Remote Access

with George

Category: 1920s

Man with the Movie Camera -1929- Old Joy -2006-

Film is a universal language? Maybe. But I think storytelling is the language and film is the dialect.


Somebody on Flixster called Man with the Movie Camera “Communist propaganda.” I missed that part. I didn’t see any communism here. I just saw a day in the life of the streets in the Soviet Union.

I understand why this movie isĀ important. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, because I did, but I could never love it. That’s because I love narrative, and this didn’t have enough of it. It shouldn’t have had more, though. I’m glad that someone did something this different.

It took awhile, but I warned up for this film. At first, I thought this would be a “one night stand” movie (top 10 list coming soon, I hope)… a film I only saw once. But now, I might see it again, and I’ll probably enjoy it even more the second time. (Still no love, though.)

I will never love Old Joy either, but that’s for another reason: it wasn’t a good film. Spoiler alert: nothing happens. The last five minutes is, for me, the only rewarding part. If I may hate on C-SPAN for just a moment, an hour of Old Joy is equal to an hour and a half in C-SPAN time.

Man with the Movie Camera: there are worse ways to spend an hour. ***

Old Joy: there are worse ways to spend an hour, but that doesn’t mean you should watch this movie. **

Notes:

  • How about that pre-Claymation in Camera?
  • Both of these films are available now on Netflix Instant, but Man with the Movie Camera will expire on November 1.
  • If you see and find beauty in Man with the Movie Camera, I suggest you see My Winnipeg.
  • Coming soon: October Recap and the final 70s poll.

Sherlock Jr. (1924)

***Ā½

How should I start this review? The review itself can’t/won’t be very long, because the movie isn’t very long (runtime of 44 minutes). I could of course, tell you that the movie makes no sense sometimes, and that would be true. But I didn’t necessarily want the movie to make sense. Then again, I could tell you that it’s the greatest movie ever made. I wouldn’t go that far, but… I really liked Sherlock Jr.. It was my first Buster Keaton film ever, and I can’t wait to see more. It mixed escapism with parody with genuine laughs, then made it a beautiful on-screen film.

Keaton starred as a movie projector operator AND the title character within the movie projector’s dream. After being blamed for stealing, then pawning, a pocket watch, he escapes into the world of film via his dreams. Sherlock Jr. has a lot of solid, funny gags; but it also has some crazy, violent gags. Other than that, I can only name one other flaw: the female character in the dream/film is needed only to give Keaton something to do and someone to love.

The rest of the film is beautiful, though. Buster gets locked in things a lot, and it becomes a very comfortable, familiar running gag by the end. (Also, for some reason, he gets wet frequently, too.) The final scene is one of the best. We’re watching it through a window, through which Keaton is watching a movie. It’s an ingenious idea, and it allows him to look into the camera for the last shot.

Silent comedies are like animated cartoons in which animals fall of cliffs: everything goes right until something goes wrong.