Monday, 30 November 2015

November Blindspot: Citizen Kane

November Blindspot
Citizen Kane, 1941
Directed by Orson Welles 

Citizen Kane is very often and almost universally cited as the greatest film ever made. So obviously, this was top of my list to finally get around to watching. Because shouldn't every film fan see "the greatest film ever made"? However, I do not pretend to have really any knowledge of the history of the film or the stories surrounding it. I have heard smattering of how influential it is, but really have no idea. So I won't be saying anything particularly insightful in this arena, but just really want to share what I thought of this film. 

Citizen Kane tells the life story of Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper magnate. The film begins with his death, and we get the story of his life after a group of reporters, who are putting together the life story of Kane, want to figure out what Kane's last words meant. The film examines Kane's early life, his start in media, and his various marriages and wealth. 

Citizen Kane is a movie that doesn't feel all that old to me. I mean, I know it's old because of the time period, but the way the story is told, and even how it looks, it doesn't feel like I'm watching a movie that was made 74 years ago. Sure, it may be a little slower than some of the popular film of the days, but the way the story is told is one I've seen so many times before. And I believe all of that is in thanks to Citizen Kane. Being 74 years old, I can easily see why this film is regarded as so influential. While I haven't seen tons of movies from the 30's/40's, I still know that the way the story and life of Kane in unfolded is particularly revolutionary. The film starts with Kane's death and then we rewind back to the beginning via flashbacks.  Indeed, upon very minimal research of this films influence, this was definitely one of the numerous things that made Citizen Kane so influential and timeless.

Orson Welles not only directed this, but also starred as the titular character. His work as Kane got him an Oscar nomination for Best Lead Actor, which I feel is very deserved. Welles not only did some great work as a director here, but also gave a great performance as Kane. Welles was able to portray the complexity he gave to Kane, and played him in various ranges without feeling too much like a caricature. As well, Welles gave fantastic direction in this film. It's a film that you can tell the director is passionate about and is a story he finds worth telling.  

Besides being the "greatest film ever made", I actually did quite enjoy Citizen Kane as just a movie. It was a fascinating portrait of what makes a man. The narrative was done in an interesting style, and the big question of what "rosebud" means was also really great (and the meaning itself was indeed quite interesting). There was enough mystery and drama in Kane's personal and professional life that it was constantly interesting. While I don't know if I can say it's the "Greatest film ever made", I can definitely recognize who influential this film would've been when it was made, and why so many have copied it since then. 

Citizen Kane is a film with such a massive reputation. I'd love to learn more about it and how it influenced all of film after it, and how it didn't manage to win Best Picture back in it's day. A very, very good film with a huge presence, Citizen Kane is definitely not a film to miss for any film fan!

Thursday, 19 November 2015


Room, 2015
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Brie Larson, Joan Allen

Room is the story of Jack and his Ma. They live in Room and Jack has never known anything else. It's just Room, and outside Room is space where all the "TV planets" are. But Ma hasn't told Jack the truth- Ma and Jack are being kept prisoner in this tiny room by Old Nick and outside Room is a great big, huge world with people and houses and leaves and dogs. And Ma is fed up with being trapped. Ma devises a plan for her and Jack to escape, so they can finally rejoin the world that's been kept from them.

I'm going to say right now that Room never really got processed in my mind after I watched it. I went into this movie very, very frazzled (we arrived at the movie late due to various irritating circumstances) and left the movie promptly to have a flat tire. So this movie did get pushed out of my mind because of a somewhat crazy weekend. However, I will say that I did very much enjoy this film.

I did actually read the book a few months ago and I was so happy to see how faithful this adaption was. Yes, a few changes were made, but I liked those changes and felt they really added something to the story line.

This film is beautifully shot and filmed and really is a hopeful sob-story like all those commercials have said. I must've teared up at least two or three times. Jacob Tremblay, who plays 5 year old Jack so brilliantly, and Brie Larson who plays his Ma, are both so incredibly excellent on screen. It's incredible to me, that at this point, Jacob Tremblay isn't in serious discussion for an Acting Nomination. Tremblay captured the innocence of his childhood so well and just looked so natural up on screen. Brie Larson, who is, at this point, front runner to win Best Actress, is getting her much deserved praise. Ma's role was expanded somewhat from the book counterpart and the movie is so much better for it. Brie Larson gave Ma/Joy such strength and complexity. Her grief and fear always felt so real. I could watch Brie Larson on screen forever.

For me, I love the exploration of the "after" of escaping from a hostage situation. We've heard of way too many situation's like Ma and Jack's, being captured by gross people for years and years and finally escaped/discovered/freed. The story for us always stops there. But for these victims, their story isn't even close to over yet. The movie really did grapple with depression and how this 7 year kidnapping took it's toll on Ma, and how Jack, one of the results of her being kidnapped by Old Nick, is treated by Ma's family.

Room is a very touching and hopeful movie, despite sounding quite depressing. It's Jack, the very core of the movie, who gives the film hopefulness and inspires us. Children are so resilient and strong, and Jack really is the support of, not only Ma, but of the movie. Room will definitely make you cry, but will have you coming out of the film feeling hopeful. It's such a great movie with some fantastic performances, and has a lot to say.

(Also: did anyone else catch that moment near the end of the film where they deliberately show the Nathan Phillips Square ice skating rink in Toronto and then right after Jack says: "we live in a country called America". Maybe it's just because I live near Toronto and it's so familiar to me. Was just too hilarious, my husband and I couldn't help but laugh during the movie)