Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions. (The answer to the second, "What is the best film in theaters right now?" can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.
Q: Thanks to the principles
by the New Founding Fathers of the Moving Image, for the next 12
hours, all crime is legal — but only as it pertains to movies and TV.
How would you Purge?
Kevin Lee, Sight & Sound, Fandor
I’d greenlight "Girlhood," directed by Lynne Ramsay. With the same budget afforded to "Transformers: Age of Extinction," a film A.O. Scott described as a multimillion dollar film made by a boy at play. Would love to see the same resources applied to the imaginative fulfillment of the other gender, and Ramsay is my candidate for the job.
Richard Brody, the New Yorker
Every impulse, every desire is in instant conflict with another one, which is to say, in conflict with itself, which explains the inner strength of those who live the active life: They overcome inhibitions and conflicts and take on the self-contradiction, the responsibility, even the guilt that comes with all realizations of will. That’s a long way of saying that I’m not even sure that I wish for what I wish for, because I can argue myself out of it before I even get started, but of course I have fantasized about the Universal Cinematic Server, the instant streaming availability of every movie ever made. When Jean-Luc Godard was beginning to plan work on "Histoire(s) du cinéma" in the mid-seventies, he sought his own surreptitious version: since home video didn’t exist yet, he dreamed of his friendly neighborhood cinémathèque taking each print that came in and, the night before the public screening, doing a private film-to-video transfer so that he’d have a videotape copy of these films to work with — to excerpt, to reedit, to discuss. Which is to say that he wanted his private telecine chain not in order to fulfill cinephilic completist fantasies but in order to make another movie or eight (four hours’ worth and more). The underlying question regards the justification of cinephilic devotion to something like historicist completism when so many extraordinary new movies are hard to find from the day of their creation — and when excessive fealty to movie classics is often one of the obstacles to the appreciation of the truly new.
If magic were allowed I’d steal Adam Sandler’s voice "Little Mermaid’s" Ursula-style so he’d have to stop making movies. (No "Blended 2"!) But without magic…I’d take a cue from another new release, "Sex Tape," and track down every draft of the in-the-works "Ghostbusters 3" script and burn or delete or otherwise destroy them. No one needs that movie. Except maybe Dan Aykroyd.
Matt Singer, The Dissolve
I would break into Jerry Lewis’ vault, swipe his print of "The Day the Clown Cried," and hold a public screening at the biggest theater I could find. And then I would be hailed as the greatest hero in the history of the Movie Purge.
Jason Shawhan, The Nashville Scene, Interface 2037
A few decrees:
All DCPs made from movies shot on film shall retain their initial grain structure.
Music rights can no longer keep films out of circulation or from receiving proper video releases.
35mm negatives of "Pathos: Segreta Inquietudine" and "Cry Blue Sky" will be shown the love they have rightly deserved.
If the lost "Ambersons" footage exists anywhere, it shall be found.
David Fincher and Sigourney Weaver can finally make "Alien3" without interference.
Everyone who has (or will in the future) made a film with a more than $150M budget has to take Lloyd Kaufman’s class.
Liz Shannon Miller, Indiewire
Travel back in time. Remake "Star Trek Into Darkness." Cast The Rock as Khan. Feel pride in a job well done.
John DeCarli, Film Capsule
I’d hack into Marvel/Disney’s database of its release schedule for the next decade. I’d wipe every upcoming superhero or comic book movie and replace it with a Western. I love old Hollywood Westerns, but I feel that after the ’60s or ’70s the genre was not given the chance to adapt to modern filmmaking the same way that other genres did. There’s plenty remaining to be mined in the Western, particularly now with a cultural emphasis on "gritty realism" and the antihero, and I’d love to see all of the plentiful resources of a major studio devoted to crafting an adventure film set in the old West.
Gary M. Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News
I’d stop Meryl Streep from making any more films (and destroy most everything she’s done since 1984). This would relieve the world of the insufferably hammy and grossly overrated acting of a once great performer.
Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, Film Racket
Despite my mild-mannered appearance, I am a closet gangsta, so I’m going to create all kinds of havoc on Purge Night. The first thing I’m going to do is break into Sandra Bullock’s house, steal her Best Actress Oscar, and give it to its rightful owner, Gabourey Sidibe. (Now that some time has passed, we all agree Bullock’s performance in "The Blind Side" wasn’t very good, right?) Next, I’m going to walk into Marvel headquarters and erase the release dates they "claimed" for those five unspecified movies last week. This date-claiming nonsense has to stop. Focus on making the movies, then worry about dates. Over at Paramount, I intend to find and destroy anything related to the production of future "Paranormal Activity" sequels, because this series has gotten progressively worse, and after "The Marked Ones," I can’t tolerate it anymore. Finally, I will hack into the email accounts of every major studio chief, then send a message to their respective marketing departments issuing an executive order that Peter Travers and other well-known "quote whores" no longer be mentioned in ads. Their junket privileges must also be irrevocably revoked. After such a long night of crime, I will celebrate by going home, curling up on my couch with an ice cold bottle of soda, and binge-watching John Carpenter movies.
Sean Chavel, Flick Minute
I would kill anybody who claims to like the Saw movies.
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
First, raid the Criterion Closet. Then, and I’m not sure if this violates the magical powers clause or would be plausible, but steal enough money to pay the cast of "Deadwood" to come together and shoot a quickie final film (I could commit the bank robberies during the purge and pay for the filming after, right, since my money would be "legal" due to purge rules, I think, I guess, I don’t know). Losing "Deadwood" still hurts, man. Then I destroy every editing machine to which Harvey Weinstein has access or control. Finally, kidnap Quentin and force him to finally cut together "Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair."
Peter Labuza, Approaching The End, The Cinephiliacs
Break into the Russian Film Archive in Moscow, secure negatives of every film by Aleksei German, and hold Criterion hostage until they transfer all of them to a Blu-Ray box set (this may take more than 12 hours).
Adam Batty, Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second
I’d give Criterion the freedom to handle whichever Warner Bros. movie they like. Warner rarely license their titles to third parties (it’s happened only four times in the DVD age), which means that a whole bunch of amazing titles are sat in Warner’s archives gathering dust.
John Keefer, 51 Deep
I would make Criterion do a release for "It’s Alive," "Alice, Sweet Alice," and "Black Christmas." I would take every TV channel off the air and leave only Turner Classic Movies. I would have dinner with Martin Scorsese. And if this Movie-Purge is a part of the regular Purge I would probably kill at least a couple of people.
Dan Schindel, Movie Mezzanine, Los Angeles Magazine
You know, we take for granted that in a Purge situation, we’d be in the position of committing crimes that rub against the government or something similar. What if we could be the government? I’d find whatever resources I’d need to use all the normally-illegal surveillance and investigation techniques there are to crack Hollywood’s accounting departments, and blow the lid off of what we all know but never acknowledge is a tremendous scam, then funnel billions of dollars to good charities. Also, sign on as many artists as are needed to the major guilds and awards-granting bodies until their demographics reflect those of the country. Also break into Criterion headquarters and steal everything. Everything.
Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit, First Showing
My purge would be to liberate some cash from all of the giant studios and set up some kind company like Megan Ellison has that could step up and help fund those exciting projects we hear about that wind up not happening. Charlie Kaufman needs money for "Frank or Francis"? Done. David Fincher wants to make "Rendezvous with Rama"? The check is in the mail. Kevin Smith needs a few shekels for "Clerks III"? Take double what you need. And so on. Plus, if one of those actually made a couple of bucks, I’d be able to get out of debt. Everyone wins, and unlike in these Purge movies, no one needs to die.
Luke Y. Thompson, Topless Robot
I’d greenlight all of my own scripts, and make sure my old USC pal Rian Johnson casts me in a small Star Wars role. But if we can’t simply push ourselves, then there’s an old project of Louis CK’s I’d like to make happen, entitled "Delicious Baby." It was a hilarious script about an unemployed robot… and a woman who eats babies. For obvious reasons, the odds of it ever getting made are slim, but I think its time has come.
Sam Fragoso, RogerEbert.com, Bullett Magazine
Tony Dayoub, Slant Magazine, Cinema Viewfinder
I’d give 10 percent of the gross to any writer-director who releases a profitable film that isn’t based on a pre-existing TV, movie, or comic book property.
Josh Spiegel, Movie Mezzanine
Is 12 hours enough time to destroy every copy of every movie in the "world of ‘Cars’" as well as the ability to destroy the hard drives containing all information about their inevitable sequels? Well, being honest, that’s too harsh: I’ll let "Cars" live, but "Cars 2," "Planes," and "Planes: Fire and Rescue," and any future sequels? You’re all going down. For the next Purge, I’ll try and figure out how to do the same for all of the Air Bud movies, but I have a year to plan.
Q: What is the best movie in theaters?
Other movies receiving multiple votes: "Snowpiercer."