The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear

The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

9 Comments

  1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
  2. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
  3. Faust (F.W. Murnau)
  4. Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu)
  5. Early Summer (Yasujiro Ozu)
  6. Mr. Kaplan (Alvaro Brechner)
  7. The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Yasujiro Ozu)
  8. Diary of a Lost Girl (G. W. Pabst)
  9. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu)
  10. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

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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.

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Thanks for giving me a reason to watch Vertigo and Citizen Kane yet again!

  2. Au contraire, I could watch Spotlight once a month, at least. I love every feature of the production. I love the Boston aspect, the journalism aspect, the acting, the direction, the writing. I think it’s one of the most deserved Best Picture nods ever. I’m not sure how often I could watch Kane, and I know I have very little desire ever to see Vertigo again. Yuck.

    I’m looking forward to your Have You Tried? Ozu post — I love what I’ve seen of his films, but I’m still unable to tell one from another by title, so I’m heartened to hear that at least three of them can be grouped into SOME kind of classifcation!

    Mr. Kaplan sounds most interesting. Thanks for another excellent post. BTW, what did you think of the Murnau Faust, I’ve been wondering about it, haven’t watched it yet.

    • I had seen the Murnau Faust years ago and it is strikingly beautiful but a little ‘tableaux vivantes’. Some of the images are gorgeous and Emil Jannings is delicious as Mephisto. He seems to be the only live thing in this otherwise lovely tapestry.

      As we discussed, you know you need to see Vertigo again. I’ll help you through it.

  3. p.s. I haven’t seen either film in years, but I remember liking Diary of a Lost Girl over Lulu. No longer sure why! Maybe it was more of a linear story?

    • I think so. Diary of a Lost Girl seems tighter to me. Lulu (Pandora’s Box) is all over the place and outstays its welcome….but it too is perverse fun.

  4. Great post 🙂 As much as I love Citizen Kane which is a big achievement, I still feel that The Magnificent Ambersons (even in its truncated form) is an even bigger achievement. Nevertheless, I love both films equally. I also love Vertigo very much as well. As with the films of Welles and Hitchcock, I love the films of Ozu and von Sternberg. I am quite aware that Diary of a Lost Girl (a great film in my opinion). I am no fan of the journalism drama Spotlight, which is like the other films you compare it to, is little more than self-righteous rubbish. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

  5. ‘Self-righteous rubbish’ is pretty harsh, but I agree that we are not talking great filmmaking here, but rather ‘dramatic documentary’. As such, it is not all that interesting to me, but I found it entertaining enough. It is impossible not to feel sympathetic to the journalists and the victims, of course, and that does feel a bit like manipulation to me and nove very interesting. There was a moment where it looked like it could have gone in an interesting direction: when Rachel McAdams (sp?) is interviewing the priest at the door of his sister’s house and he starts calmly reciting this contorted rationale for why what he did wasn’t bad. You started to get a glimpse into what these monsters were like, but then the film pulled back quickly and went back to a paean to the crusading journalists. A missed opportunity, I think.

  6. I left a reply under your von Stroheim post 🙂 It was a great post too 🙂 Once again keep up the great work as always 🙂

  7. In case you are interested, I just posted a blog entry regarding my favorite films of director Orson Welles on my blog. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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