I'm a little late with this, but I was able to squeeze in two more movies before the end of the year.
I'd like to say that watching The Iron Giant, number twenty six in my quest to see 52 new (to me) films in 2005, restored my faith in animated movies, but the film's seven years old now and it's not like there's been a ton of cartoons like it since it came out. Still, I'm glad we finally got around to picking it up - you know, for the kids.
The film, about a boy and the huge machine he befriends, sports a strong story dealing with a town's fear of the unknown and a giant's struggle between his compassion and his potentially violent strength. Even better is that this Of Mice and Men-like story is beautifully drawn in the style of a fifties action comic book. Not only is it a way-cool style, but by using the Cold War era as a backdrop, the film can sneak in a more-timely-than-ever pacifistic lesson that doesn't seem very popular in the present day.
The filmmakers know that their story is so strong that there's no need for fancy Pixar magic, wisecracking sidekicks, or jokes meant to go over the kiddie's heads. It trusts the viewers, whatever their age, to comprehend the story while respecting them enough not to dumb it down to the lowest commend denominator. Please, more "kids" movies like this.
The last movie of the year for me was Citizen Kane, number twenty seven in my quest to see 52 new (to me) films in 2005. What can you say about Citizen Kane? By now it's like reviewing the Mona Lisa - everything's already been said. Many of the accolades given this movie were for Orson Wells' innovative filming techniques. Some of those techniques - sixty-five years later - are commonplace now, but the feeling you get watching this movie - that every single frame was agonized over - is unfortunately still uncommon. To me, much of the cinematography was more like still photography - each shot perfectly framed, each scene expertly composed.
And even without all the fancy film-making, it would still be an excellent story. Wells' newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane is a jerk, but at least he's a charismatic jerk. The movie starts at the end, so it's not like you don't know where the story's going (and by now does anyone not know what Rosebud was?), but that doesn't matter. What makes this movie great is how Orson Wells gets you to the ending. Beautifully shot, but more important, a lot of fun to watch.
Stay tuned for my goal for 2006.