Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin in A Busy Day

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the release of A Busy Day, a half-reeler in which Charlie Chaplin plays an angry suffragette (an alternate title was actually A Militant Suffragette) who becomes jealous of her husband during a parade of some kind. It probably isn’t the first instance of a man playing a woman in cinema (there’s no way it took 20 years), but it is the first film that’s really known as the original precursor to something like Tyler Perry‘s Madea character and others like it. Note that this isn’t the same as a Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire type, though Chaplin would do parts of that sort, playing a man who dresses as a woman, later on. Interestingly enough, he’s much prettier in one of those parts, that of The Masquerader (100 years old this August), than he is in A Busy Day. When I claim in the headline above that Chaplin began his filmmaking career as the Perry of his time, I am not really just referring to their comparative angry women characters. Chaplin didn’t direct A Busy Day, contrary to some claims, for one thing. However, he did helm a one-reeler around the same time titled Caught in the Rain. That was in fact his directorial debut, and its own 100th anniversary was this past Sunday. The reason I compare it to Perry’s own first film as a director is that both featured the filmmakers on screen as the iconic characters they’re most associated with. For Perry that’s Madea. For […]

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City Lights Movie

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they revel in the unadulterated delight of City Lights and imagine it as an elderly film that still feels young at heart. In the #50 (tied) movie on the list, The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) falls in love with a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) and tries everything he can to earn money, even as life throws him repeatedly under the bus. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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Dr Strangelove

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Charlie Chaplin Directing

The 124th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin‘s birthday was yesterday, and the date represents both the birth of a man and the birth of a cultural icon. Perhaps the biggest of them all. Chaplin made a name for himself during the early years of cinema where silent films had a natural global appeal and became a worldwide name as an actor, producer, writer and director. He took comedy seriously, building upon silly slapstick with The Tramp and taking on Hitler with The Great Dictator. It’s more than likely that the world will never see anyone rise to his kind of prominence. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin.

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How to Survive a Plague

If you want to sell a movie script, you’ve got to get in the room. But what do you do once you get there? Geoff answers a listener question by explaining what you need to do when prepping a pitch and presenting it to producers (all of whom are throwing knives at you as you speak). Plus, we kick off Oscar Month, celebrating the 99th anniversary of Oscar royalty Charlie Chaplin‘s appearance in film, and Scott engages in an insightful discussion with How to Survive a Plague director David France about his Academy Award-nominated AIDS documentary. Download Episode #4

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trading places curtis new year

There are so many movies with New Year’s Eve scenes that we might be able to make a list of 2,013 of them. Especially if we separate each scene from movies completely set on the night, such as New Year’s Eve, 200 Cigarettes and the Assault on Precinct 13 remake. But we’re going to keep it simple and exclude 2000 of those to share only 13 favorite moments of movie characters ringing in the new year. None of them are from those three aforementioned films, by the way. And since we’ve obviously left a bunch of scenes out, at some point before you go out to party or get situated on your couch ready to watch the ball drop, do tell us which New Year’s Eve scenes you love. Oh, and merry new year!

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  Even the most visionary and original films can seem derivative, especially to those of us who watch tons of movies on a regular basis. Occasionally it’s intended for the audience to spot certain allusions and apply them to our experience with this new work, as in the case of Holy Motors. Other times it’s not so deliberate, and the fact that new movies trigger memories of older movies (and vice versa depending on when they’re seen) is all on us, yet not totally without reason given how there are really only a few base plots and themes in existence and also given that our comprehension of things, particularly imaginative things, has to be relatable to other things we’ve comprehended previously. That’s why a movie like Avatar can be “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” but only to an extent. For it to be accessible to a wide audience — let alone be one of the biggest worldwide hits of all time — it has to “unfortunately” resemble other movies. And now Life of Pi can be likened by critics to Avatar for similarly giving us spectacle like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It sounds ironic but it’s not. Even if the magical island in Pi may even further remind us of […]

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Criterion Files

The common, received wisdom about Hollywood during The Great Depression tends to go like this: Hollywood played an important role as a place for escape, or a low-cost brief vacation, for a populace struggling to make it day-to-day. Much of Hollywood entertainment no doubt possessed escapist entertainment value, and the importance of Hollywood’s social role in this respect shouldn’t be dismissed. But the assumption that Depression-era Hollywood worked exclusively – or even mostly – as a purely escapist institution with little reflection on the overwhelming social conditions and problems of the time is greatly misinformed. The Depression-era-escapism argument about Hollywood has significant implications. While the industry’s role as an institutionalized dream factory had been well established by the early 1930s, the early years of the Depression were instrumental in the formation of a Classical Hollywood mode because it was during these years that synchronous sound became solidified with other standardized industry conventions. Genres like gangster films and westerns certainly existed during the silent era, but these genres acquired their shared signatures as sound grew into an expected, important part of the cinematic experience, just as the sonic spectacle of the musical or the rat-a-tat dialogue of screwball comedies became essential defining components of their respective genres after the standardization of sound. So, in short, how we conceptualize Hollywood in the 1930s is instrumental to understanding the foundation of Hollywood’s entire history.

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Recently, Flavorwire got a kick out of a post from Slacktory where they used that ever-present man behind the curtain called Google to see what our internet age connects with celebrities. Then, we got a kick out of Flavorwire’s answer which involved 25 famous authors and what the search engine had to say. The experiment is simple. Type a name into Google Image Search, and the program automagically suggests more words to narrow down your search. Judging from entries like “white people problems” for J.D. Salinger and “death, oven, daddy” for Sylvia Plath, it seems like Google might be kinder to famous movie directors. Some of the responses fully encapsulate the person’s artistic output while others push toward the fringe, but all are shaped by what we’re searching for. Here’s a few things Google thinks you should add to the names of some of your favorite filmmakers.

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Anyone who follows the Criterion Collection will note that just about every month of releases is exciting for collectors of classic and important cinema. But some months are just a little bit more special than others. This coming June is going to be even more special. With titles from Alfred Hitchcock, Toshiro Mifune, Charlie Chaplin, Steven Soderbergh (on Spalding Gray) and Danny Boyle, Criterion may have on their hands one of the most exciting months of releases in years. You might as well start saving now. Seriously, just check out the line-up after the jump.

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Every year, the National Film Registry announces 25 films that it will toss gently into its vault for safe keeping. This year, they’ve chosen a hell of a list, but (like every year), the movies saved act as a reminder that even in a digital world where it seems unfathomable that we’d lose art, we’re still losing art. The task of actively preserving films is an honorable, laudable one, and it’s in all of our best interests to see movies like these kept safe so that future generations (and those attending Butt-Numb-a-Thon 55) will be able to screen them as they were meant to be seen. So what 25 movies made the cut this year? Let’s explore:

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Why Watch? Charlie Chaplin‘s first film, Making a Living, features the man who would go on to be the planet’s biggest star donning a top hat and the creepiest face he could muster. It’s the earliest example of his potential for genius, and one of the few where we get to see a talent that’s still in the raw. By his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice, he had debuted his Little Tramp character and launched a career in earnest. So, what better way is there to spend Labor Day than to watch how Chaplin worked? What does it cost? Just 9 minutes of your time. Check out Making a Living for yourself:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that just got back from a little vacation. No, it didn’t go to Comic-Con in San Diego. It feels it necessary to leave stuff like that to the professionals, namely Misters Abaius, Fure and Giroux. They did a wonderful job, did they not? And rumor is that they’re not done yet. That said, it shouldn’t come to you as a surprise if tonight’s entry is a little Con-tilted, or nerd-obsessed. It is part of the Comic-Con hangover treatment, after all. The above image, tweeted out by Community creator Dan Harmon, shows a sign erected at the studio where the show has begun shooting its third season celebrating the show’s zero Emmy nominations. “I want to win an Emmy for this show,” said Harmon as he and cast led a rousing panel during Comic-Con. They’ll get one. If not, we’ll make one and send it to them.

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Culture Warrior

There will inevitably be a movie about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden – this much is certain. Recent news has established that Kathryn Bigelow might be the first to try to put into play one of several projects related to last week’s assassination amongst several that are being shopped around. The reasoning is clear, as the material lends itself inherently to cinematic expression. The mission itself, in short, feels like a movie. Whether or not this movie (or movies) will have anything to say beyond what we already know and think and feel is unknown and, in Cole Abaius’s terms, it will be difficult for such projects to escape an inherent potential to come across as a shameless “cash-in.” My personal prediction is that the first movie that arises from bin Laden’s death will, at best, be an exciting procedural that visualizes an incident we are currently so invested in and preoccupied with. But I doubt that anything released so soon will remotely approach a full understanding of bin Laden’s death as catharsis for American citizens, as a harbinger for change in the West’s relationship to the Middle East and the Muslim world, as a precedent for the possible fall of al Qaeda, etc. In short, we won’t be able to express cinematically (or in any other medium, for that matter) what the death of bin Laden means until the benefits of time and hindsight actually provide that meaning. This is why I think any movies about Osama […]

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Great movies come from all around the world, and so do great DVDs and Blu-rays. Import This! is an irregular feature here at FSR that highlights discs and/or movies unavailable in the US that are worth seeking out for fans of fantastic cinema. 2010 has been a good year for the Little Tramp when it comes to the area of technological breakthroughs. First, Charlie Chaplin’s antics are finally coming to the superior Blu-ray format… and second, time travel has finally been proven thanks to the recent discovery of a futuristic visitor in his film The Circus. Chaplin has long thrilled and entertained viewers on television and DVD, but this year saw his films start hitting Blu-ray in a big way. Criterion released Modern Times earlier this month, and film lovers in the UK have had it even better with Park Circus releasing that film as well as The Kid, The Great Dictator, and The Gold Rush earlier this year. Park Circus isn’t done yet though as they’ve just released two more titles in dual disc format featuring the Blu-ray and DVD.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Re-releases are a tough business, I tell you. And this week is full of them. Be they the re-lighting of the old flame that still burns from Chaplin’s last trip as the Little Tramp or James Cameron’s twice released (this year) mega-event movie Avatar, This Week in Blu-ray is full of stuff that we’ve seen before, in various capacities. That doesn’t mean that some of these titles aren’t worth buying, as you might expect. A few of these titles will be welcomed additions to your collection. They may also have you cursing the names of faceless Fox executives who duped you into buying Avatar the first time around. Or Blu-ray column writers who recommended it, despite the obvious lack of special features… Actually, lets not focus on that last part. Why don’t we just move on to this week’s selection of high definition wonders.

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A brief history of the Movie Star and why it’s currently gasping for breath.

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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