Test your cinephilia and honor your favorite filmmakers with a quiz from your friendly neighborhood Reverse Shotters (pictured above). The first prize is a previously viewed DVD of Babel. Send your responses to the Internet.
Challenge level: Medium
1) Yasujiro Ozu, 2) Claire Denis, 3) Orson Welles, 4) John Cassavetes, 5) Stanley Kubrick, 6) Robert Bresson, 7) Samuel Fuller, 8) Sergei Eisenstein, 9) Jean-Luc Godard, 10) Chris Marker, 11) Ingmar Bergman, 12) Vincente Minnelli
a) A pathetic mix of heady pseudo-intellectual post-Algiers revolutionary and squirming idealist, this four-eyed Commie prick mistakenly confuses the idea of "movie" with "lesson" in his pedantic, nearly unwatchable treatises on film and politics. Yes, we get it, we get it: history/cinema/genocide/image. Throw in a few random broken sound shards and we'll lap it up. Hateful misogynist to boot.
b) Critically pandered habitual overeater whose one acknowledged "masterpiece" is a rattling bag of tricks that betrays his true vocation: birthday party magician. David Fincher circa 1941.
c) The textbook case of cinematic pussy-loathing, his filmography never met a woman it liked. His phallocentric universe trades actual cock for ridiculous handmade lenses and ejaculation for slow, throbbing camera movements. For first dates only. (*We can use the same for John Ford, just substitute "squaw" for "woman.")
d) Bombastic semi-competent who delighted French intellectuals in the 1950s by tickling the bourgeois Euro appetite for quaint American "crudity." Turtle-necked homo-macho Left Bankers slobbered over his junky existentialism just as they enshrined any blind, barefoot Mississippi Negro who could twang out a chord; the canon has been shackled with his agit-slop ever since.
e) Labeled "transcendental" by those in the know, and "a real snoozer" by those who have sexual relations regularly, his small, mini-mustachioed career has cast an unpleasant shadow over an entire continent's worth of cinema. In some alternate universe, 40+ films' worth of stationary cameras and kimonos would be called tedious. Here it's called genius.
f) Dessicated drunk ham actor who couldn't crack it in the theater so took out his aggression on a pack of wounded outcast performers, forced them to bray and mime and shriek for the camera, all the while blowing endless amounts of cheap looking film stock in the hopes that someone somewhere would enshrine it as "edgy," "honest," and "real". Guess what? It worked, and then he died, drunk.
g) A Midwestern transplant locked in the most fabulous, spangled closet this side of Liberace, reeled out enough tawdry Technicolor to keep ascot-wearing old queens shrieking and ironically applauding for a century to come. With an undisciplined sense of color that would consign him to thrift store bins had he been a painter, in cinema his orgiastic Italian-American tackiness is "riotously vivid." Ever wonder why nobody takes the medium seriously?
h) Embraced mainly because of today's paucity of relatively talented European filmmakers, she has such a lack of grasp on the fundamentals of film narrative, that she time and time again falls back on dreamlike, esoteric imagery to buoy her non-movies. Hey, lady, female sexuality was already covered way back in the days of Maya Deren—get over it already.
i) Foppy-haired pinko who some argue invented editing, in reality is nothing more than the direct progenitor of MTV and ADD. Obsessed over by academics because he cuts faster than their brains can work, he churned out a series of thinly veiled Stalin-cozies and capped it all with his very own Lord of the Rings Nazi-killing swashbuckler.
j) Frigid old French coot name-dropped roughly a thousand times more than his arid, airless movies are ever actually watched. If his 'Notes on Cinematography' were applied filmic practice, going to the movies would be as lively as a visit to the Medieval wing at the Met. Mouchette is an austere TV movie weepie, Pickpocket is Cliffs Notes Dostoevsky, The Devil, Probably a sullen adolescent melodrama. The worst filmmaker in history.
k) If Al Gore invented the internet, then this guy surely invented the artiste as a continual stream of boring video docs, hypertext handjobs and low rent Myst knock-off CD-ROMS (see also: Godard). A gnomic Left Bank recluse who should've sold it out along with Varda and Resnais when he had it, maintains his reputation through the sheer unavailability of his work, except of course, the fanboy Holy Grail of his photo scrapbook short La Jitney.
l) It doesn’t come more art-school pompous or art-house trendier than this smug, sullen, Scandinavian self-proclaimed artiste, whose “insights” into life and death amounted to little more than an image of a chess match that was always just waiting to be ironed on to a Hot Topic T-shirt. His dime-store psychological portraiture now seems about as “timeless” as a turtleneck and a dog-eared copy of The Dharma Bums. Oh, and existentialist-tinged feminism from an unrepentant misogynist? No thanks. Worst father of all time to boot.
Challenge level: Difficult
1) Bernardo Bertolucci, 2) Ousmane Sembene, 3) Terrence Malick, 4) Nicholas Ray, 5) Alain Resnais 6) Carlos Reygadas, 7) Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 8) David Cronenberg, 9) Béla Tarr, 10) Terence Davies, 11) Alfred Hitchcock, 12) Martin Scorsese
a) Displaying an unprecedented lack of work ethic after an early overestimation, this addled burner took twenty years of torching through bricks of Algerian hash before some no-doubt-exasperated professional editors held his hand through cutting his Bat Out of Hell II, which showed conclusively that . . . he'd learned how to cast movies like a celebrity roast. By then, the Boomers who'd originally “blissed out” on his Seventies-era jumbles of nature photography and underlined undergraduate philosophy texts were firmly tenured in academia, to teach a new generation of cultural consumers to exhibit their sophistication by forcefully processing incoherence as “open-ended” and “poetic.” His films are as cinematographically clueless as Doris Wishman's, but with the added weight of hazy pretense. Universally detested by the Real Americans he worships.
b) Despite early efforts, he could never crack it as a truly political filmmaker so he proceeded to fall back on soft-core imagery, whether it be the Nazi chic of his overlauded 1970 flick or the truly risible apocalick-tic bedroom butter farce of a few years later, both luxuriating in bad-taste cinematographic gloss that covers up a venal banality. His unmitigated prurience extended to forcing viewers to witness Jill Clayburgh playing an incestuous mom, Gerard Depardieu's wee-wee lolling about rather close to De Niro's leg, and his Fu Manchu-lite winning nine Oscars. The apotheosis of this brainless shell's career came with his riotous May '68 parody, which unforgivably mistook youthful idealism for—youthful idealism.
c) Proving that sometimes two heads aren’t better than none, these Flemish brothers have quickly scammed their way to international renown by cinematically fetishizing the napes and shoulders of people festival programmers generally shy away from on the metro. Here's a trick: buy a sound effects CD for $.99. Cue up, in this order: heavy footsteps, soft footsteps, running footsteps, the sound of a motorbike, and put the sequence on repeat. Then try watching one of their movies with your eyes closed and see if you can tell the difference. All the worse for forcing agreement with EW's Owen Gleiberman—their 1999 Palme d'or winner was, yes, totally one of the worst films of its year. Forget these guys, we're voting for the Polish brothers.
d) Postcolonial? Try post-entertainment. Further evidence that Senegal is not, never has been, and never will be a cinematic hot spot for a reason, this sometime novelist, most-of-the-time cinematic dilettante spent his entire career chastising the white world for its complete disregard for his continent and people without ever figuring out how to make his films accessible enough for those very same white audiences who evidently need to learn what he’s serving. Filled with incoherent editing, childish blocking, thoroughly unprofessional actors, and pleas for “social change” laid on with a trowel, his films prove that independent nations do not necessarily make viable independent filmmakers.
e) Thank goodness this anal retentive fussbudget spent so much time story-boarding his films to the point of suffocation—if he hadn't we'd be forced to endure twice his already massively bloated, idiotically precise output. A bald, fat wannabe actor churns out a couple of English “thrillers” that, today, would rest comfortably in the minor leagues with One Missed Call, 21, or Taken, gets invited to Hollywood, stays forever, ascends to the top of the commercial, critical, and ivory-tower theoretical heap: only in the movie business. Turns out the joke was on everyone, especially Laura Mulvey. He was the “master of suspense” during his career, but now we're only left holding our breaths to see how many times his oeuvre can be packaged and repacked into cruddy DVD sets.
f) By the end of the 19th century, music-box Budapest was the most civilized city in the world, and native geniuses like Gyula Krúdy and Ferenc Molnár produced works that were a scintillating dazzle of resigned melancholy, beauty, joy—in short, reflections of life. Now the tanks have left Hungary, but the monumental heaviness of a long-rationed spirit remains, of which this crusty Brutalist is the avatar. His most (in)famous work is a fortnight-long slog; in its concrete-solid monotony, it became a sort of badge-of-pride self-hazing ritual for would-be aesthetes, who would emerge equating their ability to endure the unendurable with a heightened sensitivity (see: “noise” music). Anybody approaching art as something other than a fix for their cool complex might learn more about cinema in 15 minutes of Laurel and Hardy, then just knock off and get their dick sucked the rest of the day. Should face trial for his effective murder of Humbert Balsan through unprofessional behavior and bull-headed overconfidence in his own genius. Almost certainly a drunk.
g) It’s barely a compliment to be called the greatest living British filmmaker (if you don’t believe us, check out the BFI Top 100 for laughs aplenty: Woo hoo, Brassed Off made the cut!). So the decks are already stacked for this insufferable pinky-raiser, whose tendency to wallow again and again in the shallow puddles of Liverpudlian misery is merely a front for a stunning lack of imagination. Yes, yes, good sir, we know: it’s terrible being poor; it’s terrible being homosexual; it’s terrible not getting state-funding for impenetrable, personal “memory pieces” that appeal to an ever-dwindling audience of introverted, cranky cinephiles. And judging by your latest, if you put as much energy towards crafting vital art as you do carping on such relevant topics as the monopolizing of pop music by the Beatles and the crassness of a Windsor wedding then perhaps the powers that be would be more willing to flush their money down your toilet.
h) Slumming rich-kid Socialist/Marilyn Manson surrealist. Evokes the kind of cinematographic “spirituality” aimed at atheist film critics (See also: Les Dardennes).
i) Grandstanding Artist-Stars Welles and Kazan begat this man, an emotionally crippled drug addict who was literally incoherent for at least half of his professional life. Like them, he brought the droning, pretentious loquacity of the posing-ass New York Federal Theater to a medium previously defined by taciturn company-man professionalism. Not surprisingly, his flattering cult of the Outsider, tolerated in his own time, gained cult traction with the Dr. Spock–coddled children of affluence who came of age in the Sixties. Were it not enough to have ruined the once-promising Seventh Art, this posturing Rebel was a primary architect of the self-image of the unprecedentedly solipsistic Baby Boomers, who ruined America and the world. Thanks a pant-load, ya' one-eyed bi-curious junkie.
j) Most Italians go into sanitation and meat slicing; this one was so short, cartoonish, and effeminate, all that was left for him was the cinema. His films are little more than overlong examinations of the myriad ways nostalgic pop can be used to make violence against Italians ironic, that is, of course, when they’re not show-offy regurgitations of the better filmmakers he grew up watching (i.e. anyone who made a film before 1973). To add insult to injury he may also be the worst music documentarian of all time. Now at the point in his career where most consider it acceptable, and even quaint, for him to a drop a biannual three-hour fart packet of American History (it’s only a matter of time before we get the Constitutional Convention as a rapier fight set to Frankie Avalon), what he really needs to do is take a long, hard look back at all of the terrible, insipid filmmakers filmmakers he’s inspired to pick up a camera and give himself a really, really close shave.
k) How do you take what should be an effortless little genre film and make it seem like it took decades to shit out every single overthought, self-consciously ruminative, joyless minute? Just ask this most heralded of Canadian auteurs (titter). Eternally putting the carriage before the fetid, rotting horsemeat, he apparently gorges himself on monographs of his own filmography before starting each new project. There can be no other explanation for his eminently studied, theory-laden texts, oops, I mean movies. Not only does his FX-heavy sci-fi "excoriation" of "soul-devouring" media remain less diverting than any given paragraph by Marshall McLuhan, he remade the damn thing almost two decades later for “gamers," and in the process showed that his grasp of new thresholds in virtual reality were about as sophisticated as Tron. In between? A nonstop parade of prurient gross-outs disguised as “corporeal investigations” and one Burroughs adaptation that proved him to be little more than a glorified Jim Henson . . . only with more, ya know, goo.
l) Creator of the least memorable films about memory ever. If he hadn't spent a season or two grouching it up with better Left Bank filmmakers like Marker and Varda, no one would remember him at all. Perpetual trend-spotter/hanger-on, last seen on film sporting a Howard Hughes-gone-Nazi look in buddy Agnès's latest reminiscence, this loser made his name shooting statues in a garden, then shooting people like statues all while soporific voice-over drones. (This, of course, after producing a Holocaust movie without any Jews in it.) Word is that he made other films after this epochal art fuck, but damned if anyone’s seen them.