Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Year in Lists or Lizstomania!

When did people start fanatically keeping lists? When did everyone on an internet website start posting their favorite things divided into logical progressions? Why are we a nation that lives and dies with the list?

When I do my faily wander over to the IMBD, I check out the Top 250. In fact, it was this list that started my fascination with films. When I finished watching all the films on it, I moved on to the decade lists and watched all those. Then I began the search for more and more lists of films to dissect and conquer. As I continued to seek other critics lists of films, I realized that I was not alone in my love of lists and that there were entire websites devoted to cataloging. Most notable, there was www.listsofbests.com, a site entirely dedicated to people posting lists (their own or user-created) and completing them. I signed on and began searching for more lists to complete.

For me personally, the discovery of a good list is exciting. It is something that I can accomplish and it gives me satisfaction to tick movies off the list one by one. On my computer I have spreadsheets of my lists in progress and I love seeing a rare movie on TV or newly released on video so I can delete that particular column.

The main one I am working one, the list by which all other lists are judged is of course the 'They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?' Top 1000 films of all time. This isn't JUST a film list, it is THE film list by which all others are fed into. In a simple spreadsheet I have the definitive list of the 1000 movies to watch that encompass the greatest films ever made. They are grouped into Netflix availability and then by length. As an aside, since I am have long since seen all the TSPDT films on Netflix, I opened up a Facets (www.facets.org) subscription to help me with the import and out of print discs.

(I tried to paste in a photo of my spreadsheet but I suck at blogging.)

The problem is that I have been at work on this list for so long that I only have about 8% of it left to see even after the Facets films have been factored in, all of which are unavailable on DVD in the US to rent. If I had the money, I would find a region 155 copy of Ousmane Sembene's Ceddo just to tick it off but since I'm not that obsessed, it will have to remain marked as "Unconsumed" on the lists the bests website. Though as this list wains, I have to start other ones that aren't as fun like the New York Times Top 1000 films of all time list.

I have been working on this one strongly for about a year and it is without question, the dumbest and most insipid film canon I have ever encountered (worse than totalfilm!). Yet, since I have committed to finishing the list, I have forced myself to sit through dated 80's/90's thrillers like One False Move, River's Edge, and Internal Affairs. Granted, there were at least a couple gems on there like Claude Chabrol's La Ceremonie and photo-journalist Ray Ashley and Morris Engel's The Little Fugitive, but this list is filled with drivel and movies so bad that one wonders if this list is a giant inside joke to the writer and his friends (Trip to Bountiful...really?).

I am wasting enough hours just so that I can take these films off my list and move on to the next canon. Perhaps the reason I, and society, love the list so far much it presents a clear starting and finishing point. What in our lives are ever that clear cut? Death is a clear end point. Birth is a starting point. Actually, sex has both of those endpoints.

So, am I saying that internet nerds use lists to make up for their lack of a sex life? Hmm. I did not intend on raising this point when i started lazily writing this blog entry an hour ago.

Sex replacement or not, the list shouldn't be seen as a definitive set in stone example of 'THIS IS GOOD' but a nice place to begin a journey. Thanks to the IMBD and TSPDT, I've experienced some amazing films and am better for it. Those lists led me into film corridors I never would have encountered without that initial recommendation.

A highlight of any year is the year end best of lists that start to pop up in every publication known to man. For this blog title, I referenced two of my favorite 'list' oriented songs in the title. OK, so the Phoenix track is based on a classical composer but still... Also, I embedded the hysterically accurate 'Brat Pack Mash Up' of the video which is genius.