Very Good Paragraphs

From David Thomson’s “When Is a Movie Great?” from the July Harper’s:

I love Citizen Kane. I have nothing against it winning [British film magazine Sight & Sound‘s annual best-movie-ever poll] forever, if we must have a best film of all time. (And we don’t; few of us would seriously heed the call for the greatest symphony, novel, painting, building, Indian dinner, or soccer match.) But Kane isn’t a dinosaur, despite its lofty placement. Seventy years after its opening, we still feel the ways in which Orson Welles enlarged the language of film and the scope of its storytelling. Citizen Kane is a tragedy about the evanescence of meaning, and (by today’s standards) a searching inquiry into character and the nature of power in America. When some claimed that last year’s The Social Network was the “new Citizen Kane,” that was an indicator of falling standards and a valiant effort to keep movies “relevant.” The Social Network is a smart, narrow entertainment, full of spite. Citizen Kane is beautiful because it means so much, yet finds that meaning has become a lost world.

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