4 items from 2014
Our earliest memories of films we love usually come from a trip to the cinema. The strange, silent communion to which we are drawn again and again to live other lives, walk in other worlds and be changed forever. Well, that’s the plan at least…
A cinema trip is a ritual. Precious to some, holy to others. And whether you have your favourite seat picked out in advance, your preferred confection (except Revels – no-one really likes those do they?), go alone or with friends, flip out your phone with the Cinime app or sit in silent anticipation of the BBFC advisory, there is nothing quite like enjoying a film as it was meant to be seen.
Here are our choice moments from five films to feature scenes of our favourite pastime. Down at the front, phones off. The show is about to begin.
Dir: Joe Dante
Taking a »
- Michael Walsh
There’s a clip on YouTube in which an elderly Buster Keaton grabs a train as it pulls into the station, making it look as if the veteran silent film actor is physically forcing the train to stop. After a brief moment he grabs the train again and throws it back along the track in the other direction. In this split second, Keaton perfectly demonstrates what made him such a master of his trade. Intensely curious, Keaton had an understanding of his surroundings and a sense of comic timing that few actors have come close to matching over the last century. ’The great stone face’ could make a joke out of seemingly anything, and this was never more evident than in The General, now widely regarded as Keaton’s greatest film, which is rereleased this week following a stunning 4K restoration.
It wasn’t always so highly praised, on its »
- Matt Seton
The British Film Institute’s decision to pair Three Ages (1923) and Sherlock Jr. (1924) proved a wise one, as these two films serve as a great introduction to Buster Keaton. By 1923, Keaton was already famous for his short films, but Third Ages was the first feature film he directed, wrote and starred in. Sherlock Jr., produced a year later, cemented his reputation as a talented film-maker and was the first in a string of critically acclaimed and highly popular films, many of which are currently being shown as part of the BFI’s Keaton season.
Another added pleasure to this screening was the use of live music. An improvisational piano player performed throughout the film, similar to how silent films were originally watched. This created an authentic and enjoyable experience.
Three Ages, 1923.
Framed as a parable »
- Gary Collinson
Simon Columb kicks off our Buster Keaton month with a short introduction...
In his definitive book on Silent Comedy, Paul Merton, 88-pages in, titles a chapter “Enter Buster - and Others”. Many would imagine Buster Keaton, with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, are front a centre in a guide on the era. Indeed, while Chaplin is an icon, it is Keaton who holds critical favour. The end of his life was marred by financial struggle and yet now, many consider Keaton superior to Chaplin in his intelligent direction, innovative techniques and everlasting tone of comedy. In 1917, when Charlie Chaplin was well-known, Buster Keaton made his screen debut in the Roscoe Arbuckle short “The Butcher Boy”, hence his late introduction in Merton’s book. If Keaton was told in 1917 that he would be known in the same capacity as Chaplin, he would surely laugh it off as simply ludicrous. Or he’d stare at you blankly. »
- Gary Collinson
4 items from 2014
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