Amph Most Overrated Best Pictures Winners: "The English Patient"

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Nevermind, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. corran2 Force Ghost

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    May 16, 2006
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    Why is it a movie "to admire but not to love"? Isn't that completely subjective? The story of Kane speaks to me deeply, Orson Welles plays the pa
  2. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2005
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    Despite the fact that despite these despotic all-powerful media (and non-media) tyrants are often demonized and ridiculed ad nauseum, they are still humans, and they were all once children. If only Hearst had got the point as well. Absolute power corrupts absolutely but it does not necessarily obliterate. Yeah, it doesn't tie everything up in a big neat bow and say "NOW YOU FEEL THIS" but then it would be depressing if every film did that. It's an ambiguous ending, but if you're not already satisfied with what came prior why should you worry about what the ending is?

    As for They Shoot Picture Don't They, yes, it's a great aggregate, and Kane is the most popular choice for greatest movie of all time amongst cinephiles, and yes that does bamboozle me somewhat when there are far superior films floating about even in the directors' own canon, but the argument is about what wins Best Picture - Citizen Kane is still Citizen Kane whether it wins a stupid award or not, the form and artistry and ground-breaking technique and the story of hubris and power all remains the same, which is the chief appeal to cinephiles across the globe, not that it was the victim of a grand snubbing at the hands of AMPAS (especially since everyone knows about WRH's involvement, anyway). And for The Godfather to be in the top 5 still says to me that a hell of a lot of people name it as the greatest film ever made, certainly moreso than ever will and ever have named Cabaret, the "snubbed" film, as a true great of cinema.
  3. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Well, yeah, it's subjective. I'm not trying to say it isn't. However, yes, you're right, one of the main problems I have with CK is that it is considered to be the best movie ever made. But why is it not fair that I think points should be deducted for that? I think points should be deducted until it is no longer considered the best movie ever made. I'm not saying we deduct points until the movie is consigned to the ash heap of history and never spoken of again. I'm just saying we should be able to admit the movie is by no means perfect, that it has flaws and that there are lots of movies that are better than it is in lots of ways.

    But of course when you start trying to do that, to just talk about CK like it's any other movie with flaws and movies that are better than it is, people start acting like you are trying to consign it to the ash-heap of history.

    EDIT: Four Dot, do you actually buy that, on his deathbed, Charles Foster Kane was thinking about his sled? For what possible reason? It's just another example of the movie showing us Kane acting in a way with little to no real emotional motivation for why, if you read the ending that way. My reading has always been very different, mainly because I think that it's pretty stupid to say that a man like Kane would be somehow moved to wish for his sled as he was dying. If you're going to defend the ending, the only way to defend it, in my view, is to say that it's a senile raving and that it really is just a meaningless word dredged up from his subconscious and that it, like the rest of his life, is now being consigned to the fires. That's the cynical reading of the ending and the one that has always seemed the most of a piece with the movie to me. But, again, I find that a little too post-modern for me. To argue that Kane is wishing he still had his ol' sled at the end of his life is sentimentalism of the most ridiculous kind. Yes, we were all once children. I argue that there ain't a one of us who is going to die wishing devoutly that we had a childhood toy close to hand though. If the movie is trying to posit that that is the kind of man Kane is, then it's an unearned posit and I reject it. There is not the tiniest groundwork laid in the movie for the ending, if the point of the ending is to reveal that Kane was, in fact, yearning for innocence. It is essentially unearned. It is not character development to show us two hours of a guy being a hardass and then say, "But really he was a softy." You have to show us that character development, not just drop it on us like an anvil in the last twenty seconds of the movie. Like I say, I've come to a cynical reading that allows me to grant the ending a certain forgiveness, but my initial reaction? Derisive laughter and copious eye-rolling. I'm sentimental, but not that sentimental; and neither was Charles Foster Kane.

  4. corran2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2006
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    I'm definitely not trying to say that Citizen Kane is perfect by any stretch. As I pointed out above, The Maltese Falcon would be my pick for Best Picture in 1941. But can Citizen Kane not be looked at apart from its title of greatest film of all-time? Would you find Citizen Kane a better film if it was not hailed as the best film?
  5. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    I don't think that I would. I would be gratified that a fair to middling movie is no longer considered the best movie of all time. But I think I would still consider it to be what I think it is now: A fair to occasionally very-good, but inconsistent, movie that would have been better if it had been a little less chilly and if it had a slightly better story. A movie worth watching a few times to consider why the great moments are so great (usually technique, of both direction and acting) and why the weak parts are so weak (usually a lack of two things in the writing: any kind of subtlety at all and genuine insights into the character type of its main character).

    I mean, for all that it's supposed to be this great exploration of how power corrupts and the American character it strikes me that the only "insight" it offers on tyrants is "they're selfish jerks," which hardly feels like an earth-shattering revelation. But I'm going to stop beating up on the movie now. It is a very good movie in places and a fascinating one of a type; the direction is definitely astounding and Welles is very, very good in it. I'm glad some people can actually love it and I don't want to dampen your love for it by just continuing to pound on the movie after we've clearly come to the point of agreeing to disagree on the subjective experience of the movie. A debate is fun and this one has been, but I feel that I may have crossed over into just pointless curmudgeonliness there toward the end. :p If so, I apologize. I've been reading a lot of Mark Twain this week and I fear that his influence may be making me come across as harsher than I should. :p
  6. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Casablanca? Better than Kane? Casa-friggin'-blanca? Not a chance. Heck, I'd place the first two minutes of CK over the entirety of that overwrought claptrap (the always welcome Claude Rains, notwithstanding).

    Here's my list of Movies-Slightly-Better-Than-Kane:

    Aguirre, the Wrath of God
    Cries and Whispers
    Days of Heaven
    The Decalogue
    The Godfather
    The Godfather Part II
    Jaws
    Lawrence of Arabia
    The Passion of Joan of Arc
    Raging Bull
    Ran
    The Seventh Seal
    Vertigo
  7. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
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    One day in college, I was talking about Casablanca to someone and I found out they hated the movie and I really kind of count that as a watershed moment in my life. Because I remember so vividly thinking to myself, "If we can't agree on Casablanca as a great movie, the human race will never agree on anything." I still believe that actually. Subjectivity really is amazing. You know, from my perspective. :p

    P.S.: As further evidence, I submit that Wild Strawberries is better than Kane, but The Seventh Seal is actually not. :p
  8. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    I don't think Kane yearns for the sled, he's not calling for it - I think he just remembers it for the first time in years. He's surrounded by opulence, he owns everything and yet he's utterly miserable - he remembers the first thing he owned, the time when he owned just one thing was the only time he's been truly happy. Ever since then he's been looking madly for that bliss once more, and he's hollowed out everyone he's crossed paths with. The last word of the great Charles Foster Kane is what he wants to be remembered for, but the tragic element is that no one knows what that means since it's lost in the mass of crap that he's consumed over the years. I've argued this in another thread, that character development is not necessarily the only avenue - character reveal is just as valid, but the ending isn't even really that - it is an illustration of just how deep his discontent ran when he lost his way, since he's basically cast aside his whole life after he was taken away from his mother as utterly worthless, which is obviously set against someone else (the journo, forgotten his name) essentially devoting himself to divining the value and secret of Kane's life.
  9. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    I can sympathize. I lost complete interest in a girl who dismissed my favorite movie, Jaws, for not being "realistic".

    Frankly, I don't want to dwell in the same zip code with someone who doesn't like Jaws.


    Edit: On a related note, Jaws was robbed of Best Picture. While nearly any director could have nailed One Flew Over... considering its superlative script and cast (just point and shoot, Milos!) only Spielberg could produce a masterpiece from that nightmare of a shoot.
  10. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    He's *not* thinking about his sled, fer cryin' out loud. He's thinking about where he came from. It represented a time when life wasn't a profound disappointment.
  11. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Well, even if he is thinking of the sled, there's a perfectly valid reason for it - there's some slight evidence that his father abused him and that it took a long time for his mother to work up the courage to stand up to the man. He associates the sled with the times in his childhood when he was truly happy - just outside, playing in the snow, without having to worry about his dad.

    And since he lived in - what, Colorado? - there'd be a lot of snow. Hence a lot of sledding.
  12. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

    "Cecil B. DeMille's three-ring schmaltzfest stars Charlton Heston as a granite-jawed circus manager lording over a menagerie of trapeze artists, lion tamers, and one sad-eyed clown named Buttons (Jimmy Stewart). DeMille had a rep as Tinseltown's king of pomp and excess, and here he does that rep proud. Show is big and bright and busy, and there isn't an honest moment in it. It's dated, hokey nonsense. Yet it somehow managed to beat High Noon."

    Now just wait a minute. DeMille is an easy one to denigrate, but he's a bit like Douglas Sirk. You have look and not necessarily listen. This always makes him problematic for me--I like a good script--but DeMille started in 1919, and did plenty of silents. Thus his films are more geared to pictorial storytelling, and he didn't have much of an ear. And I don't think that much of "High Noon", itself a film that hasn't (for me) dated well and starring that large hunk of inexpressive wood, Gary Cooper.

    There are films that I would have chosen over the DeMille, though; namely Ford's "The Quiet Man", Donen & Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain", and Cukor's "Pat and Mike", among others. And if you include foreign films, there are literally dozens.
  13. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    I like Cecil B. DeMille, I don't like The Greatest Show on Earth. It shouldn't have beaten High Noon or Singin' in the Rain.

    But I'm not sure it's necessarily overrated - when does anyone even talk about it, except perhaps in a discussion about how High Noon and Singin' in the Rain didn't win best picture? Hell, it's generally considered one of, if not the worst movie to win Best Picture. It's the opposite of overrated. It's perhaps over-reviled.
  14. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    It might be lazy, but I'll just say "this."
  15. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    I haven't seen this film, so I can't say. But DeMille is generally quite interesting.

    The foreign films this year included "The Golden Coach", "Ikiru" and "Umberto D."
  16. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

    "They don't make 'em like this anymore. And for that we can all be thankful. Mr. Elizabeth Taylor, a.k.a. producer Mike Todd, whipped out his sizable checkbook to entice a ''celebrity'' cast of thousands (look, it's Noël Coward... and Cantinflas!) to appear in this globe-trotting Victorian-era train wreck. James Dean's Giant was robbed."

    The problem with this argument is that "Giant" sucketh mightily, only slightly less than ATWIED. This was not much of a year, but there were some good films, notably "The Searchers" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much."
  17. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    Again, this is pretty much a hated film now.

    One of those times when the worst movie nominated won.
  18. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5
    The kindest thing one can say about "Eighty days" is that it was "of it's time."
    No, it hasn't held up well, it resembles some of the recent films we've had where
    they have a cast of a dozen stars and based it around a holiday. It's as if the
    movie itself is more of a marketing ploy than an actual story. And to think THIS
    beat out THE SEARCHERS? My God. :oops:

    I think William Friedkin's five minute AFI dissertation on Citizen Kane sums it up
    for a lot of people. Particularly the biblical "log line"' summation which is
    excellent.

    Friedkin on Kane

    Friedkin's comments on Vertigo are also interesting.
  19. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    My Fair Lady (1964)

    "Audrey Hepburn was a great actress (see: Two for the Road). But as Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney waif who learns to be a lady in this lifeless Lerner and Loewe musical, she's schmaltzy and stiff. Plus, she didn't even do her own singing. Dr. Strangelove should have won the statuette."

    Musicals and black comedies are different animals. MFL does show some decline on the part of Cukor--the editing in particular needs to be tightened, and it's too long, and he loses the thread, especially at the end.

    However: that's one of the best musical scores ever. The original casting was Cary Grant and James Cagney as Higgins and Doolittle, and as good as Harrison and Holloway are, I would have loved to see that, given Hepburn's chemistry with Grant in "Charade". And the roles are actor-proof (the non-musical version is great, too).

    The conventional wisdom is that Hepburn is miscast. I used to believe it myself until I saw the film again. The real injustice this year is Julie Andrews winning the Oscar for "Mary Poppins". Hollywood indulging in a bit in-your-eye for Jack Warner for not giving her Eliza, but really. Hepburn is *very* good as Eliza, and only when she becomes a lady-lady (in a very long scene at the end that should have been trimmed a lot) does the life leech out of the performance.

    Yes, "Dr. Strangelove" is great, too, but this film isn't (and wasn't) overrated.
  20. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    My Fair Lady is superb. This is nonsense. If you want to judge it on its own merits it can just about stand toe-to-toe with Dr. Strangelove. Both films elicit just about the same amount of laughs from me.
  21. MandalorianDuchess Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 16, 2010
    star 3
    Frankly, I think "My Fair Lady" is one of the most charming musicals ever made, but especially so for one that didn't make it to theaters until the mid 60s. I suppose it might have seemed a bit old-fashioned, even then.

    Watching this in a theater in a 70mm print is a rare joy - even the new blu-ray can't quite do it justice, when you compare the two.

    Anyone who doesn't think the actors were quite right for their parts should watch the 1938 film "Pygmalion", which is essentially the same story but without the musical numbers. It's not bad, but imho it lacks the charm that Hepburn & Harrison brought to their roles.
  22. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    I don't want to pass up a chance to link to a review I wrote of Around the World in Eighty Days. So I won't. I'm proud of that review. I think I get off a couple of great lines, not to toot my own horn.

    Editions of Verne?s novel all now feature a hot air balloon on the cover, purely because the balloon is in this movie, I guess, since there is never even a mention of a hot air balloon in the novel itself. But then that?s what this film is all about, the addition of hot air.

    My Fair Lady, on the other hand, is quite good. Harrison and Hepburn are both superb, as is Holloway. I like the Howard/Hiller pairing in Pygmalion too and My Fair Lady does drag a bit, particularly towards the end. But it's not overrated; it's a great movie and Dr. Strangelove has plenty of flaws too.
  23. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Too many Hs. :p

    While I've heard the soundtrack many times, I've never seen the movie or the show.
  24. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Haich Hoe Har Hess Hee spells 'orse. :p
  25. corran2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2006
    star 4
    I don't find "My Fair Lady" overrated at all. Rex Harrison is exuberant, and the songs are all pretty well fantastic. "I Could Have Danced All Night" in particular is just pure triumph. Stanley Holloway and Wilfred Hyde-White throw in great supporting roles as well. A strong case could be made for "Strangelove" being the best picture, but that shouldn't be enough to discredit "My Fair Lady". Disagree with this choice, and would in fact say it has become more underrated in the present.