- Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
- Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
- Faust (F.W. Murnau)
- Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu)
- Early Summer (Yasujiro Ozu)
- Mr. Kaplan (Alvaro Brechner)
- The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Yasujiro Ozu)
- Diary of a Lost Girl (G. W. Pabst)
- Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu)
- Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)
1- Citizen Kane is described as the greatest film ever made. While it is impossible (and pointless) to quantify that title, many critics, film lovers and journalists have worked hard to maintain it over the decades. The highly-regarded Sight + Sound poll, which has appeared every ten years since 1952, had Citizen Kane first place in every poll from 1962 through 2002. Then in 2012 it fell to second place, replaced by Vertigo. What does it mean? Nothing? A backlash against fifty years of being an unassailable icon? Perhaps, since critics and film devotees are often peevish folk. I had the pleasure of watching both of these films back to back recently. I had seen them both about a million times. Seeing them in such quick succession highlighted how different they are in form and execution. On the surface, Citizen Kane is a dazzling, precocious, exhilirating explosion of cinematic joy. Under the surface, it is a profound rumination on the nature of truth and perception. Vertigo presents a cool, controlled surface, and underneath it is a roiling sea of suppressed passion. Vertigo is not as linear in its story-telling as it first appears, and Citizen Kane is not as complicated as it first appears. So, is Vertigo now greater than Citizen Kane? Shut up and stop asking such stupid questions. Instead, watch them both as many times as you can, then come back here and give me your observations. Both films are gifts that keep giving. Don’t insult them by trying to rank them.
2- Late Spring, Early Summer and Tokyo Story comprise what is often referred to as Yasujiro’s Noriko trilogy. Look for a Have You Tried…… piece on these three films appearing soon at a blog near you.
3- The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice is reassuring in that it shows even masters like Ozu can falter. The film is OK, but doesn’t have the depth or incisive character study of many of his other films. Glad I saw it, of course.
4- Diary of a Lost Girl is the poster child for everything that is perverse and outre in German Expressionism. It is so sick and depressing, yet so much fun to watch. Yuck. I think I need a Blue Angel chaser soon.
5- You never know where Life’s little pleasures will pop up. Apparently there is a Spanish Film Club that meets periodically on the University of Chicago campus. That is where I got to see Mr. Kaplan, a lovely mash-up of Holocaust survivor story and Don Quixote. I have no idea where you can find it but I recommend it highly. It was delight and very moving. I will post more information about this film club as I find it.
6- Talking about competent films: Spotlight. One of the ‘important’ Best Picture Oscar winners which probably win the award because of the serious issues it deals with. Think Crash, Kramer vs. Kramer, All The President’s Men. Good films all, but would you keep going back to them? Probably not.