Archive for Battling Butler

How Are We Doing?

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on April 25, 2020 by dcairns

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Checking in with you guys. How’s lockdown treating you?

I can’t complain. A bunch of work has been coming in, which I’ll tell you about nearer release time, so I’ve been oddly busy, and Fiona’s joining in on a forthcoming one so, having finished her work for Edinburgh Film Festival, she’s got a new project to occupy her.

I hadn’t mentioned the appearance of Masters of Cinema’s Buster Keaton, 3 Films, Vol 2. (featuring BATTLING BUTLER, THE NAVIGATOR, SEVEN CHANCES) mostly because I don’t have a copy yet and forgot it was out. I did a video essay for this with Stephen Horne and Imogen Smith which is getting nice reviews. I’m very pleased with it myself.

Also out this week, KWAIDAN features Shadowings, a collaboration between myself, Fiona and Timo Langer, a 35-min video essay burrowing into the film’s origins and creation. If you liked Golem Time… you’ll also like Shadowings. Lots of research for Fiona on this one, and my friend Kiyoyuki Murakami provided invaluable background long-distance from Tokyo so the piece should break new ground in what’s known about Masaki Kobayashi’s masterpiece in the west.

I think both sets are pretty well compulsory viewing and owning for cinephages, or those who have the loot, anyway.

Buster Keaton: 3 Films (Volume 2) (The Navigator, Seven Chances, Battling Butler) Limited Edition Blu-ray

Kwaidan (Masters of Cinema) Limited Edition Blu-ray

The Mothering Sunday Intertitle

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2015 by dcairns

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A gentle reminder that the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival will be raging this week in Bo’ness. Among the treats in store is Buster Keaton’s THE NAVIGATOR (screening Saturday), accompanied by maestro Neil Brand upon the piano forte. I hope to be on hand to experience and write about as much of the festivities as possible.

I rate THE NAVIGATOR pretty near the top — not as dazzling as SHERLOCK JNR or as plain great as THE GENERAL, but I like how Kathryn McGuire gets to be almost an equal partner in the slapstick. Her character is exactly as helpless as Buster’s, not more helpless in THE GENERAL (“almost aggressively stupid” was Richard Lester’s affectionate description of Marion Mack’s character) or simply competent and attractive as in THE CAMERAMAN.

I’m not going to try to arrange Keaton’s films in definitive order on a Sunday morning, but I would roughly say that the first rank, for me, contains ~

THE GENERAL, SHERLOCK JNR., THE NAVIGATOR, OUR HOSPITALITY

The middle group, which are not to be sneezed at, would be ~

STEAMBOAT BILL JNR, GO WEST, SEVEN CHANCES, THE THREE AGES, THE CAMERAMAN

And the “lesser films” — ones which are still likely to be better than anything else you might see, would be ~

COLLEGE, BATTLING BUTLER, SPITE MARRIAGE

I realize that this is both subjective and impertinent, and that any attempt to say that SEVEN CHANCES or STEAMBOAT BILL JNR is less than great is likely to look philistine. All I mean to say is that they are LESS great than my top four. But I welcome disputes, if you want to make the case for a lower-down title or knock down one of my pantheon. I will say that I’ve only seen BATTLING BUTLER and SPITE MARRIAGE once, and that it’s been a while since I saw THE CAMERAMAN and THE THREE AGES.

We might also attempt a larger project, a ranking of the short films