Bernstein with Hooker, Chaplin, Friedkin, Lowery, Taylor

Terminator: Genisys (Alan Taylor, 2015). The reeling lesson of the just completed summer box office season is that the recycled repetition of brand-driven moviemaking may finally be sputtering its last. The ideal case study as to why arrived one year earlier. Arriving six years after the previous attempt at franchise revivification, Terminator: Genisys shows precisely how hollow the endeavor can be. The film trots out a procession of touchstones — familiar lines, restaged scenes, echoed character beats — without a hint of a central vision or an ounce of soul. Director Alan Taylor brings that same sluggish blandness that made … Continue reading Bernstein with Hooker, Chaplin, Friedkin, Lowery, Taylor

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Sixteen

#16 — The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940) There are several different stories that explain, at least in part, the genesis of The Great Dictator, but it surely must have started with the mustache. How bizarre to be Charlie Chaplin, sporter of a distinctive sprout of facial hair, an inky little dust broom right under the nose, watching newsreel footage of a hateful lunatic across the ocean who’s taken the same approach to his daily shaving regimen. Supposedly Chaplin took further inspiration from a viewing of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (that he cackled through, his own skill as … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Sixteen

Chaplin, Chazelle, Kosinski, Lubitsch, Pressburger and Powell

The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940). The audaciousness of Chaplin making a comedy that mocks Adolf Hitler — predicated at least somewhat on the two men’s shared taste in mustache grooming choices — is undercut, though only slightly, by the fact that he eventually regretted it, openly stating that he wouldn’t have created The Great Dictator had he been aware of the full extent of the Nazis’ crimes against humanity. Delivered as World War II was still in the ramping up process, the film is a brilliantly scathing satire, not just of Hitler’s brutal ambitions but of war itself and … Continue reading Chaplin, Chazelle, Kosinski, Lubitsch, Pressburger and Powell