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.
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.