Charles Chaplin

Streaming Cinema Playlist: The Inspirations of Michel Gondry

Welcome to Flavorwire’s “Streaming Cinema Playlist,” an occasional feature where we offer suggestions for supplementary online viewing to a new film, sometimes with the assistance of the filmmakers themselves. This month, we take a look at several films that inspired the great Michel Gondry — both throughout his career and in the making of his new picture Mood Indigo — and we’ll direct you to where you can watch them right now. … Read More

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Flavorwire Author Club: How James Agee Changed Film Criticism

What’s most impressive — and, in many ways, intimidating — about James Agee isn’t just the sheer versatility of his work, from poetry to nonfiction to novels to screenplays. It’s that he was so brilliant at all of them. This wasn’t a writer who just tossed off his side projects; his film criticism, which appeared primarily in Time and The Nation from 1941 to 1948, was far from a paycheck gig. Within the confines of contemporary film writing, Agee not only carved out a voice of his own, but helped establish the parameters of modern film writing. “For aficionados of film criticism,” writes Jerry Roberts in The Complete History of American Film Criticism, “he may well be the greatest American critic, or at least the greatest until Pauline Kael came along in the 1960s.” … Read More

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“Kid Auto Races at Venice”: Revisiting the Short That Introduced Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” 100 Years Ago

The camera first finds the little fellow on the edge of the frame. A cop moves him along, and he wanders, quite accidentally, into the dead center, where he stands for a moment before turning around, presumably at the behest of the cameraman. And then, for the first time, he realizes he is on camera. He smiles, then immediately straightens up, doing his best to look distinguished, and spends the rest of the film “accidentally” walking into the camera’s view and pulling focus. The film, a modest split-reeler called “Kid Auto Races at Venice,” was released on February 7, 1914 by Keystone Film Company. The star was a new Keystone contract player trying out a new character. His name was Charles Chaplin. … Read More

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The 50 Most Heart-Wrenching Movies of All Time

It’s fall, and there’s something in my eye. Or it’s allergy season. Or I’m newly sensitive to hyper-emotional filmmaking. Or maybe it isn’t just me; every year, when prestige movie season begins, we find ourselves sniffling and dabbing through moving, heartstring-tugging pictures, though this year seems to already have a surplus of big-time weepies. In the spirit of those pictures, here’s a rundown of the 50 most cry-worthy flicks in movie history — not just the saddest, mind you, but those most likely to move us to tears, be it through tragedy, triumph, or the sheer goodness of their… Read More

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10 Classic Hollywood Scandals That Would Make TMZ Blush

In his new book Room 1219, author Greg Merritt takes an exhaustively detailed and utterly fascinating look at what he calls “the scandal that changed Hollywood”: the Labor Day 1921 death of actress Virginia Rappe, and the trials (and ultimate ruin) of comic superstar Fatty Arbuckle for his part in that death. The scandal was a turning point for the young movie industry. And it was just the beginning of this nascent culture war; click through for a few more classic Hollywood scandals that would make TMZ… Read More

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12 American Hit Movies That Caused International Controversy

Zhang Jieli, an officer in the People’s Liberation Army, took to the pages of the People’s Liberation Army Daily to warn Chinese moviegoers that Guillermo del Toro’s monsters-fighting-robots epic Pacific Rim is, in fact, a big ol’ slab of American propaganda that “exported the U.S.’s rebalancing of its Asia-Pacific strategy.” For decades now, American movies have set off controversies, battles, and outright bans around the world. Here are a few prominent… Read More

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17 Amazing Stories of Lost and Found Films

Exciting news for silent comedy fans, movie buffs, and people who generally like things that are awesome: film historian Fernando Pena has discovered an alternate version of the classic Buster Keaton short The Blacksmith, featuring numerous never-before-seen gags and a new ending. The film, buried in a large purchase of European prints from eBay, is the kind of discovery that makes movie lovers’ hearts dance; there are so many great old films either lost entirely or no longer in their original form that these kind of finds in archives, collections, and odd spots make the impossible (the original cuts of Greed or The Magnificent Ambersons, say) seem possible. Here’s a few more exciting moments of cinematic archaeology. … Read More

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50 Great Movies You Can (Legally) Watch for Free Right Now

Every week, this site does its best to point you in the direction of movies worth your time that are streaming on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the like. But what about those who aren’t ponying up the ten or 20 bucks a month for those services? Well, there’s an overabundance of free movies streaming at this very moment as well — many of them legally (it seems!), thanks our old friend “the public domain,” whereby films whose copyright has lapsed (or never existed in the first place) can be made available for public consumption. Others are hosted gratis by services that simply want to share the wealth of great cinema. Whatever the case, with an awareness of how much everyone loves free stuff, here are 50 free movies that are well worth a… Read More

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The Quintessential American Movie of Every Decade, 1920s-Present

BAMcinématek’s A Pryor Engagement retrospective, which we told you about a couple of weeks back, is unfortunately coming to an end this week — but not before tonight’s screening of a film that most consider not only lesser Pryor, but a fairly middling and forgettable effort in general. Your film editor disagrees. The picture is called Brewster’s Millions, a 1985 comedy that pairs up Richard Pryor and John Candy, and it’s not just a funny kick of a buddy movie (though it is that); it is, we contend, nothing less than the quintessential American 1980s motion picture. We’ll explain why in due course. In the meantime, inspired by this particular take on Millions, we decided to comb through the annals of cinema history and determine which films were most specifically of their decades. We’re not saying that these are the very best films of their time (though some were); rather, we feel that each is specific to their time, and summed it up in a unique way. We’ll go from the 1920s to the 2000s, and explain our choices along the way. … Read More

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