We’re open yet another night here at BCB After Dark: the nightclub for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re glad to see you again on this cold winter’s night. No cover charge and no dress code (but keep your camera turned off). Please let us take your hat and coat. There’s a good table by the fire. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
Last time I asked you about the advisability of the Cubs signing free agent closer Kenley Jansen. You spoke pretty loudly that you were against the idea, with 65 percent of you saying “Nay!” Only 15 percent thought it was a good idea and the rest of you spoke with a deafening cry of “meh.”
A important reminder. While normally tonight would be the final night of the week that BCB After Dark is open, we’ve rented the joint out to Al for a New Year’s Eve party starting at 11 pm Central time on Friday. So ring in 2022 here on Friday night. Bring your own beverage.
Still locked out.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end if you want. You won’t hurt my feelings.
The South African human rights and anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu died on Sunday. The world lost a great man over the weekend. Normally I wouldn’t mention something like that here, except that back in 1986, Miles Davis named an track and an entire album Tutu after the Archbishop.
Now Tutu, both the album and the song, are among the most controversial of Miles’s career. It’s as much a funk track as a jazz track and it’s heavy on synthesizers. On top of that, a lot of people said it was really a record by the then-21-year-old Marcus Miller and Davis was just a sideman on his own work. On the other hand, others claim that it was just another way that Miles was trying to keep jazz relevant to a new generation of kids. It certainly has an “eighties” sound, for better or for worse.
Anyway, you can read about the making of the record and the controversy surrounding it at that link I provided above. (Prince was involved in the making of the album at one point—although his parts were cut—and the track “Full Nelson” was named after both Prince and Nelson Mandela.)
But enough of me yammering. You can listen to this funky piece of eighties jazz and decide for yourself whether or not it belongs with the better parts of Miles’s oeuvre. You don’t need me or anyone else telling you what speaks to you.
My wife wanted to watch Vertigo last night, so we saw it again for the first time in years. I don’t want to write a full essay on Vertigo tonight—that would just be way too much work and I already wrote a long essay on Cluny Brown earlier this week. But I did want to use Vertigo as a launching point for a discussion.
Since 1952, the British film magazine Sight & Sound have run a once-a-decade poll of industry professionals, film scholars and critics as to what the greatest films of all-time are. For some reason, this poll has become the definitive list of what the best movies are. No one takes it too seriously as every admits that this is subjective, but anyone who claims that Weekend at Bernie’s should be on this list instead of Vertigo is going to be written off as an imbecile. (And I say this as someone who loves Weekend at Bernie’s, although I love it because of how mind-numbingly dumb it is.)
Anyway, from 1962 to 2002, the movie that topped this poll every time is Citizen Kane. This cemented the idea that Citizen Kane was the greatest movie of all time. It even became a short-hand for saying something was the best, such as calling Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band the Beatles’ Citizen Kane. I don’t know if anyone has ever done that, but I’m sure we have all heard someone use “Citizen Kane” as a way of saying something was great, even sarcastically, such as calling Shakes the Clown the “Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies.”
But just as many people are now pointing out that Pet Sounds is actually a better rock record than Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (and it is), critics are now starting to question whether Citizen Kane is really the greatest film ever made. In Sight & Sound’s most recent poll in 2012, Vertigo actually de-throned Orson Welles’s masterpiece on the top of their polling. (You can see the top 100 from the 2012 poll here and the Top Ten of every poll here.)
Now personally, I think Vertigo is a very good movie, but I don’t even think it’s the best Hitchcock film, preferring both North By Northwest and Rear Window. Citizen Kane is a gorgeous and well-made film, thanks in large part to Gregg Toland’s cinematography, but “Rosebud”? Couldn’t Herman Mankiewicz and Welles have found a better framing device than that?
Now Sight & Sound is not going to give me a vote in the 2022 poll and they probably aren’t giving you one either. But if I did have a vote, what would I vote for? That question alone makes me glad I don’t have a vote.
The Godfather is an obvious choice, as is Casablanca. I’ve written about my love for Breathless here before, and I can see a case for it being number one. Then there’s Rashomon and The Seven Samurai, Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces—and I’d rank them in that order. Looking over the list of the top 100 films from 2012, I love Mulholland Drive, but I’d rank Blue Velvet as the better Lynch film. (Both are in the top 100, however.) There’s also a real lack of comedies on that list, at least post-silent era ones. Dr. Strangelove deserves serious consideration as the greatest film of all time and it’s not even in the Top 100. At least Some Like It Hot is on the list.
Some of the films on that list are not really readily available outside of film schools or festivals, so I can’t really judge if they belong on the list or not.
I will admit that I’ve probably only seen just under half of the films in the top 100 (I counted 46), so that’s probably a big reason why I’m not getting a vote. But if I did have one, I guess I’ll go with The Godfather for now. But I reserve my right to change my mind later.
So now it’s your turn. Give us your vote for the greatest film or films of all-time.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.
Last time I asked about a free agent who hasn’t been connected to the Cubs at all in Kenley Jansen. Today I’m asking about someone who has at least been mentioned as someone the Cubs might be interested in outfielder Michael Conforto.
I’ve been looking to get Conforto on the Cubs since the 2014 draft, when I wanted the Cubs to take Conforto with the 4th pick rather than Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs were seriously interested in Contorto, but they liked Schwarber better. It’s hard to say which player the Cubs should have taken. Conforto has had the higher career WAR (both on Fangraphs and baseball-reference), but do the Cubs still win the 2016 World Series without Schwarber? That’s a good question for another day.
Today I’m just going to ask you about whether the Cubs should sign Conforto as a free agent when the lockout ends. I think that had Conforto become a free agent after the 2019 or 2020 season, the answer would be a resounding “yes.” But Conforto had a pretty crummy season in 2021, although much of that was due to injuries and a career-low batting average on balls in play. Conforto hit fewer line drives and more ground balls than any time in his career in 2021, so that drop in batting average isn’t all just bad luck.
On the other hand, Conforto is the left-handed slugging bat that the Cubs could use right now. He also draws a lot of walks and he struck out less often in 2021 than in any season since his 2015 rookie year. Because of his down year last year, Conforto probably won’t get more than two or three years and at a fairly reasonable salary.
But on a third hand, Conforto really isn’t a much better defender in left field than Kyle Schwarber was. And the Mets did give Conforto an qualifying offer, so the Cubs would lose their second draft pick if they signed him. That is, if draft pick compensation is still happening in the new collective bargaining agreement. It may not.
So the simple question tonight is “How would you feel about the Cubs signing Michael Conforto?”
Should the Cubs sign Michael Conforto?
This poll is closed
Yay! (If no draft pick compensation)
Thank you again so much for stopping by tonight. Please tip your waitstaff generously. We’ll bring your car around. Drive home safely. We want to see you here again next week for another edition of BCB After DarkI.
Also, don’t forget to stop by for our special New Year’s Eve party on Friday night!