Movie Review: “Monsieur Verdoux” (Charles Chaplin, USA 1947)

Charles Chaplin has become a misunderstood figure in Hollywood history. He is remembered as the Little Tramp character the he played in several silent films, a character whose physical comedy high jinks are often still delightful and reveal Chaplin’s incredible performance skills. However, he was not just a circus performer. He was much more.

Those who learn more about Hollywood history will probably first encounter Chaplin as a legend who was a victim of the Red Scare of the ’40s and ’50s. He was a man who had been a Hollywood legend but then was exiled from the United States and his latter-day masterpiece Limelight (USA 1952) banned from distribution on the basis of his supposed political views. Continue reading

Movie Review: “Star Wars: Episode V-The Return of the Jedi” (Irvin Kershner, USA 1980)

Introduction

Just as a fun project, I’m going to watch all previous Star Wars films except for Episode I and write reviews. I’ve seen the original trilogy before but I’ve never seen Episodes II and III. However, even the original trilogy I have not watched for a very long time, so this is definitely my first look at them with adult eyes.

I do not own the films, so I will not be watching the despecialized editions, though I would certainly prefer to do so. I really hope that Disney doesn’t continue Lucas’s refusal to release the original theatrical versions, because the corny digital additions really stand out as awful. I hated them in the mid ’90s and I’m not feeling any better about them 20 years later. Since they really stand out, I’m essentially going to ignore them in the reviews and just say here that they’re terrible, cartoonish, and unnecessary. And yes, I feel safe saying that even before I’ve finished re-watching them all. The prequels obviously do not have this issue–Lucas got to fill them with digital ugliness on first release. Continue reading

Movie Review: “The Revenant” (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, USA 2015)

“‘Tis unnatural
Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last,
A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.
And Duncan’s horses–a thing most strange and certain–
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
Contending ‘gainst obedience, as they would
Make war with mankind
‘Tis said they eat each other.
They did so, to th’ amazement of mine eyes
That looked upon ‘t.”
Macbeth Act II, Scene iv

Such is the response of nature to Macbeth’s sin against it in murdering his king. In Shakespeare, nature is often responding to man’s actions. In this case, killing a king who rules by divine right was such an unnatural action that nature responded with unnaturally powerful storms and a series of odd violent actions by non-human animals. This idea of the interconnectedness of nature with man’s actions permeates The Revenant, a Shakespearean revenge drama as bloody, obvious, and tense as Titus Andronicus. Continue reading