Richard Schickel

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Ask The Dust Review


Grim
If Robert Towne's Ask the Dust is the end result of 30 years of labor to bring John Fante's celebrated novel to the screen, it gravely calls into question Towne's current abilities as both a screenwriter and director. Towne's adaptation sheds no new interpretive light on Ask the Dust's literary legacy, and, even on its own terms, this is an anemic romance, undone by awkward performances and flat-footed filmmaking.

Twenty-year-old aspiring Italian-American writer Arturo Bandini, Fante's literary alter ego, is brash yet sensitive, fundamentally moral yet driven by an unquenchable, uniquely American thirst for love, lust, and romantic adventure. Bandini's conflicting values jolt and jostle inside him, finding expression primarily through Bandini's typewriter, as he tries to alchemize his experiences into fiction.

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Charlie: The Life And Art Of Charles Chaplin Review


Excellent
One of the most inspiring moments in the films of Charlie Chaplin is the ending of City Lights. Released in 1931, Chaplin was by this time well beyond fame and fortune as a dominating force in Hollywood and assured of superhero status -- a living, breathing icon -- not just as the Tramp, but also as writer, director, producer, composer, and the most famous human being in the world. Now, daring to make a silent film in the sound era, City Lights would take him even higher.

It's the story of how the Tramp befriends a poor blind woman, the Girl, and, as he leads her to believe he's a well-off man about town, he entangles himself in a series of intricately choreographed escapades that can only be called Chaplinesque. Through it all he manages to steal enough money for the operation to cure her, and when arrested, proudly goes off to jail. The Girl knows nothing of this, of course. Months later, when she is no longer blind and working in a successful flower shop, the Tramp has been released and is still, well, a tramp. They accidentally meet. The Girl naturally expects her hero to be tall, rich, and handsome. When she sees short, poor, and dirty, the disappointment in her benefactor is palpable.

Continue reading: Charlie: The Life And Art Of Charles Chaplin Review

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