The Liebster Awards would appear to be making their way around the blogosphere. I’ve gotten four of them- via Le Mot de Cinephiliaque, Northwest Movies, A Reservation at Dorsia, and fellow St. Louis Cardinals diehard Dan at Public Transportation Snob. That means I have 11 questions to answer from each source, 44 questions total. Here are the rules:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post.
5. Go to their page and tell them.
6. No tag backs.
Here are 11 things about me.
1. I’m a diehard baseball fan. In fact, I love the game of baseball so much that I used to get paid to work as a Media Relations Director for minor league baseball teams.
2. There have been two recurring television characters with my name. One of them was John Candy’s egotistical mess on SCTV, Johnny LaRue. The other was Officer John “J.D.” LaRue on Hill Street Blues. He even has the same middle initial as me.
3. I went to college where Winston Churchhill gave the “Iron Curtain Address”.
4. I’m a beer enthusiast. That sounds like a fancy way of saying that I’m an alcoholic, but I genuinely enjoy good beer. And I enjoy bad beer, too. Beers are like my children. I love them all equally.
5. I enjoy eating really weird food. In the past month, I’ve eaten pickled pig’s feet tostadas and BBQ chicken feet. An average month isn’t necessarily that active with weird food, but I’m generally adventuresome about eating stuff.
6. I’m fascinated by sociology. I think the way groups of people interact is an amazing dynamic. If I could do college all over again, I would’ve pursued that. I also think that’s a huge part of what I love about movies- they’re little snapshots of whatever society they come from.
7. I also love college football and, to a slightly lesser degree, basketball. Even though I never attended the University of Missouri, both of my parents and one of my two brothers graduated from Mizzou. Fall Saturdays are spent watching Mizzou football and winter/spring nights are spent watching hoops.
8. I watched a lot of sitcoms when I was a kid. And I grew up on comedies from the early SNL guys, like Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Steve Martin, and Dan Akroyd.
9. The first movie I ever saw in a theater was The Fox and the Hound (1981).
10. I own a 3-foot inflatable hot dog with my name on it.
11. Resting on my bookshelf is one of my most prized possessions- a stuffed armadillo named Ralph. He was a gift to my father, and my father handed it down to me.
On to the task of answering all 44 questions. That’s… a lot about me. I won’t mind in the least if you hit the eject button on what I’m about to write. Hell, I don’t want to hear 44 things about me, and I should be the person most interested in me in the world. So I get it. Now, let’s roll that fabulous bean footage.
First up: the questions from my fellow St. Louisan, Dan:
1. What’s the best movie of 2012 so far?
I have to go with Moonrise Kingdom. There’s a gigantic caveat, though. The best movies usually come out during Oscar season- September through December. Moonrise Kingdom was great, but I won’t be shocked in the least if something else passes it. Honorable mention to The Avengers, which was a blast in every way.
2. What’s the worst movie of 2012 so far?
Hate me if you must, but I’ll say Titanic. Understand that I didn’t see it in 3D, but it was released in 2012, and I’ve enjoyed everything else I’ve seen this year. I’d re-watch everything else that I’ve seen that was released in 2012 before I’d re-watch Titanic.
3.What is your favorite band or artist?
Ever since I bought my first Dylan album when I was 19, Bob Dylan. There are lot of other artists that I enjoy but nothing trumps Dylan for me.
4. What’s your opinion on singing karaoke?
My opinion about me, personally, singing karaoke? Nobody wants that, including me. And I don’t want to be around karaoke at all. I could not be further from the karaoke crowd. I’m the lump in the corner of the bar resenting that a perfectly good drinking experience has been invaded by karaoke singers. But if other people want to karaoke? More power to them, and good on them for being in touch with their musical side.
5. Spike Lee: Overrated or underrated?
I’m going to take a horrible cop-out here. His early work is very underrated. Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing are as good as anything else from the early 80s until the early 90s in American film history. But the majority of his work since has been startlingly mediocre.
6. Although he won’t admit it, does Tommy Wiseau realize that The Room is terrible?
Having never seen The Room, or any Tommy Wiseau interviews, I can’t say. Sorry for the lame answer.
7. Beyond movies, what is your area of expertise for a trivia team?
I’m great with sports. I’ve aced trivia rounds revolving around obscure college football helmets. And if it’s baseball-related, fugedaboutit.
8. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
I love this question. There aren’t many cereals that I don’t like. The best answer I can give is that my go-to cereal is Honey Nut Cheerios. I’m also a firm believer in any cereal that has marshmallows in it.
9. Is The Tree of Life a brilliant movie, a self-indulgent mess, or somewhere in between?
My gut instinct is to say “self-indulgent mess”, although I think that’s a bit harsh. There are some great aspects to that movie, and I’d encourage folks to find out for themselves what they think about it.
10. Are you excited about the Olympics? If so, which competitions?
I realize the irony of saying this a few minutes after saying I love sports, but I really don’t care about the Olympics. It’s the two weeks out of the year in St. Louis where people in bars want you to watch ping pong or something instead of baseball. It’s kind of like karaoke. More power to people who enjoy it, but dont’ expect me to play along.
11. What’s the last movie that you watched?
My most recent movie was a re-watch of Ghostbusters 2. It’s not great, or even good, but I enjoyed it.
On to the questions from A Reservation at Dorsia.
1. Which do you prefer: Foreign films or english-language films?
I love any good film that’s out there, regardless of language. And I’m certainly not afraid to watch films made in other languages. But, there’s something comforting about watching a film in my native tongue (English), even when (or if) they’re lesser quality than films in other languages.
2. Black & White or color?
This is a great question but it’s almost impossible to answer. Both can offer immense quality. I guess I’ll say black and white because I’m a sucker for visual contrast. It doesn’t hurt that classic art house cinema was mostly in black and white.
3. Has any film changed the way you look at something? If so, which one and what did it change?
A few films have, but I’ll give the first one that comes to mind. It didn’t really change my point of view so much as it solidified my point of view. I’m referring to Dead Man Walking (1995). I was opposed to the death penalty before that film, and I still am. But seeing that film made me think it through, and realize that there are scenarios where I don’t mind the death penalty. Strangely enough, this might be the first (and last) time I talk about a controversial political issue on my site.
4. What part of the filmmaking process interests you the most?
I’m fascinated with screenwriting. It’s the skeleton behind the movies we watch. I thoroughly enjoy watching the way that screenwriters pace their films, employ common techniques, and subvert those same techniques.
5. Have you started working on creating your own films?
I’ve started a handful of screenplays, made it about 10 pages in, and abandoned them.
6. Did you discover film on your own or did someone expose you to it?
In terms of discovering higher quality cinema, a handful of friends turned me on.
7. What’s your favorite genre?
It’s either comedy or horror depending on which day you ask me. Even when I enjoy other genres, they’re usually propped up by elements of comedy or horror.
8. Do you just enjoy watching films, is it actually a career path that you want to pursue, or do you already work in the film industry?
I think it’d be a blast to pursue if I was younger. As it is, I’m 35 and I already burnt my “chase your dreams” card on baseball. If it was economically feasible, I’d try hard to pursue a job in the film industry. As it is, it’s not economically feasible at all.
9. When a novel is adapted to film do you read the book before watching it or vice versa?
I go for the film first because I don’t want to view it with any preconceived notions.
10. What do you think is the most powerful creative medium? Why?
Film is the most powerful creative medium because it acts directly on your imagination, on your conscious mind. Music goes for your ears and imagination; art goes for your eyes and imagination; but only film goes after all three- your eyes, ears, and imagination. I’d also say that, unlike music, film has a great deal more time to make a statement than the 3 to 10 minutes that music does.
11. What’s the best use of music you’ve ever seen in film?
There are a ton of great answers, but my favorite is the Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?” at the end of Fight Club.
And now, the questions from Le Mot de Cinephiliaque.
1. What is your real name?
My name is John LaRue. Like my father, and probably my brothers, I have occasionally had the nickname “Lash”, after the classic cowboy Lash LaRue.
2. How many movies do you watch every week?
It kind of varies from week to week but 8 is a pretty good average.
3. Black and white or color films?
Neat! I get to copy and paste: This is a great question but it’s almost impossible to answer. Both can offer immense quality. I guess I’ll say black and white because I’m a sucker for visual contrast. It doesn’t hurt that classic art house cinema was mostly in black and white.
4. What is the best film you watched recently?
I’m still completely enamored with A Trip to the Moon. Seeing that on the big screen completely changed the way I look at film history. Not only is it the best film I’ve seen recently. It’s probably the best film I’ll see all year.
5. Your best movie watching experience (movie, context)?
I watched The Godfather in the spring with my brother. It wouldn’t have been special except it was The Godfather, one of my favorite films ever made. That movie was released 40 years ago and there I was, watching it the same way everyone else did when it first came out. Watching it with my brother, who I look up to and who is also a fan of the film, made it a special experience.
6. Do you watch movies alone or with friends, life partner, your pet?
I watch by myself most of the time. The beauty of film is that you’re meant to watch movies by yourself. What I mean is that if you interact with people during the movie, that’s not a good thing. It is a completely personal experience. I learned this from one of my friends and he was spot-on.
7. Which film opened you the door to be a serious movie watcher?
When I was in high school, my psychology teacher showed Cool Hand Luke and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to the class. That was the beginning.
8. What is the film you could watch every day for the rest of your life?
There are a few. But if I have to pick just one, I’ll say The Big Lebowski. That movie cracks me up every time.
9. Who’s your favourite director?
It always comes back to Ingmar Bergman.
10. Take a guess, what will be the next Best Picture Oscar Winner?
If I had to take a guess, I’d go with The Master.
11. You have to save one film because we have to delete the entire History of Cinema. What will you save?
There are so many other films that are so much more important to the history of cinema, but I’ll say Hugo (2011) because it references so many other films from the past. By using Hugo, you save modern cinema and traces of a lot of the past. And most importantly, you save the love of movie history.
Last but not least, here are the answers for Northwest Movies:
1. Are there any films where you like the remake better than the original? If so, what?
It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. My example would be The Crazies (2010).
2. Do you keep up with film news or just wait in anticipation?
I keep up with it, but very mildly. There are red flags that make me pay attention, namely the directors that I like. If they’re coming out with something, I know in advance.
3. Is there a DVD/Blu-ray that you like the special features more than the film itself?
I’ve never felt this way. Odds are good that I’m only watching the special features because I really enjoy the movie itself, and I’ve never enjoyed special features enough that it’d make me say “I liked that more than the movie.” However, there are quite a few supplemental features that greatly enhanced my appreciation of the film. Three examples would be The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), Ikiru (1951), and Citizen Kane (1941).
4. Many books are adapted into movies. Is it a viable argument to say that the movie is bad just because it’s different than you envisioned when you read the book?
I understand the frustration of people familiar with books having a certain expectation for the film adaptation. That said, I’m a big believer that movies should be graded 100% on their own merit. They’re vastly different mediums and it’s not right to hold either to the same standards.
5. My dad and I were talking about the Sight and Sound poll. He found it pretentious. I asked him what he thought the greatest movie of all time was. His answer: Sahara. His reasoning: it’s his favorite. (It’s a somewhat enjoyable action comedy) Anyways my question is: is something being your favorite ample reason to think something is the best or even great?
First of all, your dad is awesome. That’s a hilarious and great answer.
Second, I believe that they’re different things. There are some movies I love but I don’t think they’re made better than the best movies ever made. There’s still a gap between subjectivity and objectivity in film. Subjectively, The Fire Within (1963) is my favorite movie ever made. Objectively, I realize that there are a ton of movies that were better in many ways.
6. Should Alan Smithee’s be allowed or are they just an excuse for a mediocre film? (Examples: David Lynch with Dune, Stanley Kubrick with Spartacus)
This question actually taught me something new. I was not aware of the Alan Smithee. But now that I know, I’ll say no. If you made it, put your name on it. Hell, embrace it. It’s part of your story. Who cares if people don’t like it? Honesty is liberating.
7. What is a film you love from a director whose films you normally dislike?
I really like The Untouchables (1987), even if it’s because of nostalgia. And I really dislike Brian DePalma.
8. What is your favorite high school movie?
I’m not real big on the genre on the whole but I find it impossible to dislike Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).
9. What is your favorite film movement? (Examples: German Expressionism, Italian Neorealism, Kitchen Sink Realism, Mumblecore, New French Extremity)
There are so many potential good answers here- the French New Wave, New Hollywood, German Expressionism, Spaghetti Westerns. If I knew more about the Czech New Wave, it would be my answer. The truth is, I’ve loved what I’ve seen from the Czech New Wave… but I haven’t seen enough to adequately claim it as my favorite. I think I have to choose Poetic Realism. I’m a junkie for the fatalism.
10. What is your most anticipated film of the rest of 2012?
If The Master is as good as There Will be Blood and Boogie Nights, PT Anderson will become my favorite modern director and push one film closer to the pantheon of amazing film directors. He’s so close right now. Two more films would put him in equal company with the best of the best.
11. Who is an actor/actress that most people find attractive that you just don’t?
I’ll say Megan Fox. She’s got everything physically, but her general annoying behavior ruins it for me.
And now, 11 questions for more people, although I can’t imagine I’ll be able to find anyone who hasn’t answered this stuff yet.
1. Eating in a theater- nefarious behavior or perfectly acceptable?
2. If a train leaves Chicago at 10 pm and travels at an average of 70 miles per hour, and travels 280 miles away, while another train leaves Philadelphia heading for the same destination 300 miles away traveling at 75 miles per hour, what is your favorite movie?
3. What do you do for a living?
4. What is your credit card number, expiration date, and social security number? Ok, just kidding. How many movies do you own? A ballpark figure is fine.
5. Do you own any pets? Bonus points given if it’s a dog.
6. Describe the way the Hawley-Smoot Tariff has impacted your daily life.
7. Is there such a thing as a movie that’s “so bad it’s good”?
8. Other than your native country, which country makes the best (or at least, your favorite) films?
9. Who is your favorite artist? Painter, photographer, etc…
10. Which film critics do you read?
11. What is the meaning of life?
And my 11 recipients:
Stu at Undy-a-Hundy (with the hope that he can pull off the impressive task of answering all of this in under 100 words)