The Railrodder: Buster Keaton in Canada

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by willontheinternet

(Another short article.)

This is the sort of thing that probably gets more attention now, in the age of the internet, then it did when it was released. It’s part film, part travelogue for Canada. And our tour guide is… Buster Keaton??!

therailrodder196505-1 Continue reading

And Then There Were None (Russian version)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by willontheinternet

Agatha Christie’s murder mystery “And Then There Were None” was the mother of all murder stories. Published in the late 1930’s, it is apparently one of the 10 best-selling novels in history (over 100 million copies sold). According to wikipedia, the novel has been adapted to film at least six times.

Out of all of them, none of them keep the original ending. In the novel, no one is left at the end (as one should expect from a book called “And Then There Were None”.) Yet every movie version saves two characters, the male and female leads, so they can live happily ever after.

Ten passengers set sail that day, for a three-hour tour...

Ten passengers set sail that day, for a three-hour tour…

…Except this one! The Russian cult movie “Desyat Negrityat” (Десять негритят) keeps almost every detail true to the book. Continue reading

I Walk Around Moscow

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2013 by willontheinternet

Apparently, Josef Stalin’s favorite movie was a 1930’s slapstick comedy film called Volga-Volga. And between 1930 and 1952 this man’s unfortunate taste in movies reigned over Russia with an iron fist. If you didn’t follow the censor’s demand for “social realism” (or its somewhat hypocritical weakness for colorful fantasy movies,) you might very well end up in the gulag.

It must have been a relief after he died… Repression was still there, of course (the first sex scene in a Russian film wasn’t until 1988) but there was still a huge renaissance in the late 50’s and early 60’s. One of the best films to come out of this was I Walk Around Moscow (Я шагаю по Москве).

Bros

Meet the bros

Continue reading

Abe Lincoln in Illinois (a.k.a.: That really old Lincoln movie)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 8, 2013 by willontheinternet

In case there’s a rival film snob reading this, I’d like to clarify something: This is NOT about “Abraham Lincoln“, the 1930 movie by D.W.Griffith. This is about the 1940 movie by RKO Pictures, well known for ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘King Kong’ and a bunch of stylish cheap movies (Isle of the Dead, Curse of the Cat People.)

In it’s time, ‘Abe Lincoln in Illinois’, directed by the now-unknown John Cromwell, was critically acclaimed and nominated for 2 acadamy awards. (note; there were only 18 award categories at the time, as opposed to 24 today.) Today it is almost unknown, and stands as a sad example of how easily the film industry forgets it’s past.

Let's see who's been naughty this year...

Let’s see who’s been naughty this year…

Continue reading

Russian Animation: Trees, Cats and Fish

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2013 by willontheinternet

This is a short post, about some short animated films. They are both from the Soviet Union, by the director Yevgeny Sivokon. I wanted to show them to people, but they didn’t seem to warrant a review. (Posts like this will happen occasionally. consider this “between episodes”.)

(you can find a better video pretty easily. I just had some trouble getting it to play here.) Continue reading

Lincoln

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 31, 2012 by willontheinternet

I almost never see modern movies. So this will probably never happen again, but… Let’s talk about Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

Despite Lincoln’s success, none of my friends had mentioned it to me. The theater I saw it in was filled with old people. I myself wouldn’t have gone if my father hadn’t. Why wouldn’t people my age (almost 20) be interested? They rushed to see ‘The Artist’ and ‘Cloud Atlas’, so why not Lincoln?

"Darling, I feel all tingly for some reason..."

“Nonsense dear! We’re staying for the whole production, and nothing bad will happen…”

Perhaps because nothing about Lincoln can be called “innovative” or “exhilarating”. Nothing like the trendy, “mind-expanding” Cloud Atlas. For all it’s praise, Lincoln really is just a conventional movie. So, no one cares that it’s a good conventional movie? A movie whos intelligence comes through in the script and the acting, not “concept” or “controversy”? Lincoln’s quality does not come from its ideas or pretentions, it comes from the work of a few very talented men, and a lot of common-sense moviemaking. Continue reading

Street Angel

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 23, 2012 by willontheinternet

I saw “Lincoln” yesterday, and hope to discuss it while it’s still in theaters. Today I’ll just say that it’s damn good, better then I thought it would be… Now, let’s talk about a movie from pre-communist China…

Street Angel (马路天使) is apparently famous in China, though this has not been confirmed by any of the Chinese people I mentioned it to… Probably it’s famous among the same kind of people who liked Dead End in the US.

Houses made from the finest cardboard

Those who live in cardboard houses… should start a revolution.

Like Dead End, the movie begins and ends in the slums, and has poverty as it’s central theme. Apparently it’s a ‘leftist’ movie, although I personally didn’t find it to be any more leftist then Dead End was. The fact that a revolution took place in China a decade later has nothing much to do with our heroes, who spend more time flirting and playing tricks then fighting to overthrow the bourgeois upper class. The characters are poor but optimistic, nothing like the ‘serious’ type of poor people we see in modern ‘important’ movies. In the 1930’s, poverty was more visible. Poor people on screen weren’t ‘tragic’ or ‘controversial’, they were just… well, poor. The male lead is laughable; a bad trumpet player, who also knows magic tricks. Continue reading