Flickchart Road Trip: Rear-View Mirror
Thanks so much for spending the past year on my Flickchart Road Trip with me, as I bring to a close nearly 52 weeks of lying.
First things first, though.
If you are just reading about this blogging project for the first time, I spent the year 2013 on a virtual road trip across the U.S., devoting one week to each of the 50 states. Each week I watched a movie I’d never seen set in that state, and dueled it against five others set in that state that I’d already ranked on my Flickchart.
I also told you a little bit about what I did in each state, which is where the lying part came in.
Sure, I think you know I didn’t actually drive my car to all 50 states. A person could do that if they wanted, but they’d be much better off devoting only a month or two. Twelve months would be off-the-charts expensive, not just ridiculously expensive, and it would involve way too much time in way too many small states — either small geographically, or small population-wise. Yes, you would get really, really bored.
The real lying, though, has come in the little descriptions of what I did in each state. Although this was necessary for keeping up the illusion that I was really on this trip — even though I was not actually trying to fool anyone — it eventually felt like a deeper deception. I was describing things based purely on my imagination, or what I read on the internet, or, in some cases, from having done these things before. I think it gave the necessary flavor of “being there,” but it was also a bunch of B.S., which sure did wear on me as the trip went on. Eventually it seemed really tedious to find a new thing I supposedly spent my time doing in each state. I never totally gave up, but for my last ten states or so, I was really phoning it in.
That said, this was pretty much the only part of this blogging experience I didn’t find fun. Seeing a new movie from each state throughout the year was a totally nourishing experience, even when the movies were hard to track down. Which brings us to the other complication about writing this series:
I don’t even live in the United States anymore.
I moved to Australia in August. My wife grew up here, and she got offered a job we couldn’t turn down. So we packed up our home in Los Angeles — the home I described myself as returning to in my final post of the series — and moved to Melbourne. Oh, the lies, the lies!
It took some advanced planning, and especially some ingenuity, to keep seeing the movies I needed to see at the pace I needed to see them. Especially tough was my first few weeks in Australia, when I didn’t yet have internet at my house and would scour libraries and video stores for that elusive movie set in Iowa, Missouri or Kansas. I actually had to buy a couple movies to help get me through — some that have become welcome parts of my collection, and some that most certainly have not.
Even when the series threatened to beat me, I felt determined to continue. Having come out the other side, I can sit back, pleased to have finished it without missing any of my (self-imposed) deadlines or skipping over any states that proved too much of a challenge (hello, Delaware).
I would have written this final piece sooner except for another real-world complication: the birth of my second son on January 1st. So yeah, this would have been an especially funny year to actually be on the road the whole year, not only because my pregnant wife would have been seriously opposed to me abandoning her, but because I would have had to be home to impregnate her in the first place.
Whatever was going on in my real world, I really did feel as though I was in those places when I said I was, the result of immersing myself in their movies. It was a lot of fun, and I do feel like it enriched me as a film fan — in addition to giving me an improved perspective on the country I no longer live in.
Without you reading, it would have all just been an empty exercise.
Because I’m a man who loves stats — why do you think I am so obsessed with Flickchart? — I’m going to conclude with some from the trip, and then give you thing I’ve been sort of promising all along: a final ranking of all 50 new movies I saw on the trip. First, those stats:
1) For the new movies I was seeing, I tried never to repeat a director — though I ultimately failed. Because of a late switch in which movie I was watching in Montana, I failed to recognize that Arthur Penn, who directed Montana’s The Missouri Breaks, had also directed Alabama’s The Miracle Worker. Oops!
2) In only three states did I see a movie that was better than the five movies I’d selected from that state: New Mexico (Ace in the Hole), Vermont (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) and Montana (The Missouri Breaks).
3) The most common place for a new movie to finish was fourth among the six movies from the state being discussed. Fifteen movies finished fourth. Twelve finished third, eight finished fifth, and six each finished second and sixth.
4) I tried to vary up the new movies I saw by decade of their release, but they were inevitably weighted a bit toward newer movies. That’s in part because I used Wikipedia’s pages devoted to “movies set in such-and-such state” to cull my options, and it stands to reason that newer movies are more likely to have their setting thoroughly logged in Wikipedia than older movies. By decade, I watched one from the 1930s, three from the 1940s, three from the 1950s, three from the 1960s, four from the 1970s, nine from the 1980s, eight from the 1990s, 12 from the 2000s and seven from the 2010s.
Okay, now for the rankings I stubbornly withheld from you the whole trip. This is how I ended up ranking the 50 new movies I saw during this series:
1) Ace in the Hole (New Mexico) – 197/36602)
2) Smoke Signals (Arizona) – 227/3660
3) Rocky (Pennsylvania) – 228/3660
4) Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Vermont) – 258/3660
5) The Missouri Breaks (Montana) – 323/3660
6) Mystery Train (Tennessee) – 457/3660
7) From Dusk Till Dawn (Texas) – 496/3660
8) The Interrupters (Illinois) – 571/3660
9) Trouble the Water (Louisiana) – 614/3660
10) Drugstore Cowboy (Oregon) – 710/3660
11) The Great Gatsby (New York) – 743/3660
12) Mississippi Burning (Mississippi) – 804/3660
13) State Fair (Iowa) – 889/3660
14) The Miracle Worker (Alabama) – 917/3660
15) Carnival of Souls (Utah) – 1085/3660
16) Goldfinger (Kentucky) – 1142/3660
17) The Stepford Wives (Connecticut) – 1153/3660
18) Capote (Kansas) – 1210/3660
19) Cujo (Maine) – 1530/3660
20) An Officer and a Gentleman (Washington) – 1626/3660
21) Beerfest (Colorado) – 1650/3660
22) Dahmer (Wisconsin) – 1748/3660
23) Liberal Arts (Ohio) – 1767/3660
24) Tucker: The Man and His Dream (Michigan) – 1823/3660
25) The Big Sleep (California) – 2153/3660
26) The Company Men (Massachusetts) – 2164/3660
27) Not Fade Away (New Jersey) – 2175/3660
28) Clean and Sober (Delaware) – 2257/3660
29) The Secret Life of Bees (South Carolina) – 2278/3660
30) High Society (Rhode Island) – 2290/3660
31) National Treasure: Book of Secrets (South Dakota) – 2292/3660
32) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Georgia) – 2305/3660
33) Meet Me in St. Louis (Missouri) – 2434/3660
34) Alpha and Omega (Idaho) – 2459/3660
35) Life During Wartime (Florida) – 2476/3660
36) Public Enemies (Indiana) – 2521/3660
37) On Golden Pond (New Hampshire) – 2534/3660
38) Oklahoma! (Oklahoma) – 2550/3660
39) War Eagle, Arkansas (Arkansas) – 2680/3660
40) A Simple Twist of Fate (Virginia) – 2749/3660
41) The Edge (Alaska) – 2782/3660
42) The Descent (North Carolina) – 2952/3660
43) Red Rock West (Wyoming) – 3089/3660
44) 50 First Dates (Hawaii) – 3205/3660
45) Leprechaun (North Dakota) – 3269/3660
46) Graffiti Bridge (Minnesota) – 3537/3660
47) The Hangover Part III (Nevada) – 3559/3660
48) Children of the Corn (Nebraska) – 3594/3660
49) Wrong Turn (West Virginia) – 3616/3660
50) Pink Flamingos (Maryland) – 3651/3660
Hey, whaddaya know? Flickchart really works! There are only a few on there I would flip-flop if I were coming up with this list organically.
Okay, you’ve heard plenty from me over the course of 2013, so I will end things there. Happy trails, and I’ll see you again soon on The Flickchart Blog.