The last Movie Quiz winners

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Clever guy that I am, I'd been planning for weeks on using Frank Zappa's 1971 road movie, 200 Motels as the 200th movie quiz. Finally, the historic event rolled around, and I posted the picture clues on Sunday night and went to bed. When I woke up Monday morning, I learned that Jimmy Carl Black-- the cowboy in pic #1-- had just passed away the day before!

Since I don't want to be responsible for any more deaths, perhaps it's just as well that quiz #200 was already intended as the final entry of this blog. And the truth is, I was supposed to shut things down around the end of September, but I was so close to the 200 mark that I decided to be like Bartleby the scrivener-- I preferred not to leave, at least for awhile.

But now it really is time to close up shop. As the very last of the old CP bloggers to dodder off into the sunset, I have mixed emotions about turning out the lights after all these years and changes.

I'll certainly miss hearing from all the people who have played the quiz week after week, and the group that's been checking in over the past year or so is the best and funniest bunch I've ever had. Many weeks, they wrote the entry for me, and other than the improvement, no one ever missed me.

I've said a public goodbye to this blog a few times in the past, only to return like the bad penny I am. But this time the finger-painting on the wall regarding yours truly appears to be indelible. I'm not expecting to be showing up anywhere else, but go ahead and Google me now and then, if you're so inclined-- I'll appreciate the thought, if nothing else.

(You might also check in here and here-- there's still nothing more at either site than the last time I posted about them, but that may change.)

So congratulations and a truly fond farewell to the following quiz winners: Wayne Palmer, John Seffl, Joe Rosenberg, Mark Gisleson, Vick Mickunas, E. Yarber, BoneDog, The Curmudgeon, Bill Hearne, ron frigstad, Kevin Lafferty, Dave Mallow, Fred Lorence, Mick Arran, Thomas Miller. Tupac Sotut, Song-Un Lee, Christina O'Sullivan, Nancy Louise Rutherford, Kevin Musolino, and Bob Redwing.

And since it wasn't the easiest of quizzes to go out on, I'd be remiss if I didn't also say thanks to some other quiz regulars: Jim Moomey, letra minuscula, Dean Carlson, Bill Kelly, Tim Smit, Shannon M. Quinlan, Mojo Marshall, Denny Lynch, Vince Tuss, Paul Rignell, Bob Aulert, Donald Greene, Kenneth Gramer, Michael Mattson, Spencer Abbe, and Jack Sparks.

Finally, special thanks and sincerest gratitude to Corey Anderson for always being in my corner with an encouraging word (I don't think it's a coincidence that everybody else at the old CP named Corey as their favorite co-worker), and to Wayne Palmer and Eric Yarber, who have stuck with the quiz and yours truly since the very beginning (2003!)-- I've never met either but now count them both as good friends.

And to all of you . . .

(And of course you can still send me an email, so please do.)

The Monday Movie Quiz #200

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A milestone of a quiz, if I do say so myself-- when I started this feature over five years ago, I had no idea it would go on for so long! So this seemed to be the perfect choice, even though it's far from the perfect movie. If you recognize it, send me an email by late Sunday with the title. If you're right-- and even if you're not-- you can join me next week for the bittersweet celebration of our final winner's circle. And that's not a clue.

Last week's Movie Quiz winners

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"The quiz movie is Oliver Stone's The Hand-- but why??" "That's Stone himself [in pic clue #1] as 'Bum,' a role he continues to enact for many of us." "I just finished reading Michael Caine's autobiography and he mentioned the experience of making this film as one of his low points." "Saw it when I was a teenager. I think this was the moment that I realized, 'Oh, so good actors can make crappy movies, too!'"

Yes, there was no quiz winner love lost on Stone's second directorial effort. There was none at the box office in 1981, either-- it kept him from making another film for five years. (Too bad he didn't do it before Natural Born Killers.) Still, give it some credit: it was better than his first movie, Seizure, starring Jonathan "Barnabas" Frid.

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So congratulations and a caress from the title character to the following winners: Bob Redwing, Shannon M. Quinlan, Tupac Sotut, Letra Minuscula, Larch Johnson, Dave Mallow, Wayne Palmer, Song-Un Lee, E. Yarber, Christina O'Sullivan, Thomas Miller, Nancy Louise Rutherford, Fred Lorence, BoneDog, TMiss, Michael Mattson, Bill Hearne, Tim Smit, Mick Arran, and Kevin Musolino.

The Monday Movie Quiz #199

Hard to believe this down-and-outer is today a big auteur, and director of a currently hot movie.

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What? You need a couple more clues?

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That should do it, I hope. So send me an email with the title by late Sunday. If you're right, expect a round of semi-applause when you see your name in next week's painfully obvious winner's circle.


Last week's Movie Quiz winners

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Last week's quiz movie was Tim Robbins' Cradle Will Rock (1999), starring Emily Watson, Hank Azzaria, Bill Murray, among others. Some quiz winners liked it a lot: "I think it's the perfect blend of the Orson Welles/Marc Blitzstein storyline mixed with the Diego Rivera side story, and topped off with some of the best performances I've seen from some of the cast." And some other didn't: "Never has a movie that has gotten so much buzz disappointed me so much." "Wow, what a cast! Wow, what a ... meh movie."

So congratulations to the following quiz winners: Vince Tuss, Mojo Marshall, Wayne Palmer, Nancy Louise Rutherford, ron frigstad, BoneDog, Michael Mattson, Thomas Miller, Shannon M. Quinlan, Christina O'Sullivan, Letra Minuscula, Bill Hearne, Bob Redwing, E. Yarber, Dave Mallow, Song-Un Lee, Tupac Sotut, Fred Lorence, Joe Rosenberg, Paul Rignell, and Kevin Musolino.


The Monday Movie Quiz #198

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Another Depression-era movie-- I wonder why that period is on my mind lately? Anyway, if you know the title, send me an email by late Sunday (Oct. 26th). If you're right, expect to hear your praises sung in next week's baby-friendly winner's circle.

Last week's Movie Quiz winners

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Last week's quiz movie was Akira Kurosawa's 1950 classic, Rashomon, the film that has justifiably been called "the Japanese Citizen Kane." And like Kane, the many groundbreaking aspects of the film-- especially its narrative structure-- have become so much a part of contemporary cinematic grammar and style that even many sophisticated viewers today don't understand how innovative it was.

(As one quiz winner wrote, "As a spit in the eye to the lame wannabes who cling to the rigid three-act structure shoved forward by various screenwriting gurus, note that Kurosawa's greatest films employ a five-act structure.")

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Although the title is actually geographical-- the framing story in the rain is set at the Rashomon Gate of Kyoto-- today, "rashomon" is used in our own language to refer to a situation where there is no agreement as to the "truth" of what actually happened. A rape and murder are recounted by four different people who were involved, and their vastly different takes on the event make it impossible to know reality from fiction. During the filming, both the cast and crew asked Kurosawa what actually happened, and he told them all that, like life, it's impossible to really know.

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Although K. had been directing for a decade before it, Rashomon was one of the first with the well-known group of regular actors he would use throughout the decade in all of his greatest films. (The above is a charming publicity still taken outside the studio.) Besides Toshiro Mifune, it also starred Kurosawa perennials Minoru Chiaki and the wonderful Takashi Shimura.

While it was the only film he made with the great Japanese actress Machiko Kyo, it's a testament to K. and the film that, as many classics as she was to later star in (such as Gate of Hell and Ugestu), Rashomon may still be the best movie she ever made. (I'm happy to report that she is still with us, at the age of 84.)

Unfortunately, Hollywood has once again reared its ugly, stupid head and is planning a remake, called Rashomon 2010. (The year is both when it's expected to arrive as well as to "honor" the 100th birthday of its creator.) As one rightfully pissed-off quiz winner put it, "You know Keanu Reeves will somehow have a starring role. First it was the announcement that the Weinsteins are doing a modern Seven Samurai remake that sets the story in Thailand with hired Blackwater type paramilitary contractors, and now this! Thank god I haven't heard anything lately about the Tom Hanks remake of Ikiru."

Yes, let us all pray. But keep in mind: Speed Racer wasn't named after Tom Hanks!

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It was a quiz that separated the fans from the cineastes, so congratulations and a rewritten life story to the following winners: Wayne Palmer, Song-Un Lee, Thomas Miller, Mojo Marshall, Vince Tuss, E. Yarber, TMiss, Mick Arran, Michael Mattson, Fred Lorence, Bill Hearne, Nancy Louise Rutherford, ron frigstad, Bob Redwing, Donald Greene, Dave Mallow, Kevin Musolino, and Paul Rignell.

(Send Steve an email at couchpundit@yahoo.com.)

Presidential funny-books

As if this election weren't already wretched enough . . .

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IDW, publisher of highbrow stuff like G.I. Joe and Bloodsucker Tales, has just put out a pair of election-season comic books called Presidential Material. Urging the reader to "Educate yourself," they serve up the life stories of the two candidates in a style that's best described as snooze-inducing.

That is, when it's not flat-out ridiculous looking.

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Here's a panel that looks like it came directly from Drudge:

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As bad as the Obama book is, it's obvious that the writer and artist are at least trying to make him look good. Not so the McCain book, in more ways than one.

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While the primary scenes in the Obama book don't do his fellow Democrats any favors (most are unrecognizable, the drawings are so lousy) at least they're shown together on a stage, not in matching clown-cars.

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IDW is offering both books as cellphone downloads, so perhaps not too many trees will be wasted for the print editions. No matter how they're read, the only people who could possible be "educated" by these silly comics won't be old enough to vote anyway. Look for them next month on a remainder table near you.

The Monday Movie Quiz #197

Here's the opening shot.

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Here's our lovely heroine.

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And if you don't know who this guy is, your cinematic education is incomplete.

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Seriously, if you don't know this film, hie thee to a video store. But I know you do. So send me an email with the title by late Sunday (Oct. 19th)-- if you're right, you'll see your name in next week's winners' circle. At least, that's my version of the story.

Last week's Movie Quiz winners

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It's a Movie Quiz first-- a correct answer in the form of a song parody!

(To the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas")
It's The Purple Rose of Cairo
That I once went to see.
It was somewhat amusing,
But not filled up with glee.

The big cast tried quite gamely
To keep us entertained.
Buster Keaton did it better;
Sherlock, Jr. was its name.

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It is, indeed, Woody Allen's 1985 romantic fantasy, The Purple Rose of Cairo, about a movie character who walks off the screen and into real life. Jeff Daniels plays the movie hero and Mia Farrow co-stars as the flesh-and-blood married woman who falls in love with him. Set in the Depression (the first one), the film gave Allen the chance to not only do another of the '30s period pieces he enjoyed (Radio Days) but also to make the kind of old potboiler he grew up on. It's one of Woody's better films from his most creative period, the "Orion years" of the 1980s. (Am I the only one who gets nostalgic when that now-defunct studio logo shows up?)

Our quiz lyricist wasn't the only winner who commented on the film's heavy debt to the 1924 Buster Keaton classic, Sherlock, Jr.. Another reader wrote: "While it remains one of Allen's best films, I have to note that his use of the Sherlock Jr. business of walking to and from the screen is part of a largely ignored habit he has of grabbing material from other filmmakers.

"Brian De Palma used to get roundly criticized for replicating other directors' shots, particularly Hitchcock, while Tarantino built his entire career around unreflective imitation, yet Allen's films have almost as high a percentage of borrowings. There are the obvious Bergman pastiches and Fellini rips (though I think Allen sprinkles more Fellini in his films than he does Bergman). Small Time Crooks was Big Deal on Madonna Street, right down to identical jokes. Hell, Match Point was Crimes and Misdemeanors, so he finally came around to swiping from himself."

And for those who know Woody's version but not Buster's, here's a short clip from Sherlock Jr that makes the case that Keaton did it first-- and better.

Lots of winners this week-- always nice to see-- so congratulations and a trip to the 1930s (when Depressions were fun!) to the following winners: Josefina Avila, Vince Tuss, Wayne Palmer, ron frigstad, Song-Un Lee, Christina O'Sullivan, Bob Redwing, TMiss, Dave Mallow, Kenneth Gramer, Michael Mattson, Denny Lynch (get his album, "Sing Along with Lynch!"), Jim Moomey, Mick Arran, Bill Hearne, Thomas Miller, Don Lehnhoff, Letra Minuscula, Tupac Sotut, Fred Lorence, Shannon M. Quinlan, Nancy Louise Rutherford, Kevin Musolino, E. Yarber, and Paul Rignell.

(Send Steve an email at couchpundit@yahoo.com.)

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