Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Citizen Kane
When I first watched Citizen Kane, I found it to be extremely overrated. The fictionalized biopic of the life of William Randolph Hearst was a good movie, but watching it, I kept asking myself what the big deal was. Rewatching it years later, however, I discovered a new appreciation for it, and actually agree that it deserves the mantle of “Greatest Movie Ever Made”. There are two great reasons to see and love Citizen Kane. The first is Orson Welles’ performance. Welles plays Charles Foster Kane through fifty years of the character’s life, and there isn’t a single scene where he isn’t convincing. The character changes and grows, too, taking on the traits of an old man as he ages, and Welles does a terrific job of portraying Kane in the many different stages of his life. Even the physicality of the elderly Kane is convincing – particularly in the famous room-trashing scene, which I think is one of the film’s best. The second best reason to love Citizen Kane is the cinematography. Every shot is perfectly composed, and it’s clear that lots of time and thought went into every camera move and the staging of every actor. By today’s standards, the stuff that the camera does in Kane may seem normal, but that’s because Citizen Kane set the bar for great camerawork and pioneered a lot of the filming techniques that are still used today. Citizen Kane is a landmark film in the history of cinema, and it only gets better with age. It’s especially pertinent today, now that the print newspaper is disappearing, and I urge those of you who haven’t seen it to watch Citizen Kane. Try to keep an open mind, forget the hype, and watch it for what it is: a brilliantly crafted, superbly acted movie.
5 out of 5

Modern Times
While not my favourite Charlie Chaplin movie, I have to give credit where credit’s due. Modern Times serves as a perfect ending to the saga of Chaplin’s tramp character, and the first act is especially funny. The entire sequence with the automated feeding machine had me in stitches, and it’s admirably that Chaplin’s style of comedy is still just as funny today as it was almost 80 years ago. Modern Times is fun to watch alongside a more serious take on the same subject matter: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, but also interesting to view today when you consider that the 2012 Academy Award for Best Picture was given to The Artist – a movie that essentially does exactly the same stuff with sound that Modern Times did so long ago. Finally, it’s truly charming to finally hear the Tramp speak near the end of the movie, and I love that in order to make what he says understandable to all, Chaplin chose to make him speak gibberish. Unfortunately, I found the second half of the film to be a bit weak, but even so, Modern Times provides an interesting look at the final days of silent cinema, and demonstrates once again why Charlie Chaplin is such a popular filmmaker, even today.
4 out of 5


Grabbers tells the story of a small Irish fishing village that’s beset upon by a horde of blood-sucking monsters. When the locals discover that the creatures are allergic to alcohol, they all decide that the best way to protect themselves against the menace is to get totally drunk. Hilarity ensues. Grabbers follows the typical monster-on-the-loose formula to a T, hitting all the same story beats as a movie like Tremors or even Jaws. Where the story sets itself apart, however, is in the second act, where the characters all get plastered as a precautionary measure. This leads to numerous funny situations, as the very thing keeping people safe – their own drunkeness – also keeps leading them into danger as the locals lose all common sense thanks to the alcohol. I wouldn’t call Grabbers a masterpiece, and it’s not quite on par with some of the monster movies I’ve seen recently (Super 8 and Attack the Block come to mind), but it’s still a very funny movie, has a lot of satisfying moments, some memorable monsters, and a premise that’s familiar enough to be fun while also injecting some new and fresh ideas into the mix. If you liked the aforementioned Tremors and want to see it mixed with some of the humour from something like Shaun of the Dead, then you should give Grabbers a watch.
3.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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