Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated – Movies and the Masses
We’ve been fortunate to have some truly interesting guests on Movie and the Masses, and that trend continues this week as we’re joined by Joe Posnanski, a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated. Joe grew up in Cleveland, and he started his career as a reporter and editor for The Charlotte Observer. He later worked as a sports writer for both the Augusta Chronicle and The Cincinnati Post, and this was followed by a sports columnist position with The Kansas City Star from 1996 to 2009. During this period, The Associated Press Sports Editors twice named him the nation’s best sports writer, as well as nominating him for 21 additional awards. He’s written three books so far, and I’m including an Amazon link to each. They are:
- The Machine: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds
- The Good Stuff: Columns about the Magic of Sports
- The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America (voted best baseball book of 2007)
Joe resides in Kansas City with his wife, Margo, and their two daughters, Katie and Elizabeth. In his spare time, he also operates a killer blog dedicated to sports. Luckily for us, he also knows his stuff when it comes to the movies.
Take it away, Joe….
OGM: What’s the first movie you remember seeing?
Joe Posnanski: Wow, that’s a good one. I remember seeing the Disney Movies — Fantasia, Bambi, The Love Bug, Pete’s Dragon, The Shaggy D.A., The Apple Dumpling Gang, all those–and I’m sure one of those was probably the first one I ever saw. My mother was a movie buff, so she took me to movies constantly. I do remember my first PG movie was Rocky, I remember that being quite a big moment in my childhood.
OGM: If you only had a few hours to live and could do nothing but watch five movies, which films would you select?
JP: I always wonder if in questions like this you should choose five movies you’ve never seen before that you really want to see or the five movies you loved seeing? Or in this case, maybe I should pick the five longest movies available to get as much time as possible. I suppose I’ll go with five movies I love: Casablanca, Annie Hall, The Godfather, This Is Spinal Tap, It’s A Wonderful Life. Of course, considering my job, I could always do five sports movies: Bull Durham, the original North Dallas Forty, Hoosiers, Major League and The Hustler.
OGM: What’s your favorite movie?
JP: Impossible to choose, of course. I think Casablanca is probably the most perfect movie ever made. I laughed harder watching This is Spinal Tap than anything I’ve seen. Both of the Godfathers (Thanks God they only made two) are a huge part of my daily conversation, as is Goodfellas and Diner. I’m a huge fan of Citizen Kane and Annie Hall and Broadcast News and The Hustler and Singing in the Rain and The Graduate and…I’m cheating the question here. I’ll go with Casablanca.
OGM: What’s your least favorite movie?
JP: When Batman and Robin ended–the George Clooney one–I said it was the worst movie I had ever seen, though over time I must admit that my hatred of it has sort of faded. It was terrible, didn’t make any sense, was everything I cannot stand about movies. But it was sort of generically bad. Looking back, I have more active dislike for other mainstream movies like North and Hook and Toys and The Story of Us.
OGM: Do you subscribe to an online rental service like Netflix or Blockbuster Online? Why or why not?
JP: We used to go with Netflix, but then got Apple TV and have mostly tried to see our movies through the iTunes Store. With two young kids, we just don’t get to see many adult movies, though.
OGM: In 50 years, which modern movies do you think will be viewed as classics?
JP: Tough question. I’ve long thought that Broadcast News will be a classic. Shawshank Redemption, because it plays so well on a smaller screen I think, has become a television movie classic. I suspect the Lord of the Rings movies will be classics, though that’s not really my thing. You know, because kids movies have so dominated my life the last seven or eight years, I think many of the kids movies will become classics: Toy Story, Shrek, Up…and, of course, the Disney musicals–Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, even the most recent Frog and the Prince. Those will last for a long, long time.
OGM: If you see a movie based on a book, are you then more or less likely to read the book?
JP: Yes, though lately it seems like I tend to see movies after I read the book. I did read Up in the Air after I saw it…the book was fine, but it was one of the rare cases where I enjoyed the movie more.
OGM: Who’s your favorite celebrity?
JP: Probably George Clooney. And I don’t just say that because he’s a huge Cincinnati Reds fan and I just wrote a book about the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. I keep waiting for him to call…he’d be the perfect Pete Rose. I like Meryl Streep a lot too…like her acting, of course, but also like the way she approaches things.
OGM: Is there any actor or actress whose movies you actively avoid?
JP: Over time, Robin Williams has become this guy for me. I have liked him in certain things, but over the last decade or so I’ve found him to be repeating his act and generally hard to watch. I didn’t even like him in Good Will Hunting, though I liked the movie. I have this theory that I’ve shared that in Awakenings, Robin Williams and Robert De Niro switched acting souls, and ever since then Williams has wanted to do drama, De Niro comedy. And it hasn’t worked out well for either.
OGM: How do you feel about all the remakes of older and classic films?
JP: Generally opposed. I thought there has never been a dumber or more self-indulgent Hollywood project than the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. Just plain stupid. If someone can add something to a movie, give it a modern spin, I suppose it could work. But for me, most remakes fall flat.
OGM: Which actor or actress do you find most attractive?
JP: My wife and I each allow ourselves one Hollywood actor/actress we’re allowed to run off with. I believe hers these days is Daniel Craig. Mine, for a long time, was Wynona Ryder, though I have some issues with her history in crime. Natalie Portman is just beautiful, as is Diane Lane.
OGM: Do you read movie reviews? If so, which critics do you read most often, and why do you like them?
JP: I do read a lot of movie reviews, and my two favorites are Anthony Lane at the New Yorker and Roger Ebert. Love both of them not so much because I agree with their reviews–sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t–but because of the way they write.
OGM: What type of people annoy you when going to a movie theater?
JP: I’m not a fan at all of the close-sitter–the people who have plenty of seats to choose from but decide to come over and sit right next to you. I’m surprised how often this happens. Nobody likes movie talkers, except for the movie talkers themselves. I have also always been annoyed by people who give instant reviews the second the movie ends. The credits are rolling and they’re shouting, “Oh, I just didn’t think there was any chemistry between them.” Those people annoy me.
OGM: Do you consider movies to be works of art?
JP: The good ones, absolutely. I thought, for instance, Unforgiven was an absolute work of art. I still think about that movie now and again, what it represents, what it means, and I think that’s what great art does–it inspires you to thought.
OGM: What type of candy or drink do you consider essential to your movie watching experience?
JP: I’m a popcorn guy, though once again with kids we usually go with their choices. My favorite movie candy–though I rarely buy any–are Raisinettes. I would never THINK about eating Raisinettes in any other place in life. But in a movie theater, suddenly, I see them as a viable option.
Thanks to Joe Posnanski for taking the time to participate in this edition of Movies and the Masses. Join us again next week when we’ll talk cinema with another seemingly random member of the human race. Until then, here are a few more interviews to check out:
- Josh Pankow – Owner of Atlanta Sports Cards
- Sabina Mijatovic – Resident of Croatia
- David Fucillo – San Francisco 49ers Blogger
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