Tag Archives: Drama

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.



Argo (2012) Film Review


Many people consider Argo to be the Coen Brother’s masterpiece, a film so compelling that- wait a minute, I’m thinking of Fargo… rookie mistake.

The actual movie I’m reviewing is a true story during the 80’s in which the CIA created a fake movie to rescue six members of the American embassy hiding out in Iran. The first half of the film focuses on the production of the fake movie, which is interesting to see unfold, as well as having some surprisingly good humour. It’s an entertaining time.

The second half sees the escape being put into place, but to properly fool the government of Iran, they spend an extra day there pretending they’re looking for a filming location. From this point forward, this movie isn’t entertaining any more. Argo becomes one of the most intense films I’ve ever seen. Ben Affleck absorbs the viewer into the situation and refuses to let you breath easy until [SPOILERS], but even if you know that [SPOILERS] in real life, it’s still one hell of a rollercoaster ride.

After an enjoyable first half, Argo really steps it up a notch and gives a film that keeps you on the edge of your seat for most of the vast majority of the film, and once you get to the end after all that you just went through, you can’t help but grin. What a great movie.

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.

Birdman (2014) Film Review


Tell me if this person sounds familiar: An actor famous for playing a superhero who didn’t have much fame after that now trying to get popularity again. They really couldn’t have cast anyone else but Michael Keaton, could they?

Yes, Keaton plays a once popular actor struggling to get more fame. But Riggan Thomson’s only famous for the role of Birdman, and he’s trying to get back on top with a new stage show he’s directing and starring in. Things don’t go quite so smoothly for him though, as one of the actors gets under everyone’s skin, a critic promises to give him a bad review, and to top it all off, he keeps hearing Birdman in his head, trying to get him to ditch the play. So all in all, not the smoothest running production backstage.

Pretty much the first thing you’ll notice about the film is the cinematography. The entire film is made to look like it’s all just one continuous shot. (with a couple of brief exceptions) Even if you can’t get into the story, you can at least appreciate how originally it’s filmed, and it looks fantastic. But I was also able to get into the story of how this guy is desperate for fame and also kind of insane. The acting from pretty much everyone was fantastic, and it helps carry the events along, to the point where it didn’t feel like two hours long, with no point of it dragging on.

This is a movie I absolutely recommend that you see at least once, even just to see how cleverly it’s filmed, but you’ve also got interesting events being filmed, so that’s a plus. Also, Michael Keaton’s got a bit of a popularity boost from this movie, so in a way he and Thomson got what they wanted in the end…

Good Will Hunting (1997) Film Review


Here’s a fun game: Take a shot every time someone says f*** in Good Will Hunting. You’ll either be violently sick or possibly dead by the end of the movie. Though you’ll probably be too compelled by the film to actually play anyway.

The film is more or less a character study of Will Hunting, a genius who would much prefer to hang out drinking with his friends than using his brain to it’s full potential. After getting sent to jail, he’s offered an early release by someone who discovered his genius on two conditions: He does some complicated equations, and that he takes part in therapy sessions. He agrees, and the rest of the movie sees him taking part in the therapy sessions with Robin Williams, fall in love and choose what he really wants from life, a successful career or to just enjoy himself.

The film has a very realistic tone to it, almost if it could happen in any time at any place… and that’s the movies biggest strength. It’s how real it feels that keeps it so compelling all the way through. The script is written in a believable way (though the characters do swear like sailors) they make Will a very relatable character in the way that they’re times that you don’t like what he does, but still get where he’s coming from. And the acting from pretty much everyone is so good that you never see the actor, just the characters, who feel like real people.

There’s some films that I know I enjoyed, but I don’t really know why. This is one of those cases, but I guess it was at how realistic and unpredictable the film was that kept me so enthralled. So maybe the reason wasn’t quite so clear as to why I really liked it at first, but from when the movie ended, I knew I really, really liked it.

Life of Pi (2012) Review

So me and my Dad will be watching some films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar as a project, and this was our first film, so enjoy the review!life-of-pi

It certainly sounds like something that the Oscars would dig: A young boy is stranded in a life boat in the middle of the ocean with only a Bengal tiger for company. Some would call it riveting, a 14 year old would refer to it as not exactly the most thrilling premise.

Unsurprisingly, this movie is about the life of Pi. The first half is him growing up, all building up to when he gets stranded. These are the most entertaining parts of the movie, mainly because all my issues come later on. Anyway, his family owns a zoo, but they decide to move to Canada and start up the zoo again. So they get on the cruise ship and… from the earlier premise I gave you, chances are you have an idea what happens next. The cruise capsizes, Pi gets stuck with some animals (most of which don’t last the whole movie) and soon enough, it’s him and the Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker fighting for control of the boat.

Director Ang Lee certainly nails the feeling of isolation very well (thanks in part to some very effective shots) but the story has one big flaw. The movie begins with a writer interviewing an adult Pi for his life story, and while they’re entertaining, there’s a major drawback to having these scenes: We know he’s not going to die. We know he’ll get back to land, and thus, all tension is gone. The movie then becomes a waiting game, I was waiting for when he got back to land, because I knew he had to. Because of this, the movie became a drag, especially when an entire HOUR is just him on the boat, trying to survive.

I also found the CG to be distractingly fake. It’s not terrible, but my eyes are programmed to notice when something’s animated, or behind a green screen. This is an issue I have with most movies, and I highly doubt this topic won’t come up again in future reviews. I obviously wasn’t expecting them to get a real tiger, but when a good chunk of the film has the tiger in it, it’s hard for me not to notice.

It’s not a bad movie, but it’s also not really my cup of tea. As a film to start this project with, it was an interesting beginning, but the best is definitely yet to come.