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Entries in Buster Keaton (5)

Tuesday
Apr232013

Curio: Julie Alberti's Faces

Alexa here. Julie Alberti is an artist who watches a lot of movies and loves unique faces. She works in porcelain, paper and clay to create some really clever pieces that celebrate her love of Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Shelly Duvall, Buster Keaton and Cole Porter, among others. 

 

She reuses old porcelain tableware like a master; I've fallen hard for these Steve Buscemi plates. Click for more including a Peter Lorre doll, Buster Keaton pendants, and Christopher Walken teapot!

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug082012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Sherlock Jr"

This week's "Best Shot" selection iss Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. (1924), a 44 minute silent comedy. Silent comedies were often so swoony with romantic plots that I always want to call them melodramedies or maybe romantic slapsticomedy. Rom-Slapstick? The film opens with a title card that warns us against multi-tasking. 

There is an old proverb which says: Don't try to do two things at once and expect to do justice to both."

That's an awfully funny thing to warn us against in a Buster Keaton film. The innovative entertainer was equal parts director, actor, star, stuntman and screenwriter. And he excelled at all of them.

The movie projectionist hero of Sherlock Jr isn't the great detective he'd like to imagine himself to be -- the crime at the heart of the movie has to be solved by another -- but that's what the movies are for, providing him with sweet escape until real life does come to rescue him. In a way, Sherlock Jr, is like the inverse of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), in that our movie lover hero enters the screen to fantasize about being his idol rather than a screen idol entering the real world for the heroine who fantasizes. 

It's impossible to imagine the craft we've lost nowadays given that everything is computerized and visual effects are easier than ever. I have no idea how Buster enters and exits the movie screen with such panache and believability but for perhaps a trick of lighting. And even more impressive is the elaborate stunt sequences. Though this is "Best Shot" rather than "Best Setpiece" old movies don't differentiate between the two as much since there are so fewer cuts. So for my Best Shot I had to select the sequence / shot that made me laugh the hardest, even though out of context it's completely terrifying:

The Projectionist has been riding on the handlebars of his friends bike and has yet to realize that his friend has long since been knocked off. After a series of hilariously close encounters and dangerous obstacles besetting a mostly obviously hero, we get a title card that can't possibly be actual dialogue (given that no other characters are in the frame) so I like to think of it as a projection of what we the audience are feeling.

I thought you'd never make it."

Immediately after that, Buster goes careening towards a moving train that never once looks like a rear projection and it's only then that he himself becomes terrified and covers his eyes. His long delayed terror is part of the joke as is the covering of his eyes (so heroic!) and the train is the coup de grâce. After the narrow miss (Did he really do this? If so he was certifiable!) he keeps on covering his eyes and finally realizes that no one is controlling the bike. A beautiful extended joke and a thrilling bit of cinema.

And the Projectionist is still not out of the woods because Buster Keaton never rests; the multi-hyphenate multi-tasking genius is too busy doing everything at once... and doing justice to all of them.

More 'Best Shot' entries for your reading pleasure. Support movie-loving blogs that care about movies beyond their opening weekends!

Coco Hits NY proves its tough to escape the debate of Chaplin vs. Keaton
The Family Berzurcher details why Keaton is so often compared to Jacques Tati and the heart and brains behind the gags
The Entertainment Junkie "it's a miracle Keaton's characters make it to the end of the films"
Awww, the Movies the black and white rose of ... sherlock?
Film Actually 'low key by today's standards' but it has everything: chase scenes, explosions, stunts, and more...

Antagony & Ecstasy once wrote about this in his film school days!
Okinawa Assault would anyone insure Keaton today with his daredevil stunts?
Pussy Goes Grrr  "Its slim 44 minutes lampoon the genre conventions of romance, melodrama, and detective fiction" 
Amiresque on Keaton's perfect movie face 
Against the Hype a choreographic delight... 
Encore's World Escapism! 
Armchair Audience it's hard to capture a best shot in this fast moving Keaton vehicle 

Next week on "Best Shot":
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) on the cusp of Gene Kelly's Centennial Week. It'll be a biggie so please join us Wednesday night, August 15th and select your favorite shot in the film many believe is the greatest musical of all time.

We're celebrating Gene Kelly from now through the end of August. 100th anniversaries for all time favorite movie stars don't come around so often, you know, so we Gotta Dance! Gotta Dance! Gottttaaaa Dannnccce! ♫

Wednesday
Aug082012

The Way We Link

Yahoo Movies President Obama is a fan of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman
NPR details about Marilyn Monroe as a very profitable posthumous industry. Who gets the money?
CHUD Joss Whedon signs for Avengers 2. But he'll have enough time to do other projects first.
Unreality Indiana Jones is teeny tiny in these amazing posters for the Raiders of the Lost Ark trilogy

Los Angeles Times The Great Gatsby is delayed, and The Master rises. A shifting Oscar race (yes, we'll talk about all this in a couple of days with updated charts!)
Movie|Line the Hitchcock Birds making-of movie The Girl previews for television critics
My New Plaid Pants Paul Verhoeven 'quote of the day' on the original Total Recall's three titties moment. I have to say that the remake's nod to this made no sense whatsoever given the change in planetary setting.
/Film Brave co-director Brenda Chapman leaves Pixar after what one assumes was a troubled relationship and lands at Lucasfilms
Monkey See on the responsibilities of being "the greatest film of all time". 

At the top, you have to be able to play two cultural roles at once: punching bag and celebrated ideal.

Good luck, Vertigo!

Yay, Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. First official photo.

 

 

 

More goodbyes
Hollywood Elsewhere RIP film critic Judith Christ
New York Times brilliant composer, EGOT winner and Pulitzer Prize recipient Marvin Hamlisch of A Chorus Line fame died at 68. Hamlisch was a frequent Oscar presence with 12 nominations over the course of his career but his 3 wins all came during the ceremony in 1974 for adapted score The Sting (1973) and song and score for The Way We Were. (1973). His last film score for The Informant (2009) won him lots of fresh praise and one assumes very nearly a 13th Oscar nomination since it scored other awards season kudos.

Thursday
Oct202011

Distant Relatives: The General and How to Train Your Dragon

Robert here with my series Distant Relatives, which explores the connections between one classic and one contemporary film. This week we continue the admittedly pointless but always fun Keaton vs. Chaplin debate and contrast it with the Dreamworks vs Pixar animation debate. The important thing is to remember that you can love all of these films and it's not a competition.

Last week I started off with Modern Times representing the Chaplin collection and WALLE as the Pixar film and declared them the "frontrunners" in our non-competition based on the fact that more people could identify Chaplin's Tramp and WALL•E than could Keaton or Dragon's protagonist Hiccup, which seems like a fair assessment. But that's about as far as I and many others are willing to go. Quality is a different question. Indeed the days of Chaplin towering over Keaton as a matter of fact are long gone, and probably were never really that significant to begin with (indeed Keaton was awarded a lifetime achievement Oscar before Chaplin). And let's not forget that the first Best Animated Feature Oscar wasn't awared to the Pixar powerhouse, but a Dreamworks film. If Chaplin and Pixar represent old-fashioned, sentimental storytelling, then Keaton with his stone-faced subtlety and Dreamworks with it's clever revisionism (think twisted fairy tales in Shrek or villian protagonist in Despicable Me) are, and have frequently been declared the more "modern" sides to this debate.

Men with Certain Talents

One immediate difference that viewers of The General and How to Train Your Dragon will notice from their Chaplin/Pixar counterparts is that these films' heroes, Hiccup and Johnny Gray have serious talents. They're not just characters of coincidence. Nor do they have only their determination to guide them. Oh, they have determination but their possession of a singular specific talent that elevate them above others in their world is a characteristic simply not found in last week's films. These abilities are thus: Keaton's Johnny Gray is a train engineer, and clearly an industrius one at that. Hiccup is something of a Dragon engineer, possessing the ability to train and ride the creatures that his people are at war with. 

In fact, both films are set during a time of war, In Dragon it's a war between those mythical monsters and Hiccup's people, the vikings. In The General, it's the American Civil War.

Unconventional war heroes and r-e-s-p-e-c-t after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun142011

l i n k 

Another day, another several celebrities with new ad campaigns.  Here's Angelina Jolie for Louis Vitton (reportedly she's not wearing any makeup here and wearing her own clothes) and Tobey Maguire for Prada.

How many of them do you think make more money posing for ads than actually acting? Even the ones who command huge actorly paychecks.

oh yes... a few links

Self Styled Siren a fun post on romantic choices, "sleeve tuggers" and The Phantom of the Opera (1943)
Alt Screen celebrates Buster Keaton in College.
Men's Journal spends manly time with Kyle Chandler.
Cinema Blend a retro poster for Captain America: The First Avenger
Super Mercado a fan poster for "The Case" that movie within the movie Super 8

Off Cinema
The Daily Beast thorough critical rundown of new TV season. Pan Am with Christina Ricci sounds great and they say it's sexy, too.
Basket of Kisses roots for Mad Men hard at the inaugural "Critics Choice" for television.
Londonist
8th Annual Naked Bike Ride. This looks like it would hurt. They do some naked bike riding in that Flemish movie The Misfortunates. Have any of you seen that? It's surprisingly affecting, despite being relentlessly sozzled and depressed.

Tony Aftermath
The ratings were up 10%. Yay!
BlogStage has video highlights of the Tonys. I added a couple of these to my live blog in case you're just joining us and want to catch up.
La Daily Musto takes off the blindfold on those Tony related "blind items"... this link is for theater obsessives only, though.
Sarah's Tumblr
thought the Tonys were fine but this shirtless photo of Gene Kelly made her night.
Movie|Line thinks the Oscars should take after the Tony Awards. But some of this oft-heard advice is impossible: You can't get rid of the precursors. Oscar has no say in those. They'd have to collapse on their own. Plus, the technicals should not be cut (though maybe the "short film categories" could go without spoiling that it's a night about cinema. Still I like my Oscars long. But they do need to have more spirited presentation. HIRE NEIL PATRICK HARRIS & HUGH JACKMAN AS A DUO. (see also TFE's live blog for their wonder-twin-powered duet)