I’m convinced there’s a Movie Critics and Reviewers Union work rule requiring that any list of “best movies” must have that tedious and pompous bore, Citizen Kane, at the top.
Comes now the American Film Institute and its updated list of “100 Greatest Movies” and, sure enough, this over-long snoozer, featuring a young but pompous-beyond-his-years Orson Welles, leads the list. It’s one of the mysteries of the ages why this talky movie, which seems to be famous for being famous, is whooped up so much. I’ve never been able to stay awake through it.
The AFI list, which contains other world-class bores and post-everything train-wrecks, was compiled by a jury (of just exactly whose peers, we are entitled to ask) of 1,500 “film artists, critics, and historians.” The list and the movies were the subject of a recent TV special that, I’m happy to report, I missed.
On its website, the AFI describes itself as “a national institute providing leadership in screen education and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television, and digital media.”
Well, listen up. If this and the next generation of film-makers is being cranked out by folks whose idea of a good time is watching Citizen Kane for three hours (or is it five?), then we better pray tonight’s ball game is not rained out, because there’ll be little worth our time at the Bijou.
Runner up on the “100 Best” list is, The Godfather, a well-done and worthy flick, even if it does make gangsters look more cuddly than they really are.
In third is the justly-praised Casablanca, which belongs on any best-list. A near pitch-perfect suspense/romance thriller with riveting performances by Bogie and Claude Rains, as well as Ingrid Bergman at her knock-out best. (Bergman was so appealing in that movie I still get a rush when I hear a woman with a Swedish accent â€” though the closest I’ve gotten to my dream is owning two Volvos.) It’s even contributed such useful gems to the language as, “I’m shocked, shocked,” “here’s looking at you, kid,” and, “round up the usual suspects.”
But with the exception of Casablanca and a few other exceptional entertainments such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Duck Soup, The African Queen, Bridge Over the River Kwai, and The Searchers, the 100-best list is heavily salted with some truly execrable movies. Some of the entries make a body wonder what would be on the AFI’s 100-worst list.
Some prosecution exhibits from the list:
Gone With the Wind— Is it over yet? Frankly my dear, I’m dozing off again. It’s probably not a good idea for filmmakers to use the word “Wind” in the titles of their movies, especially overwrought soapers that last longer than the Middle Ages, the NBA Playoffs, and the collected speeches of Bill Clinton.
2001, A Space Odyssey — What on earth (or elsewhere) is this movie about? I can’t decide if Stanley Kubrick is mostly fatuous, mostly pretentious, or just preposterous.
Raging Bull — Could have been called “Raging Bore.” It’s quite an accomplishment to make Jake La Matta boring, but somehow Martin Scorsese pulls it off.
Titanic — The 1997 one with the simpering DiCaprio boy, which is saved from being a total waste of time by Kate Winslet’s bare chest. Everything wrong with the modern blockbuster is wrong with this bad movie. It’s a mind-numbing chick-flick that cost more than the national debt to make. It doesn’t miss a single movie cliche.
Midnight Cowboy — @#$%^&! Everyone associated with this truly awful experience should be hanged.
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