Friday, April 1, 2016

My new #1 movie

A guy in my Flickchart Facebook discussion group named Yadsloof Lirpa has recently been touting the benefits of so-called "Fluid Flickcharting." Let me explain what he means by that, but first let me lay a little groundwork for the discussion.

Most of us, when we are ranking on Flickchart, have enough of a sense of the positions of the movies on our chart that we will often pick one movie over another based on the position we know it has, rather than an actual comparison of the quality of the two films. When the two posters come up side by side, you are supposed to choose the one you like better, end of story. But if you know you are picking a movie ranked 253rd against a movie ranked 79th, you have to decide if that second movie is worth entering your top 100. If you don't think it is, you'll choose the higher ranked movie just because you're not ready for the "chaos" that will ensue if you promote the lower ranked movie beyond its means.

It's an easy way for a chart to stagnate, this rigid impression of what belongs where. So Yadsloof thinks you just need to let go of your anxiety and not worry about what beats what, why, and whether this will cause major changes in your chart. Your chart is, by definition, not fixed -- it will never be perfectly accurate, and because you are always adding new movies, it will never be complete. So Yadsloof thinks we should just let go of our preconceptions. Just vote with your heart. Just vote with your gut. And the resulting decisions will get you closer to Flickcharting zen.

Throughout my Flickcharting career I have been one of those rigid Flickcharters, a few exceptions notwithstanding. I have resisted the wanton repositioning of various movies because I fear the cascading effect it will have on other movies. If a lesser movie jumps ahead of better movies through an act of carelessness or the whims of a momentary preference that may be gone as suddenly as it arrives, it will impact all the other movies that movie duels. Now movies that would beat it, but not the movies behind it, will be in the wrong place on my chart. And it's a domino effect with no real end.

But Yadsloof's logic has recently been swaying me. Why should I be consciously molding my chart to my preconceived notions of what it should look like? Why should I be going against my heart?

So I've made a radical change to my approach. And boy is it radical. Ladies and gentlemen, meet my new #1 movie:

That's right, Freddy Got Fingered. The Tom Green vehicle nobody understood. The Tom Green vehicle I didn't understand until a few weeks ago, when I caught it again on TV late at night and was mesmerized.

Having watched this movie a second time, I have no idea how I was so wrong on it. It's a masterpiece of absurdism. It takes all the narrative conventions of a standard comedy -- of many different genres, in fact -- and flicks them in the nose. It's a demented tweaking of everything we hold dear, and its every choice is masterful.

I could break it down scene by scene, but let me just give you a few highlights. The scene where Tom Green plays that marionette synthesizer while wearing a shower cap and slices of meat dangling from his ears is a shrewd deconstruction of the image of the modern rock star. It's absurd, but it's also pointed and incisive. The scene where he swings that baby around by its umbilical cord is a rather literal attack on our modern tendency to be helicopter parents, the circular motion created by the swinging serving as a mirror of helicopter rotors. And that scene where he wears an animal carcass is a biting commentary on the self-seriousness and righteousness of animal activists.

But instead of trying to illuminate the brilliant particulars of Freddy Got Fingered, I should probably tell you how it rose to become #1 on my chart.

It happened simply and suddenly, as the result of one duel. It came up against Raising Arizona, my former #1 ... and it took the victory.

Now, Raising Arizona is a great movie. Don't get me wrong. I rewatched this recently as well, and it reminded me just how much I love it.

But when I put it side by side with Freddy Got Fingered, the philosophy of Yadsloof Lirpa overcame me, and I went with my gut. Fluid Flickcharting told me that Freddy Got Fingered was the superior film. If asked which of these films I wanted to watch right now -- which is always a good tie-breaking method on Flickchart -- the answer dawned on me in a sudden revelation. It would, indeed, be Freddy Got Fingered. And if I would rather watch Freddy Got Fingered than the movie I have been considering my #1 movie for three or four years now, then that meant that Freddy Got Fingered was now my #1 movie.

Look, I am as surprised as you are. Until a few weeks ago, I thought I hated this movie.

But Yadsloof has convinced me that a person's love of film is an ever-evolving enterprise, and there is no clearer example of his philosophy at work than my recent coronation of a new #1. And I feel strangely liberated by this new outlook on movies.

From now on I will believe everything Yadsloof Lirpa says, forwards and backwards.

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