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Guest Blogger Brian Raphael Waxes Philosophical About His Favorite Movie!

December 7th, 2009

Below is a contribution from guest blogger Brian Raphael to our continuing series in which I asked several of my close friends and colleagues to name their Favorite Movie of All Time.

Wax Philosophique

Ah, the simple joy of knowing the answers to life’s daily questions, of listening to friends’ queries, always smug in the ability to answer anything and everything that any mere layman should happen to wonder about. A knowing smirk, a small shrug that assures the audience that such a question is quite irrelevant anyway – such is the life of Le Philosopher!

But of course! Our all-knowing Philosopher surely snickered at a request from his brother-in-law to answer the question “What is your favorite movie ever?” “Bah!” he probably thought, as the multitude of impossibilities, false assumptions and categorical mistakes the question posed swam through his head, “such a question eez impossible to answer!”

Perhaps it was due to the Philosopher’s overly generous nature, or warm feelings for his sister’s husband, that he chose to put pen to paper and attempt an answer. Ruminations on the meaning of life, the meaning of death and everything in between can be tough, so deciding upon his favorite movie ever should be quite simple he thought as he plotted the various methods of dazzling his sure-to-be-rapt readers.

Candle burning, ink well filled, and duty-worn fountain pen at the ready – it was not long before our hero realized that this might prove tougher than he had thought.

To the outside world – a humble accountant, toiling away in a Manhattan high-rise; ah, but from the inside! His brain was alight with neurons firing across synapses, wrinkles forming and growing through time as one thought led to another which led to yet another as he toyed with different perspectives, discarding each just as quickly for a multitude of reasons – attempting to find a path that led to fruitful ground.

Could it be that the answer to this riddle lay somewhere in the question itself? Terms slowly but surely met their respective definitions. Some were simple terms – movie: a motion picture that had been in general release, your: his, ever: in his lifetime – but ‘favorite’ caused a near short circuit in our humble philosopher’s brain.

“Favorite?!” he said to himself incredulously. “But zis term means nothing!”

As the night grew long and his candle burned low, he remained at his post, determined to fulfill his intellectual quest.

“Perhaps ‘favorite’ implies the movie that I have viewed the most times during my life” he wondered aloud as he fondly recalled beautiful afternoons living in the country as a child…when he and his good friend would sit in a dark basement and watch Toxic Avenger every day after class. Doing some rough mental math (not his strong suit), he wagered that he had seen that movie upwards of fifty times. But perhaps it was another classic of stage and screen, the riveting Bloodsport that would take this top honor. Throughout his later education at university, he guessed that he had seen this movie more than sixty times.

But surely his ultimate answer, his favorite movie ever, couldn’t be Bloodsport? This was far too pedestrian; perhaps some crude philistine somewhere could count it as his favorite, but certainly no esteemed philosopher and respected member of the community could be associated with this. He quickly and quietly discarded both Toxic Avenger and Bloodsport from his list of possible favorites.

So it was that he determined that the definition of ‘favorite’ simply could not be the movie he had seen the most times; it just wasn’t fitting to a man of his stature. And with this thought his search continued.

From the outside, a bleary-eyed man clicking absent-mindedly on his blackberry; ah, but from the inside! A brain that was positively on fire, as electricity screeched down the paths that were formed during his years of study and thinking in solitude!

Could it be that the definition of ‘favorite’ assumed the movie that, quite simply, had the most impact on him at any given time? He vividly recalled the feelings he had as he stepped out of the local cinema after see The Matrix – at the time he was sure he had witnessed film greatness in all its glory. But this movie was enjoyed by nearly everyone, broke box office records and received generally positive reviews. Surely his favorite movie ever couldn’t be one counted as a favorite by so many of the great unwashed? After all, what would be the value in deeming this his favorite movie ever? “A forgotten bit of writing by an otherwise prominent and valued member of the philosophic community” was his thought as he crumpled the paper at his desk and hurled it into the nearby trash bin.

He must be getting closer. If his first idea was too pedestrian, and his second too obvious, perhaps he needed to find a movie he enjoyed that the fewest people had seen. This notion seemed to eliminate the possibility of his pick falling into either of those unacceptable categories. With that in mind, our intrepid thinker harkened back to those films that had caught him off guard – movies that no one had recommended, but he had stumbled upon nearly by chance. He recalled watching Screamers on cable one night and being surprised by the sci-fi ideas and the suspense that was built around them; he also remembered fondly seeing Chasers one very late night and finding himself actually chuckling here and there; and then there was Swimming With Sharks, which captured the young intellectual’s ripe imagination at the perfect time in his maturity.

But our philosopher was becoming sleepy, and he sensed that he was moving further away from the true answer to this riddle with his latest musings. Surely there was no point in proffering up Screamers as his favorite movie ever, any more than Bloodsport or The Matrix.

What if he simply did not have a favorite movie ever? What then?

Ah! But perhaps – conveniently – this question does not matter!

After all, what good is your favorite movie if you don’t even exist to begin with!

And, as his candle flickered out, it was with this comforting thought that Le Philosopher fell into a sound sleep, content that he had resolved yet another one of the world’s questions.

Brian Raphael is my brother-in-law.  He’s also a champion Boggle player who really loves the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The series so far:


Citizen Kane

Hoosiers, The Frisco Kid, & Casablanca

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