Sunday, September 7, 2008

What's Your 'FAVORITE' Movie?

"What's your favorite movie?" Four words capable of bringing a superhuman cinephile to his knees. Usually asked by outsiders attempting to fill awkward conversation lulls, this bullshit question sucks because no matter what answer you give, it's never the right one.

Unless your favorite film actually is: The Godfather, Fight Club, or something that came out in the last six months (Dark Knight seems to be a popular choice), you're going to have a tough time explaining it to your co-worker's boyfriend. You know, the one that just got that job at the Ford dealership.

For those Lord of the Rings, Pulp Fiction, Shawshank fans, perhaps some explanation is in order. Just imagine, if you can, that there was a film. This film never had any cardboard cutouts made up from their characters. This film was made before Goodfellas and cannot be purchased as part of Hollywood Video's 3 for $25 deal. And you really like this movie. You love this movie. It's the funniest, or saddest, or most violently awesome movie you've ever seen.

Now imagine that none of the people you know have ever seen this movie before. You've just seen this amazing movie and you've got no one to talk about it with. Not only that, but your friends think you're weird for recommending it to them. Your family laughs you off too. No matter how great this movie is, you're new favorite movie, nobody seems very interested. Frustrating, isn't it?

Then someone asks you what you're favorite movie is. You get excited. Someone actually wants to know about this movie! They're interested! So you tell them! "My favorite movie is..."

And here's what happens (at least with me):

Scenario#1: This guy can't distinguish between favorite and best. Is The Warriors the best movie or my favorite movie? When I tell him my favorite movie is The Warriors, he tells me I'm wrong and then proceeds to explain to me the artistic mastery of Peter Jackson.

Scenario #2: This guy doesn't want me to answer with a title he's never heard of before. I say ''The Warriors.'' Then I'm greeted by the blankest of stares. Then one of us walks away.

Scenario #3: I say ''The Warriors.'' He says ''Oh yeah, that's a good movie. You know what else is good? Saw IV."

Clearly, this guy's never seen the movie I'm talking about. Now, I'm forced to make a difficult decision. Do I lie and say that not only did I see Saw IV but I loved Saw IV? Apparently, this is how this guy wants the conversation to go down. He lied about my movie. I'll lie about his movie.

However, that doesn't seem right. Why should I lie? I didnt' see Saw IV. I didn't miss it by accident either. Why make myself out to be cinematially ignorant for the comfort of this Cradle 2 the Grave fan? I end up brushing off his Saw IV ramblings and explaining why he should see The Warriors immediately. Oh great, now I'm that guy! The awkward film nerd/party hazard that corners some poor, defenseless business analyst for half an hour and talks his ear off about some movie no one's ever heard of before.

I'm generally okay with being that guy. I only took thirty minutes. Saw IV stole two hours from him. Plus, now, he's learned something. Never bring a Saw to a gun fight.

Scenario #4: I say ''The Warriors.'' This guy says ''The Warriors! I love that movie. Do you ever read this blog called "He Shot Cyrus?" It's the most entertaining blog ever written."

When that happens, I'll let you know how I handle it.

"I tell people it's Red Dawn but it's actually You've Got Mail."
- Seth Rogen (Undeclared)


Anonymous said...
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blakecgriffin said...

You just described every day of my life.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Wecinephiles will always be loners on life's highway. Unable to share what makes us whole, unable to live our lives with other people. Forever condemned to nod sagely at other peoples opinions and to just recommend whatever's number one at the box office.

Hang on, did you say The Warriers?


Keith said...

My favorite movie is Warriors too! Gary Busey's performance moves me to tears every time I watch it.

Wait... THE Warriors? What's that?

Nageoire said...

I think movie knowledge is a great litmus test of how well you could EVER get along with someone. If you say to someone "my favorite movie is The Warriors," and they look at you with that blank stare or lie to you, you have just saved yourself from wanting to know ninety percent of the people you meet (hence your correct idea of walking away).

But oh those ten percent who do know! Those are the people you want to be friends with, spend time with, and have real conversations with. Heck, if I found someone with all of my similar film tastes...I would donate a kidney to them, just for the fun of it.

Marilyn said...

And then there are the cinephiles within the cinephile community who have clearly maxed out their welcome. Dude, I love that you recommended me to Natsukashi (and that your film was even older than mine), but that site is a major homage to the 80s. When people are waxing nostalgic about Fright Night, I know that I'm ready to start shopping for a rocking chair.

elgringo said...

BCG, I'm glad you can relate. It means you're one of us.

RLaG, but don't you get a little happier inside every time someone just MUST show off and highlight their film ignorance? Makes you know you're doing something right.

Keith, every time Busey's on screen 'performing' I cry too.

Taylor, we should write a movie about a cinephile donating another cinephile his kidney over a bonding love of Marathon Man.

Marilyn, I'm so glad you're liking Natsukashi. They really are great. And I agree, lots of 80s love over there.

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Slayton said...


Also, for the record, I think "The Godfather" is a pile of shit.

Rachel said...

I usually have this question come up when people find out I have a blog dedicated to movies. Their reaction coupled with their reply of their favorite usually lets me know if I want to be this person's acquaintance. Most of the time I do not.

And my favorite movie is "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Ross Williams said...

I have a love of obscure films, and I'm often recommending good ones to friends, family and acquaintances. But when it comes to my favorite films, I have pretty mainstream tastes. I usually have no problem discussing The Matrix, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, Jaws, or whatever my preference happens to be that day. Every once in a while I'll bust out Raising Arizona or Rushmore, that's when I usually get the blank stare.

It's very hard for me to nail down my all time favorite film.

What I Watched Last Night

MC said...

See, there is a fifth scenario though.

Scenario 5: You say the title of a movie that I haven't heard of (because I love the Warriors myself so it would have to be another movie), and then I ask you to tell me about it, and based on what you say, I may or may not seek out that film.

MC said...

I also wonder if you played the recent video game translation of The Warriors which is in essence provides the setup for the movie and broadens the scope of your understanding of the characters.

elgringo said...

Hey MC, you're quite the optimist. Haha. It's true, there have been times that I've told someone about The Warriors that was genuinely interested in learning about a new movie.

The Warriors game is awesome. The saddest part of my relationship with that game is that I bought it the first day it came out, played for a couple months, and then moved. The sad part, my old roommate was the one with the PS2. Stupid X-Box 360...

Fletch said...

I'm glad you mention the distinction between Best and Favorite. So many people can't seem to separate the two when discussing movies. I swear it comes up at the end of every year. Just because I loved X the most doesn't mean I think it should win the Best Pic Oscar...

Oh...and I've yet to see The Warriors, though I've had to listen to Bill Simmons mention it about 500 times over the last 8 years or so.

elgringo said...

So Bill Simmons likes The Warriors, huh? Maybe I'll start watching ESPN again.

Daniel said...

I yawn at the question. Favorite is, has been, and always will be, The Power of One. I answer as quickly as they ask. Normally it's a conversation ender because nobody's heard of it, but every now and then I get a "WHAT?! I love that movie!" Then we embrace for a few minutes.

If the question is Best, well then I get pretty flustered. Really a tough question. One strategy is to just name the best you've seen this year, and that usually suffices. Otherwise you can just back out of an answer and tell them that such distinctions are somewhat meaningless. Either way, the conversation has usually ended after I name my favorite, so we never get to trading blows.

darkangel said...

My favorite movies are A Few Good Men and Forrest Gump. :)

I also believe that they're the best movies of all time. :P

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