Archive for March 20th, 2010

By Marc Bauer

Cinema is no stranger to films about the creation of art. We’ve seen the subject matter vary wildly and in style. There have been films about food (Ratatouille, Big Night) , about music (Amadeus, Mr. Holland’s Opus), about writing; both of books (Wonder Boys, The Shining) and of plays (Shakespeare in Love, The Producers). There have been movies about artists that cover the range from revered (The Agony and The Ecstasy, Lust for Life) to the recent (Pollock, Basquiat) and the irreverent (American Splendor, Crumb). We’ve experienced movies about making movies, done both serious (Sullivan’s Travels, Ed Wood) and comedic (Be Kind Rewind, Son of Rambow). There are even films about creating animation (Frank and Ollie, Waking Sleeping Beauty).  Yet, for all the myriad mentions of creation as the story devise, I cannot recall a single film about the making of an illuminated manuscript; until now.

The Secret of Kells is that movie; a film that delves into the creation of the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is one of the most famous Illuminated Manuscripts, and the most celebrated example of Insular Art. The book itself is something mere words cannot describe, which in a way, is fortuitous. If words were tools capable of the task of describing this book, perhaps The Secret of Kells would not have been made.  The film itself, with the use of visual vocabulary, attempts to describe the book, but truly focuses more on the story surrounding its creation. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1926 80m) DVD1/2

General hilarity

p  Joseph M.Schenck  d  Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman  w  Al Boasberg, Charles Smith  ph  J.Devereux Jennings, Bert Haines  ed  Sherman Kell  art  Fred Gabourie

Buster Keaton (Johnnie Gray), Marion Mack (Annabelle Lee), Glen Cavender (Capt.Anderson), Jim Farley (Gen.Thatcher), Frederick Vroom (Southern General), Charles Smith (Mr Lee), Frank Barnes (Annabelle’s brother), Joe Keaton (Union general),

What was the greatest Civil War film of the silent era?  The Birth of a Nation?  Nah, milestone in cinema history though it was and included in this list though it might be, there is only one truly, truly great Civil War silent; Buster Keaton’s crowning glory, arguably the funniest silent film ever made, The General.  It’s a great comedy, a great action film and a great film full stop.  It really doesn’t get much better than this.

            At the time of the Civil War’s outbreak in 1861, Johnnie Gray is an engineer on the Western and Atlantic Railroad and he loves his train nearly as much as his girl.  However, his efforts to enlist are turned down by the Confederacy as he’s too valuable to the South as an engineer.  His girl doesn’t think so, believing him a coward and promptly refuses to see him until he’s in uniform.  Dejected he returns to his train, but a year on fate makes him the sole potential rescuer of the girl when her train is hijacked by Unionist forces when she is on the way to see her injured father.  It becomes a race against time for Johnnie to rescue his girl and report back of the Unionist plans which he has overheard to the Southern generals and thus save the day.  (more…)

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