Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rousing talk

I think my experience of movies is rather limited and one-sided.  It is somewhat the same with literature.  Over the years, I have picked up informal acquaintance with Moby Dick (it's about a whale) and Jane Eyre (it's about foggy moors).  I am interested in seeing some of the great movies I have never really watched.  Which movies?

I learned about "Movies for Grownups", a feature of AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons.  I am a retired person and reasonably grown-up.  I have seen my share of buildings being blown up, cars being blown up and people being hurled backwards while being blown up.  I am to the point where I find "Learning to Drive" a much more satisfying movie than more things being blown up.  I guess it was on the Rotten Tomatoes website that I saw a link to a list of the 100 greatest movies.

I am interested in the theories and technology of evaluation.  Deciding on the best this or that involves judgment of many sorts, starting with which variables should be used.  I have a friend who is a specialist in movie music and soundtracks.  I get the feeling that elementary kids are warned these days against making a movie or a video without a soundtrack, preferably played incessantly and irritatingly, obscuring any talking or narration.  I looked up "100 best movies" and found several lists, which, of course, don't agree with each other.  I have heard that "Citizen Kane" is usually considered a great movie.

Last night, I watched some of it.  I learned somewhere that it is based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper publisher who lived from 1863 to 1951.  I often recall Lynn's experience in a graduate course that explained the phenomenon of the all-knowing male narrator.  The first part of the film is a newsreel as was played in American movie theaters before television news.  It reviews the life of the great man Kane but is delivered in the "be impressed if you have any brains at all" tone that makes me feel I am being shouted at by a big pushy person holding the labels of my jacket.

Just a couple of years ago, I did give Moby Dick an authentic try, authentic by my definition anyway.  No go.  Last night, I gave Citizen Kane a try but got fatigued by the phony impressiveness and the phony tension and never made it all the way through.  We did visit the Hearst "castle" in California a few years ago and I left feeling somewhat sad for the man.

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