Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin packed a lot into his 88 years. Had he only been the premier comic genius of the 20th century; had he only been, in his heyday, the best-known and wealthiest person on planet earth; had he not been a divining rod for political controversy, no matter what time or cause; had he not been such a rabid womanizer that he married four times to kick the habit; had he not been, after all of those years of American productivity, still a British citizen and thus forced into exile for decades of unpaid taxes, it might have been easier to make a musical out of his story. But he was all of those things—and only Evelyn Wood could fit such a full life into two hours.
Oooh boy. Fox, not one to pass up a item trending strongly on Twitter, is reporting on a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film that appears to show a time traveler talking on a cellphone. Remember folks, as host Megyn Kelly informs us, the cell phone “would not be invented for decades.”
She throws it Read More
Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931), from his own screenplay, will play in a new 35mm print at Film Forum from Tuesday, December 25, through Tuesday, January 1 (eight days). Show times are 1:30, 3:25, 5:20, 7:15 and 9:10. Its opening on Christmas Day marks the 30th anniversary of Chaplin’s death. As I wrote in 1999 Read More
Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster, 675 pages, $32.
In early 1931, Albert Einstein paid a visit to California that confirmed his status as a global celebrity. After being serenaded by 500 local girls upon his arrival in San Diego, he attended the Rose Bowl parade and visited Hollywood studios, Read More
Michael Almereyda’s This So-Called Disaster takes a tempestuous backstage look at Sam Shepard during the fall of 2000 as he directs his play The Late Henry Moss for its premiere performance in San Francisco. The play’s cast, top-heavy with movie celebrities, consists of Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, James Gammon, Woody Harrelson, Cheech Marin and Sheila Read More
Li Yang’s Blind Shaft , (in Mandarin with English subtitles), based on the novel Shenmu by Liu Qingbang, opens his evocative, semi-documentary-style narrative in a Chinese coal-mining region, a bleak, gray landscape littered with hilly slag heaps, and without a tree or shrub in sight. As a procession of unidentified miners descend in an elevator Read More
Peter Bogdanovich’s The Cat’s Meow , from a screenplay by Steven Peros, based on his play, meticulously takes us back to Nov. 15, 1924, the day William Randolph Hearst’s sumptuous yacht, the Oneida , set out on a fateful pleasure cruise with a boatload of celebrities, businessmen, party-girl starlets, entertainers and a full complement of Read More
Between 1914 and 1928, people laughed longer, louder and more often than at any other time in history. The reason why is that during those 14 extremely turbulent years around the world, a group of comic geniuses did things on the movie screen that were more elaborately conceived for comedy, more brilliantly constructed for laughs, Read More
Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park , from the novel by Jane Austen, is not what one would call a faithful adaptation of a literary classic. Quite the contrary, it’s more a Patricia Rozema movie or, rather, an Austen movie with more Austen in it than Austen put in herself. Indeed, this adaptation should have been retitled Read More
Harold Lloyd (1893-1971) is about due for resurrection and revaluation now that the roaring 20′s have resurfaced as the booming 90′s and the Film Forum is obliging with nine Mondays dedicated to the “Third Genius of Silent Comedy.” There’ll be double bills of Lloyd’s golden-age silents (with Steve Sterner’s piano accompaniment), several brassy and underrated Read More