Daily Archives: September 12, 2012
Since cinema’s infancy, Charlie Chaplain has been a crucial element of its roots. Starring first in vaudeville type comedies, Chaplain quickly made himself a mogul within the new medium, creating his own production company as well as writing, directing, starring and composing all of his films. His recurring character, The Tramp, has been an iconic image of the silver screen since his first appearance. Over a century has passed and the blundering hobo with a push broom mustache and a heart of gold is still a beloved figure whose quirky stories have transcended time.
The reason Chaplain’s films have longevity is due to Chaplain’s ability to tell powerful stories of the common man using relatable universal themes. If you want to see The Tramp deal with superficiality and the temptation of greed, see him do so in The Gold Rush; to see how The Tramp takes on the difficulties of first love, then watch City Lights. Grappling with fear of the loom and the hustle of technology? See how The Tramp handles it in Modern Times. But to see The Tramp take on perhaps his most fitting role, a father, then watch The Kid.
Written and directed, with all the trimmings, by Chaplain, The Kid tells the deeply poignant story of The Woman, who is down and out, seemingly regretting the birth of her newborn child. She decides to leave the child in the back of an expensive car with a note requesting his safety and love, unfortunately the car is stolen by two thugs who ditch the baby in the alley of a poor neighborhood. The Tramp, with all his luck, finds the child and is forced to keep him when he can’t pawn it off on others. The Tramp names the child John and for the next five years raises the boy as his own. What proceeds are some of the most beautiful moments of character interaction I’ve ever seen as the two grow together despite the threat of John being taken away as an orphan.
“And Iiiiiiiiiiiiii will always love yooooooOOOOOOuuu!”
Jackie Coogan as “The Kid” was possibly the cutest child to appear in film at that time and he’s phenomenal in his role. His scenes with Chaplain are simply magnetizing. Although dirt poor, The Tramp comes off as an exceptional father doing what he can to provide for John and teaching the kid the tricks and trade of living on the streets. The Tramp’s teachings are also about being an upstanding citizen in society, despite their low social class. In one of the more humorously endearing scenes, John prepares pancakes for their morning breakfast. Using their blanket as a robe and his ragged over-sized shoes as slippers, The Tramp sits at the table to divide the stack of pancakes. Realizing he has one too many he carefully cuts a pancake in half, giving John one half so that the two stacks are perfectly even. They bow their hands and mumble a word or two of grace and start to eat. John uses his knife to lap hungrily at syrup he has poured on his plate until the Tramp stops him to point out a very valuable lesson, never eat with the sharp side up; he instead flips the knife over for John to continue lapping with the dull side.
The slapstick and hijinks are heavily lathered on throughout The Kid, but like all of Chaplain’s films, there’s a profound sentiment that’s evident. When John is taken away from The Tramp to live in an orphanage, the editing and acting is at its peak, cutting back and forth to show The Tramp being outnumbered yet fighting off cops while John is placed in the truck. The sequence is beautifully constructed, showcasing a woefully howling John begging to not be taken away juxtaposed against The Tramp wide-eyed, fighting with determination to get to his boy. The images unfold without intertitles to explain what is being said and the images alone tug at your heartstrings as the struggle feels personal. It’s almost a proven fact that you will at least tear up during that sequence. It’s science.
If you don’t cry you just might be Cool as Ice…
The Kid is heartbreaking at points, but is overall an uplifting and beautiful story. The focus on images is astounding as is the construction of the physical humor and delicate attention to most of the characters. Sure the circumstances in The Kid are perfectly contrived the way films of classic cinema usually are, but so is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but I don’t see you mentioning that, person who may not have even thought to argue that. The conventions don’t matter because the story of The Kid flows with such a great pace, and while it creates an air of pathos it wraps up neatly ending with a cathartic moment that feels like taking a breath of fresh air.
It’s most impressive aspect, however, is how it interrogates the notion of a “conventional family.” The Tramp is poor, a con artist and a certified trouble maker. Instead of throwing a baseball around in the front yard with John, he teaches John how to throw baseballs in the windows of anyone gullible enough to hire The Tramp, who then shows up at the right moment selling window’s for half the price. However, The Tramp is a great guardian who watches over and protects John without batting an eye. He boosts the child’s self-esteem and molds John into a kid that is thankful for every meal and bed he sleeps in. The Kid is a great reminder that a family is the people who care for you regardless of what or who you are; a thought we need to remember in a time where a chicken sandwich has becomes an icon to deny others their right to start a family.
Take a Drink: every time The Tramp finds himself at the wrong place at
the wrong time
Take a Drink: every time The Tramp should get beaten to a pulp but
Take a Drink: every time The Kid wants to pray
By: Oberst Von Berauscht -
I often wish that I had the standards of the sort of people who are satisfied by Michael Bay’s semi-annual clusterfucks. This is, sadly not an American problem, or a problem with Western Civilization. This is an issue which permeates all facits of human culture. (Battleship has somehow managed to make $300 Million dollars internationally) It is clear that we are all perfectly willing not only to put up with abject failure, but to celebrate as if a triumph. It must be a wonderful life to live so blissfully ignorant. The following films are not looking “Michael Bay” terrible, but with the right (wrong?) kind of push, they all have the potential to fail miserably.
Allow me to be clear, I don’t want any movie to suck. And any movie on this list will be welcomed into my collection with open arms should it manage to surprise me. With that said, here is a list of films I feel are clearly setting us up for disappointment:
(5.) Life of Pi
Dear Ang Lee: if you are trying to make a hypervisual 3D adventure film, it is probably unwise to just combine the screenplays for Castaway and We bought a Zoo.
I’ll tell you how you can save this movie: In the first 15 minutes have the tiger eat the main character, then follow this tiger as he navigates the boat to a series of desert islands in search of the cast of Gilligan’s Island (or something similarly edible). After what might be the most gruesome 30 minutes in film history, the tiger lands on the Island of Madagascar, where he meets an ironically racist zebra voiced by Chris Rock. They fall passionately in love, but when the Tiger kills and eats the Prime Minister, the two go on the lam á la Bonnie & Clyde, complete with a dub-step version of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”. The movie will end with the characters being violently gunned down by the family of the Indian teenager who the tiger ate at the beginning, with a protracted Bollywood dance number symbolizing man’s triumph over the forces of nature.
My script was rejected for some reason.
(4.) Wreck it Ralph
I’ll admit that the trailer had me intrigued for awhile. As an avid fan of classic video games, I love the concept. The problem comes with the character of Ralph himself (Voiced by John C. Reilly), as what I can only assume to be a Donkey Kong stand-in. The movie is going to have to work hard to convince us that “Ralph” is a character from a popular game, especially with all the Cameos from licensed characters already present. Thus far the story seems awfully light, and I’m guessing that the filmmakers are gambling that the name recognition of the video game characters will give Wreck It Ralph some legs in the box office.
(3.) The Hobbit
The newest trend of splitting single novels into multiple films isn’t too bad of an idea. After all, some books follow so many side-plots that a 2-hour movie just can’t do it justice. Director Peter Jackson seems intent on turning this 300 page novel into three epic movies, and yes, he is borrowing from some of JRR Tolkien’s unfinished works and appendices. Ultimately this film is just too heavily anticipated to be anything short of a letdown. Andy Serkis will be returning to his critically acclaimed role as Gollum. Serkis is a well known method actor, so it was awfully cruel of Peter Jackson to ask him to go on another 3-year crystal meth bender.
His “Precious” may not be what we think it is.
(2.) Gangster Squad
This movie was supposed to come out well.. now, but has been relegated to an early January release. I admit that the trailer got me excited. I’m not buying the “official” story that the movie was moved due to a scene which features a shoot-out in a movie theatre. It seems a fairly tenuous comparison to draw with the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. In fact, I’d go so far as to argue that, with January being a well known dumping ground for crappy movies, the producers know something that we don’t. The movie has a lot going for it still, with a star-studded cast and a promisingly action-packed story. Although filmmaker Ruben Fleischer’s career is one that has thus far resulted in empty promises. (Zombieland had so much potential, ultimately undone in the name of an uninteresting romantic sub-plot). If the story doesn’t manage to be well told however, not even Ryan Gosling’s beautiful face can save it.
I can’t stay mad at you
(1.) The Great Gatsby
Originally slated for a Christmas release, this highly anticipated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire, is now set for a summer 2013 debut. Delays, however, are the least of this film’s worries. I can point to exactly one reason why this movie is going to be an insufferable piece of shit:
Director Baz Luhrmann
This filmmaker is notorious for his use of hyper fast cutting, eye-raping visuals, and for encouraging his actors to act like they just dropped the brown acid while shooting pure adrenaline into their veins. So naturally this is the man to film the great American novel… right?
No… the answer is no.
What other anticipated films are you not looking forward to?
Leave a comment below!
Also, allow me to suggest a few of our other fancy articles: