Home Video Picks & Passes 11.27.16
Citizen Kane and Finding Dory
Citizen Kane (1941) — PICK
Finding Dory (2016) — PICK
Celebrating its 75th anniversary with a new Blu-ray edition, Orson Welles’ great classic Citizen Kane is a film whose very title has become a superlative: You can’t praise a movie more highly than to call it “the Citizen Kane of its genre.”
It’s probably topped more greatest-films lists than any other film in history. It’s among the 15 films honored by the Vatican’s 1995 film list in the “Art” category.
What you may not know is that Kane owes its legendary status significantly to the great Catholic film theorist André Bazin, whose critical theories were shaped by the same tradition of Christian personalist philosophy that informed the thought of Pope John Paul II.
Bazin was a founding figure in auteur theory, which holds that a gifted director uses the camera as an author uses a pen, to express a personal vision through a unique style. In the studio system of the Golden Age, when producers called the shots, Kane was the auteurists’ Hollywood dream movie, made with total creative freedom, with Welles as producer, co-author, director and star.
Rising to this unique challenge, Welles and his colleagues whipped up a cinematic perfect storm of technique widely hailed as the apotheosis of all the innovations and advancements of the sound era.
Thematically, Kane tackles the mystery of man from nearly every conceivable angle except religion — love, happiness, money, power, sex, politics, celebrity, despair and death — asking anew the 2,000-year-old question, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
If there’s a Citizen Kane of talking-fish movies, it’s probably Pixar’s classic Finding Nemo. Finding Dory, now on home video, is pleasant, amusing, modestly clever and occasionally moving, though it never approaches the emotional or creative heights of its predecessor.
Finding Dory combines two common sequel moves: It shifts the focus to a comic-relief character — forgetful Dory — and sends her on a quest to find her long-lost family. At least when we find them, it’s an unexpectedly powerful moment. It’s not saying much, but Finding Dory is probably Pixar’s best non-Toy Story sequel to date.
Caveat Spectator: Citizen Kane: Implied adultery; divorce and remarriage. Teens and up. Finding Dory: Some stressful and frightening situations; brief menace. Kids and up.