I‘m behind on this for two reasons right now – firstly because it’s been a few weeks and thus several of these articles are pushing a month old, and secondly because I have actually reached enough bookmarked links for two posts right now. So you may have already seen these articles WEEKS ago, but in case you haven’t – none of them are time sensitive in any way and maybe I’m just doing my part to counteract the seemingly epidemic short attention span of the internet. Yeah, that’s it. I’m going with that. For whatever reason a bunch of these have to do with silent film. I didn’t plan that as a theme or anything – I guess it’s just becoming a more obvious interest of mine.
Silent Oscars: 1917, Part 2 – A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies
I’ve had the Mythical Monkey on here before, but this post was too good not to include. It’s part of the series he’s doing through the silent era, but this post is entirely about Mary Pickford, one of the most popular and powerful actresses in the 1910s and 1920s. Dubbed America’s Sweetheart, she continued her streak of child parts in 1917, even though she was in her 20s at the time and had to use every bit of her intelligence and influence to even get them made. The more I find out about Pickford, the more impressed I am.
Magnificent Obsessions – Terry Gilliam on Brazil – Holly Gilliam and Michael Connor at Moving Image Source
The difficulty that Terry Gilliam has with studios on nearly all of his films is well-known, and Brazil is a particularly well-documented case, but this is a really good read about the production and release of the film, based on interviews Gilliam did with his daughter Holly. Gilliam talks about his inspiration for the film itself, its design and plotting, and then goes on to discuss trying to get Universal to release it after they decided it was unreleasable. I found it particularly interesting that the film won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for best film and director of the year based on bootlegged copies LA critics had been passing around, since it wasn’t in general release. He also talks a bit about the different versions of the film.
Take Five (Films): Louis Malle – Oliver Lyttelton at The Playlist
The Essentials: The Films of Nicolas Roeg – Oliver Lyttelton at The Playlist
Two posts from The Playlist over at Indiewire focusing on specific director’s filmographies. Criterion released two more Louis Malle films within the last month, and both of them make Lyttelton’s list of five intro films to Malle’s filmography. As noted in the comments, Malle is quite well-represented at Criterion, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing – he’s a varied and interesting filmmaker. This list ranges throughout his filmmography from the very New Wave-esque Elevator to the Gallows (whether Malle was a New Wave filmmaker depends on who you ask) to the patently bizarre Black Moon, one of the new Criterion releases. It’s a good intro, based on the three I’ve seen, to a filmmaker more people should definitely get to know. Meanwhile, I’ve only seen one Nicolas Roeg film, but this is a good place to start to dig further – a pretty detailed annotated list of Roeg’s films, along with an intro to his style and what he’s all about.
This is a really wideranging set of twelve silent films, from classics that everyone has seen like Metropolis to lesser-known Japanese and Brazilian silents. What I really like about it, though, is the inclusion of avant-garde films that may not necessarily be from the silent era but are still silent – like Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and some of Stan Brakhage’s shorts. It’s easy to restrict “silent film” to a historical period, but some filmmakers continued using the techniques of silent cinema for long after it was technically necessary, often to great artistic effect. There are a whole bunch on this list I haven’t seen, but certainly want to check out now.
100 Greatest Posters of Film Noir – Mark at Where Danger Lives
This is an older post even by the standards of this particular post, and it’s a compilation of even earlier posts, as Mark counts down the best classic film noir posters. I love 1940s posters in general, especially ones for B films (which a lot of noir films are), but I’ll admit that a lot of them start looking awfully similar to me pretty quickly. Mark brings his knowledge of graphic design to bear and does a nice job of differentiating them. He’s currently doing a similar series on classic sci-fi posters.
Don Q, Son of Zorro – Chris Edwards at Silent Volume
Chris is a great blogger focusing on silent film (he’s great to follow on Twitter, too – @silentvolume), and here’s just one example of his writing. I love the way he talks about Douglas Fairbanks’s tendency to exit frames up and down rather than from side to side – Fairbanks doesn’t restrict his movement to the horizontal plane the way most people do, but seems to feel just as much at home (maybe more so) on the vertical one, climbing up or dropping down to get to his next destination. He’s certainly one of the most effortlessly athletic adventure stars I’ve ever seen, and I definitely want to see this film at some point.
The 400 Blows – Peter Bogdanovich
My only complaint about Blogdanovich, the blog over at Indiewire written by writer/director/film historian Peter Bogdanovich, is that the entries are tantalizingly short. I get that Peter’s probably a busy guy and I’m glad we get anything from him, but this is a great example. A bit about the importance of The 400 Blows in both French and American film (in the New Wave’s influence on New Hollywood, which Bogdanovich was part of), a bit about Truffaut and Hitchcock, and a personal anecdote about Bogdanovich’s interactions with Truffaut. I love this stuff, and Bogdanovich has such an interesting perspective on it as both a film lover and a filmmaker.
Lillian Gish Dying for Her Audience – Robert J. Avrech at Big Hollywood
You thought some of the other articles in here were old…this one’s from 2009! Yeah, I been working on this post for a while. No, I just hit this post on a link from somewhere else (Self-Styled Siren, if I’m not mistaken), and loved the story in it, largely a quote from King Vidor’s autobiography about the lengths Lillian Gish went to in order to get the right emotion for a scene in La Boheme, but with surrounding context also worth reading.
general recommendation – Not Just Movies, by Jake Cole
I found I was throwing a bunch of links from Not Just Movies into my list of potential links for these posts, because really, every post is just that good. He does reviews ranging from new releases (I included his Tree of Life review in an earlier link post) to classics and everything in between, bringing the same critical care and knowledge to them all. The fact that he’s a university student (i.e., young) is all the more reason for praise – he has the wisdom and writing style of someone far more experienced. Here are just a few reviews from the past several weeks that I enjoyed very much: Pale Flower – Masahiro Shinoda, Park Row – Samuel Fuller, Sherlock Jr – Buster Keaton, Bringing Up Baby – Howard Hawks. I’m a little behind on reading, but I he’s also recently done Captain America, Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau), Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock), and the newest Harry Potter, all of which I’m looking forward to reading.