Archive for December 7th, 2012

by Ed Howard

Sherlock Jr. is one of the cinema’s greatest tributes to itself, a dazzling, relentlessly inventive ode to the movies as an escape, a source of dreams and a fantastical reflection of the real world. Buster Keaton’s five-reel, 45-minute short is crisply, quickly paced, with not a second of waste, not a frame that isn’t absolutely essential to the film’s hilarious and strangely moving vision of the cinema’s magical power. Keaton plays a hapless young movie theater projectionist who’s also studying to be a detective and scraping together whatever cash he can get to woo his girlfriend (Kathryn McGuire). When he’s framed for the theft of a pocket watch belonging to the girl’s father, Keaton tries to catch the real crook (Ward Crane) in a hilarious scene where he shadows the taller man, walking immediately behind him and mimicking his every gesture. When this fails, he returns to the movie theater, dejected, a failure as a detective and miserable over the loss of his girl.

He then falls asleep, and what follows implicitly links the cinema to dreams, as Keaton nods off in the projection booth and has an out-of-body experience, his ghostly doppelganger stepping out of his sleeping form and into the movies. It’s a fantastic, and fantastically funny, sequence, as the projectionist imagines the figures on the screen transformed into ones from his real life, enacting a mystery drama derived from his own experience with the purloined watch. Except, in this dream/movie, he can actually be the hero, the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Jr., dapper and sophisticated in a top hat and nice suit, a master intellect who can outwit any criminal. It’s pure wish fulfillment, as the young loser imagines that he can catch the crooks and get the girl — and then, in Keaton’s master stroke, he wakes from the dream movie into another movie, the movie Keaton’s making, and he gets the girl after all. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1998 350m) DVD1/2

It just keeps rolling along

p  Catherine Wearing  d  Julian Faring  w  Sandy Welch  novel  Charles Dickens  ph  David Odd  ed  Frances Parker  m  Adrian Johnston  art  Malcolm Thornton  cos  Mike O’Neill

Steven Mackintosh (John Rokesmith), Anna Friel (Bella Wilfer), Keeley Hawes (Lizzie Hexam), Paul McGann (Eugene Wrayburn), David Morrissey (Bradley Headstone), Peter Vaughan (Mr Boffin), Pam Ferris (Mrs Boffin), Timothy Spall (Mr Venus), Kenneth Cranham (Silas Wegg), Katy Murphy (Jenny Wren), Dominic Mafham (Mortimer Lightwood), David Schofield (Gaffer Hexam), David Bradley (Rogue Riderhood), Edna Dore (Betty Higden), Margaret Tyzack (Lady Tippins), Robert Lang (Mr Tremlow), Paul Bailey (Charlie Hexam), Anthony Calf (Alfred Lammle), Peter Wight (Mr Wilfer), Catrina Yuill (Lavinia Wilfer), Michael Culkin (Mr Veneering), Martin Hancock (Sloppy), Linda Bassett (Abby Paterson), Rachel Power (Pleasant Riderhood), Willie Ross (Mr Dolls),

Admittedly the allusion to a great Broadway musical may not at first seem appropriate when discussing a classic nineteenth century novel, until you remember that the song in question alludes to the mystique of the Mississippi.  And for the Mississippi read the Thames, for that is, to all intents and purposes, what Dickens’ masterpiece is about.  Indeed, it’s fair enough to say that, though cinematically speaking David Lean stands tall to cineastes, this may well be the greatest adaptation of Dickens, strictly as an adaptation, ever seen.  It even does Edzard’s Little Dorrit one better. (more…)

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