Archive for Criterion Collection

The Sunday Intertitle: A Silent with Sound

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , on April 29, 2018 by dcairns

A royal birth!

In THE SCARLET EMPRESS, Von Sternberg brings back various aspects of silent cinema — long, wordless passages, scenes played on detail shots — and intertitles! Often these start as white-on-black text and then a background shot fades up behind so that the text becomes a superimposition. An advance on the old titles, which were more interruptive.

Sternberg, however, hated the live accompaniment provided for silents, because he had no control over it. So here he can finally play long visual scenes with synchronized score, and he got so into this that he elbowed the conductor aside and took up the baton himself, despite having no training. Chaplin could do it, so could he!

Continuing my jaunt through the Sternberg-Dietrich collabs for The Chiseler, a project with new currency thanks to the forthcoming Criterion box set. The previous installments are here, here and here. Hopefully we’ll have another tomorrow.

 

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Not in Kansas Anymore

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on May 6, 2016 by dcairns

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Criterion releases CARNIVAL OF SOULS on Blu-ray in July — the DVD was my first Criterion purchase, back when I got my first multiregion player — so it’s a joy to be contributing a video essay to this one, me writing and Stephen Horne editing.

A bundle of goodness went into this project — we had access to Herk Harvey’s Centron Films industrial and educational movies, which I wanted to mix into the stream of it to show the continuity between his feature and his shorts work, and also just to make things even more weird and unpredictable. And my voice is joined by three guest interviewees — critic, horror novelist and regular Shadowplayer Anne Billson, horror comics creator Stephen Bissette, and horror screenwriter Fiona Watson. Thanks!

I think this is my best vid essay to date. A blip, or am I finally hitting my stride?

Had Sang a Dry Hit

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on July 17, 2014 by dcairns

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This is what the Shadowplayhouse looks like today. obviously, your own home should look identical — to achieve the desired effect, follow the link below and order AT LEAST FOUR copies of the Criterion Collection’s dual-format edition of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT.

It’s been an epic journey to get to this point, beginning with the end of production on NATAN and me asking myself the question “Now that I am a documentarist, what would I like to do next?” and answering the question with “Something to do with Richard Lester.” And then contacting the Great Man via a series of intermediaries. And finding he wasn’t at all sure he wanted to talk to anyone about his work, and that he doubted there would be anyone interested in hearing it.

“I have a share of the book I did with Soderbergh. And at the same time a truck is pulling up outside Paul McCartney’s house with his royalties, I get my share from the book. And it has never been more than five pounds.”

And emailing Criterion to ask if they might be interested in something on Lester, and meeting producer Kim Hendrickson in Telluride where she said that Yes, as a matter of fact, something was in the offing. My mind doesn’t think in terms of anniversaries so I hadn’t noticed there was a fifty-year one coming up.

Lester, when I told him I now had a producer and a budget and an outlet: “Congratulations, you’ve picked someone’s pocket.”

Once again, here’s the sequel to the piece I made for the disc.

And here’s where you go to buy the thing itself: A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)

I admit it: Soderbergh’s Lester interview is better than mine: Getting Away With It: Or – Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw