Showing posts from November 23, 2014

Review: Storytelling

Two stories in one film: First up, college creative writing student Selma Blair abandons her cerebral palsy suffering boyfriend (Leo Fitzpatrick) for her pretentious African-American professor (Robert Wisdom), who likes it a bit rough and with extra racial epithets. In the second story, wannabe documentarian Paul Giamatti thinks he’s found an excellent subject in slacker Mark Webber, filming him and his barely functioning family (Demanding father John Goodman, clueless mother Julie Hagerty). Dad wants Webber to try and get into college, and Giamatti sees potential in this. Because he’s a tool. Webber has no scholastic ambition (nor much aptitude for it), and wants to be a late night TV host like his hero Conan O’Brien. Franka Potente plays Giamatti’s co-worker, and Mary Lynn Raskjub is Blair’s roommate in the first story.

Writer-director Todd Solondz shows himself to be a one-trick pony with this 2002 drama that once again tries to shock for the sake of it. I wasn’t a fan of his “Happ…

Charlie Chaplin Films Pt. 2:

Modern Times: Charlie Chaplin plays ‘A Factory Worker’ (really The Tramp in his swansong), who ends up losing his mind from the overly repetitious nature of his assembly line job, working for a mechanised factory overseen by a decidedly Orwellian employer. After his nervous breakdown, he is sent to a mental hospital, he emerges some time later only to mistakenly be viewed as a commie agitator when he inadvertently walks into a demonstration. He is thusly imprisoned, and once emerging, he fears the outside world and tries to get back in! And that’s when he meets the homeless and depressed Gamin (Paulette Goddard), falls in love, and they try their best to make it through life’s ups and downs together. Easier said than done when we’re talking about The Great Depression.

When I heard the basic idea behind this 1936 silent film (largely silent, at any rate) from writer-director-composer-star Charlie Chaplin, I was worried that this would be his Luddite/philistine opus by a filmmaker stubb…

Charlie Chaplin Films Pt. 1:

A Dog’s Life: Writer-director-star Charlie Chaplin of course plays the unemployed Tramp, who rescues a dog named Scraps from being mauled by several other, bigger dogs. The two make fast friends, whilst the Tramp also falls for a rather brow-beaten bar singer (Edna Purviance). There’s also the matter of some stolen loot added to the mix.

Charlie Chaplin’s first two-reeler, and apparently the first film to make $1 million, this film from 1918 is just OK. I’m more of a Buster Keaton fan, I feel he was the more creative and innovative of the two. The dog Scraps (really Mutt) steals the show easily, but you can definitely see Chaplin’s trademark pathos and The Tramp character really is an interesting one. Chaplin himself grew up poor, of course, and he really did seem to want to inject themes of poverty and unemployment into his films.

There’s a cute bit at the employment office with The Tramp struggling to get to the service window, but actually with a rather sad ending to the scene, a s…