March 22, 2010

AFI #3 - Casablanca (1942)

This was my third time seeing Casablanca, and I honestly can say that this film just gets better and better with every viewing. This repeat viewing was different than that of Citizen Kane mostly because I wasn’t necessarily noticing the subtle nuances of the film but because I’ve grown to appreciate the film as a whole more as I’ve become older and better versed in cinema.

Make no qualms about it; Casablanca is a romantic’s film. Everything from the romanticized setting of Casablanca, Morocco to the doe-eyed Ingrid Bergman makes this film the most idyllic, classic black-and-white romance movie of all time. It almost makes me sick how much of a romantic film this is at times. Whereas with Citizen Kane and The Godfather I can say that everyone would appreciate and be entertained, I can’t say the same about Casablanca. It certainly appeals to a wide audience, but I’m not sure if it is as relevant today as when it came out—unlike the two films that precede it on the AFI top 100 list.

March 21, 2010

AFI #2 - The Godfather (1972)

The first thing I have to do when writing this is come clean: before now I had never seen Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. I had heard so many good things, yet I had never gotten around to seeing it and I now understand what all the hype is about. The Godfather is not only a masterpiece of the gang/mafia genre, but of modern cinema as a whole.

Where to begin? I suppose the first thing of note--probably the most blatantly obvious element of the film--is the performances of the entire ensemble cast. My favorites were the two leads: Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Without a doubt I was more impressed with their performances in The Godfather than almost any other performance in any other movie I've ever seen. With that being said, I wouldn't fight a single person if they made an argument for nearly any member of the entire cast being the most brilliant, as it really is the ensemble that elevates the film into the stratosphere of best films of all-time.

March 19, 2010

AFI #1 - Citizen Kane (1941)

What first comes to mind upon my re-viewing of Citizen Kane is just how masterfully done it is. I really do believe that Orson Welles, in his first attempt at a motion picture in Hollywood, was able to make a masterpiece that has stood the test of time. He virtually perfected the art of the classic Hollywood film. As such Kane should not only represent Welles' achievement in cinema but the achievements of those that came before him and paved the path for such a film to be possible.

People often throw around the title of "Greatest Film of All Time," but to the untrained eye the film itself seems unremarkable in that capacity. What's so great about Kane is the subtleties and nuances that make it what it is today. In addition to its many innovations, it marked an important time in cinema: a culmination of the achievements of the films that came before it and the future for the Hollywood industry for years to come. Only with time and distance did Citizen Kane really get the credit it deserved. The film failed to make its money back at the box office initially and took several years to gain the critical acclaim it carries today. It didn't even win the Oscar for Best Picture that year (although to be honest, many films have had this happen to them--more here and here).

March 16, 2010

Blog Manifesto

The intention of this blog is to watch every single one of the American Film Institute's top one hundred films of all time. This blog will contain reviews of every movie in order, from one to one hundred, examining, at least briefly, different aspects of each film. This may take a while, but I promise that I will get to every single film given due time. Even if I have seen the film before, I will re-watch it. From this I hope to gain a more expansive knowledge of the history of American cinema that will inform my viewings of films that I watch five, ten, fifteen years down the line.

As I watch every film, I will rate it on a scale of ten. This is not a typical ratings system: with the exception of a few films, I expect to encounter movies that would ordinarily be rated nine or more out of ten. With this in mind, I intend to use the ratings system relative to how influential and important the film is in the world of cinema.

Let's get it started!