The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

This is the place to talk about films from around the world.

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby admin-2 » Sun Nov 10, 2002 12:49 am

AND ANOTHER THING...(just joking)

I think MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS is HALF of the most exquisitely photographed b/w film in the history of American films.

I don't know if you've seen it, but the CRITERION COLLECTION laserdisc was exquisite! They include a card that told you what frame of the film to freeze on and how to adjust your television in order to see the film the way it SHOULD be seen (I never did it, but you've got to love that kind of attention to detail). I've kept the laserdisc despite the fact that my player is broken, because I cherish it (as I cherish all of Welles' films...yes...even THE STRANGER). Keep your fingers crossed! If CRITERION releases it on DVD you'll also get:

-All the storyboards
-The complete MERCURY THEATRE OF THE AIR radio adaptation of the same story.
-A dry, but informative audio commentary by THE lead authority on THIS film Robert Carringer (author of THE COMPLETE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, a book I adore and recommend to all!)
-A clip (the only extant footage) from a silent film version of Tarkington's novel

and MUCH MORE...

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby Curt46n2 » Sun Nov 10, 2002 1:12 am

Please don't kill me for saying this. I saw Citizen Kane and thought it was one of the least entertaining movies I've ever seen. It was extremely well-made, but I did not enjoy it at all. I haven't seen any of Welles's other films, but I hope they are better than Citizen. I understand that the movie is an artistic movie, but so are Kurosawa's films, and they are fun to watch. Before you think I'm some kind of retarded person, I understood the message of Citizen Kane, it just failed to move me. I don't want anybody to think I'm pulling the old contrarion critic here to make you think I'm intelligent. I seriously thought this movie was one of the most boring movies of all time.

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby wvq » Sun Nov 10, 2002 1:25 am

Oh, I'm not a professional critic, and I was just messing around. I was bored, and it's always fun to respond to an imagined offense. I'm always waiting for these discussions to lead to mud-slinging and personal insults, but everyone is so darn nice. It's sickening really.

Concerning the issue of objectivity and its role in professional criticism. To be honest, I'm fairly skeptical about most professional criticism (at least as it's usually practiced here in the States). Now, don't get me wrong: there are some very good critics out there. However, I'm not really inclined to trust the vast majority of critics much more than anyone else, and I certainly don't expect a great deal of objectivity on their part. Hell, most of the reviews one finds in the mainstream press are little more than plot synopses followed the author's personal opinion about whether the two-hour experience is worth your $7-$10. You'd be hard-pressed to find a critic who seems to know the first thing about film form or who is willing to relate films to anything that more than a year or two beforehand.

This, I suppose, is why I tend to rely on the tastes of certain nonprofessionals who self-publish on the internet. First, they don't have editors forcing them to dumb-down their work for the hoi polloi. Second, they're genuinely enthusiastic about the things they review. Third, and finally, they aren't restricted to talking about whatever is making the rounds at the multiplex.

Concerning the issue of best films vs. favorites. I certainly see what you mean, although I think my lists would overlap each other more than yours do. Of course, that's simply because I have better taste than you do. (Well, either that or I'm terribly pretentious. I mean, isn't it just obvious that my aesthetic faculties are so well-tuned that I'll immediately and passionately love anything that is great and, moreover, that I'll be sure to love things to an extent proportional to their greatness? How could it possibly be otherwise?)

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby Gaz » Sun Nov 10, 2002 8:42 am

At last Curt, someone who agrees with me about Citizen Kane. Whether or not it's a masterpiece, it completely failed to move me and I was frankly pleased when at last it ended. Sorry, I can't help my feelings, though I'm sure I've lost any respect anyone had for me now.

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby admin-2 » Sun Nov 10, 2002 12:04 pm

Dear curt:

May I ask "Why?".

Why did the film NOT move you? Better yet...Why do you think Welles failed to engaged you with this film? Is it actually a fault of the film's execution or is it the fact that your expectations were SO HIGH because you read somewhere that the film was "The Greatest Of All Time" that you had expectations that NO FILM could possibly fulfill?

I'm not asking this to be a smartass. I'm really interested in what you have to say.


Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby admin-2 » Sun Nov 10, 2002 3:03 pm


"Concerning the issue of best films vs. favorites. I certainly see what you mean, although I think my lists would overlap each other more than yours do."

Actually, you're probably right. The fact is that once you get past the top 3 choices on both of my lists (KANE, RULES OF THE GAME & THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP), my list DO NOT look anything alike.

I KNOW why this is the case. I decided a long time ago (and I'm ONLY 36) that people don't take film "seriously". I don't mean that they don't seriously LOVE film, but they do not hold it in the same high regard as other art forms. I made the suggestion on another site that, in a way, I think a lot of film lovers don't even RESPECT the artform. I gave the example of of the two buddha statues that the Taliban government in Afghanistan blew up. For weeks we watched as they chipped away at, and, then, finally blew them up. Most people in the so called "civilised" world looked on in horror. It didn't matter what religion you just knew it was WRONG! I suggested to the posters on the message board of that site that I doubt anyone would "bat an eye" if the negative for PORKY'S was blown up. Some might say that it was sad. Others might say GOOD, it's a piece of cr_p! But I doubt that the vast majority of people would really care. I'D CARE! I do not like the film, but I think the destruction of any work of art (regardless of its quality) is sad.

One of my favourite line in Renoir's GRAND ILLUSION is one of the simplest. It happens just after the Russian soldiers find out that the Czarina hasn't sent them a "care package" of vodka. The Czarina's dead (they don't know this) and the new Bolshevik government has sent them BOOKS. The Russian are so upset they light the books on fire. The French scholar who is imprisoned with them says, very quietly because he is horrified, "You don't burn books."

I guess what I'm getting at is that it is time we (those who love film), get away from questions about whether or not we "like" or "dislike" a film. perhaps, we should move onto the question of how we are going to elevate the artform so that it is held in the same regard as literature, painting, sculpture, music and architecture. Most of us can make distinctions in other artforms. I'll give an example:

If you set in front of a person a painting of "Dogs playing poker", a 25000 year old cave painting and the MONA LISA, most could evaluate their "worth". The "Dogs playing poker" painting can fill us with happiness (Homer Simpson: "They're dogs...And...They're playing poker...Ah Hah Hah Hah Hah!"), but very few would consider it "great art". The cave painting can fill us with happiness too, but I think it is a happiness that comes from the thought, "This is who we are...this is what we were able to do, even, 'back then'!". Most people, I would hope, would also be able to realise that the painting, while no masterpiece, is more worthy and, perhaps,"better" than the dog painting. But when you get to the MONA LISA, I think, you are entering a different sphere. It is the type of painting that actually elevates the human race. We can look at it and say, "Yes...This is what WE are capable of!"

I could give hundreds of examples where we make these types of distinctions all the time, in ALL the arts Film, because it was the first artform designed and aimed at a "mass market" has always been an artform that people feel should be evaluated based solely on whether they liked it or not. I don't think that that is "good enough" any more. Unless we all (those that love film) start taking film "more seriously", I'm afraid that the artform won't survive. It will be pushed aside, to make way for the next artform that JUST appeals to a person's need for entertainment or pleasure.

If I make the distinctions I do in my BESTS and FAVOURITES lists, it is because I feel that this is my small way of elevating the "art of film". I manage a specialty video store that deals only in the type of product that this site has been designed to showcase and I make my decisions on what to add to our rental collection based on what I think is worthy of inclusion. I would much rather add a DVD of Lumiere Brother shorts from 1896 to my collection than the latest monstrosity from Hollywood. Why? Because, although I know I can make more money from something like THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, I know that it is the Lumiere Brothers short that people WILL be watching ten years from now...the jury is still out over whether THE SUM OF ALL FEARS will have that sort of staying power.

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby patsfan86 » Mon Nov 11, 2002 3:02 am

Excellent post. For the record, I wish we had a rental store like yours here in Knoxville Tennessee.

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby Curt46n2 » Mon Nov 11, 2002 4:51 am

I'm sure that some of my disappointment in Citizen Kane came from the fact that I sat down thinking "This is the greatest movie of all time." But, honestly, I don't think that is why I was disappointed. I am 100% sure that if I had never heard anything about that movie before watching it, I would still feel that it was an incredibly boring film. It just lacked any entertainment value at all. I know that Kane was not designed solely with the intention to entertain people, Welles had a message that he wanted to send. However, there are plenty of other "message" films that are great. A Streetcar Named Desire, and even The Wizard of Oz had very powerful messages, and they were delivered in an entertaining way. I don't know if anything I'm saying is making sense. I guess I'm just saying that movies should be fun to watch. Whether you think film is art or just entertainment, you watch movies for one reason: to be entertained. In this aspect, Citizen Kane failed as a movie for me.

Oh, by the way, Sum of All Fears was the only movie I have ever fallen asleep while watching. Aren't thrillers supposed to

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby patsfan86 » Mon Nov 11, 2002 5:54 am

What's up Curt? I have to disagree with you on a few things. You stated in your previous post that movies should be fun to watch. I can take that as an opinion statement, as in your opinion. When I watched the South Park movie with several male friends over many cold beers I set out to watch a fun movie. But when I watched Citizen Kane for the first time, or any of the other few times I've seen it, I never expected it to be fun. I expected it to be a serious film and I took it as such, which I'm sure you attempted to do to. You said Citizen Kane didn't entertain you, so be it. I guess entertainment is like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder. I wouldn't rank CK as my no.1 but I certainly enjoyed it. Conversely, you listed Scarface at the top of your list and I got very little if any entertainment from it. But one of the last things you said about the reason we all watch films is to be entertained. That is not true at all and I'll give you an example. Keep in mind I am only speaking for myself and am not trying to make some sort of blanket statement for a segment of other film fans. I was a History major in college, so when I watched say, Leni Riefenstahl's 'Triumph of the Will', not for school, years later, I watched for the express purpose of learning and not to be entertained. I in fact love documentaries. In the end when they are over if they were done well, you were both educated and entertained, but I often go into a film looking to get something other than entertainment out of it. You mentioned that you like Japanese cinema. There are a few Japanese films that if you didn't like Citizen Kane, I'm sure you probably wouldn't like these either, but the message you will take away from them will stay with you for life. If you can find a copy, and want to try and sit thru it(again, apparantly it won't be to your liking), watch Ozu's Tokyo Story. If you can watch that movie and come away with nothing then you my friend are a true man of stone.

Re: The Forbidden Topic (Enter at your own risk!)

Postby patsfan86 » Mon Nov 11, 2002 5:59 am

One more thing Curt, this topic and the one for the best country for foreign films have drawn alot of attention. Maybe you have a gift. Come up with some more for us. How 'bout it?


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