Sunday, September 30, 2007

Famous Last Words- Round 1, Week 1

Welcome all to the inaugural week of competition in my Famous Last Words contest. I hope you've all had a chance to survey the rules I posted previously. Here's the short version- every Sunday, I post the final line (or dialogue exchange) from a feature film, and you guess the film from which I've taken them. Please submit all guesses- educated or otherwise- to before 11:59 PM next Saturday night.

Before I move on to the quote, I want to announce that I've come up with a prize for the winner of this round- a $20 gift certificate from The Criterion Store. Not extravagant I know, but I figure it's something that the people who would play this game could use. Although if the winner of the round lives outside North America, I'm sure we could come to an agreement as to a region-appropriate alternate prize.

Moving on... For this first week, I'm going with the final line of a movie I'm pretty sure most of you have seen, many more than once. Maybe it's my way of testing to see how many of you are out there, or simply a semi-gimme for the people who will be playing from the beginning. Anyway, here it is:

"Say, friend- you got any more of that good sarsaparilla?"

E-Mail your guesses to me at this address. See you next Sunday!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Famous Last Words: The Rules

For my first competitive quiz, I've decided to keep things fairly simple. Here are the ground rules.

1. Every Sunday, I post a line or a short dialogue exchange from a movie. You, in turn, will e-Mail me your guesses as to what movie I took the dialogue from. Guesses must be submitted to me in e-Mail form, to the following e-Mail address:

2. All quotes will be the final spoken lines of the film, delivered by an onscreen character or narrator. Likewise, the words must be audible. In other words, no silent films, and no onscreen text that isn't read aloud.

3. All quotes will be the final lines of the film proper. Any lines spoken in "credit cookies" or post-credits scenes won't be used. For example, the final lines of Ferris Bueller's Day Off would be "Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it," rather than "You're still here? It's over. Go home."

4. All of the quizzes will be taken from feature-length films of more than an hour in duration. As much as I'd love to slip a Don Hertzfeldt quote in there, it's just not happening.

5. The films selected may be in any language, but I will post the quotations translated into English whenever applicable.

6. Participants may only submit one guess per quiz. If more than one guess is submitted, no points will be given for the week whether the guess is correct or incorrect.

7. Submissions must be made to the e-Mail address I will be turning off comments to each week's quiz until the answer has been posted with the next week's quiz to avoid confusion.

8. Each correct submission will be worth one point, each incorrect submission worth zero points. At the end of ten weeks, the competitor with the most points will win a prize that will be announced at a later date. If there is a tie for first place, I will run tie-breaker rounds until there is a single winner.

9. Have fun!

Face Time #21 (Cookies sure were good)

Takeshi Kitano

Monday, September 24, 2007

Famous Last Words: For Real This Time

I know that at least a few of you out there have been enjoying my weekly Famous Last Words quiz for the last month or so. Some have even tried- some successfully, some not- to guess the quotations I've posted. It's been fun, in my opinion, but thusfar nothing has been at stake. Until now, that is.

Every Sunday, I will continue to post a Famous Last Words quiz, but beginning this upcoming weekend I'll be keeping score. Over the next ten weeks, whoever correctly identifies the most quotations will win a prize. It won't be something extravagant or anything, like the 50 Years of Janus Films box set or a year's supply of Braunschweiger, but it'll definitely be something you can use. I'll announce what the prize will be on Sunday, when I post the first official quiz.

Why am I doing this, you ask? Part of it is to increase traffic around here. Nothing brings people out of the woodwork like free stuff. But I also thought it would be fun to do, and hopefully it'll be fun for you all to play.

I've created a special e-Mail address specifically for the game, so if you have any questions or thoughts about the Famous Last Words game prior to the first round, feel free to e-Mail them to me at I'll post the official rules of the game later this week.

In the meantime, let's get the word out. More people means more competition, which should mean more fun for all. See you Sunday!

From a Polish Movie House #18

The Nights of Cabiria (1957, Federico Fellini)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Famous Last Words- Answer to Practice Round #5

Wow, that's two straight weeks with no takers on the Famous Last Words quotes. Either I'm picking harder ones than I thought, or my fans have abandoned me. Or both, who knows?

Anyway, last week's quote was the first I've pulled from a foreign-language film, this one being none other than Robert Bresson's Pickpocket. I have a hard time believing that some of you haven't seen this one, perhaps Bresson's most famous film and the object of Paul Schrader's very public obsession in the early-to-mid 60s, back in his critic days. Perhaps it would have been easier had I not elided the character's name (Jeanne) spoken in the line.

Edited 9/27 to add: I've removed this week's posted Famous Last Words game because no one had taken a crack at it yet. I'll hold on to it until the game starts in earnest.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Muriel Awards 2007 FYC #5

Best Screenplay: Richard Shepard, The Hunting Party

Is Richard Shepard the most underappreciated filmmaker in America? Based on the lukewarm reaction from critics and moviegoers to his last two films, 2005's The Matador and the recent release The Hunting Party, it's quite possible. Both of these films possess a very specific brand of humor, caustic and foul-mouthed, but rooted firmly in strong characters. Likewise, the films deal with honest-to-goodness adult characters, people who've been around the block a few times and are living with decisions that took them far from the lives they hoped they'd have. This is especially true of The Hunting Party, which tells the story of three reporters- a down-on-his-luck correspondent (Richard Gere), a network cameraman (Terrence Howard), and a spoiled greenhorn on the make (Jesse Eisenberg)- who stake everything on a quixotic quest to locate a warlord nicknamed "The Fox" who's hiding in the war-torn Balkans. Much of the film plays as comedy, but there's also real emotional heft here, from Gere's deep-seated reasons for hunting down The Fox to Shepard's completely unironic portrayal of male bonding. How many other recent films would contain man-to-man dialogue that concludes with "that's why I love you" without going for a homophobic snicker? The Hunting Party is also the rare film about wartime journalism that doesn't shy away from the adrenaline rush that battlefield reporters seek- as Gere says in the film, "putting your life in danger is actual living. The rest is just television." The Hunting Party is one of the best films of recent months, but it's getting trounced at the box office, and I hope that audiences will discover the film when it comes to DVD.

Movie Moment #27

Also this week:

Top 15: The All Time Worst Athletes Turned Actors, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3- in which I, a non-sports-fan, wrestled with the prospect of writing about 1941 Heisman winner Bruce Smith in Smith of Minnesota.

Trailer Roundup- The Mist (sorry Andrew, I'm just not feeling this one). We Own the Night. AvP: Requiem.

Also Toronto updates.

Face time #20 (last time, last year, not so good)

Naomi Watts

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Politics as usual

Of course, in no way do I post the following video in response to the current political situation on both sides of the aisle. I honestly have no reason whatsoever to post it. It's certainly not meant to be topical.

Monday, September 17, 2007

From a Polish Movie House #17

The Conformist (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Guess the Movie Moment #5

OK, I've got another oddball Guess the Movie Moment for you this week. Instead of describing the plot of the movie or the Moment itself, I'll tell you about the movie in question as it relates to my readership:

This week's Movie Moment was taken from a film that most of you will not have seen. However, many of the people reading this who HAVE seen the film saw it at the same time I did.

Cryptic enough for you? Let's find out...

Famous Last Words #5

I'm a little bummed that nobody would even hazard a guess on last week's contest. I blame Toronto, personally- some of you were up there, while others were no doubt occupying yourselves with the TIFF dispatches that were all over the Web. Still, I hoped that at least one of you might have recognized the final exchange from Anthony Harvey's The Lion in Winter. I haven't seen the film in years, but I've always loved the final lines.

Anyway, this week's edition of Famous Last Words is a little different than the ones that have come before, although to say exactly how it's different might give the game away. Anyway, I know at least a couple of you have caught this one. I've inserted ellipses where a character's name should be, so as not to make it too easy, but I doubt that'll stop some of you. Here goes...

"Oh (name)... what a strange way I had to take to meet you!"

As always, guesses- educated or otherwise- in the comments section. Have at it!

Friday, September 14, 2007

When Good Directors Go Bad (?) #11

Also this week:

Cinema's Worst Musical Misfires, Part 1 and Part 2- Toronto cut into my list-contributing this week, but I was able to make time to write up the craptastic movie version of A Chorus Line. You're welcome.

Trailer Roundup: Toronto Edition- Rendition. Lars and the Real Girl. Reservation Road.

Plus Toronto Roundups

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Toronto grades

All films 2007 unless otherwise noted. Click on dates for commentary on Screengrab as it's posted.

Thursday, 9/6:
Fados (Carlos Saura) - 7
Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi and Vincente Parranoud) - 5
The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento) - 6

Friday, 9/7:
Ne Touchez Pas le Hache (Jacques Rivette) - 9
Pink (2006, Alexander Voulgaris) - 3
Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (Hou Hsiao-hsien) - 7
The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin) - 6
The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona) - 6

Saturday, 9/8:
Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon (Eric Rohmer) - 8 (click for full review)
The Man From London (Béla Tarr) - 6
Useless (Jia Zhang-ke) - 5
Europa 2005- 27 octobre (2006, Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet) [short] - recommended
Capitalism:Slavery (Ken Jacobs) [short] - recommended
Profit motive and the whispering wind (John Gianvito) - 8
George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead - 6

Sunday, 9/9:
Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong) - 7
Les Chansons d'Amour (Christophe Honoré) - 4
Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas) - 9 (click for Movie Moment piece)

Monday, 9/10:

Sad Vacation (Shinji Aoyama) - 3
Redacted (Brian DePalma) - 7
Atonement (Joe Wright) - 6
Stuck (Stuart Gordon) - 8

Wow, Toronto was frickin' amazing. I seriously think it's the best vacation I've ever taken. I've been some awesome places in my life, but whereas I usually had to adhere to someone else's schedule on those trips, this was a vacation just for me. Also, nice to meet (deep breath) Ryan, Victor, Missy, Jason, baaab, Charles, Froilan, Josh, Jim, Scott, Mike, Dan, Ken, Girish, plus my old pal Lee and my moviegoing buds Steve and Kevin. Wish I could've met up with Theo, Michael and Noel at some point- maybe next year?

Monday, September 10, 2007

From a Polish Movie House #16

12 Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet) {50 years later, Lumet has a new film at Toronto. While I won't be in town to see it, such longevity is pretty damned impressive.}

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Famous Last Words #4

Congrats to new poster Cerb Chaos for pouncing on last week's quote mere hours after I originally put it up. Yes, it's from Mervyn LeRoy's superlative social problem picture, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang. The film, made in 1932, has a little bit of early sound-film staidness, but it still packs a punch, especially in the great performance from Paul Muni, and that chilling ending. Could a studio picture get away with that ending today? Doubt it.

Anyway, here's a quick one, while I'm away:

"I hope we never die."
"So do I."
"Do you think there’s any chance of it?"

Have at it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Face Time #18 (Palindromes up north)

Najwa Nimri

Movie Moment #26

Also this week:

Revisionist Westerns: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4- With Toronto upon us, I only had time for Dead Man. Good thing it's frickin' amazing.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Today's the day!

I'm leaving for Toronto today, and I can barely contain my excitement. Frankly, I feel a little like this...

I just hope nobody shoots at me. I'm guessing that if I pack my bear repellent and restrain myself from talking like one of the Mackenzie brothers, I'll be fine. But you can never be too sure...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guess the Movie Moment #4

In a bit of a hurry here, so I'll just go with a description of this week's Moment:

A sequence of twelve shots in relatively quick succession. No music, no dialogue. The first eleven shots are very similar, with almost no action. However, the twelfth holds a great big surprise, a complete stylistic change from what's preceded it.

Kind of vague, I know. I'll also say that this film has gotten the Criterion treatment, and that I've recently spotlighted some of the director's work over at Screengrab. To say more would be giving away the game.

From a Polish Movie House #15

To Be or Not to Be (1942, Ernst Lubitsch) - how would YOU sell a movie about Nazis to WWII era Poles?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Toronto is coming. Woohoo!

So it's almost upon us, the long-anticipated event. That's right, this week I'm going to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting citizenry of Toronto, and no amount of Godzilla repellent is going to keep me away. I've been longing to go to TIFF for years, and with the vast and vastly awesome array of films playing I couldn't wait one more year. So here's the schedule I've got so far. I'll rush a few more films (that Wavelengths #2 program looks mighty tempting), and naturally I'll add ratings and comments as I see the films. Although how soon after remains to be seen- it's my vacation, and I plan to enjoy it. And by the looks of this schedule, I'll have to put forth a lot of effort NOT to enjoy myself.

Thursday, September 6:
6:00 PM- Fados (Carlos Saura) [I recently saw Cria Cuervos for the first time and was pretty blown away. The only film of his I've seen was Tango which was only OK, but I'll give him another shot.)
9:00 PM- Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud) [This was well-reviewed at Cannes this year, so I'll give it a whirl.)
11:59 PM- The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento) [Should be a blast.]

Friday, September 7:
9:45 AM- Ne Touchez Pas le Hache (Jacques Rivette) [The biggest heartbreaker of the fest was that this was scheduled opposite Roy Andersson, with neither playing again until after I leave. But you know me- barring a surprise Watkins film, I'll pretty much always choose my man Rivette.]
{Lots of free time here for rushing something or hanging out or seeing the city.}
2:45 PM- The Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien) [I'm not the world's biggest Hou fan, but I know plenty of Hou fans who'll be there, so at least it'll be good for discussing afterwards.]
7:00 PM- The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin) [After Head On, Akin's one to watch.]
{More free time here since I didn't get into Control. But don't worry, I'm sure I'll find something.}

Saturday, September 8:
9:00 AM- Les Amours d'Astree et de Celadon (Eric Rohmer)
12:45 PM- The Man From London (Bela Tarr)
4:30 PM- Useless (Jia Zhang-ke)
11:59 PM- George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead [Hell yes- Romero at midnight is gonna RAWK. Jason- wish you were here to enjoy it with me.]
{Yup- Rohmer, Tarr, Jia and Romero all in one day. Only in Toronto. Plus I figure I can work in at least one more evening show and still have time to chill with my buds.}

Sunday, September 9:
9:00 AM- The Visitor (Tom McCarthy) [This could end up getting the axe if I'm still beat from Romero the night before, but this looked like a good time filler. Will be nice to see Richard Jenkins in a lead role for a change.}
11:45 AM- Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong) [Another Cannes film.]
3:30 PM- Les Chansons d'Amour (Christophe Honoré) [And another. I wasn't a fan of Honoré's Ma Mere, but this will get me my Ludivine fix since I won't be in town for the Chabrol. Ludivine *drool*]
{Another break. I requested the new Greenaway film here, but I'm sure I'll find an acceptable substitute.}
9:00 PM- Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas) [The semi-legendary awesome Reygadas film. Can't wait.]

Monday, September 10:
{My final shutout was the Palme d'Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. I'm kinda bummed about it, but I'm sure it'll come to town.}
12:30 PM- Chrysalis (Julien Leclerq) [I scheduled this as a time-filler, mostly due to Albert Dupontel in the lead. Could very well find something else to see.]
2:30 PM- Sad Vacation (Shinji Aoyama) [The only Aoyama I've seen is Eureka, which I love. Naturally, I'm curious what else he's got in him.]
6:00 PM- Redacted (Brian DePalma) [Another "hell yes." DePalma haters can step off. Dude's got mad skills, so recognize.]
{A few possibilities here- the new Lee Myung-se, My Kid Could Paint That and so on. Or maybe just boozing with Steve and/or Theo.}
11:59 PM- Stuck (Stuart Gordon) [Call this a scouting mission for this fall's horror marathon. I'll keep you posted, Bruce and Joe.]

Tuesday, September 11:
9:00 AM- The Last Lear (Rituparano Ghosh) [I fly out in the afternoon, but I wanted to fit in at least one more film before I left, and when I saw the great Bachchan had a new one at the fest, I couldn't resist.]

Man, this is gonna be great...

Famous Last Words #3

Harrumph! I was half-hoping I might stump you again, but it wasn't to be. Congrats to my old pal Jason, who correctly guessed last week's entry, from Mel Brooks' classic Blazing Saddles. Good job Jason, although I'd prefer you not whip that out around here if it's all the same to you.

Here's another classic, one that should be pretty memorable for those who've seen the movie. The trick may be finding people who have. Let's take a trip in the Wayback Machine for this week's lines.

"How do you live?"
"I steal!"

Succinct and to the point, as my fifth grade teacher used to say. What movie is it from? As usual, post your answers in the comments. Good luck!

Saturday, September 01, 2007