Flickchart & the Filmspotting podcast

posted Nov 11, 2009, 9:10 PM by Jeff Brandt   [ updated Feb 6, 2010, 10:57 PM ]
Like many of you out there -- as the various internet phenomena of the last 10-12 years have unfolded, I certainly haven't been behind the curve.

AOL dialup, Expage, Yahoo!, Geocities and Angelfire, Newgrounds, College Humor, AIM, Maddox,  Ebaumsworld, cable internet, Google, YTMND, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, mobile IM, mobile internet, and things of that sort didn't just come by without my noticing and taking part to one degree or another in a timely fashion. Twitter did to some extent, but I'm on it now, and I can see I really didn't miss much. Following the trending topics is almost certain to cause brain damage . . . But I digress.

The point being that I've just now, in the last 3 or 4 weeks, gotten into listening to podcasts, which, I know, is so three years ago. But before I had an iPod, I had a Zen and a Zune, and the accompanying software doesn't hook up as neatly with podcasts. (Side note: I've now given up on iTunes in favor of MediaMonkey because iTunes 9.0 would not install correctly no matter how many times I uninstalled and reinstalled. But MM is not without fault. It crashes too much and has problems syncing with my iPod at times.)

So, among other shows, I've been getting into the Filmspotting podcast. Basically, it's two young-ish dudes from Chicago who broadcast each week with a discussion of one new film, an old film -- usually part of a marathon, some sort of thematic top 5 countdown (e.g. top five food movies, top five "bad day" movies), massacre theater (they reenact (read: butcher) a famous scene from a famous movie), and respond to listener emails. They covered Inglorious Basterds in depth, as well as Where the Wild Things Are, Taking Woodstock, Zombieland, and many more. It's a pretty interesting and well-done show, and they keep touting this website called Flickchart, to which I'm now addicted.

Flickchart is
a movie rating site that pits two movies against each other at random. You simply click which one you think is better, then two new choices load, and so on. Gradually you complete enough matchups to achieve a decent top 20 list.

You can also sort by genre, decade, or pick a specific movie you want to match against three others. You get some pretty odd matchups . . . anything from Speed vs. The Wizard of Oz to Shrek 2 vs. Apocalypse Now. Most of them are pretty easy, and it takes awhile to get your favorite movies ranked about where you want them. When you finally narrow down the field and battle through your top 100, however, it often comes to two movies you love, and that's when it gets tough and actually inspires some thought on your part. Godfather vs. Godfather Part II for example (I chose the sequel, though a later pick shot the original above it in rankings) and No Country for Old Men vs. There Will Be Blood (I chose the Coens, though I wouldn't have in 2007). I still haven't dealt with Dirty Harry vs. The French Connection, and I'm not sure which one I'll pick when the time comes.

As always, I have some critiques. The wiseacre comments above the movie picks get annoying and repetitive after awhile. You also get a lot of repeated matchups, as if Flickchart is asking if you're sure you're sure, especially when you sort films by decade. I have no idea why Phone Booth or American Pie 2 come up as often as they do. Still haven't figured out how the system is calibrated to generate movie choices, as there seem to be so many great picks that haven't shown up yet. I had to manually rate Pulp Fiction over and over to get it in my top 20. To some extent, it's a redundant process of getting your favorite movies where you want them (which I haven't done yet for the Kill Bills), but it does force you to analyze your taste in movies and make a pick over which awesome movie you love more . . . and which horrible movie you hate more passionately.

At the moment, my worst-rated movie is Transformers. I have no problem with that.

Here's a peek at the interface, which shows on the sidebar what I have as my current top 20. I don't think The Sting, Barry Lyndon, Airplane!, or Willy Wonka really belong that high in my top film list, but for the meantime, there they are.


Check it out for yourself when you get a chance. Only don't do it when you should be doing something else. It can be hard to just quit because, as is true with so many addictions, you keep telling yourself, Just one more and then I'm done . . . OK, one more after that . . . Come on, I gotta do this one! . . . Now, this is the last one . . . Well, maybe not . . . But this one is . . . Alright, just a couple more, and then I'm through . . .

Damn you, Filmspotting.


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