I had every intention of reviewing something new this weekend, but a couple of things came up. First, a couple more lovebirds joined the family, or at least will next weekend, and that shot a day. Then there was the matter of trying to decide what to select among the available choices. Castaway has been out so long now that it amost qualifies for a Kex Classic Review anyway, and since it didn't get nominated for Best Picture, I'll hold off enduring that 3 hour odyssey until it comes out on video and I can take as much or as little as I want at a time.
There was also that new Chris Rock film, and right off the bat I don't remember the title. The first objection to that was is the simple fact that Rock might be an entertaining standup, but his act doesn't translate well to film. For the life of me I can't figure out why movie moguls keep casting him in movies, especially lead roles. The man can't act, even if he could leave the comedy stuff behind. Second, the film is a dead on remake of an old Warren Beatty film that I hated anyway, so there wasn't much point in enduring it. Third, the film is about a young soul trapped in an old guys body: Welcome to Kex's reality. Finally, every other critic on the planet has already bagged it in harsh tones even I couldn't match, so what is the point of joining the lynch mob?
The only other major new release was the animated release Recess: School's Out, which is probably what we would have gone to see. However, films which portray adults as evil dolts tend to make me a little nervous. I can't imagine anything we need more these days than to give the under 12 crowd more justification in thinking we are inept clods. Afterall, in a few more years they will morph into teenagers and achieve certainty in the matter.
So this week I take on the all-time number one film in history, according to the American Film Institute list released about a year ago. Somehow I think that the main reason Citizen Kane was named the all time best movie is because somewhere, it has a secret group of active publicity agents continuosly telling everyone its the best movie of all time. Maybe its the Illuminati, or some such organization, continuously screwing with our brains....afterall, some really heavyweight people worked on this film.
No, that's not a crack about Orson Welles' weight. But if there was ever a guy that you'd suspect of being the grand puhbah of the Illuminati, it would be Welles. He had to have had some sort of weird force behind him: He wasn't conventionally handsome in the Hollywood mold, he wasn't a particularly talented actor, he didn't seem all that well contected inside Hollywood. Yet, this guy managed to get just about every project he proposed rubberstamped; how?
Understand that I liked Citizen Kane. I think its a good movie, but I just can't figure out why its so universally proclaimed the best of all time. Believe it or not, I took an entire course based more or less exclusively on studying this film in college. And what is this film about? Its the life story of one John Foster Kane, a guy who inherits a bundle of money as a kid, earns a bundle more money as an adult, becomes powerful and well known, then dies and in his last breathing moment has a nostalgic memory of a damned snowsled.
Kane's last word, which he utters at the beginning of the film is "Rosebud," which turns out to be the freaking sled. The word is overheard by his maid, who passes it onto a reporter doing a posthumous story on Kane's life. He begins the tedious process of interviewing everyone Kane knew that is still alive, in an effort to find out just what the mysterious "Rosebud" is, or was. Afterall, the very last thing a man says has to be something important. Its not possible that a dying man could say something utterly nonsensical in a fevered and demented state of mind, right?
We learn all sorts of things about the mighty Kane. We see how he buys a newspaper and builds it into an influental national chain. We learn that he marries the President's daughter, and hops around the world in search of art treasures to fill the magnificent castle he is building. We watch him run for govenor, and on the verge of victory, he is brought down by a sex scandal. We see his efforts to build the career of his mistress, a talentless opera singer. Finally, we see all of his life long friendships disolve under the strain of his ego.
Citizen Kane is based (loosely) on the life of newpaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Apparently he was less than amused over the film, and spent a good deal of the rest of his life attempting to ruin the career of Welles. Curiously, his efforts failed miserably. This can only be more fuel to the fire of our suspicions regarding the secrect connections of Orson Welles.
Note that Welles openly slapped around one of the richest and most influential men of the first half of the 20th century in a movie, and endured the man's scorn for the rest of his life. Did it ruin Welles? No! He had a remarkable show business career, remained well known, still managed to get all his projects greenlighted, and the film in question not only didn't get buried, but is generally regarded as the best of all time. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?
So how is it that Citizen Kane has come to be remembered as the best movie of all time? Here are the potential answers:
1. The Illuminati: Orson Welles was either the head of, or well connected within some secret society (the Illuminati?) that is pulling the strings on the world, possibly from the backrooms of Old Navy Clothing Stores, just as Richard Hoagland suggests. (No, I don't really think so either. I've been in the backrooom of an Old Navy Store, and there didn't seem to be anything weird going on.)
2. Inertia: people have been saying that this is the best movie of all time for so long, everyone just believes it now.
3. cultural diffusion: This ties into #2, but a few people within Hollywood tossed out the idea several decades ago, and lots of people started believing it. The idea has lasted because its been around a long time, as in #2, but most people have never actually seen the movie, consequently there isn't much basis for reasonable debate.
4. Craven Bootlicking: This may be at least as absurd as #1, but just maybe old Orson was savy enough to take advantage of the nature of the crap pot called Hollywood he lived in, and he pretty much had the goods on everyone around. To this day, people associated with his estate hold the Sword of Damocles above the Hollywood establishment, and unless they continue to shamelessly kiss Orson's enormous dead ass, his flunkies will release a plague of scandal upon Tinseltown.
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