Monday, June 6, 2011

Preview: Chaplin!

You know, they say comedy is subjective. Why is there now consensus on what's funny? In my humble opinion, I tend to believe that's true because so little of it is genuinely "good" nowadays. I hate to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but most current comedies display no sense of skill (or subtlety) anymore. Whether it's Todd Philips remaking his own gross-out movies or Judd Apatow letting his actors improv lines for 2 1/2 hours, so much of the "funny" just feels so damned labored.

The silent era would probably get my vote as the golden age of comedic cinema. What a great time it must have been to delight in the big three: Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. Which of them was "best" can never be agreed upon, but without a doubt that most widely known remains Charlie Chaplin. Few have ever approached his mix of charm, wit, intelligence and heart. Certainly no one in the past 80 years or so. His character of "The Tramp," is one of the most beloved characters in all of film history.

Although made during the dawn of the "talkies," City Lights was deliberately made by Chaplin to utilize sound but not dialogue. It became one of his most successful films, and the ending is widely loved and regarded as one of the most touching scenes ever captured on camera.

The Gold Rush is another of Chaplin's best, and features The Tramp heading to the Yukon in search of gold, but finding a girl. It is remarkable for being a silent film that was re-released in the 1940s with new content, namely a score and voiceover narration. Yes, it seems Chaplin is the first offender of the "constant tweaking" we now associate with George Lucas and his Star Wars movies.

The film, however, also features one of the most iconic scenes of Chaplain's career. For many, this sequence is just as identifiable with Charlie Chaplin as the derby hat, cane and moustache.

That reminds me... Going back to my argument against modern comedic talent for a second, I once heard someone contend that Johnny Depp is the closest to a modern universally loved comedic actor we have today. I always assumed they based their case on Captain Jack Sparrow (back when there was only one of those movies), but now that I think about it...

Ahhhh, now I get it. I agree, Depp is very good, but he's no Charlie.

Modern Times is often referred to as Chaplain's greatest achievement, a wonderful commentary on the industrialized (yet impoverished) world of the 1930s. Another mostly silent film infused with sounds and music rather than dialogue, it is famous for its romantic theme. This piece of music was later given lyrics and became the song, "Smile." Originally recorded in the 1950s by Nat King Cole, it has since been recorded hundreds of times by numerous artists, including the likes of Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Judy Garland, Josh Groban, and many American Idol flunkies.

Best of all, Modern Times will be presented in a brand new and restored 35mm print. It promises to look AMAZING.

Oh, and get this. Before the 4 pm screening of Times on Saturday there will be a fun event with a Charlie Chaplin photo booth by Annie Ray at The Paramount, complete with their very own Chaplin and moustaches!

Also screening this weekend are assorted short films with Chaplin, made between 1918 and 1921: A Dog’s Life, A Day’s Pleasure and The Idle Class.

Come this weekend and partake of one of the purest comedic geniuses ever to grace the screen. Chaplin's works are timeless, and are sure to prove that this storyteller's heart and humanity can move you more than words can ever say.

Showtimes for the films:

City Lights
Thursday, Jun 9th

The Gold Rush
Thursday, Jun 9th

Modern Times
Saturday, Jun 11th
Sunday, Jun 12th

Chaplin Shorts
Saturday, Jun 11th
Sunday, Jun 12th

Final Notes about the screening
Double Features:
"When two movies are grouped together under the same thematic heading, one ticket is good for both features when viewed back-to-back on the same day." (cha-ching!)

"Hassle-free downtown parking available for $6 at the One American Center for all summer films! Since you’re also supporting the theatre when you buy parking, they're giving you a free small soda each time you park there for a film. Buy online with your film tix and print out your confirmation e-mail or buy directly from the garage attendant (cash only). Attendant will have your soda ticket as well."

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