We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Type, type, typity-type: As if the monotony of data entry weren’t enough to drive me to the brink of a nervous breakdown, the mechanical soundtrack of the office has become the theme music to my home life. Rain against the window sounds like the clattering of keyboards. A bird’s whistle compels me to reach for the telephone. And the purr of a woman’s breath has taken on the lifeless tone of a whirring printer. As my mind descends into the warm comfort of oblivion, I muster one last question: Was it the systematic automation of life, or the obtrusive sound of the workplace that drove the Tramp mad in Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 Depression-era satire Modern Times? After all, it was the introduction of the talkieand Chaplin’s decision to incorporate synchronized sound effects, music, and dialogue into his workthat marked the beginning of the end for the silent-film director’s career. The film screens in a restored 35 mm print at 6:45 and 8:45 p.m. (see Showtimes for other dates) at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Matthew Borlik)