by Adam Riske
First, here’s my dad’s movie dossier to give you context:
Favorite Movie Franchise: The James Bond series
Favorite Actors: Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Tom Hanks
Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep
Favorite Directors: Martin Scorsese, John Huston
Favorite Genre: Westerns
Favorite Western: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
Favorite Recent Movies: Silver Linings Playbook, both Hunger Games movies, the Daniel Craig Bond entries (even Quantum of Solace)
Favorite Sports Movies: Field of Dreams, Miracle
Favorite Soundtracks: Urban Cowboy, Top Gun, The Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof
Guilty Pleasures: Point Break, Silverado, Soul Surfer, Old Yeller, Fiddler on the Roof
Junesploitation Likes: Cops! Cars! Revenge!
Junesploitation Dislikes: Slashers! Zombies! Vampires!
Mr. Riske: The importance of actors, dialogue and story was much greater in the time I was growing up through being middle-aged. Now they’re so reliant on technology that story is second and I hate that. The fact that there is a proliferation of comic book movies is proof that Hollywood has gotten lazy about coming up with original ideas and fallen back to where they can pull a character from people’s childhoods and find a way to combine it with technology to make money.
Adam: Yeah! And Transformers suck, too.
Mr. Riske: When technology is used properly and doesn’t overshadow the actors or the story. The Harry Potter series, for example, used technology to co-exist with characters and story. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. I also appreciate the ability to bring the theater experience to your house without having to deal with people kicking your chair or talking during a movie.
Adam: Yup. Though I’ll never stop going to the theater. It’s in my DNA even if I hate it sometimes.
Mr. Riske: Slight edge to the Nolan Batman movies, but I did like the first Burton one.
Adam: They both have their problems, but I think The Dark Knight and Batman Begins are the two best Batman movies. I recently re-watched the original Burton Batman and it works for the first 30 minutes but gets weak after that point.
Life Story You Want to See as a Biopic:
Mr. Riske: A movie about Quentin Tarantino’s life and how he developed into a filmmaker would be interesting because he is so far out of the realm of the conventional. I also would want to see a movie about Bruce Springsteen if it were a real picture of his life, positives and negatives, like how music was always the most important thing to him, more than friends etc. That’s the impression you get reading about him.
Adam: I want to see both of those movies right now. Tarantino would totally play himself if they did a fictional movie about his life.
On Audrey Hepburn:
Mr. Riske: Underrated actress.
Adam: She’s my favorite actress. Everything about her in movies was magical, from the way she talked, looked, acted. She was a total babe but one you didn’t want to ever do anything to because you would just not be good enough for her. That’s a backwards way of saying that you can’t bone Audrey Hepburn.
(Mr. Riske looks at Adam as if to say “ok.”)
Mr. Riske: I don’t like them.
Mr. Riske: The most recent versions of comic book movies are just excuses to use computer graphics. I didn’t get into the Spider-Man, Iron Man or X-Men movies. If I were a fan of comics, I would think they demean the franchises they represent. The comics I liked when I was a kid were Superman, Batman and The Flash. I cared about what they said and did in those comics. As for the movies, at least with Batman, they haven’t destroyed the character. The earlier Superman movies focused on character but the latest ones will take any opportunity to go over-the-top that they can. The dialogue is also bad in comic book movies. Except for “with great power, comes great responsibility,” try to remember any dialogue from a recent superhero movie.
Adam: Then why don’t you love Spider-Man 2? You should love Spider-Man 1 & 2 for the reasons you state above and you don’t. That baffles me.
(Adam’s head starts smoking)
Adam: It’s funny because you called out Marvel for doing it wrong and many people think they’re doing those characters right.
Mr. Riske: I think the attack on Benghazi in Libya and the subsequent investigation would make for an interesting movie if it was even-handed.
On Die Hard:
Mr. Riske: Really close between Die Hard and Raiders of the Lost Ark for best action movie ever made.
Adam: I love Raiders, but I’d go with Die Hard or maybe Point Break.
On The Godfather Part III:
Mr. Riske: If you take out Coppola’s daughter, it’s not really that bad.
Adam: Ok, two things. 1) I’m happy in a weird way that Sofia Coppola turned out the way she did in The Godfather Part III, because she ended up as a great director instead and 2) I don’t hate The Godfather Part III either. It suffers greatly in comparison with the first two and that’s its biggest crime. That being said, I don’t think Sofia Coppola is THE problem with that movie.
Mr. Riske: The subgenres I don’t see any redeeming value in are the slasher and paranormal horror movies (exception for Halloween). By paranormal, I don’t simply mean a movie with ghosts in it, but rather found footage like Paranormal Activity. Slasher and paranormal do not rely on story or acting but instead on how freaked out or grossed out they can get you. I made the exception for Halloween because it was built more on suspense and it still stayed in the realms of believability before Michael Myers was immune to fire and all other kinds of crap. That is rare in the slasher subgenre.
Adam: I love horror, but oddly enough your least favorite subgenres are also mine. However, there are many slasher movies that I enjoy such as the original Black Christmas, Sleepaway Camp, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Burning. It’s just that for every good slasher movie, there are ten bad ones.
Mr. Riske: With the exception of Timothy Dalton, the Bond movies are my favorite series. They have had some pretty good actors taking the role and it’s a franchise that has really changed the character over time. The latest portion has made their way back to the beginning of the franchise where they emphasize the human side of James Bond as opposed to the gadgets.
Adam: So you like Roger Moore?
Mr. Riske: Yeah, they weren’t my favorite Bond movies but they were still good. The actors played Bond in a way to fit their personalities.
Adam: Why didn’t you like Dalton?
Mr. Riske: He was boring and he didn’t seem to fit on either the tough or whimsical side of James Bond. It was basically him not knowing where to go with the character.
Adam: I think you might break Patrick Bromley when he reads this.
Mr. Riske: Overrated.
Mr. Riske: Because his whole career was based on The Sopranos.
Adam: Nuh-uh. What about Enough Said?
Mr. Riske: I didn’t even finish that movie. I think critics didn’t want to beat that one up because the guy just died.
Adam: You are so underselling James Gandolfini. He surely played the tough guy part, but he’s so great in Enough Said, Get Shorty, Not Fade Away, The Mexican, The Taking of Pelham 123, etc. where he plays against type. I dislike The Last Castle, but he’s not Tony Soprano in that either. I don’t know. I wholeheartedly disagree with you on this one.
On Jennifer Lawrence:
Mr. Riske: A beautiful talent.
Adam: Yeah, she’s pretty great. Always JLaw dancing in Silver Linings Playbook.
On My Weirdest Moviegoing Experience:
Mr. Riske: Your mom and I went to a documentary about what goes into the making of adult movies (don’t get grossed out; it’s like if Boogie Nights were a documentary) and one of the actresses was a former classmate of your mom’s.
Adam: Do you have her number? Cougar Sarandon?
Mr. Riske: No. Another story is when you wimped out during Arachnophobia. I kept asking you beforehand if you were going to be scared and you said you’d be fine. Then the first time a spider jumped in a jar you turned to me and said “I think we better go now.” Then because your mother and sister were already watching Ghost (which was sold out), we had to go watch that damn Jim Belushi-Cubs movie Taking Care of Business.
Adam: Why you gotta bring up old shit?
On Oliver Stone:
Mr. Riske: He was a good director that I lost respect for after he went over-the-top as a JFK conspiracy nut. From books I read, it really opened my eyes about him and Jim Garrison.
Adam: That’s why you shouldn’t read. I appreciate most Oliver Stone movies -- including JFK -- and think he’s just a sensational filmmaker. I don’t care for him as a talking head because, I agree with you, he is over-the-top. When you don’t have the filmmaking going hand-in-hand with his point of view, it can be overbearing and tedious to listen to.
Mr. Riske: He’s a genius turned violence pornographer.
Mr. Riske: After Jackie Brown, he decided “I have too much story and dialogue here. I need more extreme violence.” He’s become a violence writer. I love Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and you could be ok with the violence in those movies because the storytelling was good. Django Unchained was just ridiculous with the violence.
Adam: I see what you’re saying but I totally disagree. The storytelling and dialogue you enjoy in Tarantino’s early work is still all over his current movies, and I think he’s gotten even better at characterization. Look at Shosanna in Inglorious Basterds, Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill and Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained for examples. I can’t argue with you about the violence. It doesn’t bother me, but if it bothers you that’s valid. I just think it would be reductive not to debate back that Tarantino is still an excellent storyteller, extreme violence or not.
(Adam and Mr. Riske give each other “We’re not going to agree on this, let’s move on” faces)
On Vincent Price:
Mr. Riske: He’s creepy.
Adam: I love that guy. If I could have lunch with any actor, it would have been Vincent Price.
On Siskel & Ebert:
Mr. Riske: I liked Siskel more than Ebert. Siskel had a way of presenting himself as an everyday, common guy whereas Ebert was more heavily intellectual.
Adam: I think I am more of an Ebert, because he went with his gut and emotions first and that’s how I usually come to movies. Siskel I appreciate for different reasons. He was great at calling out interesting themes and subtext in movies and he was unafraid to go against the tide when he felt strongly about something. Plus he tells it like it is in his eyes. He once said that he reviewed movies in this way: “If someone asked you on the street what you thought of a movie, what would you tell them?” I’ve used that approach in my writing because it cuts through a bunch of bullshit and gets to the core of what you want to say. I couldn’t pick a favorite between the two, but I would say I probably agreed with Ebert more. I think Siskel was tougher to win over.
On Top Gun:
Mr. Riske: Good movie, great music, excellent home theater movie.
Adam: Yeah, I always have a soft spot for that movie. It’s exciting filmmaking, although the jingoism has started to bother me in recent years but that’s only after I think about it once the movie is over. It’s no worse than those awful Three Doors Down Citizen Soldier music videos.
Mr. Riske: The best westerns are The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, the original The Alamo, The Magnificent Seven, The Searchers and The Comancheros.
Mr. Riske: Tombstone is great. You used to like Wyatt Earp more than Tombstone.
Adam: I’d have to go back and revisit Wyatt Earp. I love Tombstone now. It’s crazy entertaining.
On Work in the Movies:
Mr. Riske: Many people would be fired and/or many sexual harassment lawsuits would happen in real life if thing happened the way they did in movies.
Adam: Does money ever sleep?
Mr. Riske: American Hustle. It was boring and slow moving. I didn’t like the characters. The whole thing just seemed to drag. I kept looking at my watch.
Adam: That’s fascinating. I could understand a number of criticisms of American Hustle, boring is not one of them. Amy Adams?
(Mr. Riske makes a ‘meh’ face.)
Pacino or De Niro?
Mr. Riske: De Niro has had the better overall career.
Adam: The correct answer is Jack Nicholson. I think I would have to say that I am a fan of more De Niro movies but that I enjoy Pacino more as an actor.
Mr. Riske: The East. I hadn’t heard anything about it and I thought it was a pretty good movie.
Adam: I haven’t seen it yet but just put it on my DVR. I don’t love the cast; however, you are not the only person who has told me what a solid movie that is.
Thanks dad! You’re the best.
Comment away readers! My dad or I will answer back. Happy Father’s Day!