Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question and brings you their responses in The Criticwire Survey. We also ask each member of the poll to pick the best film currently playing in theaters. The most popular choices can be found at the bottom of this post. But first, this week's question:
Q: What movie title best describes your life and why?
The critics' answers:
"'Rochelle, Rochelle.' Well, maybe not just the title, but also that unforgettable tagline: 'A young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.'"
"'Internal Affairs,' because I'm a bit of an introvert. Also, try as I might, I can never get charges to stick against Richard Gere. Also I'm Andy Garcia."
"'The Sorrow and the Pity.' Or at least that's my dating life."
"There was a time when I’d go with something deep like 'The Passenger,' 'The Island' or, well, 'The Deep.' Some other pretentious ideas mostly of a philosophical nature could have been 'Easy Rider,' 'Vantage Point,' 'My Science Project,' 'Don’t Look Back,' 'The Player or 'Where the Truth Lies.' But honestly, as a brand new father, the most appropriate title to describe my life right now is 'Parenthood.' Six weeks in, being a parent defines me and dictates my days, and I can’t complain one bit."
"It has to be 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.' Unfortunately the internet has a long memory and when I look back on some of the articles I wrote when I was first starting out I wonder what the hell I was thinking. It's as though they were written by a complete stranger. Once upon a time I used to read my old work and cringe, but I don't anymore. They might be poorly written and nonsensical but that's all part of the process and if you have a body of work stretching way back, you can chart your own progression. I rarely flick through my past work but when I'm having one of those days when my keyboard fingers aren't working, my brain is seeping out of my nose and I'm on the brink of vowing to give up the writing game to join the circus, I'll take a step back in time for half an hour or so. Just to remind myself how far I've come."
"'Carnal Knowledge.' Of course, I didn't get any until I was 22, when I put away movies and socially interacted a little more. But that's really the point: you can't have a balance of a normal life and movies until you've taken what you've learned from movies and put it towards real life. I can't say that I've had as much knowledge as Jack Nicholson, but I've had a healthy amount for my time."
"The film title that best describes my life would be 'The Quiet Man.' Not only do I have an Irish background but I am also quite literally a quiet man. When I was younger it took a long time before I spoke at school, leading some concerned adults to question whether I could actually talk. As a shy introvert, I would be very thankful if this remained the title that best describes my life — I wouldn’t want it to become 'Psycho.'"
"Probably the most obvious joke would be to go with 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin' but too many people take too much of what I say seriously already so I'm going to instead go with 'Knocked Up' — because I'm pregnant. Actually, I couldn't think of a serious answer because I like my boss too much to choose 'Horrible Bosses' and I don't drink enough to go with 'The Hangover' so instead I'll go with 'Big Trouble in Little China' cause I live in Chinatown and I'm always causing trouble, mostly for myself though."
"I think I'm going to go with 'Enormous Changes at the Last Minute,' partly because my life has a tendency to switch directions in a big way with scant warning and partly because as a writer I'm a terrible procrastinator and wind up doing the bulk of my work far too close to my deadlines."
"'As Good as It Gets.' Throughout my life I've struggled to find the sweet balance between expectations, dreams, and reality. At 17, I was absolutely positive that I would have figured it all out when I was in my 40s. I would have found my spot in the world: a job I loved, a place where I wanted to live the rest of my life, friends and family relations sorted out. At 44, I have a slightly more nuanced view on it. I still don't know what kind of career I'm looking for. The idea of living the rest of my life where I live now frightens me and my relations aren't a bit better than they were at 17, only more complicated. I still don't know what life really is about. But I've stopped waiting for the big reveal to come. This is as good as it gets. It doesn't mean that I can't make changes in my life and look for new paths to explore. I can and I will. But I've got more reasonable expectations about my level of happiness than I once had. Thankfully."
"'Say Anything…' For better or worse I've always been someone who speaks their mind. Whether I'm attempting to be honest, humorous, or humane, I say what I think needs to be said. Naturally that perpetual need to say anything has propelled me into sticky situations. No matter, the iconic coming-of-age tale directed by Cameron Crowe in the 80s contains a title that accurately describes my life. Well, at least for now."
"'Unknown Pleasures.' Well hey, it's the title of a Jia Zhangke film, not just of that Joy Division album, so it counts! But seriously: Regardless of what Jia's film is actually about, I think that title, in and of itself, best describes what drives me to do a lot of the things that I do in my life, especially when it comes to the realm of cultural consumption. I was brought up in a fairly sheltered suburban environment, so a lot of experiences, both cultural and otherwise, feel new to me. So much of the things I do — places I go, art I see, and so on — are driven by desires to not only expose myself to new experiences, but to also experience a sense of elevation as a result of said new experiences. Thus, 'Unknown Pleasures' (as far as describing my life goes, it's certainly more specific than, say, 'Le Plaisir')."
"'Working Girl.' Right now I've got two jobs and it's been work, work, work. Plus, I love the double entendre."
"When I decided to conference with my wife on this question she answered with 'About a Boy' a little too quickly. I can't lie, that title does fit, mostly because I'm staring at my Buddy Christ collectable figurine at the moment. Despite that, I think the title that best describes my life would be 'The Lives of Others.' From an early age I would sneak off to the public library during the summer, mostly to experience the magic of central air conditioning, but also to make my way through the library of movies they housed. Because of that, I learned most of my social cues and life lessons from a small television, a VHS deck, and Orson Welles."
"Mine is a tie between 'Hardcore' and 'Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You In The Closet And I'm Feeling So Sad.'"
"'The Life and Death of Col. Blimp.' I was a fat child."
"Geez, are you baiting for jokes here? How many responses of 'Each Dawn I Die' are you expecting? I'll go with 'Life Is Sweet.' I have relatively good health and I share my life with an amazing wife and great friends and I get to do more of what I like to do than most of the people in the world do."
"I'm going to go with the title of my favorite Yasujiro Ozu movie, 'I Was Born, But…' because I'm still trying to figure out my place on this rock, and can't really credit my existence as worthwhile yet."
"It may sound obvious and easy but I have to go with 'Valley Girl' because I am one. I grew up in Woodland Hills in the '80s — teased-up bangs and frosted pink lipstick and all — and spent plenty of time at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. And while I never dated anyone from the other side of the hill during high school, it always seemed so dangerous and exciting over there."
"'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' — because my feminine side has overwhelmed my masculine side and I daydream of using a power drill on my head in lieu of Ibuprofen."
"I shudder to think how many porn responses you're going to get for this one; or even referencing general freelancing ('The Running Man,' 'Battle Royale,' 'There Will Be Blood,' 'The Hunger Games,' ad infinitum). But if I had to stake my current life on an apt title, it's 'Factotum.' In the last year I've been a production assistant, writer, reporter, ticket taker, content farm writer, producer and traffic guard at the Capitol building. And occasionally, people even want to buy my 'poems' so I can keep up with my search for a drunk Marisa Tormei. Thankfully, my reboot already has another title: 'Barfly.'"
"This was a tough question, and one I can honestly say I've never thought about before. One title that immediately came to mind, and could probably be used by everybody you've polled, is 'Observe and Report,' which pretty much describes the life of a critic, no? (It'll be my WHOLE life for the next few weeks, heading into the Toronto International Film Festival.) But because I'm a freelancer and a slow-ass and always rushing to get articles done, I'm going to go with 'Deadline at Dawn.'"
"I had to resist the urge to choose an adult title, but in the end I came up with 'For Love of the Game,' since honestly that's why I do what I do. It's certainly not for the money."
"The movie title that describes my life would have to be 'Die Hard.' It's not just because of Bruce Willis' once receding hairline. And no, I haven't fought greedy terrorists. The real reason this film title best describes my life is because there's been multiple times in my life, even up until recently, that I almost died but something got in the way, be it my thick skull when I went through a window during a car crash or was thrown onto the train tracks here in NYC. Luckily no train was coming and I wasn't knocked out. I feel like it's almost become comical and I've even said, 'How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?'"
"I really wanted to answer this with 'The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies' because that's my favorite movie title of all time, but I couldn't find any sort of justification for it. That being the case, I'll say that the movie title that best describes my life is 'Parenthood.' My life changed in all kinds of wonderful ways when my son was born in 2008. I love being a father; it's easily the most rewarding thing I've ever done, and the pleasure I derive from it even surpasses the pleasure I get from movies. Whenever I'm not working, I'm spending time with my wife and son, going to parks and playgrounds, playing with toys, and doing all the normal family things. I have also taken on those specific dad-related responsibilities, such as teaching my son the names of all the superheroes and 'Star Wars' characters. Even though it's a simple, one-word title, 'Parenthood' really sums up what I'm all about."
"Like many young writers, I survived the beginning of my career by taking on a series of odd jobs, with the emphasis on 'odd.' I took on freelance gigs, served legal documents, acted, and tutored in everything from screenwriting to automobile science as I built up my writing portfolio. Fortunately, my professional life has since become a little more stable. But I got a lot of experience — and material — out of the time when I was scrambling 'For a Few Dollars More.'"
"The first title that comes to mind is 'Jana of the Jungle.' This isn't a movie, but a 1978 TV program, but who knows? Tarzan has made it on to the big screen and with the current popularity of comic book heroes, maybe Jana, or the 1954 Jann or Sheena will make it into the movies. In the 1984 Razzie-nominated movie, 'Sheena: Queen of the Jungle,' the young girl orphan's name was Janet, a more common variant of Jana. Like Jana and Sheena, my father died when I was young and I have a reusable weapon. In Jana's case a necklace; in my case, words. We prefer going barefoot over wearing high heels, have long hair (hers blonde, mine black) and are generally sensibly dressed in direct contrast with Dynamite Entertainment's Jungle Girl Jana who roams around in some kind of Lost World with dinosaurs and cavemen wearing a barely there bikini like some geek-boy's wet dream. My superpower is my ability to communicate with animals and I have volunteered with animal rescue organizations and am currently a certified small animal massage therapist. Like the blonde Jana of the Jungle, I also has an affinity for Godzilla. For a real movie, my husband recommends something along the order of the 1991 'Eve of Destruction' because I am made in the image of my maker (my mother), roam around and unexpectedly explode leaving a path of destruction and was eventually hunted down by a man who was an excellent dancer. In my case, it wasn't a tap dancer like Gregory Hines, but an Argentine tango dancer who is my husband."
"'Up in the Air.' I find myself months away from turning 30 and on the precipice of some pretty major leaps of faith towards the career I've always wanted. Hopefully my answer will soon change to 'Happy Go Lucky.'"
"I'd have to go with 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.' Not that I'm a cool-cat gangster living the film noir lifestyle (though my resemblance to Clive Owen is undeniable), but my philosophy tends to revolve around the fact that there's so much to see and do in this world. I have two kids who constantly open my eyes to life's wonders. And this career often opens doors to some extraordinary experiences. I'm not saying I'd turn my nose up at a nice nap. But for the most part, there's far too much to do, and so little time to fit it all in. Life can and should be as much fun as possible, so I'll sleep when I'm dead."
"What's So Bad About Feeling Good?"
"Talk about a tough question. I could go down so many avenues with this — a joke? Something heartfelt? No answer at all? — but I’m sticking with one I thought of almost immediately: 'Duck Soup.' It helps that this is my favorite Marx Brothers comedy, and one of my all-time favorite films, but I think 'Duck Soup' fits as a description of my life because of the famous quip Groucho Marx uttered in reference to what the title meant: 'Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup for the rest of your life.' Now, for the purpose of this answer, I’m pretending the second sentence was never spoken. What I like is the idea of something that throws in many elements to one pot. My whole life, up to this moment, I’ve tried not to let one thing define who I am. I love Disney movies, but I also love the parks and characters. And just because I love Disney movies doesn’t mean I don’t love all genres of the medium. And though I love films, that doesn’t mean I don’t love TV, and so on. It’s easy to pigeonhole yourself into a type, but I try to avoid that all the time. I’m not just the two turkeys or the one goose or the four cabbages. I’m all of that mixed together. For better or worse, I’m duck soup."
"There are two that spring to mind, both related to my nether regions and excessive alcohol consumption, I'll leave the rest to your imagination: 'House of Wax' and 'Failure to Launch.'"
"Man, what is up with this question? I'm going to need some long-term therapy after rejecting titles like 'Troll' and 'Unforgiven.' Instead I'm just going to go with an obvious name-pun, via 'Young Adult,' and call it a day."
"The movie title that best describes my life is 'A Somewhat Gentle Man.' While nothing about its plot resembles my life, I have moments where I'm perfectly polite and others where I behave like a total jackass. I like to think I'm a gentleman, mostly, but I could be disastrously wrong."
The Best Movie Currently In Theaters on July 30, 2012:
The Most Popular Response: "The Dark Knight Rises," "Moonrise Kingdom." (Tie)
Other Movies Receiving Multiple Votes: "The Imposter," "Klown," "Searching For Sugar Man," "Killer Joe," "Beasts of the Southern Wild."