I Know I Saw That Movie, But…
One of the most brilliant things about Flickchart is the vast size of its ever-growing database. Unfortunately, that’s also one of the most problematic.
Simply put: Flickchart has those obscure movies you know you saw, but can’t remember a damn thing about. Since you know you saw them, you can’t rightly click the “Haven’t Seen It” button, can you? It would violate proper Flickchart etiquette.
But it might be easier for some of us if movies like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and The Strongest Man in the World were not on Flickchart at all, because this means you have to assign a value to them. You have to have a general sense of what they were about, and how much you may have liked them, to figure out how they will perform in duels. I mean, it’s not like you’re planning to go back and re-watch The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes just so you can accurately rank it. Even if you did try that with a couple movies, you’d always be playing catch-up, trying vainly to reacquaint yourself with whichever couple hundred movies were fuzziest in your head at that particular moment.
Well, I’ve got something of a solution. I’ve come to utilize these movies as “line of demarcation movies.” In other words, they help draw a line in the sand between the movies I like and the movies I don’t like. They may not have any intrinsic value I can readily identify, but they do have value relative to the movies they duel.
Let’s take Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. I know I saw Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo relatively soon after it was released in 1977. But I was four years old in 1977, and even if I saw it six years later, I was still only ten. Unsurprisingly, I have no idea what happened in that movie. I assume from the title that a Volkswagen Bug visited a scenic spot on the Mediterranean, but beyond that, search me. I also assume it wasn’t Oscar material, but I’m not willing to assume I didn’t like it. And if my 10-year-old self did like it, I’m not willing to sell him out. (Whether we should still be ranking movies according to our childhood perspectives of them is another post for another time.)
So when Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo comes up in duels, I rank it above movies I don’t like, and below movies I do.
This is not a perfect system. Would I really say, for example, that a movie like Gangs of New York, which I consider to be quite flawed, is actually worse than Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo? Scorsese fans, of which I am one, would wring my neck, and I don’t want to ring my own neck. As it happens, though, I do have Herbie ranked at #2211 and Gangs ranked at #2344, though it’s likely the two films have never dueled. It’s that randomness that makes Flickchart a gloriously inexact science, one that becomes slightly more exact with every new duel. As it turns out, Herbie is an imperfect example for other reasons. If it did truly represent that line between the wheat and the chaff, it would mean I dislike only 519 of the 2730 movies I am currently ranking. And I hate a lot more than 519 movies.
It gets more problematic when it’s a movie you know was good, but you don’t remember why it was good — nor any of the characters, locations, or plot developments. Let’s take The Official Story, an Argentinian historical/political drama from 1985. I know this movie was at least pretty good, because a film professor showed it to us in college. But it couldn’t have struck much of a chord with me, because I don’t remember a single frame. Making it just a “line of demarcation movie” won’t do here, because it’s certainly not worse than all the marginally good movies out there. But how good is it, really? According to me, it’s the 957th best movie I’ve ever seen. But I couldn’t tell you why. So it’s kind of serving as a line of demarcation between films I concretely like, and films I like only somewhat.
Ranking films in Flickchart reminds us of just how much we’ve seen, but also, just how much we’ve forgotten. Which can be sort of depressing.
But don’t despair. Think of it this way: These movies you don’t remember can be a useful tool. A tool to elevate the movies you passionately promote to your friends, and a tool to slap down the movies you want to submit to the lowest depths of ranking indignity. It’s all a matter of relativity.
And if you really can’t square yourself with this approach … well, there’s always the dreaded “Remove from My Flickchart” link.
Your interpretation of proper Flickchart etiquette is your business, not mine.
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Derek as derekarm on Flickchart, and at his blog: The Audient. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.