I will not be leaving my house tonight to sit in a theater and watch a silent movie while a pianist plays along. This is, sadly, an unfortunate state of affairs. But I did have the rare privilege of leaving my house every night for the past 6 NIGHTS to enjoy a silent movie, with an appreciative audience, and amazing live accompaniment thanks to the Toronto Silent Film Festival. How great is that? Indeed, we partied like it was 1926, or at least went to the movies like was 1926, and it was good.
Here are a few of my personal highlights from this year’s festival:
- The actual gasp from about half the audience at the über tragic ending of Tabu. Silent film fans know you’ll never get a happy ending from a German filmmaker, and certainly never from F.W. Murnau. The silent film newbie tag-a-long I brought with me – well, her jaw actually dropped. Does this mean there were lots of noobs in the audience? I hope so.
- Meeting the actual people behind many screen names, in particular my Twitter pal @missmccrocodile and her fab sister @caftanwoman. It turns out Twitter handles do have faces. @missmccrocodile told me her dad woke she and her siblings at midnight whenever a John Ford movie was on TV, prompting me to call my own father and ask why my film education was so neglected.
- Seeing Lotte Reiniger’s Cinderella on a big screen with an audience. This was just a really special treat for me. I’ve long been a fan of Reiniger but have never had the opportunity to see a screening of any of her work. I mean, when does that happen? To observe an audience interacting with Cinderella adds a new dimension to my understanding of her work.
- The amazing accompaniment from Bill O’Meara. All of the accompanists were amazing and talented, but Bill O’Meara’s play along for 1000 Laffs: Playmates was a revelation. He has a very special way of playing to the emotional reaction of the viewer, not just the action on-screen. If any doubt remained about the value of an accompanist, Bill O’Meara blew it out of the water.
- The closing night film Variety. Emil Jannings, in spandex, on a trapeze. ‘Nuff said.
Typically, I don’t say a lot of negative things about the movies I watch. Since I watch classic movies and silent films, the sometimes over one-hundred year old use-by date doesn’t leave a lot of unknowns. And if a “classic” movie doesn’t sound like something I want to see, I just skip it and move onto the other roughly billion or so old movies in my queue. So it was a weird and convoluted set of circumstances that led me to watch Mister Roberts, which is fitting because – wow -this is a weird and convoluted movie. Picture this… Read the rest of this entry
In my continuing quest to pass as Canadian, I’m spending the last half of this week “out in it.” That’s right, as you are reading this and enjoying the best the interwebs has to offer, I’m in an unairconditioned lodge in the middle of the woods, boiling my own drinking water! I like a day on the lake as much as the next film gal, but… no movies for four days! That’s doesn’t mean that I’ve left my blog readers hanging. I crash crammed my way around the interwebs and dug up these gems for you. Happy weekend and happy viewing (and think of me as you kick back with Netflix)!
- Tales of the Easily Distracted brings us this consideration of Double Indemnity. Note to self, watch Double Indemnity again.
- Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear brings us a another review of a John Ford silent movie, Four Sons. Even better he’s posting this on YouTube along with The Iron Horse. And even better better, he’s also posted hard-to-find The Phenix City Story. Check out the YouTube channel and send some thanks Nate’s way.
- The Movie Morlocks site featured a great little Chaplin piece this week, Chaplin Vs. The Mimics. Chaplin is now so iconic and deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness, it’s difficult to think of The Tramp being an invention. Of course it is, and this article is a fascinating read about Chaplin’s struggles with imitators and the sticky wicket of considering who influenced whom and when.
- Sadly, the Silents and Talkies blog is now defunct, but the archives live on for your enjoyment – including the two part “Is that mustache really necessary” series. Read part 1 here and part 2 here, and think about it. Don’t mustaches always kind of look like a caterpillar crawled onto a dude’s face? And be sure to check out the new Scathingly Brilliant blog of @kategabrielle.
- The Toronto Film Scene site has a sweet little piece about film noir by writer Bennett O’Brian. It not only makes me want to curl up on the couch with a good noir, it drove me to read Paul Schrader’s “Notes on Film Noir” as well.
- Since watching The Scarlet Letter, I’ve had Lilian Gish on the brain. Check out an adorably ancient Gish being interviewed by Joan Rivers in 1983:
- Pretty Clever Films- Film Friday | Weekly Round Up – July 1, 2011
- Pretty Clever Films- Film Friday | Weekly Round Up – June 24, 2011
- Pretty Clever Films- Film Friday | Weekly Round Up – June 17, 2011
- Pretty Clever Films- Film Friday | Weekly Round Up – June 10, 2011
- Pretty Clever Films – Film Friday | Weekly Round Up – June 3, 2011
It’s rainy but it’s Friday! A rainy summer afternoon is designed for staying in with good coffee and great movies. Or really really bad movies… maybe it’s time to dive into the cheesy sci-fi flicks TCM has been airing in the “Drive-In Double Features” series? Whether you’re going high-brow or low-brow, pick a flick and watch it. After you read the weekly roundup, of course! Have a great weekend and happy viewing!
- Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello is now an e-book. To promote this newfound ebookiness, bloggers got a creepy excerpt. Take a read at Alfred Hitchcock Geek.
- Very few of John Ford’s silent movies survive, but The Iron Horse (1924) does. I have yet to see a Ford silent, but I really really want to. This review from Silent Volume makes me really really really want to.
- Another Old Movie Blog also reviewed Bogey’s 1945 Conflict this week. I think she has excellent taste.
- The Film Forum in New York has been running a Buster Keaton series (I’m jealous, much) and Alt Screen has a round up of reviews of Keaton’s College.
- The Guardian reports that a newly available handwritten manuscript illustrates Charlie Chaplin’s struggles with synchronized sound.
- And just because… if you’ve never seen Seven Beauties, you should. Watch the brilliant opening on YouTube.