"You think you don't want to see a Chaplin movie," writes Andrew O'Hehir in Salon. "You imagine it'll be insipid, boring and somehow culturally embarrassing. Trust me on this: Just sit down and watch The Circus , the rarely seen feature that kicks off Janus Films' major Chaplin retrospective, which opens this week at New York's Film Forum and will then tour the country. Do that, and the years melt away; whatever may at first seem off-putting about watching a black-and-white silent evaporates into pure joy. I laughed! I cried! (Though I laughed a lot more.) I am totally not kidding!"
"The Circus may be the film that most definitively silences critics who claim that Charlie Chaplin's movies aren't cinematic," argues Christian Blauvelt. "It is Chaplin's great elegy to the lost art of music-hall pantomime and, for that matter, the soon-to-be lost art of silent-film comedy." Also in Slant is Blauvelt's case for Chaplin argued over the span of a biographical arc.
"The Circus has a reputation among Chaplinphiles suggesting it's the neglected middle child between two canonized films (The Gold Rush  and City Lights )." Keith Uhlich in Time Out New York: "Yet from the moment the Little Tramp (Chaplin) unashamedly scarfs down a hot dog held by a cute infant, it's clear that we're watching a performer at the peak of his powers.... There's an edge to The Circus that suggests a man gazing deep into the void, laughing at the darkness and urging us to do the same."
Let me also recommend Alan Vanneman's "Occasional Series on the Life and Work of Charlie Chaplin" in Bright Lights Film Journal. His latest piece is on The Great Dictator (1940) and its last sentence is: "I've written previously about Charlie's films for Bright Lights here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here."
Meantime, the recently discovered 1914 short A Thief Catcher, featuring Chaplin in "a brief cameo as a buffoon Keystone cop," will be screened tonight at Slapsticon in Arlington, Virginia. Brett Zongker reports for the AP. And Luke McKernan is looking forward to Flicker Alley's release of Chaplin at Keystone and offers several reasons as to why.
For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow The Daily Notebook on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.