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.
Teacher: I see your talents have gone beyond the mere physical level. Your skills are now at the point of spiritual insight. What is the highest technique you hope to achieve ?
Lee: To have no technique.
From what I understand of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do martial arts philosophy, it’s about adapting to each situation fluidly. Instead of being restricted to a particular technique, Jeet Kune Do cuts through the extraneous stuff and uses the most efficient and direct approach possible. The idea is, according to Bruce Lee, that “truth exists outside all molds.” You have to free your mind from following fixed patterns and embrace the truth that lies beyond. So versatile is the Jeet Kune Do philosophy, it can even be applied to ranking movies on Flickchart.
“But what truth am I supposed to be embracing, exactly?”, you might be wondering. “What molds must I transcend?” Well, for the unenlightened, movies are viewed through fixed patterns and molds all the time: Genre vs. Genre. Art vs. Trash. Foreign vs. Movies That Speak The Same Language You Do. Sadly, there are those who will spend their entire movie watching careers anchored to these narrow perspectives. If utilized properly, with an open mind, Flickchart can be a powerful tool for liberating ourselves from all the outmoded constraints. The ultimate goal, then, is to approach each movie matchup with complete clarity. To do away with extraneous distractions such as genre and critical consensus, so we too can make lightning fast matchup decisions in the same way Bruce Lee dispatches his opponents. It is only then, that we can achieve “Movie Watching Oneness”.
For those interested in following the path of Movie Watching Oneness, here are the various tenets of the Flickchart/Jeet Kune Do philosophy:
This may be the most difficult tenet for many Flickcharters to accept, but it is also the most important. Genre is a wall that separates movies, and is therefore an impediment to achieving Oneness. The Flickchart/Jeet Kune Do philosophy emphasizes understanding the characteristics that all movies share. Does not How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days have cinematography just as Lawrence of Arabia? Of course. Does genre change this fact? Most definitely not. While the quality and style of cinematography will vary from movie to movie, all movies make use of it to some extent. Remember, “Truth exists outside all molds.”
(NOTE: As the follower becomes more advanced, objective criteria for evaluating movies becomes less important. The higher levels of genre transcendence involve discovering esoteric similarities between movies that are not apparent to the beginner.)
More often than not, it seems, movies like Citizen Kane and The Godfather end up taking the top spots on “Greatest Movie” lists. For some Flickcharters, seeing a critically revered motion picture in a matchup can be intimidating. They are torn between acknowledging the hallowed status of certain movies and choosing the film that they actually like more. On the path to Oneness, there are no “Greatest Films of All Time” aside from the ones you personally deem to be so. In a Flickchart matchup, there is only you and the two movies. Critics do not exist. Popular opinion does not exist. You must look within yourself for the correct choice.
In order to truly achieve Oneness, the follower must possess a diverse pool of movies to rank on Flickchart. No motion picture is too obscure or too long or too old or whatever else. It is only when the Flickcharter has seen a vast array of movies from different cultures, eras, and levels of artistic quality that they will be able develop a deeper perspective. Because the follower’s goal is “To have no technique”, they cannot limit their expertise to only certain types of movies. They must be as confident and decisive with a Black Book vs. The Cow matchup as they would with Return of the Jedi vs. The Empire Strikes Back.
Commenting on Flickchart is just like training to be a better martial artist. Simply ranking movies will not allow the follower to attain the higher levels of enlightenment, just as reading a book on martial arts without practicing will offer minmal results. Not only must the follower view a wide range of movies, but they must also comment on a wide range of matchups as well. The more bizarre and nonsensical the matchup, the more determined that the follower should be to comment on it. Just as a skilled martial artist will learn little from sparring with a 6-year old, a follower on the path of Oneness cannot fully expand their minds by commenting on matchups with blazingly obvious connections. (For more on this, refer to Comments: Stepping Up Your Game.)
Because the Flickchart/Jeet Kune Do philosophy for attaining the path to Movie Watching Oneness is in its infancy, there is still much research to be done. In future blog posts, perhaps I will be able to offer a detailed description of what is required to achieve each stage of enlightenment. For those of you who choose to follow the path, feel free to share your experiences and suggestions. Together, we may one day create one of the world’s great philosophical movements.
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Chad as kingofpain on Flickchart. 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.