It's tempting to think that movies from a century ago aren't much to look at by today's standards — that, by now, all they really can do for us is immortalize a whole artform's cringe-worthy juvenilia. We forget that the first evolutionary leaps toward modern movie sophistication are right there in the record, too, and what a rush it can be to revisit them. We forget how big a deal it was, for instance, when Charlie Chaplin introduced poignancy into movie comedy. Admittedly, it might seem like a schmaltz alert when Chaplin's 1921 feature debut, The Kid, introduces itself via title card as “a picture with a smile — and perhaps, a tear.” But the movie that follows, in which his iconic Little Tramp bumbles into becoming an adoptive father, is a small marvel of narrative nuance. Within the context of The Little Tramp at 100: A Charlie Chaplin Centennial Celebration (which includes four other films, and a Chaplin look-alike contest at 4 p.m.), The Kid in particular also sheds light on why Chaplin's signature character was iconic to begin with: for deriving humor and sadness from a single human source. Even a century later, this emergence of a modern cinematic storyteller still is a sight to see.
Sat., Jan. 11, 1 p.m., 2014