The Nostalgia Merchants by David Kalat at Movie Morlocks
This is a really great and wide-ranging article from David Kalat, touching on everything from the difficulty of selling (or even explaining) silent films to modern audiences to the ease of introducing them to children, but with a central focus on the idea of the “nostalgia merchants,” which he defines as people who are fans of classic film and refuse to see value in anything else. The “they don’t make them like that anymore” syndrome. Kalat is obviously a fan of classic and silent film – his opening anecdote recounts a Harry Langdon box set that he developed and promoted – but he has a very astute point that in many cases, the nostalgia merchants who think they’re defending the thing they love actually end up being the worst ambassadors for it. I love classic films. I love contemporary films. Everything old is not good (or bad) by virtue of being old, just as everything new is not good (or bad) by virtue of being new. Kalat’s article hits a lot of points, but this is one classic film fans like me need to hear and remember.
It’s Buster Keaton’s Birthday at the Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies
Well, it WAS Buster Keaton’s birthday two days ago when the Mythical Monkey posted this really excellent article on Keaton – it hones in specifically on Steamboat Bill, Jr., but also gives a background on Keaton’s life and entry into show business. I’ve seen a lot of Keaton films, but hadn’t really read up on his life very much, so this was a very helpful piece to have come through my feed-reader this week.
Life is Much the Same, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet by Stevee Taylor at Cinematic Paradox
Reading Stevee Taylor’s blog gives me hope for the next generation. She’s sixteen years old and not only is she actively seeking out great films like Sunrise and many others (as well as plenty of contemporary films of all sorts), but she’s writing about them with a depth of insight and command of language that most teenagers don’t even know exist. I’m stereotyping teenagers, I know. It’s for literary effect. But truly, she writes about film much more compellingly than many other bloggers – a fact I recognized even before I realized how young she is. I was watching films like this at her age, but I wasn’t writing about them as well, that’s for sure. This is a lovely review of Sunrise, one of my all-time favorite films, but the rest of her blog is well worth reading as well. In short, Stevee is the opposite kind of film fan from the ones Kalat derides as nostalgia merchants (see above) – the kind of film fan that we should all strive to be.
Drive: An Under the Hood Manual by Jim Emerson at scanners::blog
A collection of quotes by Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling about Drive, collected by Jim Emerson. I’m not much for reading interviews most of the time, so these quotes were all new to me reading this post, but they give quite the insight into the filmmakers’ vision of the film – a vision I could see while watching it, but it’s great sometimes to hear those impressions filled out by the writer/director. Refn and Gosling both have an excellent understanding of their craft, and communicate it well.
Elisabeth Rappe (Film.com) and Jake Cole (Not Just Movies) on Dumbo
Two takes on Disney’s Dumbo (released this week on DVD and Blu-ray); Elisabeth observes that Dumbo seems to be much less talked-about, and less-merchandised, than most of Disney’s other films and discusses why that is as well as why it’s an enduring classic anyway, while Jake discusses the intriguing fact that Dumbo was made as a blatant cash grab after the financial losses of Pinocchio and Fantasia, and champions the film as among Disney’s best despite that. It is true, when I think about Disney classics, Dumbo is rarely the first one to come to my head, but it has a charming simplicity and depth of feeling that still hold up. Elisabeth and Jake help show us why (and yes, both do talk about the depiction of the crows).
Review: Hanna by Roderick Heath at Ferdy on Films
I didn’t write a full review of Hanna when I saw it, but if I had, it would’ve said the same basic things that Roderick does here – but likely not as eloquently. I don’t always agree with Roderick, but this is one time that I absolutely do. His descriptions here of what director Joe Wright is doing with genre and his praise for all the actors and other talent involved are spot-on. I even agree with his offhanded remarks about Atonement! Reading this review makes me that much more anxious to rewatch Hanna, and soon.
Jim Henson: Master of Muppets by Mercurie at A Shroud of Thoughts
I have to admit to ignorance about a lot of Muppet-related things. I didn’t even really grow up with Sesame Street, I’ve only seen a few of the movies, and I’ve only seen a few episodes of the show that I started getting on DVD before I canceled my Netflix DVD plan. So this little journey through the life and work of Jim Henson was really great for me to see a bit about his story, how the Muppets got started, and the enormous impact that he’s had on generations of TV viewers and moviegoers. It’s a legacy I’m very much looking forward to getting more into soon.
Blu-ray Consumer Guide: September 2011 by Glenn Kenny at Some Came Running
I think I didn’t link Kenny’s previous Blu-ray guide, but it wasn’t because it wasn’t awesome. They’re all awesome. Either I just forgot or the timing was weird on my links post or something. Probably I shouldn’t keep linking to the same series every time, but highlight other bloggers doing other things, but these posts is just so great – he grades on the quality of the blu-ray disc itself, which is info sometimes hard to find on other sites, but also throws in plenty of brief insights into the films. It’s a good read every month. I’m really glad he’s continuing to do it.
Treasures 5: The West 1898-1938 by The Self-Styled Siren
At some point I need to manage to get a LOT more money somehow so I can buy all these sets being put out by the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF); I’m lucky in that I get to see some stuff like this at Cinefamily and elsewhere around Los Angeles, but there are so many more riches available that I want to see and will likely never be available for renting anywhere. Gotta buy them. :) This set contains two films that were supported by the For the Love of Film blogathan last year – a blogathan that I hope continues annually so I can get in on it more next time!