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September 25, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

My favourite film is Final Destination 3* *But not really

What’s your favourite movie?” is not an easy question to answer, regardless of whether you’re a pretentious cinephile who judges people for confusing Kurosawas or a risk-averse economist who thinks Cowboys & Aliens is the height of originality. Most people, if posed the question, would no doubt hesitate and consider the question for a few seconds. Indeed, in a 2008 blog on being asked that question, Roger Ebert wrote 1600 words about the difficulty of answering before giving two answers, each as temporary (and passionate) as the other. But before giving those answers, Ebert posed an important question—how do we decide?

The answer, obviously, varies from person to person. Some may apply some convoluted algorithm to assess a movie’s ‘worthiness’ while others may just cite a film they saw recently that they really liked. If asked, I’d be one of those sad fucks weighing up each film’s ‘worthiness’; my ultimate answer would be Miller’s Crossing, the Coen brothers’ gangster masterwork. It’s both technically flawless and incredibly entertaining—the dialogue is classic Coens; snappy, inventive and a delight to listen to; the actors (Byrne, Turturro, Finney, Gay Harden et al) all give spectacular performances; Barry Sonnenfeld’s cinematography gives a dry comic life to the autumnal production design; etc. etc. etc. I will never not love this film. But is that the truthful answer at any moment in time? Or, as Roger Ebert suggests of his stock answer—Citizen Kane—is it merely convenient?
The answer is alternately yes and no. No because I do love and will never grow tired of Miller’s Crossing—in contrast with Ebert, who is apparently “finished with” Kane. But yes, because if we follow Ebert’s lead, it is not the film I want to watch most right now. The same can be said of many of my other favourite films. I adore Bong Joon-ho’s monster movie The Host; Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s sweet confection Amelie; Rian Johnson’s sharp, resourceful high school noir Brick; Kim Ki-duk’s poetic, beautiful 3-Iron; Jean-Pierre Melville’s effortlessly cool Le Samourai. I love them dearly, but I do not want to watch them right now.

Right now, I want to watch Final Destination 3.

Final Destination 3 is everything I want out of cinema and more. I cannot profess to have the depth of feeling for FD3 that Ebert has for La Dolce Vita, the film he waxes lyrical about in his blog entry, but I can honestly say that I have a deep appreciation for every second of it. James Wong directs like Vincent Price used to act in the old Corman films, broad and deliciously hammy—Wong takes a film about teens running around, freaking out about their imminent deaths and uses his playful editing and cinematography to turn it into a wholly unique tragicomedy. Their futile humanity in the face of a grand, complex terror endears us to them; their deaths at the hands of methodically-constructed, ridiculous Rube Goldberg set-ups reveal the comedy of their situation. It’s lively, it’s exciting, and it’s a knowing and clever piece of filmmaking. If Sight & Sound called me up and asked me to submit a top ten for their poll each decade, would I put FD3 on it? Probably not. But, right now, it is the film I want to see the most and it deserves the title of ‘favourite film’ at this point in time. A favourite isn’t for life—it can be, and should be, just for Christmas, because our opinions are never static.

It’d be a little bit boring if they were.


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