you and your family so keep an eye out for it in the next month or so. 😉

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    • le0pard13

      Any way I can help with your continuing exploration of cinema, I’m more than happy to do so :-), If you can join in on this meme, as well, that would be great, Rachel.

      Ooh… you’ve got me more than curious. Thanks very much.

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