The problem with the CHAPLIN TODAY series of documentaries is that they are largely dependent on the quality of their primary contributor for their worthiness. Why is this a problem? Well, it's not a problem if all of the contributors were of the standard of Bernando Bertolucci in CHAPLIN TODAY: LIMELIGHT; but too many of the contributors to the CHAPLIN TODAY series are minor film-makers with more apparent interest in talking about their own movies than Chaplin's, and with very little to share even about the most basic aspects of direction and cinematic art. CHAPLIN TODAY: THE KID is the most striking example of this: Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami admits to not having seen "The Kid" since he was 10 or 15 years old, and his "insights" into the movie interlard bland generalisations about cinema in general with essentially gratuitous comparisons to his own movies. Kiarostami is such a well-respected figure in world cinema that it seems impossible to believe that he has so little of interest to say on such an important icon as Chaplin; it is possible that he is the victim of poor editing, but his interview is nevertheless more suitable for inclusion on the second disc of "The Bread and Alley" -which it sometimes feels as if we see more of than "The Kid"- than for the purposes of this documentary. This is a shame, as there are some otherwise promising aspects to this feature. A scene where inhabitants of Tehran are stopped and asked who the subject of an opposing mural is, all answering to a man that it is Charlie Chaplin, reminds us of a similar scene where deprived children in Burkina Faso watch "The Gold Rush" for the first time in the CHAPLIN TODAY segment for that movie. Overall, the level of background information and trivia provided about "The Kid" is solid but unspectacular, useful to the uninitiated but unlikely to add anything to the average fan's understanding of -or love for- Chaplin.
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