I finally got sick of getting into conversations with people about movies and only being able to reply with a weak “I meant to see that,” so I gave in and got a Netflix account. Now I can see all those films I’ve been meaning to watch, and make you all read about it!

Citizen Kane

I can tell it’s a great movie, and not just because everyone says it is. I just wish I knew enough about film to understand why it’s so impressive. It could be the way that Orson Welles is so often shot from below, making him look bigger than life, even when he’s an old man, dwarfed by his own living room. Or maybe it’s just that it manages to use flashback and montage as narrative mechanisms without descending into cheap cliches. Watching a few minutes of it with Roger Ebert’s commentary overlaid was helpful: the fact that he could barely pause to breathe while detailing the various ways in which every scene bursts with innovations, references, and symbolism is a pretty good indicator of how much is going on in this movie.

Transformers: The Movie

I would have appreciated this movie a lot more if I were still nine years old. Some cartoons age well; Transformers is not one of them. Seeing Ironhide go down, though, is still a traumatic experience; he was the only Transformers toy I actually owned, and I loved that big lug. The connection between this and Citizen Kane, of course, is Welles, in what may be the least likely casting ever. It works better than it has a right to: Welles mumbling his lines still has ten times more gravitas than anyone else in the movie. (Get it? He’s a sun-sized, planet-eating monster robot with gravitas. I crack me up.)

The Tale of Zatoichi

The first fight scene in this classic Japanese samurai movie takes place in the dead of night, and lasts about two seconds. Apparently, later movies in the series have flashier fighting sequences. Hopefully, they also maintain the air of dignity and emotional depth that actor Shintaro Katsu brings to the role of Ichi, the blind masseur/swordsman who can’t avoid trouble.