City Lights

Singin in the Rain

What’s the best movie ever made? Would the person sitting next to you agree? Does the title really matter, or is the search a happy distraction meant to let the cream of the crop rise to the top? What happens when you watch a bunch of that cream? And why has “cream” become a metaphor for quality? The Sight & Sound Top 50 is a great place to start with all of those questions. For almost two years, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs have been watching the best movies of all time and discussing them with the aim of discovering and re-discovering important cinematic experiences. Now that their quest is over, here are their thoughts and conclusions on what it’s like to see that many treasured movies, followed with links to all 50 conversations for your perusal. Take a deep breath, grab a bowl of cream and dive in.

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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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Criterion 2013

The Criterion Collection is an ever-expanding accumulation of canonical works of cinema. Yet Criterion’s selections don’t only represent deliberate attempts to construct a pristine archive from cinema’s past, but also force a conversation with cinema’s present. These releases (and the cult of anticipation that develops around them) produces a distinctive contrast between the best of cinema history against the spoils of the current moment. And while 2013 did introduce us to some very good films (three of which made it into the Collection), the best selections of cinema’s past always have a lot of instructive lessons to offer the smorgasbord of cinema’s present. So here are some useful pieces of advice that we think current filmmaking should take from this year’s crop of Criterion releases.

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discs header i declare war

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. I Declare War A group of pre-teen boys (and one girl), some friends and some not, gather for a game of war in the back woods. Using sticks, a simple set of rules, and their endless imagination, the battle grows to include M-16s, grenades, bazookas, and more, but while all of those are allowed things soon take a dark turn. Jealousy and insecurity fuel one boy’s rage to the point where the war stops being a game. This Canadian import starts off like the perfect encapsulation of a day in the life of a twelve year old boy with its mix of physical activity and imagination-fueled violence. It becomes something more though as one of the boys begins to crack, and some of the kids enter a Lord of the Flies-like scenario built on fear and peer pressure. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times, particularly with some of the child actors, but it never lets go of its sense of fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailer]

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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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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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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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