City Lights: Seeing Past the Surface

Review of City Lights, Directed by Charlie ChaplinThere are two kinds of great movies. There are really old movies that were great in their day but are today museum relics admired by film snobs and nobody else, and there are the kind that people actually enjoy watching. It is the difference between Birth of a Nation (1915) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It is a rare film that was great in its day and still holds attention decades later.Is City Lights (1931) one of them? It is, … [Read more...]

On the Virtues of Bloodthirsty Soviet Propaganda

Review of The Battleship Potemkin, Directed by Sergei EisensteinOne of the great things about Netflix and YouTube is the instantaneous access to a wealth of old films that you used to be able to see only on a beat-up VHS player at your local university library. Seeing as we at Schaeffer’s Ghost make a pretense of telling you which movies are good which aren’t, I felt a duty to watch some of the old ones to beef up my cinematic education. That’s how I found myself spending a Sunday afternoon w … [Read more...]

The General: A Train Full of Laughs

Review of The General, Directed by Buster KeatonIn our effort to blog our way through the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films, I picked out one of the few movies on the list I had not only not seen, but never even heard of:  The General (1927).  For some reason I expected a somber silent drama about some military officer’s dreary, tragic life.  I think the one-word nondescript title sounds drab and pretentious, so I assumed the movie would be too.The General (available on Netflix stre … [Read more...]