The Mark of a Film Genius: A 13-Movie Matrix

Back in 2005, when I was the book reviews editor for PLAYBACK:stl, I put together a small chart comparing various movie-screen geniuses (Amadeus, Ray Charles, Will Hunting, Daryl Zero…) and offered it up for the magazine’s film section. The editors ran it online (though it’s since vanished).

A year or so later, I expanded the chart from 6 movies to 12 and, with PLAYBACK’s permission, pitched it to The Believer for that very sharp chart spread that ran in the middle of their magazine. (I’d published two pieces in The Believer by that point and knew the friendly managing editor.) To my surprise he said he’d like to run it, but, for whatever reason, it never happened. No biggie. These things happen.

I was reminded of the existence of this chart last week, after T and I caught The Social Network at a theater here in Berlin that shows English-language movies without the dreaded dubbing. I opened up my old matrix file (in Microsoft Word!) and realized, yes, The Social Network and Zuckerberg fit into the grid pretty smoothly. I didn’t really want to pitch this piece anew — I had barely touched it since 2006 — but I thought posting it here might give a handful of readers a good way to pass a few minutes. So here it is in two parts; click the thumbnails to go to full size.