Silents That Are Truly Golden
U.S. Alternate Permanent Representative to the United Nations Robert Wood talks with Israel's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Ehud Azoulay, from left, prior to the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak) (Ronald Zak)
A sharpened, high-def special edition of Buster Keaton's "The General" from 1926 has just been released by film company Kino International, with three - count 'em, three - optional musical scores.
I can't imagine a grander holiday gift for a movie nut, unless you empty your bank account for Kino's whole glorious Keaton collection.
Nowadays, chase scenes are shot close in and chopped to bits and spatially incoherent.
The chase in "The General" - which is most of the movie - is easy, linear and in mesmerizing long shot. Long takes on horizontal tracks with the train moving smoothly forward while our engineer/acrobat hero scrambles and leaps among cars with that fixed, impassive, beautifully stoic face on that body that's infinitely flexible.
One reason Keaton makes me so serenely happy is that he doesn't accelerate to his climaxes. The gags just flow.
Other Keaton films might be funnier, but none are so stately.
On scores of other Kino DVDs, filmmakers are literally inventing the vocabulary of the medium before your eyes.
There's a new release of F.W. Murnau's "The Last Laugh," about a porter whose identity depends on his uniform; the designs, the forced perspectives are breathtaking.
And with vampires so mundane these days, pick up the ultimate edition of Murnau's Expressionist masterpiece "Nosferatu" from 1922, still the eeriest of all bloodsucker pictures.
I wish I had time to rhapsodize over Sergei Eisenstein's revolutionary tone poem "Battleship Potemkin" … Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," both entrancing and madly dislocating … Abel Gance's chilling anti-war epic "J'Accuse" … the simultaneous primitiveness and sophistication of film fantasy pioneer Georges Melies …
The boxes themselves are works of art; they tantalize us with the promise of movies that, however old, are endlessly strange and new.
- "No problem": Yes, it's a BIG problem
- Dressing down a culture for refusing to dress up
- Remembering Danny Kaye on his centennial
- Jim Gaffigan: Stand-up dad
- Backup singers get their time in the spotlight
- Jim Gaffigan: Standing up to fatherhood
- Much ado over Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing"
- New Sesame Workshop film helps children of jailed parents
- The popularity of "Mommy Porn"
- The astronaut wives club
- The art of shaving is alive and well
- A new hope for back pain sufferers?
- Adam Levine speaks
- Almanac: Pepsi-Cola
- Up next, recap and links
- The cost of a nation of incarceration