Reverse Shot Fesses Up
With so much evident historical and thematic import behind it, Rashomon, for the aspiring cinephile, becomes a film about which one will invariably be instructed, in one way or another, regardless of whether one actually gets around to experiencing it first hand.
Disney, however, was no father of mine when it came to Snow White. I have no formative story about snuggling up to the glow of the TV with my coloring pencils or absently humping a couch arm whenever the Queen appeared. (“It was not till years later that I realized…”)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reveals—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—how satisfying cinematic death is. It reveals this indirectly, because death hardly occurs in the film. What occurs is death suspended, death delayed, which is frustratingly, terrifyingly unsatisfying.
There’s something I should clarify right away. Though I had not, to my secret shame, seen Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo until last week, I had seen the first four reels, or, more specifically, the upper-right quadrant of those reels and little more, approximately two-dozen times.
The poignancy of the fleeting nature of wonder suffuses any first-time viewing of King Kong today. Made in 1933 and built on a reputation that has in the intervening years grown bigger than Kong himself, the movie is poised between antiquity and immortality—it is of its time, and yet it is timeless.
If I dutifully labeled Charles Chaplin’s The Great Dictator a “classic film satire,” most people would nod their heads in agreement. Overlong? Maybe. Not quite as tight or as funny as Chaplin’s best films? Certainly. Still, a “classic film satire?” Undoubtedly. But what does that mean, really?
Ever since the heyday of Italian neorealism—the post-facist, postwar films of the forties and fifties—nothing in European cinema has come close in depicting daily life and the struggles of those most abused and neglected by the larger society.