Daily Archives: June 17, 2019

Interview on Chaplin & Film Criticism for Estado de Minas

I was interviewed by Estado de Minas, the largest newspaper in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, shortly before and in connection with my plans to teach a ten-hour course on Charlie Chaplin there in mid-August 2012. (They ran some of my comments on criticism but omitted what I had to say about Chaplin.) Here are their questions and my responses….The first photo below shows Chaplin in a London film studio with Cy Endfield (on the left). — J.R.

1. Questions about Chaplin:

Why do we still love Charlie Chaplin? What makes him so relevant in 2012?

These are questions that I hope my course will help to answer. Right now, one of my main reasons for wishing to teach this course is that I don’t know the answers to these questions.


Why do you think Chaplin must be reintroduced to contemporary filmgoers? Isn’t he universally recognized and understood enough already?

It would be presumptuous of me to speak about whether or not Chaplin is adequately recognized today in Brazil —or, for that matter, in any country that I haven’t visited and/or whose language I neither speak nor read. But to make a generalization based on my experience, I would say that Chaplin tends to be universally recognized today as a great performer, but very widely unrecognized, undervalued, and misunderstood as a filmmaker.Read more »

May the Formula Be With You

From the June 10, 1988 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

WILLOW

* (Has redeeming facet)

Directed by Ron Howard

Written by Bob Dolman and George Lucas

With Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis, Billy Barty, Gavan O’Herlihy, Jean Marsh, Pat Roach, and Patricia Hayes.

As one of those spoilsports who actively disliked Star Wars when it burst on the scene 11 years ago, enjoyed The Empire Strikes Back (1980) even less, and happily managed to miss both Return of the Jedi (1983) and Labyrinth (1986), I can’t say that I approached George Lucas’s latest ecumenical blockbuster with expectations of much pleasure. Nevertheless, now that his latest fantasy epic has confirmed my nonexpectations, I can’t help but wonder why Willow has been getting such a drubbing from the same reviewers who responded to the early Lucas mega-hits with such enthusiasm. Is it really all that different from its predecessors?

Lucas’s reputation seems to be passing through the same sort of vicissitudes as Ronald Reagan’s: a few years of euphoric tub thumping while the future was getting steadily sold away under our feet, followed by recriminations and icon bashing, which seem motivated less by second thoughts than by certain automatic principles built into an economy of planned obsolescence.… Read more »