Monday, May 4, 2015

Before 'Age of Ultron': Chaplin

Unlike yesterday's Biopic, there is no murder.  Hurray!  Today's Film is Chaplin, a Film that has been sitting on my shelf for Months begging for me to see it.  I finally did.  This Oscar-nominated Film is, as you probably guessed, the Biopic of Charlie Chaplin.  Sorry, Ben Chaplin.  If you don't know, Chaplin was a world-famous Actor in the Silent Era, a more controversial figure later in life and a target in his latter days.  What's important is that this Film helped show that Robert Downey Jr was more than just some Comic Actor.  Remember him in stuff like Weird Science?  How about Saturday Night Live (in one of the least-liked Seasons ever)?  This is the one that made people stand up and take notice.  If he hadn't all of his personal problems, who knows where he'd be at now?  That's not to say that he hasn't gotten over them and done pretty damn well, of course.  By the way, this was Directed by Richard Attenborough.  To film snobs, he's the guy who made Gandhi.  To 98% of the people in the World, he's 'Richard Hammond' from Jurassic Park.  Does that help?  The question now is this- is the Film as good as people say?  To find out, read on (silently)...
We see young Chaplin getting into showbiz (sort of) quit early as she shows a talent as a child.
He works his way up from the Streets to the Cruise Liner and finally to Film.  Along the way, he loses touch with his ill Mother and a would-be-love-interest.
Instead of just going through the Story- which you can easily look up yourself-, let me talk about who's in this one.  Twenty-years before he'd play Errol Flynn, here is Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks.

Weird, right?
Chaplin's first wife is, well, jail-bait (their words) and she's...Milla Jovovich?!?  Weird.
The Framing Device for this Tale is Chaplin going over the Story with his Ghost Writer played by Anthony Hopkins.  There is your first Marvel connection...although they have yet to meet in a Film.
As time goes by, the Star known as Chaplin tries to get political with The Great Dictator.  This draws the further ire of Herbert Hoover and Americans against getting into the War (in 1936).
Chaplin goes through spouses and Films before making his last one in 1952- Limelight.  This comes during McCarthy's reign of terror in the Senate and his Return Visa is revoked, leaving him exiled from America!
It takes 20 years for him to be able to make a return visit when he's given an Honorary Oscar.  He finally gets respect again at age 83!
The Movie is nice enough to give you a wrap-up for all of the real people and admit that Hopkins was a made-up Plot Device.  That's alright.  The End.
A good Movie- plain as that.  What did you expect me to say?  The thing was Nominated for a few Academy Awards and won a BAFTA or two.  Weirdly, Richard Attenborough wasn't nominated for Best Director and this wasn't up for Best Picture.  Mind you, it was a pretty stacked year- including Unforgiven, Howard's End, Scent of a Woman, The Crying Game and A Few Good Men.  Still an odd omission if you ask me.  To make matters worse, other people in this Film would be in Films that would win the same year!  Hopkins was in Howard's End, which beat Chaplin for Best Art Direction.  This was also the year that Marissa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny, while also playing a small role here.  This was apparently also the year that they ran a Tribute to Women Montage...while nominating no Female Directors and giving an Oscar to the Film where the Female Lead is revealed to not be a lady (The Crying Game).  I'm just saying.  All of this is mentioned to show how this Film was really good, but apparently came out when people wanted to like everything else better.  It's okay- I still like it alot.  Downey Jr deserves lot of honor for this performance, even if they do make him look like Jon Stewart at one point...
Next up, I take a break from the Avengers-related stuff for Cinco De Mayo.  I found something that combines Texas, Mexico and a (likely) terrible Monster Movie.  Stay tuned...

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