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  • The General

    The General

    ★★★★★

    (Sarris' American Cinema entry on Keaton. Rank: Pantheon.)

    Keaton appeared in close to sixty films after 1933, most memorably in San Diego I Love You, Sunset Blvd., Limelight, and A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, but only in Limelight with Chaplin was there a spark of the creative fire behind the deadpan mask. Even Samuel Beckett contributed to the desecration of the Keaton mask by involving the actor of absurdity before its time in a dreary…

  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

    Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

    (Sarris' American Cinema entry on Murnau. Rank: Pantheon.)

    The tradition Murnau represents is that of the director who decides how much of the world will be revealed to his audience. The aesthetic of camera movement over montage implies the continuousness of a visual field outside the frame of a film. What we see on the screen is what the director has chosen to show us. He could have shown us more or less or something else, but he chose to…

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  • Lawrence of Arabia

    Lawrence of Arabia

    If there had been no newspaper strike, and mine were a lonely voice instead of an only voice, Lawrence of Arabia might now be festooned with the superlatives accorded such previous superproductions as The Best Years of Our Lives, Around the World in 80 Days, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Ben Hur. But like its almost forgotten predecessors, Lawrence is simply another expensive mirage, dull, overlong, and coldly impersonal. Its objective is less to entertain or enlighten than…

  • The Chess Players

    The Chess Players

    ★★★★★

    Satyajit Ray's The Chess Players is said to represent a radical departure in the director's career from the Bengali-language works he has made up to now: It is his first feature in Hindi. The non-Indian viewer can hardly be expected to understand all the ramifications of this movie. The question then arises as to where The Chess Players fits in Ray's career as subtitled cinema. Actually, since much of the film is concerned with British colonialism, about a third of…