Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die blogger walks into the door of his new psychiatrist’s office.

Dr. Berger: (already seated) Welcome. Please make yourself comfortable.

Blogger: (Sitting) Thank you. I don’t really know why I’m here. Hey, did you know you look exactly like Judd Hirsch?

Dr. Berger: I get that all the time. Anyway, you must be here for some reason.

Blogger: I’ve been watching these movies you see. Some of the greatest movies of all time. So everything should be great, right? But the problem is, I’ve seen so many good ones that I think I might be losing my perspective about what good is. It’s a hard thing to define anyway, but I’m in a funk. My mind is racing into different places…I…I-

Dr. Berger: Whoa! Calm down. What are you trying to get out of these movies, anyway?

Blogger: Just an excuse to watch them really. They aren't all great. Grease is on the list for example, but I’ve gotten something out of most of the others.

Dr. Berger: All right. What was the last thing you watched?

Blogger: I watched some Godard movies last week. Really weirded me out. I watched Annie Hall last night. Of course, I’ve seen it a dozen times over the years. What did seeing it again really prove?

Dr. Berger: I’ve never seen that one.

Blogger: You’ve never seen Annie Hall? It did win Best Picture the year it came out.

Dr. Berger: I thought Star Wars won Best Picture that year.

Blogger: Oh,no. I’m not getting into that debate again...

Dr. Berger: If the truth be told, I’ve never seen Star Wars either. Not much of a Sci-Fi fan except for Independence Day.

Blogger: Independence Day? Well, it is in the book. But don’t you think it was a bit over the top? Wait a second! Hirsch was in that. Are you sure you aren’t Judd Hirsch?

Dr. Berger: Just because I look like him doesn’t mean I can’t like a movie he happened to be in and appreciate a top notch supporting performance. Anyway, we’re off topic. How often do you have sex?

Blogger: All the time. Maybe three times a week. But how is that relevant?

Dr. Berger: I’m the doctor here, I’ll worry about interpretation. You just supply the facts. I haven’t even begun to ask you about the dream part, Max.

Blogger: Don’t call me Max!

Dr. Berger: You look like a Max.

Blogger: Well you look like Judd Hirsch!

Dr. Berger: Okay, fair enough. If you were a tree, what kind would you be?

Blogger: What?

Dr. Berger: Skip that. Anyway, you watched Annie Hall. It won best picture. One of your favorites. Are all best picture winners in this book?

Blogger: No, not some of the lesser ones. It does have Ordinary People in it. Can you imagine that Ordinary People beat out Raging Bull for best picture the year it came out?

Dr. Berger: Are you kidding? I love Ordinary People! True human emotions have rarely been brought to the screen so convincingly before. You think that compares with Joe Pesci’s mugging for the camera?

Blogger: Joe Pesci can be pretty strong in some roles.

Dr. Berger: Yeah, in the one role he can do: Obnoxious hood the audience can’t wait to see get knocked off.

Blogger: I sense a little jealousy there perhaps. Joe was an Oscar winner. But Timothy Hutton was the one that won best supporting actor for Ordinary People.

Dr. Berger: And he was good, but that was a lead role. They should give supporting actor awards to supporting actors.

Blogger: Like the guy who played the psychiatrist.

Dr. Berger: I know what you’re thinking. But I’m really just calling them like I see them. Anyway, how many times do you have sex a week?

Blogger: Oh, hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.

Dr. Berger: I just don’t see what you have to complain about.

Blogger: It boils down to my thinking there are two kinds of people and they are divided up into the horrible and the miserable.

Dr. Berger: Is that really how you feel?

Blogger: Why, no. It’s a Woody Allen line from Annie Hall. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. Truth and reality are becoming blurred.

Dr. Berger: Nonsense. Just get a grip

Blogger: Get a grip? Is that all you have to say? What kind of shrink are you?

Dr. Berger: Calm down now. I’m going to put on some music for you to relax.
(The doctor gets out an LP and puts it on the phonograph)

Blogger: Ah, Pachelbel, Canon in D. I should have guessed. You know I just finished reading Death in Venice. Have you read it? Next, I’m reading Death Comes for the Archbishop. Are you listening?

Dr. Berger: (Distracted by the music) Oh, what?

Blogger: Speaking of Ordinary People, my favorite character actor from the 80’s, M. Emmett Walsh, plays Timothy Hutton's swim coach. And in the movie Back to School, he also plays a swimming coach. Isn’t that wild? You know that fact is hard to work into conversation.

Dr. Berger:Uh, huh.

Blogger: Uh, huh. I know that means something in shrinkspeak. Are you formulating an idea that will ultimately render me into some cultural or intellectual stereotype?

Dr. Berger: Nope.

Blogger: I thought you guys reduced everything into psychoanalytic categories.

Dr. Berger: Not really.

Blogger: Well, you aren’t talking much all of a sudden. Well, la-di-da. Let me expound upon my theory of life. It is divided into the horrible and the miserable…Wait, haven’t I already said that?

Dr. Berger: Yes, I think there has to be an adjustment in your movie viewing, but for the moment I do have something you need to try.

Blogger: I hope drugs are involved.

Dr. Berger: No, you’ve lost your perspective on what is good and what is bad. I’m prescribing that you intentionally watch a bad movie.

Blogger: You mean you want me to watch something like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Monster A-Go-Go or The Wasp Woman?

Dr. Berger: No, nothing you might get any secret pleasure from. Here is the movie I want you to watch.

(Dr. Berger writes a name on his prescripion pad and hands it to the blogger.)

Blogger: Paul Blart, Mall Cop! Granted, I agree I need to be pushed. But this is just torture. I could have your license for this!

Dr. Berger: You are just going to have to trust me. I’ve dealt with this kind of thing before. I feel we’ve had a real breakthrough here. Our time is about up now. I’ve got to get to my other job.

Blogger: Other job? Let me guess, you drive a cab?

Dr. Berger: How did you know?

Blogger: Just a guess.

Dr. Berger: Anyway, I think with all the progress we’ve made here, well, it warrants a hug.

Blogger: You’re making me watch Paul Blart, Mall Cop. I don’t feel like hugging you.

Dr. Berger: Suit yourself. Watch it and we’ll talk next week. (Dr. Berger leaves)

The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die blogger walks out of the door of his psychiatrist’s office shaking his head.

Thursday, June 24, 2010



I looked at my black television screen after my viewing of Jean Luc-Godard’s Weekend.

How was I supposed to react? How was I supposed to feel? I barely knew who I was.

The only thing I knew was that I was hungry. Hungry for Mayfield Neapolitan Ice Cream.

Hunger was the one thing I knew I could deal with on a rational level.

Dollar General. I had never been to the new Chickasaw Dollar General up the road.

It was time to change that.

I got into my car and drove slowly. I rolled down my window on the way looking for accidents.

No bodies lying on the side of the road. No burning wreckage on the side of the road.

Part of me was disappointed at how uneventful my forty-five second drive to Dollar General was.

At the store, I was overwhelmed by the sheer capitalism.
Tide. Twix. Quaker State. Wrangler Jeans.

How should I allow myself to be brainwashed and subsequently how should I act the rest of the day? Oh, that’s right. I remember now. Mayfield Ice Cream. Mayfield Neapolitan Ice Cream.

I went to the frozen food and reviewed my choices.

Mayfield Chocolate. Mayfield Vanilla. Mayfield Neapolitan.

One box left.

I reached in and touched the ice cream at the same time as another person. I hadn’t seen her. She withdrew at the same time I did.

“Oh, I’m sorry you can have it,” she said to me.

I wouldn’t call her pretty exactly, but she had very long hair and her teeth all appeared to be intact. Of course, I wasn’t sure what the definition of pretty was at that moment and why was I thinking that anyway?

“We can share the ice cream. I’ve got two bowls.” It wasn’t a great pickup line, but I wasn’t trying to pick her up. I was sincere. I really did have two bowls.

We talked. I’m sometimes awkward in these circumstances, but a couple of helpings of Godard will loosen you up quicker than a bottle of TJ Swann.

“Do you live in Chickasaw?” she said.
“Where else would I live?” I said.
“I work over at the Whataburger next door,” she said.
“Oh, did you drive here without accident?” I asked.

She looked a little confused at some of my responses, but not enough to deter her from coming home with me to share my ice cream.

“My name is M…” she said.

“My name…my name is Laszlo Kovacs.” I didn’t want to use my real name.

“When I saw you come in I thought you might be married, Lasslo,” she said.

I didn’t understand the relevance of her inquiry. I asked her if she thought that marriage was a bourgeoisie concept. She laughed nervously and didn’t pursue this line of questioning further. I’m not sure if she understood what bourgeosie meant.

I went to the checkout and a pleasant looking dark skinned lady with long purple fingernails took my ice cream.

“Are you in a film or in reality?” I asked the dark skinned lady.

“That will be 4.99,“ she told me.

I guess she didn’t hear my question.

Neither did my longhaired companion. Either that or she was too worried about making sure that her hair was sufficiently fluffy to have heard me.

On the way home, I saw a man on the side of the road. He appeared to be putting motor oil into his car. I elbowed M… and pointed at the man, but she didn’t seem to know why I was so affected.

M… looked unsure of herself as she sat on the sofa next to me.

“I want you to know I don’t normally do this,” she said.

I laughed. I wasn’t sure why I was laughing.

“Would you like a cigarette?” I asked.

“I would love one,” she replied.

I nodded slightly and looked forward.

Her look conveyed expectation.

“I don’t smoke. I was just wondering if you wanted one.” I said.

“Oh,” she said.

She seemed disappointed and confused.

I was tongue tied before I saw her running her fingers through her long hair.

I smiled at her and she returned the smile.

“I’ve been letting it grow out. I like that it has so much body. Do you like long hair?” she asked.

I sensed that she was searching for a compliment.

“Your hair looks positively Chekhovian,” I said.

It didn’t appear this was the response she was looking for. Once again her face showed disappointment and confusion.

I excused myself to go into the kitchen before returning with two full bowls of ice cream.

Two spoons as well.

I started to place her bowl on the floor in front of her, but sensed she would be more appreciative if I handed it to her.

“Neapolitan,” I said. “Originated in Italy. Though most good ideas come from France. Not all of course, like Neapolitan Ice Cream. Three flavors… One bowl. Oh that reminds me.”

I went back into the kitchen and brought back to her a large of French bread.

“Boy, this feels really hard,” I said as I felt it.

She appeared to be blushing, but I wasn’t sure why.

Perhaps I was talking too much. It was time to make my move.

First, I asked her if she had read Faulkner’s The Wild Palms, but she told me she hadn’t.

I cleared my throat. “I want you to watch a film with me.” I said.

“Oh, I get it. I’ve seen movies like…that before. I’m an adventuresome gal.”

She inched a little closer to me.

“This is called 2 or 3 Things I Know About You."

No response.

"Jean-Luc Godard.”

Still no response.

Her face brightened when a moment of recognition appeared to set in.

“I’ve seen 10 Things I Hate About You. Is it like that?”

“No, M… This is French.”

“Oh, French. My goodness.”

This appeared to impress her.

After I put the movie in and sat down, she put her hand on my knee.

I turned on the film via remote control.

I noticed her eyes were wide open as she stared at the film. She hadn’t commented or reacted. I was worried she wasn’t impressed.

I pointed my finger up in the air to her indicating I needed to use the restroom. I shut the door half way and stared into the mirror.

I whispered to myself. She hasn’t commented or reacted to this film. I worry that she is not impressed.

“Who the hell are you talking to?” She asked from the other room. She appeared angry.

I guess my soliloquy was too loud.

“No one.” I replied.

I came back out and sat next to her. She inched away from me and didn’t say another word for the remainder of the film.

After the final fade out of consumer items resting in the field turn into FIN, I got up and turned the television off by hand.

I turned to make a comment, but before I could say anything, I felt the French bread crack against my skull.

I plummeted to the ground. She tore aprart the French Bread into smaller pieces and threw them at my head.

Then the yelling started. “What the hell did you just make me watch, Lasslo? I think I know what you are! I’ve heard about you people. You’re a Socialiss aren’t you? I don’t want to be with no Socialiss! I’m glad I didn’t let you do anything to me.”

By the time she had finished yelling, crumbs of French bread encircled me as I heard the door close behind her. I closed my eyes to fall asleep to hopefully forget about all the injustices in the world and dream only about what items I might need to purchase the following day.

When I awoke, I decided to lay off the Godard films for awhile.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Everything seems so inconsequential, yet so substantial and full of meaning.

I apologize. Jean-Luc Godard’s landmark French New Wave film Breathless has left me totally confused and resonating with clarity.

Or does it?

I am indeed Breathless.

But is it a good breathless or a bad breathless?

Breathless has the feel of a documentary, but some of the contrivances and unnecessary film edits never let you forget it’s a movie.

Is he trying to say something about the duality of man?

Godard tries to make his film different than anything that came before it, but he openly embraces traditional Hollywood films.

Round up the usual suspects, but ignore them.

Important plot points, like the killing of the police officer that has the main character on the run are rushed through and scenes with inconsequential small talk linger and linger.

What is he running from again?

This film is now 50 years old. Has anybody really figured it out yet? A lot of people have, but nobody has.

I’m in a morass of confusion. I am not ready to commit an opinion on this.

What does Ebert say? What did Gerald Mast say again? What does the blogsophere say?

No, No. Forget all that. I’ve got to work this out on my own.

One film isn’t enough.

I've got to see more Godard.

Which is good.

And bad.

I’m honestly in a quandary. Have I already said morass?

Everything seems so inconsequential, yet so substantial and full of meaning.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Screenwriter Larry McMurtry's original, unsuccessful pitch for Brokeback Mountain

Producer: Come on in Lar. Hear you’ve been working on something that’s going to make me happy and I like to be happy.

Screenwriter: You’re going to love this, Paul. It’s called Brokeback Mountain.

Producer: Please, call me (taps on the nameplate on his desk that reads "Mr. Ravelstein").

Screenwriter: I'm Sorry, Mr. Ravelstein. But you’re going to love this. It’s a Western-

Producer: Whoa! You lost me. I like Westerns. You like Westerns. The public, eh, doesn’t like Westerns. If this was 1938 and John Ford was behind that door, I might be interested.

Screenwriter: Wait. Wait. This is a more modern Western. Set in the 60’s and 70’s.

Producer: I’m listening. I’m listening. I’m getting a Lonely are the Brave Electric Horseman vibe here. Please continue.

Screenwriter: There are these two young guys, in their twenties, working for a summer herding sheep on a mountain in Wyoming. I think you’ll like this, Mr. Ravelstein.

Producer: I do like it and call me Paul.

Screenwriter: Yes, you could hire two young actors to play the parts-

Producer: Might have some appeal for our 18-49 female demographic. So what happens with these guys during their summer together? Do they find a dead body? Is it one of those unsolved mysteries? Maybe with a supernatural bent? Or do they accidently kill someone and try to hide it? Or a treasure of some kind? They find a stash of cash and are pursued by the mob. I smell a Harvey Keitel cameo.

Screenwriter: No, no. nothing like that. I thought about some of those elements, but it just seems cliché. No, they become friends on this mountain until their job is over. There's not much more to that part.

Producer: Whoa! You lost me again, Lar. You’ve got to have a hook of some kind. Figure out something for them to do while they’re on this mountain.

Screenwriter: I do know that after they leave the mountain, they find wives. But neither of their marriages are ultimately happy.

Producer: I’m listening. I’m listening. We could get a hot young actress. Have a scene where she takes off her top. That’s always good for box office.

Screenwriter: Someone not well known for the wife.

Producer: Known enough, but not too well known. Give these girls a few credits and you can kiss those tit shots goodbye. I think it’s pretty ungrateful, like they’re above it all. I’ll get off my soapbox now. All right Lar, Let me see if I can guess where you’re steering this vessel. One of these cowboys has an affair with the other cowboy’s wife. Am I right?

Screenwriter: No, that’s not it. Both marriages do drift apart. I do have a scene where the guys go off fishing together.

Producer: Whoa! You lost me again. Marriages drifting apart-we’re not doing a Lifetime movie here. And the guys going fishing? Who are we going to cast? James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall? You looking for retirement home bookings, Lar?

Screenwriter: I admit I haven’t got some of the details worked out quite yet.

Producer: But something’s going to happen, right? Do they get lost at sea? Am I getting a Perfect Storm vibe here? Or do they finally find a treasure of some kind? Pirates of the Caribbean, maybe? Do they find a dead body, kind of a grown up Stand By Me?

Screenwriter: No, I’m trying not to go in a predictable direction with this, Paul.

Producer: Call me Mr. Ravelstein, if you don’t mind, or even if you do mind. Let me get this straight, Lar. These two guys that work for a summer together later go off on fishing trips every once in awhile. They both have marriages that end in separation, for no reason that you can think of. No dead bodies. No hidden treasure. No seducing the other guy’s wife. I’m not being wowed here!

Screenwriter: Wait, I have written a scene where one of the guys gets killed.

Producer: Over money?

Screenwriter: No

Producer: He’s not screwing his friend's wife?

Screenwriter: No

Producer: Sorry, Lar. I’m going to have to pass. Shelve it. While you’re here, do you have anything else?

Screewriter: Uh, how about Lonesome Dove 14?

Producer: You lost me.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I was about to type the beginnings of my latest movie blog when what I now refer to as the event occured. One minute I was rubbing my chin thinking what to say and the next minute a cosmic beam enveloped me and everything went black.

It was a few moments later that I woke up in a small and sterile room. My head was pounding but I immediately saw that I wasn’t alone. To my left was a Vulcan scholar (whose name I soon learned was Kafe). To my right was a Klingon Warrior (whose name was Kon) and in front of me was a Borg Queen (who simply went by “Borg Queen”).

Borg Queen licked her lips and gave me a look that made me think she wanted to devour me like some sort of jelly doughnut. Kafe the Vulcan raised his left eyebrow and began to look me over as if I were a rat in some sort of extra terrestrial lab experiment.

Kon the Klingon was the first to speak and did so with a great force. “A Terran! I knew we would be seeing one of your kind soon!”

“Do not be aggressive Mr. Kon,” Kafe the Vulcan said. "By the looks of him, he seems as in the dark on our reason for being brought here as we are.”

“Well, what do you say…man.” Borg Queen said, emphasizing my gender a little more strongly than made me comfortable.

“I haven’t a clue,” I said. “I was sitting at my computer, working on my movie blog and the next thing I remember I saw a flash of light and was transported here.”

The other three looked knowingly at each other.

“Movie blog, eh.” Kon said. “It wouldn’t be based on the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die?”

“Good God. You’re right! How would a Klingon know about that? ”

Kon became angry and I thought for a minute he was going to lunge for me. “Are you saying that Klingons are too stupid to know about these things?”

“Kon.” The Borg Queen interrupted. “Don’t act so indignant. When we found out that we all had movie blogs, we were all surprised.”

“Yes.” Kafe said, turning to me. “It would seem to be the distinct feature that links us all. We all keep a blog on what you humans call the Internet, writing about the movies from the book Mr. Kon mentioned.

I sat back and laughed. “First of all, I can’t believe different alien races are doing the same things I am with a blog. Especially dealing with strictly earth movies! And why would we be brought together? Are we being observed somehow?”

“That is the logical theory.” Kafe said.

There was a side panel in the room that had already been broken into by the Klingon that triggered the door to open slightly, but the others informed me that this and all other attempts to escape had met with complete failure. They had also been unsuccessful in their attempts to make any contact with whoever our captor might be.

I resigned myself to my situation and began to talk to my fellow captives. I learned a great deal about their culture and their life. I also learned about what movies they liked when they posted reviews on their blog.

Not surprisingly, Klingon blogger Kon tended to like action movies such as The Great Escape, Mad Max and Die Hard. His reviews tended to be right to the point:
Die Hard-“Kicks Ass.”
and a romance like Pretty Woman-“Sucks Balls.”

Kafe the Vulcan blogger liked movies like Last Year at Marienband, 8 ½ and An Andalusian Dog. When I questioned him why he liked arty type movies, he replied that since film is a medium that lends itself to creative interpretation, it is most logical to accept films that are done with the most artistic flair.

“That makes sense, I guess.” I said.

Borg Queen's favorites inlcuded Titanic, Gone With the Wind and Star Wars. I realized as she was reading off her list, she had a decided preference for the most viewed films of all time. When I questioned her about this, she laughed and said how it makes it easier to assimilate into the collective when you have a packed theater. I wasn’t sure if she was serious or not, Kon growled in her direction when she mentioned anything about assimilating into the collective.

They asked me what my favorite type of films were and my answer was that one of the things I liked about the 1001 Movies book was that it gave me an excuse to see films of all types. I mentioned that I was currently writing about the John Ford Western, My Darling Clementine.”

Kon and Borg Queen smiled in acknowledgment and Kafe the Vulcan nodded.

“Yes, Yes.” Kon added. “That book sure loves Westerns doesn’t it?”

“It does seem based on the various types of genres that humans have converted into celluloid, it would appear the book has a more than adequate number of the type of film you commonly refer to as Westerns," Kafe said.”

“We gonna form ourselves a posse.” The Borg Queen added as she mocked twirling a lasso over her head.

“Hold on a second.” I said. The Western has been a genre that has given us some of our classic films. My Darling Clementine has the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and a memorable soft spoken hero in Wyatt Earp. It really is a movie to see. I defend its inclusion in the book.”

“Yes, yes. But this talk is getting us nowhere,” Kon said. “I want out of here!”

Kon slammed his mighty Klingon fist into the control panel. Circuits buzzed, but the door didn’t open any further. Instead, music came out of the ceiling that was clearly recognizable as a harmonica.

As the music began, I instinctively walked to the center of the room where I met the Borg Queen. We grabbed each others hands and began to slow dance. I put my head on her shoulder and we both began whispering the words:

In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Dwelt a miner, forty-niner,
And his daughter Clementine.

I wasn’t sure why I started to cry while we were dancing, but the tears just flowed from me. After the music stopped, I had trouble separating my body from her. Finally, the Klingon pulled us apart.

“Why don’t you two rent a room?” Kon said.

“It wasn’t that I desired her, it was more a desire to be part of her.” I said.

Kafe the Vulcan turned to me and said, “I think it is in your best interest to avoid direct physical contact with the Borg Queen if maintaining a distinct identity is important to you.”

Borg Queen exhaled and fanned herself with her hand as if overheated.

“Well, as I was saying,” I said, trying to change the subject..””What..uh…films are you guys working on?”

Independence Day,” the Borg Queen piped in. “They don’t get all the facts right, but it is…popular.”

“Well, the latest film in my queue is. ahem…Terms of Endearment.” Kon the Klingon said.

I tried not to laugh at the thought of a Klingon watching the Shirley MacLaine/Jack Nicholson romantic comedy. “And how did you like it?” I asked him.

“It sucked balls!”

At least he was consistent.

I looked at the Vulcan. “What about you, Kafe?”

“I just finished watching Judgement at Nuremberg.”

Judgement at Nuremberg?” Borg Queen and Kon said together.

Judgement at Nuremberg isn’t in the book!” I said. “It should be, but that’s not the point. A true 1001 Movie blogger would know that. Don’t you think it’s time to end this charade, Mr. Kafe?”

The Vulcan slammed his hand angrily into his knee. “I can’t believe you people actually memorize the movies that are in that damn book.” At this point he was swarmed over by a streaming light and in his place appeared an alien that bore a striking resemblance to Henry Fonda.

“Hey, you look like Gary Cooper!” The Borg Queen said. She stood up and shuffled her feet and sang, “Tryin’ hard to look like Gary Cooper…super duper.”

“Enough singing!" Kon said to her. “Besides, it’s Henry Fonda he looks like, not Gary Cooper.”

The Henry Fonda alien smiled. “Greetings. Pardon our intrusion on your lives, but our race only wanted to see how different alien life forms interpret similar types of movies. The results were most enlightening until you found us out.”

“Making us prisoners in your little laboratory is the wrong way to go about this. I think I speak for Borg Queen and Kon when I say this,” I said.

The Borg Queen and the Klingon took a step forward as they nodded in solidarity.

The Henry Fonda alien started to comment but I cut him off. “I’m not really interested in anything more you have to say. You may look like Mister Roberts, but you have a lot to learn about how to treat others with respect and dignity.”

He tried to again to talk, but I held up my hand to stop him. “I just have one more thing to say to you," I said. "GET OFF MY BLOG.”

The Henry Fonda alien faded slightly before disappearing completely.

I looked around at my new comrades for what I knew might be the last time. Kon stuck out a beefy hand which I shook. “I vow to try from now on to be more accepting of movies that might not have that much action in it,” the Klingon said.

I smiled at him. “Kon, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The Klingon gave me a fist bump before exiting through the now open door.

Borg Queen looked at me and I thought I saw her eyes glazing over.

“I think I’ll miss you most of all,” I said.

She put a hand up to shield herself from the sight of me. “Just go back to your little blog.” she said.

“Don’t be upset,” I said. “We’ll always have…whatever this place is.”

The Borg Queen left through the open door without saying another word..

I sat down and took a breath before the cosmic beam enveloped me once again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The film that many over the years have called the greatest of all time has been written about over and over again. What could I possibly have to add? I don’t really know. I guess I’ll just have to make a list.

My top 51 moments and one problem moment from
Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane

1.That great opening camera pan through what we later learn is Kane’s palace called Xanadu. A No Trespassing sign, a giant K over the main gate, giant but deserted structures and monkeys. Yes, monkeys! Where is this place? We soon find out more, but a great, moody start to the movie.

2.The often shown shot of Kane dying and his glass ball breaking. We then see the reflection of the nurse coming in and putting the sheet over the great man for the last time.

3. Number 3 is the problem moment and is the same as number 2. Kane says Rosebud, which is the catalyst for the whole movie. But who hears him say it? He whispers and the nurse is coming in from the next room. Raymond the servant later says he heard Mr. Kane says Rosebud, but I don’t trust him. Oh, well. Hamlet isn’t perfect either.

4.The entire News on the March Newsreel gives a few minute perspective of Kane’s life. A great setup for us to now see Kane’s story unfold more slowly.

5. After the News on the March, darkened and anonymous figures figuratively beat their heads to try to give their newsreel a hook. What was his last word? Rosebud. Hey, let’s find Rosebud!

6. Not a particular moment, but all the interview subjects combined. Thatcher’s posthumous papers give information on Kane’s early life from beyond the grave. Later we see Bernstein’s reflection on the young idealized Kane. Then we see Jed Leland’s take on some of Kane’s more difficult times. Finally, we get Susan Alexander looking at the later years at Xanadu.

7. And let’s give Mr. Thompson a bit of credit. He interviews all these subjects, but like a good interviewer, it’s about the subjects. We almost forget he’s even a part of the movie, but is an important piece to the jigsaw puzzle.

8. Mr. Thompson is also part of the great library moment in the film. He goes to visit the isolated and vast papers at the Walter Thatcher library. Great lighting and sound gives this scene a dramatic, expressionistic feel.

9. And when Thompson leaves the library, he breaks the serious tone by turning to a picture of Thatcher and asking, “You aren’t Rosebud, are you?

10. When we look at Kane’s childhood, his father rants about how he doesn’t want to give up Charlie until Thatcher says how much money they will receive annually. “Maybe it’s for the best,” he now replies.

11. In Kane’s childhood scene, Agnes Moorehead is memorable as his mother who wants to do what is best for Charlie, but is heartbroken about it.

12. Young Kane: (sarcastically): Merry Christmas
Thatcher (several years later): And a happy new year.

13. Thatcher reads Kane’s major ambition in an exasperated tone. “Might be fun to run a newspaper!”

14. Thatcher looks at several headlines over time to Kane’s paper (The Inquirer). Each one irritates him more and more. It also says something about Kane before we actually see Welles on screen.

15. We finally see Orson Welles as Kane. The young idealized 25-year-old Charles Foster Kane with his loyal colleagues Jed Leland and Bernstein by his side.

16. After Thatcher admonishes Kane for losing money on his newspaer, Kane replies that he will probably lose a million dollars every year and will probably be about 60 years.

17. The flash forward scene to 1929:
Thatcher: You’re too old to call me Mr. Thatcher, Charles.
Kane: You’re too old to be called anything else.

18. 1929 scene. Kane: If I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man.

19. Bernstein’s interview. Bernstein (Everett Sloan) pretty much worships Kane. We get to see Kane at his best through Bernstein’s lens. The kind of guy who’ll tell you you’re great no matter what. Gotta love Bernstein.

20. The idealistic young Kane, with Bernstein and Leland, moves furniture into the Inquirer’s offices to show that the news goes on 24 hours.

21. That great exasperated harrumphing of the old editor, Mr. Carter.

22. Kane’s Declaration of Principles. Kane promises to provide the people of this city honesty and the truth and promises to be a tireless champion of their rights. Jed Leland keeps the original copy.

23. Kane looks at his competitor The Chronicle’s newspaper men and compares himself to a kid in the candy store and six years later, they are all working for him at the Inquirer. “Today, I got my candy.”

24. Kane’s celebratory stage show complete with dancing girls, musicians and that great song about Charlie Kane. “You buy a bag of peanuts in this town and somebody will write a song about you.”

25. Thompson interviews the now elderly Jed Leland in a retirement facility. Leland is more of a realist about Kane than Bernstein. Love it when he tries to get Thompson to sneak him some cigars.

26. Kane gets married and we see the famous set of shots that starts off with Kane telling his wife who is right next to him how he adores her and ends with them sitting practically across the room from each other and she is reading (gasp) The Chronicle.

27. Kane’s first meeting with Susan Alexander is actually pretty quaint. He gets splashed by mud from a carriage. She laughs at him, but has a toothache of her own. Come up to my place, etc.

28. Kane entertains Susan in her apartment with shadow puppets and by wiggling his ears. He can’t get over the fact that she hasn’t heard of him.

29.Susan sings for him (badly), but when she’s done Kane smiles and applauds.

30. Kane runs for governor and gives his memorable fiery speech against his opponent Boss Jim Gettys.

31. Kane goes with his wife to visit his mistress and Boss Jim Gettys. Gettys threatens to tell the press about Kane’s affair if he stays in the race. The stubborn Kane refuses to bow out.

32. Headline reads that Kane is caught in love nest with “singer.” Jed humorously adds that Kane fought to get the quotations removed from the word “singer” in reference to Susan.

33. Kane yells at Jim Gettys as he is leaving Susan’s apartment. “I’m Charles Foster Kane. I’ll see you in Sing Sing, Gettys! Sing Sing!”

34. Bernstein shows alternative Inquirer headlines after the election. Kane Elected or Fraud at the Polls.

35. Great scene after Kane’s defeat where a drunk Jed Leland (the one guy who always told Kane the truth) tells Kane how he ridiculously talked about the people as if he owned them.
Full quote from Jed Leland-“You used to write an awful lot about the workingman...He's turning into something called organized labor. You're not going to like that one little bit when you find out it means that your workingman expects something is his right, not as your gift! Charlie, when your precious underprivileged really get together, oh boy! That's going to add up to something bigger than your privileges! Then I don't know what you'll do! Sail away to a desert island probably and lord it over the monkeys.”

36. Susan Alexander’s constant off-key opera singing and her long suffering voice instructor.

37. Susan is performing and the camera slowly pans up to the rafters of the opera house. One stagehand looks at another and simply holds his nose.

38. My favorite moment from Citizen Kane.
Jed Leland is now the dramatic critic from the Inquirer’s Chicago office. Jed has written a review on Susan Alexander’s performance and has passed out on his typewriter before he can finish. Kane happens to be visiting the Chicago paper and he and Bernstein pull out Jed’s review from underneath him. Kane sees that Jed has written a negative review of Susan and asks Bernstein for a typewriter and goes to finish it. We hear the clack of the typewriter in the next room as Kane works on Jed’s review. Jed awakens and Bernstein tells Jed that Mr. Kane is finishing the review-a bad review, as Jed had wanted. (Jed later said that Kane did this to prove he was an honest man.).
Jed approaches Kane, who says “Hello, Jedediah,” while still typing.
“Hello, Charlie,” Jed replies and adds, “I didn’t know we were speaking”
Kane laughs. “Of course we’re speaking…You’re fired.” Kane finishes Jed’s review.

39. Jed refers to Kane’s Xanadu as Sloppy Joe’s.

40. Jed shreds his program into paper dolls during Susan’s performance.

41. At the end of Susan’s opera performance, Kane applauds enthusiastically and at one point is the only one still applauding.

42. Kane opens a letter from Jed which includes a torn up $25,000 check and a copy of Kane’s now worthless Declaration of Principles. “An antique” he calls it before tearing it up.

43. Susan has a great tirade about all the negative comments about her singing. Kane’s only wish is for Susan to continue her performing.

44. Kane finally reasons that Susan can’t take all the negativism coming at Susan and relents to having her give up singing. “Their loss,” He says.

45. Susan puts her huge jigsaw puzzles together in the huge and empty Xandau.

46. That giant fireplace in Xanadu! That impossibly big fireplace!

47. A simple picnic for the Kane’s involves much ado, including a huge procession of cars.

48. Susan finally leaves him and Kane memorably trashes her room.

49. Kane’s famous march past his servants where we see the many reflections of the lonely and unhappy man.

50. Final thoughts from Mr. Thompson, “I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life.

51. And of course, the final shot of Rosebud.

52. The final shot of the film is the an echo of the first. Xanadu has everything money can buy, but is still desolate and lonely.

I can't say if it is the greatest film of all time, but Citizen Kane should be on anyone's top ten list of must see films.