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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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  • 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…

  • The Birds

    The Birds

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    The Birds is here, and what a joy to behold a self-contained movie that does not feed parasitically on outside cultural references-Chekhov, Synge, O'Neill, Genet, Behan, Melville, or what have you. Drawing from the relatively invisible literary talents of Daphne du Maurier and Evan Hunter, Alfred Hitchcock has fashioned a major work of cinematic art, and "cinematic" is the operative term here, not "literary" or "sociological." There is one sequence, for example, where the heroine is in an outboard motorboat…