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Entries in silent films (45)

Monday
Sep052016

"Colossal Spectacle!"

Happy Labor Day, all! To mark this occassion I will be working very hard today because I have much to accomplish before I leave for TIFF, the best film festival on the planet, according to me, for its ease, it's breadth, and the quality of its movies. Any big plans today, whether or not its Labor Day where you live?

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1916 One hundred years ago today the other über famous and influential D.W. Griffith epic, the one its OK to care about, opened. Intolerance, sometimes subtitled "love's struggle throughout the ages," was three and a half hours long and prominently advertised its then insane budget of $2,000,000. Wouldn't it be funny if today's movies were all "we cost $300,000,000 to make" (and all you get is a glossy commercial for merchandise / sequels)" on the posters? The epic stretched from Ancient Babylon through the Christ story and on to 1914 in its quartered parallel storylines to paint a morality story for audiences. The sick cosmic joke in retrospect was not that Griffith was apologizing for his own racist intolerance in The Birth of a Nation but offering a rebuke to people who he felt were intolerant to him because of that picture.

SIGH (Dir. Nathaniel R, running time ∞)

Other debuts on September 5th
Outlaw Jesse James who has been played by a gazillion actors, Old Hollywood titan Darryl F Zanuck, the inimitable prolific auteur Werner Herzog, charmed and outspoken Rose McGowan, Reigning Oscar good luck charm Michael Keaton (Birdman, Spotlight), Dan Gilroy's sick gripping Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal, 60s sex goddess and Myra Breckenridge herself Raquel Welch, Jack Kerouac's On the Road is published, Disney's pre-Mickey Mouse character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit premieres in his first short, one time Bond George Lazenby, and Black Book/Game of Thrones sensation Carice Van Houten.

And we'll close out our birthdays in history list with the iconic Freddie Mercury (remind me again why the Queen frontman STILL doesn't have a biopic?). This music video was chosen because it felt like something D.W. Griffith would approve of in all its "subtlety" and largesse...

Happy birthday / anniversary to all!

Sunday
May222016

Great... Train Robbery, Detective, Balls of Fire

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1859 Arthur Conan Doyle is born. Probably rolls over in his grave 150 years later when Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes premieres and the great detective becomes a slo mo action hero
1868 The Great Train Robbery happens. It's the subject of a highly influential 10 minute silent film (embedded above) as soon as people figure out what to do with cameras and celluloid in 1903. Cross-cutting, breaking the fourth wall, inventing the western action movie genre? It's all happening right here. 
1907 Laurence Olivier is born. Not yet a "Sir" but already expecting a cooing audience
1945 Paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren are married. They become the fab Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016) 

1958 Jerry Lee Lewis tells the world he's married his 13 year old cousin Myra. Later they look just like Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder in a movie
1967 Brooke Smith, the girl in the pit, is born
1973 Nikolaj Lie Kass, Danish actor of underappreciated hotness (Brothers, The Idiots), is born 
1998 The Opposite of Sex hits theaters, Christina Ricci gets a well deserved Golden Globe Best Actress nod for her inspired star turn 
2005 The razor sharp Cronenberg film A History of Violence was stiffed of any prize at the Cannes Film Festival despite a strange round of winners which at least included Michael Haneke as Best Director for the brilliant Caché. Both films went to to make the Best Picture lineup right here at The Film Experience.
2016 The 69th annual Cannes Film Festival closes. Awards ceremony tonight in France so come back for the winners in the late afternoon!

Friday
Mar042016

Links: Nina, Natalie, Sebastian, and Shang-Chi

THR profiles the last living silent star: Baby Peggy who is now 97 years old and at peace with the lost fortune her parents spent
The Cut talks to the immortal Bernadette Peters about her diet and exercize regimen. Takeaway: never aging in the past 30+ years is strictly regimented work!
Decider Today in TV History looks back at that great Natalie Portman episode of SNL  


AV Club Steven Spielberg's career in 30 iconic shots
Angry Asian Man the nonsense Asian actors have to deal with for bit parts 
MNPP The Sebastian Stan Strut 
THR Have you been keeping up with this Nina biopic drama? The Nina Simone estate is NOT having it with the new biopic starring Zoe Saldana (opening in April). But Simone's daughter feels bad for the backlash against Zaldana 
Variety R2-D2's model builder Tony Dyson dies at 68 years of age 
i09 More diversity blunders/handwringing: Marvel is adding an Asian character to Iron Fist but Iron Fist himself they still cast with a white actor (Finn Jones) despite everything about his history screaming to correct the character (the 1960s were a lot different people. You don't have to adhere to fear of creating ethnic heroes now! 

Gayness
The Advocate Caitlyn Jenner continues to reveal that she's one dense trans woman and hasn't absorbed all the wisdom the LGBT community has been trying to give her. She's supporting virulently anti-gay Ted Cruz for president
Towleroad Mark Hamill "Of course Luke Skywalker might be gay". Oh my. Despite being a big 'mo I have to say that I am entirely unamused by this retroactive teasing that's becoming popular from storytellers -- like JK Rowling's thing with Dumbledore. If storytellers are going to have a gay character just have a gay character. Stop being so coy and don't try and take credit for having gay characters when you don't actually have them.
Playbill Luke Evans tweets out a picture from a recording session of Disney's upcoming live action Beauty and the Beast (2017) - a 93 piece orchestra! (the movie's getting three new songs) 

Friday
Feb262016

Bye Instant Watch: Popeye, I Am Divine, Indecent Proposal, Etc...

Oscar weekend is a busy time but it's also your last opportunity to watch these titles free if you have Amazon Prime or Netflix. As is our silly habit, we've freeze framed a handful of them at a totally random place to whet your appetite. If this scene looks intriguing maybe you should carve out a couple of hours...

Leaving Netflix (after the jump)

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec202015

National Film Registry: A Sirk, Some Ghostbusters, and Zorro

Nooooo. I almost forgot to share the National Film Registries new titles. Each year they add 25 pictures  that are deemed historically, culturally or aesthetically important. Each year I suggest that we should watch all the titles together. Well, the ones we can find at least. Perhaps we'll actually do that for 2016 -- you never know! Getting a spot on the National Film Registry is more symbolic than active. It does not guarantee preservation or restorations but it does suggest that these films should all be preserved and/or restored.

The 2015 additions are:

 

  • Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (1894) - watch it now. it's six seconds long... the earliest surviving copyrighted film
  • Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906) -watch it now. (7 minutes) from a short Winsor McCay comic strip
  • A Fool There Was (1915) -watch it now. (66 minutes) Theda Bara tempts a married man! It's always the woman's fault, don't you know 
  • Humoresque (1920) - not the Joan Crawford film inspired by this story!
  • The Mark of Zorro (1920) -watch it now (88 minutes) the Douglas Fairbanks version
  • Black and Tan (1929) -watch it now -(15 minutes) short jazz film with Duke Ellington
  • Dracula (1931) - the Spanish language version
  • Our Daily Bread (1934) - King Vidor's socialist drama
  • The Old Mill (1937) - animated short Oscar winner
  • Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) - Preston Sturges comedy
  • The Story of Menstruation (1946) - documentary short
  • John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946) - animated short Oscar nominee
  • Winchester '73 (1950) -western with Jimmy Stewart and Shelley Winters
  • Imitation of Life (1959) - Douglas Sirk's awesome melodrama
  • Seconds (1966) -thriller starring Rock Hudson
  • Portrait of Jason (1967) - LGBT documentary
  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968) - a documentary about filmmaking
  • The Inner World of Aphasia (1968) -documentary about aphasics
  • Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (1975) - a biographical doc
  • Being There (1979) - the Hal Ashby dramedy with Peter Sellers
  • Ghostbusters (1984) - the comic blockbuster currently undergoing a gender flip
  • Top Gun (1986) -you feel the need. the need for speed
  • Sink or Swim (1990) - documentary about formative childhood
  • The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - that insanely beloved prison drama
  • LA Confidential (1997) - the awesome neo noir

 

Big thanks to Matthew Rettenmund of Boy Culture for pointing out this insanely cool bit of trivia about the list:

Of special note: Mother and daughter Lupita Tovar (the world's oldest living actress at age 105) and Susan Kohner were in the Spanish-language Dracula (1931) and Imitation of Life (1959), respectively.

You may recall that Mexican actress Lupita Tovar recently took up the throne or oldest living screen star after the death of Luise Rainer. The super cool thing to know about Lupita Tovar is that she is the grandmother of Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, both filmmakers (Paul wrote and directed Grandma this year) so her cinematic legacy lives on.

Though the titles are selected by the National Film Preservation Board and Library staff, the public can nominate titles here if you wanna get a jump start on their 2016 list. The movies have to be at least 10 years old so no "OMG THE FORCE AWAKENS WAS AMAZING!" because they will shut that right down. 

Monday
Oct192015

Linkwire

Film Grimoire bookmarking this "on location" series since I'm going to London soon and there's lots of fun places from famous movies
You Must Remember This Karina Longworth researches Hollywood's first openly gay star William Haines (way back in the silent era) 
The Guardian on Spear, the "Australia's first indigenous dance film" - we wanna see
Quartz a photographers new project "edits" out smartphones showing us our lonely new world of disconnection

 

Variety checks in with sales of Mexico's Oscar hopeful 600 Miles feat. Tim Roth
ICYMI <-- we previously covered the foreign submissions w/ recognizable stars like Roth
Buzzfeed Dreamboat Aaron Tveit sings stripped-down "Defying Gravity" from Wicked
Playbill looks at Broadway's oldest living leading ladies: Lansbury and Rivera aren't the only ones
AV Club childhood memories of Willow (1988) and an adult revisit
i09 the first image from The War of the Planet of the Apes looks familiar 
i09 on the superheroes that should get TV series rather than movies. Okay, I'd watch She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel.
i09 Captain America is outraging conservatives again, who forget that he's always been a political character
Variety The 33 and Where to Invade Next added to growing AFI Fest. Nathaniel and Anne Marie will cover this last minute Oscar nom -seeking festival for you as usual. 
Forbes YouTube's highest earning stars. I feel so removed from this wing of showbiz that it always startles me to realize that a) there are famous people that I wouldn't recognize even if they were standing right in front of me screaming their name and b) those same people are NOT from sports or reality television... the other areas to which I am blind

Lukewarm Off Presses
• Page Six I somehow missed this story of Daniel Craig getting in hot water with Sony execs with his repeated groaning about having to play James Bond again. But I like it. (It sucks when you have to work once every three years for shitloads of money, right). In related 'anything else!' news, Craig has signed on for a new production of Othello on the stage. He'll be playing Iago to David Oyelowo's Othello.

Celebrity Pic o' the Day

 

 

An excellent idea, prolly.

Garret Dillahunt is a marvelous actor and though Hollywood likes him best as a sinister possibly dim psycho (The Road, Amazon's Hand to God), he's just as good at decent if ineffectual lawmen (Winter's Bone and No Country For Old Men) and has proved his comedy bonafides on television in Raising Hope and The Mindy Project and also does stage work. In short: we are fond of him and he has more range than the roles he's offered. This great selfie he posted yesterday is exactly how it feels to watch him in his most unnerving roles, though. Love his caption "An excellent idea, prolly" Heh!