The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 3

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Here we are in Day 3 of my 12 Days of Blogmas, in which I “gift” movie and TV clips to some of my favorite bloggers. (Click here if you haven’t been following my scenario for the past couple of days.)

Today, I open up my bag of Christmas goodies for Lea, hostess of the delightful silent-film blog Silent-ology. Lea and I agree on so many wonderful silent films that it pains me whenever the subject of Roscoe (“Fatty”) Arbuckle comes up. As far as Lea is concerned, she might as well have been one of his adoring fans from 1920. Me, I can’t say he does much for.

But there is a single instance in which I found Arbuckle as charming as Lea does throughout his entire career. That is when he was paired, early on, with Charlie Chaplin in the 1914 Keystone comedy The Rounders. It has always amazed me that, as much as Chaplin absconded from alcohol and detested alcoholics throughout his life, he often played an alkie with balletic finesse. And here Arbuckle matches him, drink for drink. It’s a pity that this duo wasn’t pitted together more often in Chaplin’s Keystone era.

Spare 13 minutes for the joyous The Rounders, and see you tomorrow for Day 4!

 

LONDON SYMPHONY (2017) – Silence is golden

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“It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talkie instead of the other way round.” – Mary Pickford

Thanks to 265 Kickstarter backers, director-editor Alex Barrett was able to grant Ms. Pickford’s wish — for one magnificent movie, at least.

London Symphony is a bracing, beautiful, cinematic stay-cation. You watch Barrett’s ode to life in London — flawlessly photographed (by Barrett and several others, in glorious black and white) and ethereally scored (by James McWilliam) — and 72 minutes later, you’re relaxed and refreshed.

The movie is split into four “movements” — city, nature, places of worship, and night life — and that’s about all I want to divulge about the movie’s outline. (Rahim Molendina gets a writing credit — but, not to belittle his work, how do you write something like this?) Beyond the film’s countless settings, the point of the movie seems to be that there’s beauty in everything. And Barrett goes out of his way to prove it, with alternately static and sweeping imagery that makes even discarded trash look as though it had a preordained shape to it.

Sometimes the movie shows the simple beauty in stasis, and then sometimes it captures movements that look candid, yet provide their own lovely commentary. A passing train is reflected in an oval light, and the light ends up looking as though it’s smiling at us. There’s a long shot taken on a bridge that shows a flowing river below, and suddenly feet appear at the corner of the screen. Is somebody going to jump off the bridge? No, he’s just standing on the bridge’s glass walkway.

It’s amazing how often people use visual media to record an event, and then they’re so worried about their audience getting bored that they have to insert useless talk into their recording. (Would it kill TV’s football-game announcers to shut up once in a while?) London Symphony lets the images speak for themselves, and it reestablishes your faith in the human spirit.

(Many thanks to the lovely Lea at the blog Silent-ology for passing this movie along to me, and to Flicker Alley for distributing it.)

Brags About Blogs

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I subscribe to more than a few blogs. You probably do, too. But even though you probably read every single blog to which you subscribe, are there a few that you sorta-extra look forward to?

Well, me, too. So I thought I’d mention them here and now in case you’re looking for something fresh to read. If I subscribe to your blog and don’t mention it here, please don’t take it personally — I’m glad to read you and look forward to you as well. But the blogs I’m about to mention have just a little extra fairy dust sprinkled on them, which might make them worth your while as well. (And I’ll bet a lot of my readers don’t put me at the top of their blog reading lists, either.)

Anyway, here are some extra-special blogs you might want to seek out. Click on each blog’s name to link to it.

By Ken Levine. Levine is a former TV and movie writer with some pretty heavy-duty credits to his name (“M*A*S*H,” “Cheers,” “Frasier”). He is also is a former radio DJ and L.A. sports announcer. Just those subjects give him some generous anecdotes to write about. He also shares his opinions on movies and TV shows, the show-biz industry, and life in general, and he does it as entertainingly as he wrote for television. I just love his stuff.

News from ME. Mark Evanier is another show-biz gadly with a little of everything to his credit. He wrote for “Welcome Back, Kotter” and other ’70s TV shows, including Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and now does the syndicated TV version of the “Garfield” comic strip. Like Ken Levine, Evanier has tons of fascinating show-biz stories and opinions to share.

Travalanche. Written by “Trav S.D.,” who covers classic movies, TV shows, and (forgive me, Trav) a lot of offbeat New York stage stuff that I’ll never see because I live in Florida. (He had a hand in the recent NYC revival of I’ll Say She Is, the Broadway revue that catapulted The Marx Brothers to fame.) It’s all presented in a very lively, loving style, and it probably doesn’t hurt that he has much of the same tastes in pop culture as I do.

Tralfaz and YowpThese blogs are written by the same person (who doesn’t go by his real name, so why post it here?) and are devoted to classic cartoons — respectively, theatrical and Hanna-Barbera. He posts a lot of fascinating animation history and drawings, and I never would have guessed that Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear cartoons were worthy of such scholarly attention until this blogger made it so.

Silent-ology and Movies Silently. I used to be quite full of myself for knowing so much more about silent movies than the film buffs with whom I conversed. Compared to what these two bloggers know, my knowledge of silent film could be lodged comfortably on the head of a pin. Silent-ology is written by Lea Stans, a woman in her mid-twenties, and Movies Silently by Fritzi Kramer. I mention Lea’s age only because I’ve read silent-film authors who aren’t as comprehensive as Lea is, and Fritzi is similarly encyclopedic. And their writing is anything but dry — their love of the silent era shines through in everything they post.

BNoirDetour. Written by Salome, this blog is devoted exclusively to film noir, and as a film professor, Salome knows her stuff. She also hosts a “Live Tweet” on Twitter.com every Sunday night at 9 p.m. EST in which she presents a noir movie for Twitter members to enjoy and comment on. I regard her as my noir Roger Ebert.

Hope this gives you a starting point for something new to read this weekend!