||05-30-2011 07:30 PM
I decided to watch Modern Times last night.
Blew it through my PJ and stayed up late watching it. For some reason, I just absolutely LOVE to watch black and white movies on the PJ, even more than modern films for some strange reason...:o:p I suppose part of it is because I can pretty much go see whatever new/modern film in the actual theater if I want to go out.
I like the idea of watching well restored b&w BDs on the PJ as I feel as if I am sort of re-creating the experience that audiences during the era would have had.
Anyway, on to my thoughts regarding the film.
First, I want to say that I am a little torn in how I feel about this film. I felt as if the "plot" of the movie only served as a way to get Chaplin to the next bit. Sure there was a bit of a story, but the story was completely inconsequential to the film. It could have replaced by ANY thin plot device to get him from scene to scene. This was easily the films biggest weak spot IMO.
This could have been easily overlooked however, if you really have a love for Chaplin and his comedy style. For me the comedy was a hit or miss affair. I will not run through all of the various setups and situations here, instead I will just mention some of the gags I thought worked best.
Easily my favorite section of the film was when he was in jail the first time and eats the "salt" left behind by another prisoner. This scene had me laughing VERY hard all the way through. Chaplin's manic persona was perfect for this type of physical comedy. :rotfl::lolcry::rofl::D
I also got a huge kick out of the department store section where he wanders into the toy section. I don't want to give it away but WOW!!! I had no idea Chaplin had those kind of skills. With the way he kind of waddles around in this movie (my first Charlie Chaplin movie so I am not sure if it's just the way the character walks or the way Keaton always walks) I never would have seen that coming. :eek::cool:
I also liked the part when he puts on his bathing suit and jumps off the dock into the water. :rotfl: I totally didn't see what was coming and got some genuine chuckles out of it.
Another impressive segment was the final one as a waiter. I don't know if that was really him or a recording, but if it was really him it is yet another big WOW moment.
Now I would like to talk about the way the film was put together. It is a pleasing blend of silent film making techniques along side the more modern era "talkie" films, complete with some sound effects and even some dialogue. I think the reason Chaplin went this direction was because he was from the silent film era. That was his strong suit, his bread and butter so-to-speak. At the same time, he probably felt it was important to cater somewhat to the audiences of the day, who at that time were surrounded by films with sound and may not have fully embraced a completely silent film. I am just guessing/assuming all of this though, I do not know for sure and I never really watch the special features on movies. :o
As per Criterion's usual releases, this film has been restored/repaired/cleaned up and looks absolutely amazing on Blu-Ray! The films grain structure is still there, clarity is great, and it has a surprisingly high level of detail for a movie of its vintage.
Charlie Chaplin was a true performer/entertainer. This is very clear from watching only one of his movies. Although the comedy was a mixed bag for me, it definitely gets me interested in seeing more of his work. I am excited to see more of what made this classic film icon the legend he is today. For film buffs, or even just the curious uninitiated (as I was) I highly recommend checking out Criterion's release of Modern Times. As a historic document and showcase for Chaplin's enormous talent, it almost becomes "required viewing" for any moviegoer.
Overall I would give Modern Times a 2.75/4 stars. If you are already a Chaplin devotee, you can add an extra star to that score. ;)
Thanks for reading.
EDIT: There was a movie made about Charlie Chaplin that starred Robert Downey Jr. and the titular hero. I always thought that was an odd bit of casting until seeing Modern Times. It is almost uncanny how mush these two actors look like each other at times. Actually, I felt that Chaplin looked like a cross between Robert Downey Jr. and Mike Meyers. :p:D