Archive for Criterion Collection

Eve Deceives

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2020 by dcairns

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I’m one of the very lucky ones — I can work from home. So when Criterion asked me to do a video essay on Preston Sturges’s THE LADY EVE, it would be an understatement to say I jumped at the chance. And recruited editor Stephen Horne, graphics/animator Danny Carr, and writer and Sturges enthusiast Alex Livingstone to help out.

The disc has just been announced and we’re pleased as Punch. You should be able to pre-order it soon.

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.

 

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?