Tag Archives: Classic

Is Citizen Kane (1941) The Greatest Film of All Time?


As a lover of film, finally getting around to this classic has been long overdue, due to topping the list of the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest movies, of which I have seen 33 at the time of writing. But despite that list having some questionable choices (M*A*S*H, anyone?), I was still eager to see what the supposedly best film ever made had to offer. Did it deliver and is it worthy of it’s title?

Citizen Kane follows a reporter interviewing numerous people associated with newspaper founder Charles Foster Kane trying to figure out what the meaning of his final words, “Rosebud”, is. As he does so, we learn more about Kane’s rise and fall through the industry, before learning the grand truth behind his last words.

I realize that description of the plot might make it seem like the reporter has a bigger role than he actually does. Most of the film is told in flashbacks, and in massive chunks too, so admittedly it can be quite jarring when you do return to the present day. That can also be taken as a compliment on the movie’s part, as I found myself wrapped up in Charles’ character study and how he was thought of by the people he knew, with plenty of build up made towards the simple final reveal, making for a poignant conclusion.

But a great story doesn’t entirely make a film, as one of the things that makes the art form so great is how the visuals, music, editing and the screenplay come together. In Citizen Kane’s case, it’s much like Lawrence of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey where it feels ahead of it’s time. It boasts impressive film-making that actually utilizes the fact it’s a movie (most other films of that era can feel like filmed plays) and it mostly doesn’t show it’s age, with most of the small issues I have with the movie having nothing to do with it being dated.

I personally wouldn’t rank it as the best film of all time, because that checklist of the visuals, music, editing and screenplay isn’t always done perfectly (the score by the iconic Bernard Herrman doesn’t add much to the film), and things like that random parrot screeching for no reason other than to make sure that the audience is still watching the film now comes off as random and distracting.

Despite that, it’s impact on cinema isn’t to be ignored, and I’m perfectly content with it begin considered the best movie of all time. This is likely to be on the bucket list for many film fans, and for me, there was plenty to appreciate and enjoy, meaning that I found it to be overall great.



West Side Story (1961) Film Review


Anyone else hate long films that just go on and on AND ON? I certainly do, and I’m always left thinking about glorious 70 minute long animated movies. West Side Story runs at 152 minutes, so this is gonna drag, right?

It’s a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but instead of it being rival families, it’s gangs (the American Jets VS the Spanish Sharks) who keep fighting for the turf by twirling and prancing around. At a dance, one of the Jets, Tony, falls in love with the Sharks leader’s sister, Maria. The two keep visiting each other in secret, while the fight between the Jets and Sharks escalates…

The most important part of any musical is… well, the music, and it’s absolutely cracking here! There’s plenty of tunes to get stuck in your head and the dancing is consistently impressive. It’s also very well paced, with enough time between songs and building up the story to keep the viewer engaged.

Maybe it IS the pacing that keeps the movie from becoming dull because of the run time. Something entertaining is always happening, where it be seeing where the story goes next to a big dance number, there was never a dull moment.

West Side Story is often considered one of the great movie musicals, and after seeing it for myself, it’s hard to argue with that statement. Give it a watch if you haven’t already, although be prepared to have Maria stuck in your head all day long…

Mary Poppins (1964) Film Review


Mary Poppins isn’t really the type of movie I’d like to review, so I tried to come up with a word to describe it instead, but I can’t think of the appropriate word at the moment, so I might as well talk about the film while I try to think of one…

The story (for the three of you that don’t know it) is about a magic nanny called Mary Poppins who comes to look after the Banks children, and the rest of the movie is the three of them going on several capers with the “cockney” Bert. There isn’t much of an actual story, it’s mainly Mary and the children going on some short adventure and then the next one, but when the adventures are this charming, imaginative and fun filled, the two hour length flies by.

Those two hours hold up remarkably well after 53 years, with practical effects that still look convincing, and great performances from all the cast. Yeah, Dick Van Dyke’s accent might be considered the second worst in film history (just beat by Sean Connery in The Untouchables) according to Empire Magazine, but admit it, it wouldn’t be the same without him (or Julie Andrews, for that matter).

Do I even need to tell you how good the songs are? They’ve become household tunes, with Feed the Birds, Chim Chim Cher-ee, Let’s Go Fly a Kite… and that really long word one that I can’t remember the name of…it should back to me.

Put simply, Mary Poppins is still a delight after over 50 years for all ages, that’s tons of fun and at the end, rather poignant. Needless to say, you’ll come out of it feeling- YES! I know what word I can use to describe this movie, it’s the perfect word for Mary Poppins!

It’s great.

Casablanca (1942) Film Review


In one of the Big Nate comics, Francis proclaims that Casablanca is his favourite movie of all time, and after seeing it, I certainly like the character less now.

I already hear the angry film veterans writing the mile long essays on why I’m completely wrong, and I can’t blame them. The American Film Institute declared it’s the second greatest film of all time (below Citizen Kane, of course) and most people regard it as a classic. But to a 14 year old, I found it pretty “meh”

It’s set during WWII in (where else?) Casablanca where two former lovers reunite in a bar and… stuff happens… To be honest, that’s the best synopsis I can give. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman just do things, she’s with someone else, some Nazi’s also do some things, and it’s not very interesting. There’s a couple of good moments, but I spent most of the 103 minutes of run time bored.

I’m possibly not old enough to appreciate the film, and I couldn’t really think of anything artistically wrong with it (aside from a few cheesy moments) but a good movie means nothing if I was simply bored. I really don’t have a lot to say about this one but I’m with Nate and Teddy, Dumb and Dumber is better.

Jaws (1975) Film Review


Dur…dum…dur dum…duuuuuur DUM. Dundundundundundundundundu-okay I’ll stop now.

Jaws takes place in the middle of nowhere on a remote island being hit by shark attacks. The first half of the movie is the shark claiming victims whilst the mayor decides to keep the beach open for business. But by the second half, Police Chief Brody decides to put a stop to it and goes on a shark hunt with a marine scientist and a fisherman. I’d say the people who were killed got what was coming to them for going out so far to sea, but then we wouldn’t have our big thriller, so I’ll play along.

Most people remember the tension built before each attack, and who can blame them? With John Williams iconic theme to the fact that you only get the first proper look at the shark by the end, it’s very effective stuff, and the point of the first half is to build tension before the big hunt, and it works very well. (especially THAT scene with the abandoned boat, scared me sh*tless)

The second half sees our three heroes attempting to murder the shark, and while that’s also done well, it can also get a bit tiring after a while. Even though this is very much a film about tension, things start to get repetitive when they just keep harpooning barrels at this shark (an animatronic shark that still holds up, I should add). But it does build up to a satisfying climax that makes the more dull scenes worth sitting through, it just takes a bit too long to get there.

So as a whole, Jaws still holds up and it will most definitely continue to keep people from going into the water, or at least going out really goddamn far, which is a very sensible thing to teach audiences, so good job!


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) Film Review


Something I’ve found whilst watching classic musicals is that there’s always quite a few songs I’d never heard of amongst all the iconic ones. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one such musical, expect there was only ONE song I was aware of before going in, and it’s more of a dance number anyway. This tells me the film isn’t so well known amongst other musicals like Sound of Music or Singin in the Rain as I anticipated, and I suppose theirs  kind of a reason for it.

Just telling you the story kind of proves my point. Adam is a woodsman who’s looking for a wife. He finds a woman named Milly and he asks her to marry him, despite only just meeting. Of course she agrees, and they get married THAT AFTERNOON. Geez, and I thought Disney characters rushed their marriages! Anyway, she goes to live with Adam, only to discover he has six brothers, and that’s she’s expected to do all the chores around the house. Soon the other brothers fall in love with six women, queue numerous hijinks and song numbers.

Now unless you’ve just time travelled from 1954, I don’t think I need to tell you that this movie’s story sounds like a product of it’s time, and that kind of sums up most of the film overall (though I did get a good laugh every time they rode the horse carriage against a green screen). It also doesn’t help that by today’s standard, it’s quite sexist, and after giving you the premise, I don’t think I need to explain why. And later on, what do the brothers do to get the girls? Kidnap them, of course! Yeah, yeah, I know it’s fiction, but it just seems a little extreme, especially considering by the end it actually works.

But I should probably say that I did enjoy this movie fine, the songs (while they do come out of nowhere) are pretty good, and I was humming the first one after watching the movie. The dance scene halfway through was very impressive, and despite being a tad outdated, it does have that old movie charm that can’t be found today. Some of the choices made haven’t aged that well, but it’s good old fashioned entertainment, even if The Wizard of Oz (made about 20 years earlier) is much more timeless.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982) Film Review


Quick disclaimer: I didn’t cry at the end. Yep, you read that right, I didn’t cry at the end of E.T. Maybe I have a heart of stone, but the point is you now have a good excuse to hate me. With that out of the way, on with the review…

I think most of us are familiar with the tale of the alien who finds himself in suburban America, and tries to “phone home”with the help of a young boy named Elliot. I mean, how could you not know? It’s a beloved classic that’s been copy and pasted by dozens of other movies, it spawned one of the most infamous games ever made (if you live in Mexico, get out a shovel and start digging, you might find a copy) and it’s one of those films that gets you banned from society if you confess you don’t like it. In others words, ET is a massive movie. So with how popular it is, you’d assume it would be perfect, right? Well… not exactly.

Wait a second! Put your pitchforks down, and hear me out. I didn’t say it was a bad movie. On the contrary, I thought it was great! It’s a great adventure and few movie scenes can match the giddy joy brought on by the bike chase at the end. However, I do think it has a few issues that are hard to ignore. I’ll get to my problems in a second, so for now, what did I like?

I’ve always favoured practical effects over CGI, and E.T himself is the perfect example of this. The animatronics really hold up and he’s just as cute as he was back in 1982 (unless you’re my sister and find him scarier than the Xenomorphic) and the kids work off him perfectly. Speaking of which, all the kids did a surprisingly good job portraying their characters to support the story, as do the adults. That’s musical maestro John Williams supplying the music, and while it’s not quite as iconic as some of his other scores, he’s still in fine form as always.

All the issues I have with this movie are all story based. Now it’s a classic story, yeah, but I felt that E.T didn’t really bond with the kids as “friends”. Most of the time they spend together is trying to get him back home, so I personally feel their should’ve been a couple of scenes where they had development in their friendship, just to make the final scene all the more effective. There’s also a plot thread set up where it looks like Elliot and E.T have some sort of connection, but aside from a random scene in a school and the bit at the end where they test on the two (that also came out of nowhere, might I add), it doesn’t really go anywhere.

So yes, I do think this movie has issues, but I also really liked it. There’s a lot of heart and it has that good old Spielberg charm, but when it comes to his films, I’m more of an Indiana Jones guy. Still, I would say it’s worth watching, but you’ve all watched it already, so what’s the point? Now, to add riding a bike whilst listening to the theme to my bucket list…