Gold rush charlie chaplin
Classics, Comedy, English Movies, Popular

The Gold Rush directed by Charlie Chaplin

Gold rush charlie chaplin So, this was the movie that Chaplin wanted to be remembered for the most
 
Your own jury can be out on that one but one thing is for sure, along with his other great classics like “The Kid” or “City Lights”, “Gold Rush” would rank as one of the all time classics – a feast that can be enjoyed not matter what your age or what your mood for that matter.
 
Its a measure of Chaplin’s genius that he could sustain his audience through a full length silent feature movie, a length which many modern movies struggle to fill with any meaning, with all the tech wizardy in hand.
 
Much like “The Kid”, which came earlier, Chaplin is able to combine comedy, pathos, a keen sense of human nature and a social  non-judgmental commentary and a sense of irreverent frivolity.
 
Many people today mistaken Chaplin with slapstick or physical comedy, which is a tragedy of ignorance. Almost none of his works are of the kind that would make you laugh without making you think, however subtly. And that is where the power of something like “Gold Rush” comes into focus.
 


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The Tramp is now in the middle of the infamous Gold rush in Alaska of the late 19th century. And as ever, he is bumbling along alone, with his trademark top hat, ill fitting coat and stick, all in the wilderness of Alaska. He is the lone prospector trying his luck in the advertised El Dorado, with only a map drawn with just north south arrows.
 
On the way to struggle to fame, he meets quite a few characters along the way – the thug, the prospector who finds the mountain of Gold and then loses it, the ladies man Jack, and the woman who he falls in love with – Georgia, a dancing girl in one of the prospecting towns.
 
With his inimitable charm and bumbling confidence, the Tramp does what he does best – makes you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same  dance-halltime.
 
Between fighting a bear, almost getting eaten after being mistaken as a chicken and escaping from a see-sawing house on an cliff edge, the Tramp is the dreamer who falls madly in love with Georgia, who only finds him a useful foolishness.
 
Some of the most indelible imagery of “Gold Rush” is of the Tramp being a misfit even among misfits. The image of him facing the dance hall, back towards us, with people dancing gaily around him, while he just watches with us seeing his face is one of the most enduring image.
 
And of course who can forget the simply hilarious dance of the rolls – charliegeorgiazwone of the most famous scenes of all times. A scene that combines a comic timing, comic expressions, a virtuoso skill at the pantomime of dance using rolls, all happening at the backdrop of it taking place in a dream where the tramp is imagining a happy place with a reality quite different. If one scene can define the whole movie, it would have to be this one
 
What finally happens is something that you have to find for yourself as telling the ending is spoiling the fun. But unlike many of his earlier movies, I found the ending to be a bit equivocal.
 
The beauty of “Gold Rush” and probably why Chaplin wanted to be remembered for this is that this movie works so well on different levels. It depends on what how the viewer wants to take it. On the surface is a classic Tramp caper with his inimitable style.
 
Dig a bit deeper and you  catch glimpses of social satire – on human greed, on human frailty, on vanity, on capriciousness, of pride and of love based on material and physical aspects. And the ending with the kiss, with the Tramp acting the imperious millionaire, is an ending you can take in more ways than one.
 
Easy to see why the Tramp is such a loved character, even after almost a 100 years after he came on the screen and also easy to see why “Gold Rush” would remain one of the most well-loved of Chaplin’s movie.
 
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The roll dance

 

 

 

 

Roll Dance Gold rush

 

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curb_your_enthusiasm
Comedy, English Movies

Curb your enthusiasm conceived by Larry David

curb_your_enthusiasm This is one of the most successful American comedy series so it is a bit of a surprise that it is so little known in India.

This is all about the most cynical social misanthrope that you cant help but fall in love with!!! Larry David, creator of Seinfeld, plays himself, albeit in a highly exaggerated form.  He plays a semi-fictionalized self, living as a semi-retired writer who has made a lot of money after the uber-successful Seinfeld series. A lot of other characters play themselves – Ted Danson, Richard Lewis, Mary Steenburg notably. A lot of delightful guest appearances happen throughout the seven seasons (there is another one to come out in 2011) – people like Mel Brooks, John McEnroe, Martin Scorsese, Ben Stiller, Shaquille O'Neal, David Schwimmer, Lucy Lawless  and the Seinfeld cast play themselves in sometimes more than one episode…

The show in mainly centred around the relationship that Larry sharesCurb Your Enthusiasm - Season 6 - Jeff Garlin and Larry David - Claudette Barius/HBO with the people around him – his wife, his friends, his manager, his friends and a lot of people that he meets daily – waiters, drycleaners, drivers and so on. He is a misanthrope with highly eccentric ideas and theories especially about social conventions and suffers from a foot in the mouth syndrome. But he is eventually good at heart and frequently goes out of his way to help his friends and other people around him, though he still manages to put off the people who he is helping.

The main feature of Larry’s characters  is that he is absolutely socially incorrect. He would say and do things that people would not because, well, we have been taught not to do so. Larry is always getting into troubles for this reason, frequently being thrown out of people’s houses 22_curbyour_lg and having to try and try and make up with people who are upset with his improper frankness.

He would almost always say what he has in mind even if it is completely out of context (which is very usual) or offensive (from mild to extreme). He is constantly getting into one warped situation or another. His manager, the incorrigible adulterer Jeff Green (played by Jeff Garlin) is almost always a partner in all the troubles – either as a direct participant or as an advisor or a confidante. In almost all the serials, Larry gets a tongue lashing from Jeff’s foul mouthed wife Susie (played by Sussie Essman).

At the end of each serial, Larry ends up with more trouble than he started out with. At the end of each serial, you wonder how people tolerate him at all. And at the end of each serial, you wonder why hisCurb Your Enthusiasm - Season 6 - Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman - Claudette Barius/HBO frequently embarrassed wife, Cheryl (played by Cheryl Hines) doesn't leave him (she does in a season, but comes back eventually).

And at the end of each serial, you end up laughing and grinning away like crazy – at Larry’s antics, his theories, the embarrassing situations he gets into and the way things always seem to go wrong for him. And it takes just one serial for you to get comfortable with the characters and it is soon that you become addicted to the series. You just want to see what other troubles he can get himself into…

This is one comedy series that you can keep for a long time and which you can watch anytime. There is no irritating canned laughter and that's the way I like my comedies. I want to hear my laughter. And I was constantly hearing it throughout the seasons…

I was almost heartbroken when I got through with the seasons. Life seemed a little less joyful but hey I can always watch them as re-runs. After all they are all on hard drive!!!

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Russians are coming russians are coming
Classics, Comedy, English Movies, Satire

‘The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming’ directed by Norman Jewison

russians-are-coming-dvdcover This is a movie that you will not hear of easily and after watching it, you would wonder why…

This is about as good a political comic satire as you would get. True, the acting is woody and over the top at times but the storyline is funny and the over the top action seems appropriate for the mood of the movie.

A Russian sub runs aground off the coast of America, on a small New England island town, when the commander of the sub tries to get a closer look of his ‘enemy land’. Not wanting to create an international incident, a nine man contingent is sent to the island in order to secure a motorboat to help draw out the sub.

And that is when the fun starts…in spite of the best efforts (may I say comical) of the Russians to make themselves blend in, suddenly the island is in the throes of an irrepressible rumour – The Russians haverussiansposter invaded!!!

The movie panders to stereotypes, both of Russian and American, in order to bring out the humour but it works quite well. As is quite obvious, the story is about how rumour feeds off itself and how panic spreads by the mere repetition of the rumour. The sight of the hapless and bewildered Russians trying to make sense of it all in face of them being branded as the steamrolling invading force is incredibly funny. The American gung-ho style of meeting the invader head on becomes funny when they actually start to search all over the island for the enemy who were supposedly all over the place…

russians4 There is obviously a message in the movie, if you care to look for it – as to how stereotyping and propaganda creates caricatures of people whom who we consider as enemy. But the message is so obvious that you sit back and enjoy the comical satire and you wonder how the poor Russian are ever going to get out of this one!!!

Alan Arkin is the best character in the movie – the over-confident second in command who feels his English is top notch (the scene where he teaches emergency words to his colleagues is simply hilarious). He is the translator and the coolest brain in the sub.

I think that the thing to be considered is that when the movie was top10warcomedies_10 released, in 1966, the cold war was at its absolute peak, the time when Dylan was singing “Let me die in my footsteps” (about the government generated scare of Russian annihilation). This movie is about how senseless all the propaganda is and that, to me, is a brave statement to make. And the best way to make a statement like that is by humour.

That, this movie does brilliantly…

 

 

 

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the_ladykillers coen brothers
Comedy, English Movies

Ladykillers directed Ethan and Joel Coen

Ladykillers Except for a few unnecessary gags, this is one hell of an enjoyable comic movie. I understand that people compare it to the original and don't like it  as much for the same reason.

But hell, I have only seen this one and would then, fortunately, be able to judge it personally on its own merits…

The star of the show is undoubtedly Tom Hanks. He literally carries the whole movie on his shoulders. Playing a dandy professor with an overdeveloped sense of the literature (especially of Poe), Hanks (as Prof Dorr) is actually the head of a criminal crew who aim to rob a casino in a sleepy town in Mississippi. And the whole crew is uniformly and wonderfully eccentric especially Gawain(Marlon Wayans).

The gang is pitted against the landlady of the house from which the tunnel is to be dug (where Dorr has taken up tenancy as a cover),a pious black elderly widow (who is fat in the nice stereotypical black landlady way!!). A band of criminals against her…nice contest, wont you agree?!!!

The ups and downs of the gang through a series of mishaps makes this one seriously funny movie. There wont be any gags pulled nor any special action sequences. It would be just in words and facial expressions that you would get you giggling…and yes, watch out for Hanks. It was one of his best performances I have seen, in a role thatladykillers2 seems to be cut out for him. He is verbose, speaks in a eighteenth century tongue, is a wonderful orator and is also equally ruthless. Excellent combination!!!

Of course, beware – this is not a thorough light-hearted comedy. If you don't like darkness in your comedy, you may not enjoy it that much (and if you like it, you would enjoy this). I mean, this is not Mr Bean or Friends. This movie would fall into a dark-comedy-thriller genre if there is such a genre. It actually feels like a movie made in another era. Maybe because its a remake of the 1955 original. That feel only adds to the appeal that of this movie…

Though a few gags could have been done away with, this is a movie that you can watch many more times than once…if for no other reason, for the sight of Hanks' (or Dorr's) quotes and oratory especially his rendering of Poe’s “To Helen”…

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Charlie-Chaplin-in-Modern-Times
Classics, Comedy, English Movies, Popular

Modern Times directed by Charlie Chaplin

mo There are some movies that you can enjoy immensely as a child and then realize how much more there is to enjoy in the same movie, years down the line…

Perhaps that is why movies of Chaplin are ageless. You laugh and cry with him as a child and as a ‘grown up’, but as the latter, you realize the true genius of the man.

Art without commentary on things around it is worse than useless, a mere trinket, soon forgotten. This movie proves that the medium can provide entertainment and make a profound political statement as well, while never becoming preachy or descending into propaganda.

And the best way to make a statement, especially a political one, is to make it through a satire. And this is what this movie does brilliantly…

The very first scene gives a clear indication of what is to follow – a herd of sheep morphs into people coming out of a factory while the  voice over narrates the joy of pursuit of happiness via modern capitalism.

Chaplin is a worker in a factory, a place where literally everything ischaplin modern_times_2 controlled and the worker is no better than another cog. The boss is a like Big Brother, appearing on TV screens (even in the bathroom) and commanding the work to be speeded up (all the while himself doing nothing except work on jigsaw puzzles). There are many memorable scenes in the factory sequences – that of Chaplin trying to keep up with his work of screwing nuts, being force-fed by a feeding machine which is supposed to increase productivity (by cutting down on lunchtimes) and of course of Chaplin having a nervous breakdown.

This was made at the time of the Great Depression and Chaplin proves his genius by weaving into the story all the tensions, the helplessness, the dehumanisations that the common man went through in trying to chaplin_moderntimes_01 maintain his dignity. Right from trade-unions to robbers trying not to starve, to street-smart yet vulnerable gamins trying to get by, Chaplin brings in every aspect of society at that time – all the while, never losing his comic touch. He pairs up with an doughty orphaned  gamine girl (Paulette Goddard) – making a team of two, a team that is determined to survive at all costs.

Amidst all the gloom of the times, the two are refreshing in their innocence and their unwillingness to let go of their small dreams. The scene where the two dream of a home together is hilarious as it is touching.

The film ends with them walking towards the horizon, not giving in to failure. The last lines of the movie pretty much sums it all up –

Gamine: What's the use of trying?
Chaplin: Buck up – never say die. We'll get along.

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As simple as that…

When it ends, you realize that you have laughed with abandon at the all of the crazy scenes (the waiter scene, Chaplin’s nonsense song, the roller skating scene among many many others) and have also been touched profoundly.

It is a movie that makes as much sense today as it did seventy years ago. Except the superficial looks, nothing much has changed really…

A movie not to be missed. Chaplin and film-making at its absolute best…

 

 

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Comedy, English Movies

Sliding doors directed by Peter Howitt

slidingdoors A love story of karmic proportion so to say!! Has traces of the butterfly effect in the narrative – which is that one tiny change can make someone’s life go in quite different directions, in this case the sliding doors of the metro train, hence the name.

In this movie however, both the strands coincide at the end and all is well. This is a feel good movie that hilarious and might I say, cute!!! And since this is a Brit movie, might I say that the movie warms the cockles of the heart!!!

Helen Quilley’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) love life takes a dramatic turn or a slow spiral depending on whether she misses the train, which then depends on whether she meets James Hammerton (John Hannah), which then decides whether she finds out about her cheating boyfriend Gerry (John Lynch). So we have the two stories running parallel to each other without coinciding (until at the very end) and we can enjoy mov2_rev watching the progress of the two until they converge.

It is funny, humorous, romantic and a nice take on the quirks that fate can play on us. It is light watching and good for when you are in the mood for some laughs and some happiness. The best thing if of course the fact that it never becomes cliched and has no cheesy dialogues. John Hannah is simply superb in his role and you can watch the movie just for him…

Watch it with your family or someone who you love. You’ll take away good cheer and laughs from it…

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Comedy, English Movies

High Fidelity directed by Stephen Frears

high_fidelity Now I usually hate these kind of movies – them of the category of man not understanding about women while not realizing that he is a complete ass himself…

But somehow, this movie, strangely enough was enjoyable. Maybe it was John Cusack mouthing his quirky dialogues or maybe it was the good music that was played or maybe it was the fact that there was a sense of general madness all around. Whatever it was, the movie is a one time watch when you have nothing better to pass the time with on a lazy afternoon!!!

Having said that, there are no surprises in the plot and there are no revelations but you liked the ending anyway, even though it was expected.

Not on my ‘Wasted my time on’ list but definitely not worth a re-watch…

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