Tag Archives: Ridley Scott

The Movie Love Questionnaire Challenge Continues … Sorta

So … I thought this Movie Love Questionnaire thing would catch on like wild fire, that film buffs would be falling all over themselves to reveal their personal cinematic preferences, that stimulating, thought-provoking dialogue would ensue.

A couple weeks ago, I challenged several Facebook friends to submit their answers to the aforementioned questionnaire, the creation of RogerEbert.com, designed to reveal an intimate glimpse into the quiz taker’s taste in film.

The response has not been as enthusiastic as I’d hoped. I get that it’s a busy world and the questionnaire is really long and time consuming and answering the questions requires thought.

Still, I’m quite taken with the quiz and what it reveals about the quiz taker. I’m hoping a few more people will send me their responses before this little experiment runs its course.

To my delight, I recently received a completed questionnaire from my very own big brother, Greg Kemble. Maybe I’m biased, but I enjoyed reading his answers immensely. You’ll find them below.

Movie Love Questionnaire:

Greg Kemble has the good fortune to be Lavender Vroman’s big brother. He is an English professor at a community college, which means he teaches mostly composition — though he dabbles in journalism, creative writing, and various literature courses. He loves both threads of film history –spectacle and art — though he’s often amazed at how few movies he gets to see.

Where did you grow up, and what was it like?

Born in Illinois, moved to Ontario, Canada for awhile, then four different places in Southern GregCalifornia. A bit disjointed. Starting in jr. high, I lived fairly far from my school; in high school, this distance increased. So all the friends I had were from my church, not from school.

Was anyone else in your family into movies? If so, what effect did they have on your moviegoing tastes?

I don’t remember a lot of movies growing up. The parents took me to a few, but it wasn’t a practice. We had limited television. I’m not sure to what extent they affected my taste in movies. Of course, my sister became a film journalist, but I was already old by then. 🙂

What’s the first movie you remember seeing, and what impression did it make on you?

I’m sure this was not the first movie I saw, but the first I remember that made an impression was What’s Up, Doc? starring Streisand and O’Neill. I was probably 5th grade. I remember trying to write a novelization of it (I didn’t now that such things existed), and when I found the published novelization I was in heaven. I tried to narrate the whole thing to my friends, who didn’t find it (or me) at all interesting. But I crushed majorly on the Streisand character, and I think it was the first comedy I’d seen.

What’s the first movie you ever walked out of?

I’ve never walked out of a movie, though I did fall asleep in “Raise the Titanic.”

What’s the funniest film you’ve ever seen?

Midnight Run. (Before that, it was All of Me; before that it was The Jerk.) I’ve seen lots of funny movies since then, but this is still my favorite.

That said, the funniest scene I’ve ever seen is the money hand-off in Ruthless People. I didn’t love the movie, but I fell out of my chair during that scene.

What’s the saddest film you’ve ever seen?

I weep at AT&T commercials, so I don’t trust my judgment. I can’t even call a sad movie to mind right now. Something where someone died of cancer, I’m sure.

What’s the scariest film you’ve ever seen?

Wait Until Dark.

What’s the most romantic film you’ve ever seen?

Amelie.

What’s the first television show you ever saw that made you think television could be more than entertainment?

Jacques Cousteau specials.

What book do you think about or revisit the most?

Gravity’s Rainbow.

What album or recording artist have you listened to the most, and why?

Sam Phillips, Cruel Inventions. Great voice, unusual lyrics, T-Bone Burnett producing.

Is there a movie that you think is great, or powerful, or perfect, but that you never especially want to see again, and why?

I can’t think of any.

What movie have you seen more times than any other?

The Matrix. However, if we’d had DVDs back when Star Wars came out, there’d be no contest.

What was your first R-rated movie, and did you like it?

The parents took me to see Sleuth. I liked it, but I’m sure part of that was because it was rated R. I didn’t fully understand it. But it held up to a second viewing when I was older.

What’s the most visually beautiful film you’ve ever seen?

This is hard, as there are many types of beauty. Anything by Ridley Scott. Avatar. But I think Dersu Uzala would still hit the top of the list.

Who are your favorite leading men, past and present?

Clooney always surprises me. Pitt, especially in unusual roles (12 Monkeys, Fight Club). Ford in Blade Runner. De Niro in anything. Pacino in anything, though especially Glengarry Glen Ross. Johnny Depp.

Who are your favorite leading ladies, past and present?

Audrey Hepburn, Angelina Jolie.

Who’s your favorite modern filmmaker?

I don’t have one. I don’t think in those terms, I guess–I like movies, or I don’t. The only person I’d go see just because it was him was Kubrick, but of course he’s not around anymore.

Who’s your least favorite modern filmmaker?

I’m not a big fan of Sandler, but I wouldn’t notice if I didn’t have kids. Again, I don’t think in those terms.

What film do you love that most people seem to hate?

I can’t think of any off hand.

What film do you hate that most people love?

Depends on who “most people” is, but Star Wars Episodes 1-3 for sure.

Tell me about a moviegoing experience you will never forget — not just because of the movie, but because of the circumstances in which you saw it.

In Austria, I was visiting a friend who went off on a backpacking trip and let me stay in his house for a few days. I went stir crazy–I didn’t know anyone, and I don’t speak German. Finally I went to the only theater in town and watched an American film, not knowing that the Austrians dub everything in German. So I sat through a film I’d never have gone to see by choice–Up the Creek–in German. It was doubly horrible.

What aspect of modern theatrical moviegoing do you like least?

The price. Old people trying to make sense of movies like The Matrix (“That was all a dream?”) behind me. I’m old, but I shut up, most of the time.

What aspect of moviegoing during your childhood do you miss the most?

I didn’t go to a lot of movies as a kid. The only thing I miss is sneaking into other theaters when my movie was done–but that was as a teen; we didn’t have multiplexes as a kid.

Have you ever damaged a friendship, or thought twice about a relationship, because you disagreed about whether a movie was good or bad?

Nah.

What movies have you dreamed about?

I wish I dreamt about movies.

What concession stand item can you not live without?

If I didn’t have kids, I’d never spend a penny on concessions.

If you’d like to take a crack at the questionnaire, I’ve included the list of questions to cut and paste below. Respond in the comments section here or on the Facebook link, or email your responses to lavendervroman@gmail.com. If I find your answers interesting and insightful, I might post them on the blog.

Movie Love Questionnaire:

Where did you grow up, and what was it like?

Was anyone else in your family into movies? If so, what effect did they have on your moviegoing tastes?

What’s the first movie you remember seeing, and what impression did it make on you?

What’s the first movie that made you think, “Hey, some people made this. It didn’t just exist. There’s a human personality behind it.”

What’s the first movie you ever walked out of?

What’s the funniest film you’ve ever seen?

What’s the saddest film you’ve ever seen?

What’s the scariest film you’ve ever seen?

What’s the most romantic film you’ve ever seen?

What’s the first television show you ever saw that made you think television could be more than entertainment?

What book do you think about or revisit the most?

What album or recording artist have you listened to the most, and why?

Is there a movie that you think is great, or powerful, or perfect, but that you never especially want to see again, and why?

What movie have you seen more times than any other?

What was your first R-rated movie, and did you like it?

What’s the most visually beautiful film you’ve ever seen?

Who are your favorite leading men, past and present?

Who are your favorite leading ladies, past and present?

Who’s your favorite modern filmmaker?

Who’s your least favorite modern filmmaker?

What film do you love that most people seem to hate?

What film do you hate that most people love?

Tell me about a moviegoing experience you will never forget — not just because of the movie, but because of the circumstances in which you saw it.

What aspect of modern theatrical moviegoing do you like least?

What aspect of moviegoing during your childhood do you miss the most?

Have you ever damaged a friendship, or thought twice about a relationship, because you disagreed about whether a movie was good or bad?

What movies have you dreamed about?

What concession stand item can you not live without?

Photos: RogerEbert.com, Greg Kemble

This Weekend, See ‘Birdman,’ Skip ‘Exodus’

This weekend, a tsunami of holiday films will crash down upon us, threatening to submerge us in cinematic overindulgence.

(The deluge actually began Wednesday with the release of the final chapter of “The Hobbit.”)

With dozens of movies vying for your attention and Christmas fast approaching, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself with much free time.

However, if you should happen to be in the mood for an alternative to the obvious yuletide fare — like “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” or “Into the Woods — there is one choice that rises above the rest, along with one over-hyped epic that deserves to be passed over.

Here’s why you should see “Birdman” and skip “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”

Birdman
Three and a half stars (out of four)
R (language, sexual content, brief violence)
119 minutes

There are few cinematic experiences that truly astonish, but “Birdman” is one of those rare discoveries.

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s darkly funny, painful, unexpectedly deep rumination on showbiz, ego and the human condition is a movie that has to be seen to be believed. Nominated for seven Golden Globe awards, the film has a serious shot at carting off the best picture Oscar in February.

“Birdman” is exciting on several levels, beginning with the way Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki create the illusion the film was shot in one long, exhilarating take, winding its way through backstage corridors, out into New York’s Time Square and back again.

The movie is fun to watch even as Inarritu heaps his signature humiliations upon his characters, chiefly Michael Keaton’s has-been actor, who briefly tasted fame in a before-its-time superhero flick and seeks redemption by writing and starring in a Raymond Carver adaptation on Broadway.

The role feels more than a little autobiographical for former Batman Keaton, who basically lays all his wrinkles and a receding hairline at our feet in a vanity-free performance that is a breathtaking revelation. The entire cast of “Birdman” is amazing, including an adorably messy, big-eyed Emma Stone and Edward Norton, so vital and commanding here, you’d think he somehow resurrected his younger self from his “Fight Club” or “American History X” days.

Playfully meta with a feverish intensity that recalls “Black Swan” and “All That Jazz,” “Birdman” has smart, clever, pop culturally literate things to say about our celebrity obsessed society. It’s the anti-“Avengers,” but like a good comic book movie, it’s a total rush.

Exodus-Gods-and-Kings

Exodus
Two stars (out of four)
PG-13 (violence, battle sequences, intense images)
150 minutes

With “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” director Ridley Scott intends to give one of the most famous Old Testament legends the blockbuster origin story treatment, but instead he ends up remaking his 2000 hit, “Gladiator.”

The filmmaker takes more than a few liberties with the Biblical account of Moses, but sadly none of them are very compelling. In this version of the scriptural saga, the revered leader of the Israelites is played by Christian Bale as a wise and brave general in Pharaoh’s army, raised alongside heir-to-the-throne Ramses (Joel Edgerton, bald and resplendent in eye liner).

Sibling rivalry and daddy issues breed resentment between the siblings, just as they did between Russell Crowe’s general and Joaquin Phoenix’s prince in “Gladiator.” When Pharaoh (portrayed in an odd bit of casting by John Turturro) kicks the bucket, Ramses becomes Egypt’s ruler, even though Moses is the better man. Ramses discovers Moses’ true roots as a Hebrew slave and is terribly, terribly vexed, while his adopted bro reluctantly begins his journey as revolutionary savior of his people.

With its opulent Egyptian sets and costumes and impressive rendering of the plagues and other divine judgments in CGI, “Exodus” aims for the pomp and melodrama of great Biblical epics like “The Ten Commandments,” “Ben-Hur” and “King of Kings.” But with a running time of two-and-a-half hours, it plods along so slowly, it begins to feel as if the audience has been wandering the desert for 40 years.

When it comes to Moses’ identity, Scott and the “Exodus” screenwriters can’t commit. Bale talks to God — the form the deity takes is bound to miff some viewers of faith — but only after suffering a blow to the head, so it’s possible his hero enjoys a direct line to heaven. Then again, he might just be insane.

In the end what “Exodus” lacks is a well defined vision and the courage to examine religious conviction in all its complexity.

Photos: moviesmxdwn.com, http://www.digitaltrends.com