OTB#22: Modern Times

I think that guy might have nose powder.

Modern Times. Charles Chaplin. 1936. ⚄

Here’s the thing: Obviously Chaplin is a genius etc bla bla bla, but… they’re not movies that I would seek out to watch on my own, because… I just don’t enjoy them that much?

So I’ve never seen this one; perhaps this’ll be the one that’ll win me over.

[ten minutes pass]

Well! This is pretty funny, and super-duper stylish. The set designs here are exquisitely futuristic, and this 2K restoration (courtesy of Curzon/Artificial Eye) of the footage looks awesome. It’s a basically a silent movie? That is, it’s mostly played as if it’s a silent movie, but where you’d have titles, there’s instead a voice done after the fact. The scene where they have the inventor with his record that plays instead of him talking is a fun comment on the film itself.

And the comment on inhumane working conditions is er on the nose.

[a further twenty minutes pass]

OK, so this movie switches back and forth between being a classically silent movie to sections where there’s sound (albeit added after the fact).

Anyway, this is a very daring movie politically (and socially), and I like it a lot. I’ve only laughed out loud once so far (during the machine feeder bit)..

[more time passes]

I don’t quite get why it’s shown at such a frenetic pace. I mean, even if it was filmed at the silent movie frame rate, they could, like, have… Why did he film it at the silent movie frame rate, anyway? It’s exhausting to watch.

[the end]

I really liked this movie — more than any other Chaplin film I’ve seen. It’s smart, gorgeous, funny (I lol-ed out loud several times) and it’s got Paulette Goddard…

… she’s also wanted for Being Fabulous and Putting Her Head Shots Into The Arrest Sheet.

But. It’s still a collection of strung-together gags that don’t really build to something more. Sure, there’s a plot here (and it’s a good plot), but it feels too slight? That’s not what’s the focus here?

So I’m again a bit disappointed, even if I can totally understand why this is many people’s favourite movie ever. It’s got a lot going for it. It took almost a year to film, and you can tell: It’s so meticulous in making all the gags look effortless.

And this seems very apropos of today:

Cops, man.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

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