Tuesday, 9 July 2013

We like the same things and I like your style

So I'm still long term crushing on Zooey Deschanel since watching (500) Days of Summer all that while ago. I love her films, I love her comedy (Jessica Day from New Girl is my hero I swear), I love the work she does for women and now I have to say I love her music too. There's something really charming about her low voice and the pretty lyrics she says - listening to her feels like lying on the grass on a balmy summer evening. Also, how cute is this video? Vintage dresses, dancing and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are such a winning combination.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

If you want to understand me, watch my movies

I've not really got that much experience watching old silent films; the silent film I know best is probably (embarrassingly) The Artist which was made a couple of years ago. Oops. I do love that period of cinematic history however, when films were still an unknown entity and everything made felt like an innovation, an exploration into uncertain territory. I therefore settled down last night to watch Chaplin - the biopic made of Charlie Chaplin's life starring Robert Downey Jr - thinking it would provide at best an interesting peek into the cinematic scene and culture of the time and at worst two hours of Robert Downey Jr. And while it certainly does both, it was also so much better than what I expected.

Chaplin details the story of Charlie Chaplin's life through a series of flashbacks as he helps his editor (Anthony Hopkins) fill in the gaps of his autobiography. It starts at his childhood and his relationship with his mother (played by Charlie Chaplin's own daughter Geraldine Chaplin) and continues through to his entry and success in the film industry, his multiple love affairs and marriages, and the difficulties caused in his later life by his controversial political opinions. Although the argument can definitely be made that the director tried to fit a little too much into one film (it clocks in at almost two and a half hours), the span of time covered showcases the rapid changes made in the entertainment industry represented by Chaplin's career: from vaudeville halls in London to the first slapstick comedy films in Hollywood to the advent of the talkies. It's also clear that the film makers are true Chaplin devotees; slapstick chases and old fashioned scene transitions act almost as a love letter to the film making techniques of the time and are a reminder of the warmth and charm these films had.

For all of this however, I doubt Chaplin would be as successful as it is were it not for Downey Jr's performance. It's funny - given his extraordinary popularity right now, people seem to have forgotten how wonderful he was when he was first starting out. This must certainly be one of his finest performances: not only does he perfectly capture Chaplin's physicality and movements, he also perfectly captures his character, portraying his compassion, determination, melancholy and humour with compelling honesty - the entire film rides upon his performance and he carries it off with confidence. Even if the rest were awful, this would be a must-see just for him.