Thursday, March 12, 2009

Revisiting the Classics

So last week my girlfriend and I popped Citizen Kane into the DVD player. It's a weird thing to do. Like my girlfriend said, it seems like you should have to do something special when watching THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE, but really we just hung out and watched it like any other movie. And dammit, it might not be the best, but there's a damn good reason it's called the best. Neither of us had seen it in years, and it seems like the sort of movie you should be able to discuss with some authority if you care about movies.

Just watch the way Welles takes absolute command of the film as a performer (his command as a writer and director should be of no contest by this point). Listen to the way the dialogue sings as it bounces from performer to performer. As with so much of the film, nearly the whole scene is done in a single shot. And look at that camera MOVE, man. God, when was the last time you saw a camera move like that? At that pace? For that long? In a movie that old?

Then, a few days ago in New York, we saw Bringing Up Baby at the Museum of Modern Art. It's a film I love dearly, but it was the first time I saw it projected in 35mm. Not that it's a terribly visual film - as was Hawks' way, he mostly set up the shots to get the action. Really, the pleasure is seeing it with a crowd and not feeling like a loon (pun intended) when you burst into laughter.

"Hello? Is that zoo?" It's a tiny line that's given no time to let its hilarity sink in, but it's the kind of touch that makes the movie what it is.

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