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Citizen Kane (1941)
A movie, yes, the greatest, no
If you want to make a movie seem even better than it already is, don't ever tell someone it is the greatest movie ever made. Not only will you most likely be telling the truth, you will also avoid setting a potential viewer's expectations far too high.
Over the years, countless professional and amateur film critics have been herolding Citizen Kane as the greatest movie of all time. It is logical, then, that when I watch it in 2002, it should be the greatest movie I have ever seen. As you have already guessed, it is not. This movie is for a certain breed of people. It's dark realization on screen and an obvious lack of a character the audience can readily sympathize with can easily turn off many-a viewer. I found myself making a serious effort just watching the TV, obviously something that rarely happens.
Potential viewers be warned: you will not be blown away the first time you watch this. The "killer" ending has been spoiled for everybody and the many great themes contained in this rich (maybe too rich) story will not be picked up when first watching this. My advice to anyone watching this for the first time is to wade through the twisting, often uninteresting plot, then rewind and enjoy the characters and images without having to worry about following the story.
In conclusion, while Citizen Kane must have been the best movie when it came out, contemporary viewers might find it unappealing at first viewing and anticlimaxes thanks to the now-unsurprising surprise ending (not its fault, but something to consider), which in my opinion makes it fall short of best movie status. For a movie to work on many levels, which Citizen Kane does (but certainly isn't the only one) it must first work at the most superficial and let the viewer dissect it on his own. If you want to watch a fun classic that also has something to say, I recommend Casablanca.
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
This is how movies are supposed to be. A deep, intricate plot that slowly develops in a piercing crescendo as all the pieces that you have already been presented come together as artistically as a magic show and as logically as a mystery novel. The acting is superbly done (especially Brad Pitt's), loose and life-like.
Potential viewers be warned of features that might affect your judgement of the movie: a confusing beginning, Bruce Willis' hard-to-comprehend character, and some slightly campy scenes in the future. Oh, and "advirtisement" is mispronounced at one point and it threw off the rest of the scene for me (that isn't a spoiler, right?). I mention these very, very, very minor points to warn someone who might see these the wrong way and look at the movie the wrong way. This is practically literature and should be viewed as such. This is not your traditional sci-fi and is a movie that you can't get out of your head days after watching it. I suggest everyone should see this movie at least once, and if you don't like it, twice.