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Criticwire Survey: Movie Tattoos

Criticwire Survey: Movie Tattoos

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: You can get a tattoo related to any movie. What do you pick?

Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

The notion of actually, voluntarily having someone put a needle into my skin, repeatedly, for several minutes/hours is simply beyond contemplation; let’s be honest, precious few of us got into this racket because of our threshold for physical pain. But if I could stomach such a notion, I’d choose the meant-to-become-iconic logo for Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” — not because I have any particular attachment to that film (it’s fine), but because I clearly remember buying the opening-night-ticket/T-shirt emblazoned with it all the way back in 1990, a fumbling failure of an attempt to recapture the must-see comic-book movie status of Batman the previous summer. And so to this day, that image serves as a reminder to me that no matter how much of current movie-making is driven by branding and marketing, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. And I take comfort in that.

Alison Nastasi, Flavorwire

I had the symbol for Saturn, or what’s sometimes referred to as Saturn’s sickle, tattooed on my leg when I was a teenager. It has multiple meanings for me, but it also has an unintentional cinematic link. I was amused to find out that it’s essentially the Eibon symbol in Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond,” since I frequently write about Italian horror cinema. I didn’t see the movie until several years after getting the tattoo. It’s about a woman who moves into a hotel built on one of the seven gateways to hell. The use of the symbol in the film was inspired by Fulci’s daughter, Antonella, who got it tattooed on her wrist when she was a teenager — and I believe also intended it to symbolize the planet (she tells the story in one of the Blu-ray interviews, and I can’t recall the whole background). The Eibon mythology itself originates with artist and writer Clark Ashton Smith, a contemporary of H. P. Lovecraft — who mentions it in some of his own stories.

Charles Bramesco, Random Nerds, ScreenCrush

I have three tattoos, all of them rooted in pop culture. One for music — the opening line of “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On my Shoulder)” by the Beach Boys on my left forearm — one for comics — the blood-stained smiley face from “Watchmen” on my left shoulder blade — and one for film. I got the word “magnolia” tattooed down my right bicep when I was twenty because, first and foremost, I thought that a reference to a warm-hearted art film that culminates with an Aimee Mann sing-along would make me look tough. I was incorrect. But the fact of the matter is that “Magnolia” and its themes of connectivity, emotional support, and divine benevolence provided me with a lot of comfort during a time in my life when I felt alone, un-understood, and shat-upon. More than that, “Magnolia” was the first movie that I felt compelled to write about for no real reason other than that I wanted to. Paul Thomas Anderson’s ode to the tragedy and triumph of common life is my radioactive spider. That’s really where my life as a critic began.

David Fear, Rolling Stone

I have a kanji-character tattoo that roughly translates as “film crazy” — not fanatical, but literally crazy, as if the concept of cinema was driving a person insane. Considering the profession I’ve pursued for almost two decades and the obsession I’ve indulged for over four, it’s apt.

But I’m currently saving up for a tattoo of the eye superimposed over the camera lens from “Man With a Movie Camera,” earmarked for my left forearm. Watch that space in 2016. With any luck, it will be watching you back.

Casey Cipriani, Bustle, Indiewire

For a long time I’ve wanted to get a version of the moon with a rocket in its eye from “A Trip to the Moon.” It not only perfectly expresses my love of cinema and similar art, but it also represents my love of sci-fi. I’m still planning on getting it eventually, after a few other more simpler ones I have in mind to accompany the two I already have. As it happens I do have a movie related tattoo, though it’s also a bit literature related. It’s the letter Z encircled by the letter O — the symbol on the gate to the Emerald City from Baum’s Oz books. “The Wizard of Oz” has been my favorite movie since I was a kid when I watched it practically every day. The design I chose is specifically based on the book “Ozma of Oz” and it sits on my inside ankle. Looks nice with a pair of red heels.

Alan Zilberman, Washington Post, Brightest Young Things

I already have THREE movie tattoos.

Derelict spaceship from Alien. This is actually a friend tattoo – my good buddy has one of The Nostromo from the same artist – so I wanted a complimentary one.

Film noir tatoo. I got this one because, well, I love the genre and the image always makes me happy.

Obscure Pulp Fiction reference. I got this one because the “disco” line inexplicably makes me laugh harder than anything else in the movie.

Adam Kempenaar, Filmspotting

Back in May 2014, we devoted one of my favorite top 5 lists in the show’s history to movie tattoos that we’d get. My number one choice — the tattoo I actually do intend to get at some point – incorporates two of my favorite movies: “All That Jazz” and “Man on Wire.” I want to combine Joe Gideon’s line, “To be on the wire is life; the rest is waiting,” with the image of Philippe Petit walking between the World Trade Center towers.

Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian, Mashable

I would like a full body tattoo of Gina Lollobrigida from “Solomon and Sheba,” so I can stare at myself in the mirror all day.

Josh SpiegelMovie Mezzanine

I’m going with the logo for the Archers: an archery bulls’-eye with an arrow landing smack dab in the middle. There are too many images from my favorite films from which to choose — even among the Archers’ films, as I’ve mentioned an obnoxiously high number of times on Twitter and elsewhere, there’s just too much to weed down to one or two. So instead, I’ll stick with their logo, which is one of the more comforting and confident ways to ease into a movie. And maybe, 30 years from now, it’d be the kind of image that would still look halfway decent as a tattoo.

Justine Smith, Vague Visages

I’m all about minimalism, so just an egg. It’s an homage to “In the Realm of the Senses.” Youtube it if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Kyle Turner, Movie Mezzanine

A little fox on my butt saying, “Chaos reigns!”

Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter, Sight & Sound

I met an avid fan of Timothy Olyphant the other day who’s somehow never seen this wonderful actor’s finest (big-screen) hour, namely David Twohy’s crackingly clever “A Perfect Getaway.” The eyecatching and naggingly memorable tattoo in this picture is, however, the one sported by a relatively minor character: a pre-stardom Chris Hemsworth’s Kale. Over his heart: “DO NOT REVIVE.”

Richard Brody, New Yorker

My favorite movie tattoo is the one painted on Tagasode’s back in “Utamaro and His Five Women”; my favorite collection of them decorates Michel Simon’s body in “L’Atalante.” The one in Mizoguchi’s film (which, along with “The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums,” is my favorite of his films) gets to the essence of art — the cocksure pride mixed with a reverence that makes perfection a sacred duty; the many in Vigo’s film get to to the essence of art as well: the reckless adventures in pleasure that leave their crude marks, so easy to mock yet endowed with a higher and heartier laughter of their own. But I’ll be damned if I get these or any other tattoos; might as well get an elective root-canal without anesthetic.

Carrie Rickey, Truthdig, Yahoo! Movies

I would get a tattoo from “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.” (A small one, possibly of a watermelon.) I would do this to remind myself that the 5th, 6th and 7th dimensions don’t matter. And because just thinking about the film makes me giggle.

Tomris Laffly, Movie Mezzanine, Film Journal International

Something, anything from or related to “All About Eve”, one of the best and most quotable movies of all time. The following brilliant quotes from Margo Channing could work:

“I’ll admit I may have seen better days, but I’m still not to be had for the price of a cocktail like a salted peanut.”

Or this:

“I distinctly remember crossing you off of my guest list. What are you doing here?”

But these are all too long. And I’m scared of needles anyway.

Ali Arikan, RogerEbert.com

A tattoo of that fat, anthropomorphic volcano from “Lava.” Because I am a firm believer in the philosophy of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Max O’Connell, Rapid City Journal

I’m both a gigantic wimp when it comes to pain and unsure of what I’d ever want permanently on my body (I like tattoos on other people but can’t really imagine one on me). If I were to get one, I might do something to reflect my undying love for Jonathan Demme’s work — the title from “Stop Making Sense” (I’d do “Something Wild” if it described me at all) or one of the poses David Byrne does in that weird dance during “Life During Wartime’s” second verse, anything that reflects the joyful, eclectic moods and rhythms of many of his best films. Maybe something from “Citizens Band” as a part of my campaign to get someone, anyone, to re-release the damn thing on a halfway decent disc already.

Gary Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News

I am not one to get a tattoo — and not because the 1981 film “Tattoo” with Bruce Dern and Maud Adams wasn’t exactly inspiring. But if someone put a needle to my skin — and I would insist the sexiest tattoo artist in movies, Mario Veron in the “Ari” segment of Marco Berger and Marcelo Mónaco’s “Sexual Tension: Volatile” to be the film character to ink me — I would likely honor three of my favorite films. The iconic spirographic design from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” could fit on my back; the boots, gun, and rose motif of Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” on my calf; and the phrase “Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime” from Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” inscribed somewhere on my body.

Piers Marchant, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Philadelphia Magazine

I was always partial to the stencil-job in Terry Gilliam’s “Twelve Monkeys,” which would be cool because it would require people to ask why I had a bunch of monkeys on my arm, I bet. It’s difficult to imagine having an icon so closely tied to Bruce Willis for your entire life, though, so I might think twice about that one and instead go with the infamous CHET! note from “Barton Fink,” where the H looks closer to an M. Yeah, there’s a reason I’ve never splurged on any ink for myself.

Luke Y. Thompson, The Robot’s Voice

I have very strong philosophies about my own tattoos. Each one is in some way related to family, the only one to contain any color other than black is my wedding ring, and they are representative rather than polished, like something somebody could have painted on with primitive ink.

As such, the only way I would get a tattoo related to a movie is if it somehow represented a movie I had made myself.

Jeff Berg, Las Cruces Bulletin, ABQ Free Press

Couldn’t do it, not even for “The Walk,” at the end of “The Wild Bunch.” Not even for “Panic in Needle Park.”

Jason Shawhan, The Nashville Scene, Interface 2037

I don’t really believe in tattoos (by which I mean that I know they exist, they just aren’t for me). But if doing so were necessary, I could see a tasteful Avco-Embassy logo on the ankle.

Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, One Perfect Shot

I would never get a tattoo, movie-related or otherwise. Nothing against those who have them; it’s just not my thing. If I was going to, though, I suppose I’d get something pertaining to “Star Wars,” my favorite movie of all time. I’ve loved that film for 38 years, so it’s probably safe to say I wouldn’t regret it later on. What would hurt the least? A simple Stormtrooper head? Let’s go with that.

Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit

I doubt I would ever get a tattoo in general, let alone a movie one, but if I did, it would be for love in some way, so I’d imagine it would be a romantic movie quote. My best guess? “Meet Me in Montauk.”

John Keefer, 51 Deep

This is a difficult question for me since I have no tattoos but have many, many friends with tattoos and also have always wanted to get a tattoo but am too indecisive to decide on which kind of tattoo to get or when to end a run-on sentence. But! Since I have seen all 28 Toho-produced Godzilla films, soon to be 29 with “Godzilla Resurgence” (the American release title), I would probably go with a tat of the Big G. But! This also presents the choice of which era of Godzilla to choose from: Showa, Heisei or Millennium. Now Millennium series Godzilla is out right off the bat because I don’t want “Godzilla: Final Wars” memorialized in ink needle-drilled into my skin for the rest of my life…or maybe I do? Why not be transgressive? But really it would be a choice between big-bright eyed and beautiful “Destroy All Monsters” Godzilla OR “Godzilla 1985” Godzilla… hmm… on second thought my body’s a temple and will not be desecrated with graven images. Now off to the bar to drink 8 buckets of domestic swill beer to forget my work week. Happy Friday everybody!!!

Mark Young, Cinephile City

I’m not really a tattoo person. Even less so, after attending a preview screening of “The Walk”where one of the patrons had a full-skull tattoo — entire face including the jaw, entire head back to the nape of the neck, everything. And there was some fairly violent imagery involved also. Once you see something like that, every possible tattoo seems like a bad decision.

Diana Drumm, freelance

Momoa’s eyes and brow (“Conan the Barbarian,” upcoming “Aquaman”). Kidding. Maybe. We’ll see on the next Guinness-fueled bender.

to be semi-serious, if you had asked a few years ago, I would have
answered a white carnation (in reference to Billy Wilder’s “Love in the
Afternoon”) and a burnt soufflé (“A woman happy in love, she burns the
soufflé. A woman unhappy in love, she forgets to turn on the oven.” from
Billy Wilder’s “Sabrina”). For reasons including that I’m a hopeless
romantic as well as a classic film fan (especially of Billy Wilder and
Audrey Hepburn), and a few others I won’t disclose here.

now, and with the recent passing of Maureen O’Hara, I would get the
words “Impetuous. Homeric!” (from “The Quiet Man”) in plain text (not
calligraphy-ish) on the inside of my right wrist. In the film, the words
are an in-slight-awe admonishment by the town drunk-matchmaker (Barry
Fitzgerald) at seeing a broken Duke-sized bed, leaping to the thought
that the cause of the damage was a rough-and-tumble honeymoon night
rather than the actuality of newlywed Sean Thornton (John Wayne)
throwing his bride Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) on the bed and
then just leaving her there, over a squabble about her property and
what’s due to her.

This momentary aside
captures pretty much all that I hold to be true — passion, paradox,
judgment, genderism, succinct use of alluding words. The words — impetuous, Homeric — are what I strive to be, and what Mary Kate
Danaher was within the specific limits and terms of an Irish patriarchal
society, just as one could argue Maureen O’Hara was within that of
Hollywood and her own Irish-American-ness. The literal words speak to
strength, the context of those words is why to stay strong.

an added, more personal note, the first time I met Maureen O’Hara was
at Casey’s Hotel in Glengarriff, Ireland. My father brought over 200
posters to show the great lady herself and I hitched onto the
opportunity. We had lunch of oh-so-Irish lamb before the presentation,
in which we discussed everything from her favorite leading men (John
Wayne, John Payne, and Tyrone Power) to the correct pronunciation of Rio
Grande (O’Hara spoke impeccable Spanish, and encouraged everyone she
met to learn the language), she even derided my choice in studying a
course dedicated to the diary of Samuel Pepys (“What’s the use in
that?”), to which I now mostly agree with her.

of course, “The Quiet Man” came up. Dad mentioned Barry Fitzgerald and
tried to remember some great line. O’Hara piped with “Impetuous.
Homeric!” She was correct and we all looked at her in a brief moment of
awe, remembering not only who she was but also impressed by the strength
of her memory. Then her then-assistant chimed in, asking what Homeric
meant, and O’Hara admonished her on the spot, with the force of the
spitfire O’Hara always was and always will be, thanks to the eternal
flame that is the silver screen. From there, I am blessed to say that
she and my father went from acquaintances to friends (or at least as
much as they could being a screen goddess and a film fan) and she became
a sort of a great-aunt-like figure in my life. With the word count on
this survey answer already being too long, I’ll save the tidbits for a
piece (or five) later and/or a memoir chapter.

So I’ll end and repeat, “Impetuous. Homeric!”

Q: What is the best movie in theaters?

A: “Brooklyn”

Other movies receiving multiple votes: “Spotlight,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Entertainment”

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