Citizen Kane chronicles a man’s quest to show everybody a large picture of himself. Photo courtesy of openculture.com.
The other day I got curious and asked Google what the greatest film of all time was. The search engine responded by vomiting up a bunch of top ten lists from various sites with official sounding names. After looking at well over three of them, I concluded that the title belonged to the 1941 Orson Welles classic, Citizen Kane.
The film appeared in top or very high spots in all of the lists I looked at, but the real teller is the fact that a shot from a film is the featured image on the Wikipedia article called “List of Films Considered the Best”.
While my confidence in these lists isn’t very high due to a worrying lack of Owen Wilson-led romantic comedies in their top spots, for the purposes of this article I will disregard this troubling detail.
Plus there’s all of the polls and academic articles on the subject but those are icky.
Once my research was done, I went ahead and watched the “greatest film of all time”, and yeah, it was pretty good.
Written, directed, produced, and starring Orson Welles, the film centers on the rise and fall of newspaper magnate and dramatic applause enthusiast Charles Foster Kane, whose ambiguous last word sends a reporter on a quest to watch as many flashbacks as possible in order to find its super extra spicy secret meaning (it’s a sled).
Jokes aside, the film really is excellent. The story is told in a very compelling, non linear fashion, and the techniques used in many of the scenes were nothing short of space age for the era, and are still incredibly impressive even by today’s standards. Besides some performances that haven’t aged well, the film really is the full package.
Yet despite its technical brilliance and universal critical acclaim, when the credits rolled on this film of films, I felt completely indifferent.
You would think that a film with this level of prestige would drive a first time viewer to shave their heads and join an Orson Welles themed cult, but as I said; the film left me with nothing more than a bit of indigestion, which is normal.
Again, this film succeeds on every single level, and has remained timeless but…
I just didn’t give a sh*t when I watched it.
At first, I got a little worried. Was I really so much of a knuckle-dragging Australopithecus that I couldn’t appreciate a monumental piece of art such as this? Maybe I had stroke while watching the film, or maybe I really was just blind to good art.
Before resigning myself to living out my days as an uncultured freak, I figured out a way to clear my name. If I couldn’t fully appreciate a good film, than I could at least properly roast a bad one, right?
And so, back to google again.
After halfheartedly going through a few more lists, I arbitrarily decided that the title for the worst movie of all time should go to the infamous 2003 dumpster fire known as The Room. Directed, produced, written by, and starring professional half-melted person Tommy Wiseau, The Room is a biological weapon used by sentient dolphins to weaken the immune systems of newborn human children.
Although that was a joke, the thing that’s not a joke is that The Room fails on just about every single level a film can. The writing is trash, the acting is trash, and the camera work and music make the whole thing feel more like the Twin Peaks finale than the romantic drama it set out to be.
So how did this miserable pile of redundant protoplasm affect me after I watched it for the first time? Did it melt the ver skin off of my face like that one guy from Raiders of The Lost Ark?
No… I actually really enjoyed it.
In fact, although Citizen Kane is objectively the better film, I had a substantially more enjoyable time watching The Room. Kane wasn’t boring, but I think The Room’s shocking level of failure makes it much more of a compelling thing to watch. You’re laughing at the film, but you’re also almost rooting for it as well.
Surprisingly enough, i’m not alone in saying this.
There’s no question which is the superior film when it comes to overall quality, but things get a little shaky when it comes to which one is more beloved. While Citizen Kane is a darling in the world of film academia and has held onto its spot for many years, The Room’s popularity has only increased exponentially in the odd decade and half that it’s been around.
This is where I must confess that I wasn’t being truthful earlier in this article when I said that I had only recently just watched the room in full for the first time. I may catch some flack from this from those with good taste, but I’ve actually been a huge fan for the past few years.
I had the pleasure of attending a midnight screening at the Music Box theater right here in Chicago, and it truly is a thing of beauty.
After buying our tickets, my buddies and I, along with hundreds of other masochistic hipsters, all packed ourselves into the tiny theater. While normally everyone shuts up during a regular movie, a screening of The Room is one of the loudest places you can possibly be; to a point where at first I almost thought the building was on fire. People will openly shout things at the screen, and the entire audience will go completely insane anytime anything even remotely important happens in the film.
Then there are the spoons… oh the spoons.
Throughout the film, there are several random framed pictures of spoons that can be seen in many of the film’s indoor scenes. Every time one of these framed spoons can be seen, everyone in the audience throws a handful of plastic spoons at the screen. We made the mistake of sitting near the front, and to this day I’m still trying to wash the spoons out of my hair.
The film will also be the subject of the Seth Rogen and James Franco film The Disaster Artist, which is due out next month.
You really don’t see this with films like Citizen Kane, which only really seem to get love in top ten lists and textbooks. That’s not to say that a film’s worth should be measured by the number of James Franco movies made about it or the amount hipsters that have been trampled to death while trying to get into its midnight screening.
I think every film, like all art, has some level of value, which is why I feel like although they’re a lot of fun to talk about, the idea of the “best” or “worst” film of all time is kind of, pardon my french, stupid. Sure you can say that the lists of been put together by the right people, but ultimately it’s all opinions, and to each his own.
Instead of elaborating on this point and ending my article like a competent writer would, I’m just going to kill this by throwing together a random list of the top ten greatest films of all time. I think maybe because it’ll help my point? I’m not really sure and I don’t really care.
Ok here we go *knuckle crack*.
- Cars 2
- The Seventh Seal
- The pod racing scene from The Phantom Menace
- King Kong but only the scenes with Jack Black
- Space Jam
- A 2×4 wood panel
- Cars 2
There you have it folks. I hope that whatever point I was trying to make with this list has been made. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch The Room again.