3 items from 2014
Though The General is the highest ranked comedy in Sight and Sound’s recent poll of ‘The Greatest Films of All-Time’, it is interesting to note how it failed to recoup the costly production in 1927. An expensive bridge-destruction rivalling The Bridge on the River Kwai and casting armies of Union troops and Confederate’s fighting in a raging war clearly took its toll. With the financial success of Battling Butler, Buster Keaton confidently took on a larger budget and made a comedy that, in scale, only Charlie Chaplin could rival. It was only in the 1950’s and beyond that audiences realised how perfectly placed and beautifully balanced The General is. The acclaim it has accumulated and achieved in the last sixty years is not without merit – and now is the time to see Keaton’s masterpiece.
Keaton plays Johnny Gray, »
- Gary Collinson
Inside Llewyn Davis (15)
Bob Dylan hadn't written Like A Rolling Stone when this is set (New York, 1961), but Isaac's eponymous hero could almost be the inspiration. He's the archetypal drifter: a complete unknown with no direction home and little prospect of realising his folk-star dream, despite, or perhaps because of, his artistic integrity. The Coens let us know exactly how it feels. This is their most mature drama to date: subdued, sincere, bleakly funny, and as finely crafted as we've come to expect.
August: Osage County (15)
Heavy acting artillery is positioned for a full-on awards assault, with Streep's malign matriarch marshalling her fractured family for some mourning and bloodletting. »
- Steve Rose
Buster Keaton's pioneering 1926 film, now rereleased, more or less invented the action movie and looks even more startling than ever
The pioneering genius of Buster Keaton's 1926 silent film The General – now on rerelease – looks even more startling than ever. With his athleticism, precision and comic timing, Keaton more or less invented the action movie here and, despite its modest running time, this has an epic ambition. If remade, like Peter Jackson's King Kong, it would probably be double the length. Keaton is Johnnie Gray, a locomotive driver in the south during the civil war, who has the long hair, dreamy gaze and slight build of a romantic poet. When his engine, "the General", is stolen by northern saboteurs, Johnnie single-handedly journeys behind enemy lines to retrieve it and rescue the woman he loves: Annabelle (Marion Mack). She had in fact declared herself disgusted by his failure to enlist, »
- Peter Bradshaw
3 items from 2014
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