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Matt Answers Every Criticwire Survey Question

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire November 22, 2012 at 10:12AM

There are over 30 of them so far.
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"Crank: High Voltage."
"Crank: High Voltage."

July 23: What is your favorite memory from a movie theater?

"I've already written about the first one that comes to mind -- discovering 'Army of Darkness' at midnight with a rowdy college campus crowd -- so here's another: seeing 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' in the theater with my dad and best friend. I was 10 years old and it was the first R-rated movie I was allowed to see. It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life to date. I remember being a little scared at first, and jumping out of my seat when the Terminator's robotic foot suddenly appears and crushes a human skull, but before too long I was whooping and cheering with delight. I have a pretty strange and selective memory; I can't remember what I ate for lunch a few hours ago, but I can vividly recall the details of seeing 'T2' for the first time: where in the theater we sat, how I bounced in my seat with excitement. It made a huge impact."

July 30: What movie title best describes your life and why?

"'Insomnia,' he typed as he glanced at the clock. It read '2:50 AM.' He looked back down and kept typing."

August 6: What film series would you actually want to see continued without its main character or star?

"As much as I love them, I could easily see 'Toy Story' continuing on without Tom Hanks' Woody and Tim Allen's Buzz. 'Toy Story 3' was delightful (when it wasn't brutally traumatizing) but it also sort of recycled a lot of the same ideas as 'Toy Story 2.' There are plenty of toys out there and a lot of potential for their adventures, neuroses, and foibles. I'd happily watch a 'Toy Story 4' starring the old gang -- but I wouldn't be opposed to one without them either."

August 13: Which Expendable's film career is least expendable -- Stallone, Schwarzenegger or Willis?

"Oh, please."

August 20: What's the greatest film by a not-so-great director?

"I've always been a huge fan of 'Across 110th Street' -- a brutal and brilliantly even-handed crime film from the 1970s about the violent repercussions of a mob robbery. It was directed by Barry Shear, a journeyman filmmaker who spent most of his career grinding out made-for-TV movies (his biggest claim to fame: directing the pilot of 'Starsky and Hutch'). Shear's career was long but largely unremarkable, except for 'Across 110th Street' and a strange hippie exploitation picture I also love called 'Wild in the Streets.' But if you've got to be known for two things, those are two fairly awesome things to be known for."

August 27: What movie are you most looking forward to seeing this fall? 

"For me, it would have been a coin flip between 'Looper' and 'Skyfall.' And I wound up enjoying both quite a bit."

September 3: As we head into award season, what's the one movie released between January and August that you hope isn't forgotten when it's time to pick the best films of the year?

"There were a lot of great movies released before September this year, and I hope all of them are remembered come top ten and year-end poll time. I'll simply go by which film from that time frame currently ranks highest on my own running list of the best of the year and say 'The Cabin in the Woods.'"

September 10: What is Paul Thomas Anderson's best film?

"I rewatched them all in the weeks leading up to 'The Master.' And until I see 'The Master' a second time, I say it's 'Boogie Nights.' But I could definitely change my mind after that re-view."

September 17: What is the most emblematic example of filmmaking circa the 2010s to stick in a time capsule for the people of the future?

"This question was inspired by a piece I wrote, so I'll stick with the movie I was discussing at the time: 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.' The reasons why are all in that piece."

September 24: What is the best time travel movie ever made?

"I know there are more 'accurate' depictions of time travel -- an argument I've always found slightly ridiculous since time travel doesn't exist -- but has there ever been one that's more funny, more romantic, more insightful into human nature than 'Back to the Future?' Has any time travel movie better used its gimmick to tell a story about the passage of time in a natural and inevitable sense and not just through the use of a magical doohickey? I say no."

October 1: What one movie do you most want to see get a Criterion Collection DVD or Blu-ray?

"In my mind, Criterion's backed the wrong Anderson. Wes Anderson's got five Criterions and Paul Thomas Anderson has zero? That's just not right. Though some of his films have received solid home releases, they could all benefit from the five-star Criterion treatment -- and none more than Anderson's first film, "Hard Eight," which is currently out-of-print on DVD and has yet to be released on Blu-ray."

October 8: What is the best film about filmmaking?

"It might not be the best or most accurate depiction of the 'filmmaking industry,' but for sheer quality I'd probably say 'Blow Out,' Brian De Palma's endlessly fascinating, intensely tawdry tale of a exploitation movie sound man who accidentally records a car accident while taping nature sounds one evening. The sound man, played by John Travolta in one of his best performances, slowly realizes the accident was actually a murder, and uses his audio track to try to prove it. Travolta's character actually creates film from the ground up, turning still photos into a flipbook and then into a 8mm film. Beyond its brilliant deconstruction -- or reconstruction, in this case -- of the nuts and bolts of cinema, 'Blow Out' digs deeply into the way filmmaking becomes an obsession, and not always for the better."

October 15: Where is the best place to sit in a movie theater? 

"Roger Ebert's advice on this question has never led me astray. He writes: 'After I got the Sun-Times job I idly asked my optometrist where one should sit. 'Twice as far back as the screen is wide,' he ruled. To that advice I made a refinement: I prefer an aisle seat on the outboard side of the aisle. Outboard? Imagine a theater with two side aisles. I want the side of the aisle at a greater distance from the screen, so that I can look diagonally across the aisle, and not have to peer over a taller person in front of me.' In any movie theater with side aisles, that is exactly where you'll find me."

October 22: You've been hired by your local movie theater to guest curate a Halloween double feature. What two movies do you pick and why?

"I'd probably use the opportunity to celebrate one of my favorite directors -- Sam Raimi -- and a few of his less well-known films. Everybody loves 'The Evil Dead' trilogy, so I'd go with a more obscure double feature -- something like 'Darkman' and 'Drag Me to Hell.' Admittedly, it may not be the most lucrative double feature for the theater -- but I'd sure enjoy it."

October 29: Name a movie you've never watched because you're afraid it will be too scary.

"'An Inconvenient Truth.' Climate change freaks me out enough already. I don't need Al Gore to tell me it's terrifying. I'm already there."

November 5: What is your favorite James Bond movie?

"'From Russia With Love.' Read why here."

November 12: What film from 2012 is most deserving of a movie mulligan?

"I'd do over just about everything about 'John Carter' -- the vague title, the crummy marketing, the charismatically-challenged cast, the exorbitant budget that became the focus of so much coverage about the film. Scale it down, cut it back, and start it over. Andrew Stanton deserves that much."

November 19: What is the most underrated Alfred Hitchcock film?

"Before I saw the results of this poll, I probably would have said 'Frenzy.' This late career masterpiece sees Hitchcock returning to his roots literally and figuratively, for his first film shot in England in decades and a story that harkens back to his breakthrough silent film, 'The Lodger.' But 'Frenzy' wound up being the most popular response in this survey -- and if something is really popular, can it still be underrated? That's a question for another survey -- and we'll have a new one next Monday."

This article is related to: Criticwire Survey


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