I’ve mentioned the website Flickchart a few times here on the blog, most notably in this post where I explained what it’s all about. In short, it’s a site that presents you with endless pairs of movies and has you pick which one of the two you like better. With over 26,000 such choices so far, it’s fair to say that I’m a big fan.
I figured it might be fun to do 10 random match-ups and talk about my selections here. Hopefully it will give some idea of what qualities I value in films.
Summer of Sam vs Rosemary’s Baby
I’ve seen eight movies by Spike Lee. I’ve liked all of them to some degree, except for one: Summer of Sam (okay, maybe Crooklyn wasn’t too hot either.) While Summer of Sam is a finely styled period piece, it doesn’t have much new to say that Lee hadn’t already said, and the characters failed to grip me. Rosemary’s Baby, on the other hand, earns its reputation as a horror classic. I got fully invested in the fate of Mia Farrow‘s character when I sat down to watch it, and the sense of paranoia is potent throughout. Repulsion may be my favorite of Roman Polanski‘s Apartment Trilogy, but Rosemary’s Baby isn’t far behind.
Winner: Rosemary’s Baby
Equilibrium vs Mrs. Doubtfire
One dystopian sci-fi action flick versus one crossdressing family comedy. It’s not an entirely easy choice, actually. Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire delivers the kind of high-energy performance that he’s so good at, and the story is sweet and effective. Equilibrium’s story isn’t particularly original, borrowing heavily from both 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, but the action scenes are really damn cool – even if the whole gun kata thing doesn’t make much logical sense. It’s also a film that grew on me quite a bit on a rewatch, whereas Mrs. Doubtfire is more a case of what you see is what you get. Dystopia wins the day.
Les Misérables vs Borat
Sacha Baron Cohen showdown! These are two great movies, both 5/5 in my book. Borat is hilarious with a lot of thought behind it, and Les Mis… well, faithful readers know how that one floored me earlier this year. I can watch Tom Hooper‘s musical over and over and seemingly never get tired of it. If anything, it just keeps getting better. What a wonderful story it is. Even Cohen’s most iconic character can’t trump it.
Winner: Les Misérables
A Very Long Engagement vs Intolerable Cruelty
I’m a big fan of Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s sensibilities, and they’re very much present in A Very Long Engagement. It essentially plays like Amélie with polio during World War I. The fusion of whimsy and the rather dark and serious story feels somewhat uneven, however, and that’s largely why the film is not one of my favorites from the director. Intolerable Cruelty is also an okay film that nonetheless seems like a minor effort by the Coens. The actors are clearly having a lot of fun – George Clooney in particular always brings his comedic A-game whenever he teams up with the Coens – but the story and humor don’t hit on all cylinders. Close call on this one, but I’m going with the French film here.
Winner: A Very Long Engagement
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus vs The Truman Show
It has been a long time since I saw The Truman Show, but I remember it being a rock-solid film with terrific presentation and a reality TV story that, in hindsight, was ahead of its time. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was cool and ambitious, but clearly hurt by Heath Ledger‘s death during filming – even if Colin Farrell, one of his replacements, surprisingly ends up stealing the movie. But even in the acting department, The Truman Show is superior, thanks to Jim Carrey and Ed Harris.
Winner: The Truman Show
Death at a Funeral vs Fred Claus
This is the original British Death at a Funeral, for the record. A funny film that holds nothing back, bordering on farce at times. It’s well worth checking out. The same can’t be said for its opposition here. There is one excellent scene in Fred Claus where Vince Vaughn, playing Santa’s brother, attends a support group meeting for siblings of celebrities – Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton Jr. and Stephen Baldwin all make appearances. Everything about it is pure gold. Or so it seems, at least. Maybe it just comes off as great, sandwiched as it is in a Christmas movie where nothing else is the slightest bit noteworthy.
Winner: Death at a Funeral
Idiocracy vs Death Proof
In one of The Hollywood Reporter’s roundtables this past awards season, Quentin Tarantino and other directors talked about how bad movies can tarnish a director’s legacy. Tarantino specifically singled out Death Proof, saying that he won’t allow himself to make a movie worse than his Grindhouse effort – though he also said that it “wasn’t bad for a left-handed kind of film”. I agree, as I think most would, that it’s the weakest of his movies. The second half is pretty fun and exhilarating, but the first half if everything one might find annoying about QT’s films, with tons of dialogue that goes nowhere. Idiocracy, Mike Judge‘s follow-up to Office Space, is a much stronger film, a heavy-hitting and very quotable satire showcasing human stupidity at its worst.
Happenstance vs 50/50
Happenstance is a little-known French film mostly notable for a pre-Amélie appearance by Audrey Tautou. An ensemble film about the butterfly effect and how people’s lives intertwine with each other at random, Happenstance is fairly sweet and inoffensive, though lacking in any stand-out qualities. 50/50, the cancer film that’s more about friendship than disease, is both funny and touching, with a great lead performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Easy choice here.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children vs Dodgeball
I’d probably call Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children one of my favorite video game based movies. It certainly has its fair share of flaws – the action scenes are atrociously constructed, for instance – but unlike most films based on games, it doesn’t try to do anything but please its fan base, and in that respect, I’d call it a success. It was fun to get back in touch with the characters I obsessed over back in my teens. Dodgeball is a better movie though, if barely. As far as Frat Pack comedies go, it’s middle tier, but it does have a fun antagonist turn by Ben Stiller and does a good job of joking around with the sports movie formula.
Do the Right Thing vs The Book of Eli
Do the Right Thing is the film Spike Lee will always be remembered for, a radical and thought-provoking race drama that looks amazing. The Book of Eli is Denzel Washington traversing the brownest and dullest-looking post-apocalypse ever, culminating in a pointless twist ending.
Winner: Do the Right Thing