Forget Batman, Total Recall, Savages: Gimme Citizen Kane Any Day

I saw the new Batman, Savages and Total Recall recently and as I watched, with the music playing havoc in my ears, with all the special effects bombarding my eyes, with dialogue that was at times garbled and at times inane, I found myself thinking about Citizen Kane and To Kill a Mockingbird and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Those b&w films seemed like from a time past, when movies were MOVIES, when you could marvel at the ways the filmmakers made you feel. There was no pounding of the senses, no vibrations from the sound system, no people in costumes and masks. We still get small gems–I also recently saw Little White Lies, which is a French Big Chill, and I was just happy to watch people interact, screw up, be selfish, then caring….in other words, be human. TV seems to be the better place to watch human drama. Breaking Bad is still a show that holds my attention–and, oh how much better is Bryan Cranston in that than he is in a movie like Total Recall? I guess I’m just no longer among the under 30 set, where bombardment of the senses seems to be what is expected. I know that when I brought up certain films and filmmakers to my students at UCLA they often had no idea who or what I was talking about. But that didn’t stop me from mentioning Fellini, Bergman, Bunuel, Hitchcock, Lean, Huston, Ford, etc. We should not only remember these people, we should hope that new filmmakers will emulate their passions and their visions.  Maybe it’s just me, but when a see that Citizen Kane is being shown at 1 a.m. without commercial interruption, I’m staying up to watch it. Again.

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