Armond White is film criticism’s most famous contrarian. At one moment he writes a review declaring Toy Story 3 to be the most obscene excuse for toy commercials he has ever watched, and then two weeks later type out a glowing review of Resident Evil: Afterlife. He is of split-mind for sure. But what does his Flickchart look like?
1. Zardoz – The way the film portrays masculine-centered society is really an enlightening experience for all. It stands as the finest film to grace my 300-strong DVD collection.
4. Manos: The Hands of Fate - Gloriously illuminates the stretches that people will go to save themselves. Perhaps one of the best statements about the human condition in horror history.
7. EDTv – A masterclass in acting from Matthew McConaughey. Society today is all about who you are seen with and what you are doing. Ron Howard showed us what the Facebook generation would look like way before pretender ‘The Social Network‘ did.
8. Swept Away – Guy Ritchie may have done well financially and commercially with flicks like Snatch and Sherlock Holmes, but it is here with Swept Away that Ritchie’s true colors as an epic romanticist are shown. Truly splendorous!
10. The Godfather – Come on! Even I like this film. Nobody hates The Godfather.
There’s been a little controversy over some particular flicks popping up on Flickchart for ranking. Some users seem to figure that Flickchart is a bit too liberal in the material it approves for ranking. WWE wrestling specials? Pixar animated shorts? Television pilot episodes? Looney Tunes? Captain EO?
Well, it all started there, didn’t it? Captain EO is a “4-D” film that debuted in Walt Disney theme parks in 1986 and ran there exclusively through the ’90s. The 17-minute sci-fi film (at the time, the most expensive movie ever made on a per-minute basis) starred Michael Jackson, and was essentially a giant music video with 3-D imagery, flashing lights and plenty of smoke. Following Jackson’s death, the film made a return to Disney parks in 2010, but it has never had a theatrical release.
There are some films on my Flickchart that rank higher than they might have, simply because they contain just one scene that held me captivated. Overall, I may not have cared for the movie, but one particular scene or sequence just caught my attention, and I had to admit: I wish the whole movie could have been like that.
Here are a few films that find themselves pulled from the dregs at the bottom of my Flickchart, buoyed in the middling middle on the strength of one or two effective scenes. One is the first R-rated film to win the Best Picture Oscar. One is considered a modern-day masterpiece. One is a mediocre action flick from a director best known for mediocre action flicks. They all have one thing in common: I didn’t love them…but I loved something about them. (Caution to those who might not have seen the films discussed; there may be a few minor spoilers.)
I have encountered naysayers in the past who scoff at the notion that anything productive can arise from comparing movies from different genres or eras, or whatever else. “An Italian neorealist social drama vs. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Are you off your gourd, sir?!”, they might thoughtlessly jeer. How I pity those wretches and their sad, dark existence. In one of my previous User Showcase posts, Comments: Stepping Up Your Game, I discussed the insights than can be achieved by comparing and commenting on seemingly nonsensical matchups. What I didn’t consider at the time, though, was that doing so was but only one aspect of a greater philosophy geared toward attaining true cinematic enlightenment.
My life as a film fan has been in a lot of ways like Forrest Gump. It started slow due to my small town setting, and I went through some spells where it seemed I’d never think straight (I saw Bird on A Wire on the big screen, and I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it). I also was thrown into the serious stuff while still young and naive (It’s cool that I compare seeing Terminator 2 as a 10-11 year old as Unforgiven is to the Vietnam War, right?), and often couldn’t understand the nuances of many “normal” things (What’s the appeal of Hook again?). Like Forrest, I worked hard to get past my restraints: I guarantee that I’ve seen more foreign films than the rest of my hometown combined. But when I’d accomplished what I wanted to, I went back to my Jenny.
That Jenny is, and always will be, my love for genre cinema. I’ve specialized in horror films, but have also found far too much joy in science-fiction, action, and even western films. While this is more than enough to make my potentially simple mind happy, it does occasionally make things difficult for the part of me that’s a student of cinema.