Top Tens

I’ve already written on this here blog about my dislike for listicles. Now I wanna talk about Top Tens.

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Though ‘top’ is about as authoritative as ‘best’ where the internet is concerned, there is some value to be gleaned from the notion of a canon, or at least critically acclaimed examples of things like genre, tone, craft, maybe even run times, etc. But there’s also something about calling anything ‘top’ that makes me a little uncomfortable – ‘top’ according to what criteria, exactly?

In the shop we used to have a ‘Top Ten’ list of new release titles which, essentially, was just a list of what had been renting best from our new release board. The reason we put it up for so many years was because people wanted it – some sort of narrowing down of the expansive list of what’s otherwise only curated as ‘new’.

Perhaps what was most frustrating about those lists is that they in no way reflected the opinions or qualitative tastes of the staff at Flicks. So why, when in an internet age, you could easily find a list of what’s popular, would we bother printing up such a beast on a weekly basis? Won’t someone think of the trees! (not to mention the eyes and minds of those renting and watching what’s non-critically popular enough to make its way into the top ten …)

And so, we did away with it. No more Top Ten lists from Flicks.

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But what, people wanted to know, should they rent?!

Well, seeing as there’s rarely a 10: 1 customer to staff ratio in the store, we think it’s as easy, and certainly better, for us to just tell you what’s good from the new releases. AND, as best we think it might align with your own tastes.

We’re here, we’re human and we can TALK!

So that’s it. That’s why we don’t do a weekly new release ‘Top Ten’ any more. Instead, we’ve got around 600 staff recommended titles on display next to the new release board, one or two friendly humans on hand to let you know that The Water Diviner is crap and that John Wick is faaarking great, as well as a few critically curated genre lists to hand for those who really can’t get away from Buzzfeed culture.

It’s not a Netflix algorithm built on wanting you to rent specific titles for financial reasons. Nope, it’s just two guys named Dave, me (Tara) and Becca, here to talk you out of taking Man Up home and into renting Rosewater instead.

Also, we have around 19,000 movies – there’s more than ten that are tops.

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Listicles

“What’s a listicle?” He asked, and a wee glimpse of terror shot out of his right eye. “It sounds like testicle,” he said, the fear having now manifest itself into an unnerving timbre of his voice. “That’s because they are bollocks,” she replied.

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It’s not that the shop is anti-list. In fact, we have for many years collated and re-produced various reams of “best” and “recommended” titles to help with what some might feel is endless browsing. But the lists have always been just that: films titled one to one hundred (or thereabouts) that cover a genre (like horror), or relate to an event (like Christmas) or have achieved great acclaim (like the AFI and BFI 100s). Annotations, however, usually turn up on boxes or in conversation.

But what of this blog?

Might be that you want lists. Heck, maybe you expect them (it’d certainly make more sense than posts about mangoes.) And sure, we have the time and resources to put them together. But in our newfangled era of Buzzfeed-journalism I can’t help but wonder if they’d be in any way fulfilling – to read or to write. And I say that even though I realise the content doesn’t necessarily have to consist of unbridled crap and snide commentary (ahem).

Suggestions so far [Ed’s note: I’m pretty sure I already wrote that we don’t do ‘by request’ blog posts but the downside to your favourite customer being aware that they are your favourite customer is that they also know that they can request the unrequestable] include Top 10 Female Directors (this is totally understandable since even I’ve begun to refer to myself as ‘the Australian Feminist’) and a Top 3 Richard Curtis films (LOL, as if any of them could be considered worthy of one’s retinas).

Though I do have plans to indoctrinate – I mean share – with y’all my feminist film choices, I haven’t really got a tidy top ten to speak of. And then there’s the issue of the films I’d include that we maybe don’t have (Shirley Clarke’s stellar films for example, never released on DVD in the UK) … So, for now, here’s a few female director recommendations. They’re not numbered.

agnes-vardaAgnes Varda – everything, just watch everything she’s ever made. We now have most of her films at the shop and she was every bit as important to the Nouvelle Vague as her male contemporaries.

600full-chantal-akermanChantal Akerman – her films are amazing but, for the most part, they’re only available for home entertainment on NTSC import, and we can’t buy films the BBFC haven’t classified, so we just have the one title, La Captive (2000).

Maya_DerenMaya Deren – who became a key figure of the Postwar American Avant-Garde, was a poet, photographer, filmmaker and ethnographer. Her first film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) is available on the Cinema 16: American Short Films compilation put out on DVD in 2005.

Julia Louis-DreyfusNicole Holofcener – films with great female characters that are humanist, charming and heartwarming without ever being saccharine.

93142c5bbb745ae0e8a8a95ba92fd236Lisa Cholodenko – celebrated and criticised in equal measure, Cholodenko’s films revolve around the lives and sexual odysseys of complex characters – not only but often female, and not always but usually LGBTQI.

your-sisters-sister-movie-image-emily-blunt-rosemarie-dewitt-01Lynn Shelton – it began with mumblecore and it continued with American Indie fare of the finest calibre. I really can’t recommend Humpday (2009) and Your Sister’s Sister (2011) highly enough. Her latest, Say When (aka Laggies, 2014) is soon to hit our shelves but, unfortunately, adheres to far more traditional (and dude centric) mainstream movie ideology. Stick with her earlier stuff.

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Věra Chytilová – we only have the one, most famous of her films, Daisies (Sedmikrásky, 1966), and it is an absolute must-see. If you’re in London, however, over the next week or two then you can head to the BFI, they’re celebrating her life and work. If you can’t get to London then at least start with Daisies – it’s a sublime work of art from the avant-garde.

 

If do you want more lists then please let us know. Otherwise you might just get Nic Cage adoration and fruit disputes.