Sunday, November 3, 2013

come take my stuff

Hello! This isn't a real blog post. It's just pictures of the furniture that you are welcome to have for free as long as you get it out of my house as soon as possible. I'll even have a cargo van Monday through Wednesday this week, so I can deliver the furniture to you if you help me load/unload it. email/call/tweet/facebook me if you want anything. There's another bookshelf, too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

1916 - Intolerance

Here's the simplified and probably inaccurate story in my head about how this movie was made, in steps:
1) D.W. Griffith starts making a contemporary movie about the evil results of proto-prohibition
2) Griffith's previous movie makes a shit load of money and gets heavily criticized as racist.
3) Griffith adds _three more stories_ to the film, around the theme of "intolerance".

The result was a massive flop that's kind of all over the place. It was easy to hate every part of "Birth of a Nation," but "Intolerance" is only... half... evil?

The contemporary story is about how a bunch of old spinsters try to wreck society by banning booze and stealing babies. Here they are trying to steal a baby:
What's wrong with these "uplifters"?? Are they crazy or something? Well, sort of:
Ha ha, D.W. Griffith is obviously a sexist asshole. But then the non-uplifter women somehow get to do super rad things. Like climb onto a ledge to shoot an attempted rapist:

Then jumping off of said ledge to escape.

And in the Babylon story the hero is a woman so troublesome that she gets sent to the marriage market:

But she decides to say "screw that," insults all of her potential purchasers to chase them away, and joins the Babylonian army, shooting arrows from battlements:
 ... and stealing chariots to save the day:

Heck, even the good-guy god is a woman, with magical glowy powers:

That's right! The guy who glorified the KKK somehow decided to glorify Ishtar. _Maybe_ because the other side of the battle (Cyrus) had more non-whites. But the linguist in me wants to believe it's because of the cuneiform. DO NOT MESS WITH CUNEIFORM:

The sets in this story are unbelievably elaborate:

And generally pretty great, as Griffith is happy to point out himself:


So, yeah, just watch the Babylon story, if you can. Of the other two stories, one is about Huguenots or something, but this is all I remember from it:

(By "pastimes", Griffith means "Crotch pouch full of puppies," pictured above.)

The fourth story is about Jesus so I kind of ignored it. I think I know the story pretty well already. And I prefer to see it told using 70's rock songs.

Monday, July 29, 2013

1915 - Birth of a Nation

This was the wrong time to pause the project and watch other movies. Because when I finally couraged-up and watched Birth of a Nation, I was like "okay, this is a movie." I should have been like "HOLY SH*T THIS IS A MOVIE! I haven't seen a movie yet!" A massive, unbelievably ambitious movie with aerial views of full-on battle scenes, covering the entire civil war and Lincoln assassination in the first half. Oh and it's super racist. But you probably know all that business already.

Anyway, the innovations I was most struck by were the cold open, the non-apology:

And a woman storing a note in her.... I assume bra?
Can you even show that in movies now?

Oh, also, men could express their love for other men by caressing them, without an intertitle that says "NOHOMO":

If you spend your two-minutes hate on Free Republic like I do, you'll recognize how unbelievably up-to-date the themes in the second half of the film are. Voter ID laws are necessary because blacks Democrats will all sneakily double vote, like this guy:
... and violently prevent whites from voting, while both blacks and carpetbaggers pretend not to notice.

This is a problem because when blacks and carpetbaggers usurped power they disgraced the noble legislature by flagrantly drinking booze, eating chicken, taking off their shoes, and celebrating outrageous laws that destroy the family and lead inexorably to white women getting raped by power-mad mulattoes:

Then there's the inevitable result of George Zimmerman's acquittal:

The central message of the Republicans' 2012 campaign is neatly summed up by this intertitle, outlining what will happen now that Obama and the Democrats are left in charge of the country:

Or, in the version the GOP-establishment is too PC to come out and say,:

Freepers aren't helpless, of course: They know that if the crazed, free-supply-getting negroes do start race-riots, they'll fight back and probably win. Or at least, commenters 14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 28, 32, 35, 38, 44, and 49 do. (Though freepers, of course, hate the modern KKK, that bunch of evil, racist Democrats.)

So, is the film crazy racist? Yes. Is it crazy anachronistic? Not to everyone.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

1914 - Kid Auto Races at Venice

Yeah, I'm just going to watch the YouTube versions of these early films from now on. Here's Charlie Chaplin debuting his tramp costume:

He doesn't do much of the slapstick I expected, aside from getting shoved and kicked a lot:

... by a guy trying to film a soapbox derby. Because this film is six minutes of The Tramp videobombing the guy. While inventing the Trollface:

Monday, May 20, 2013

1914 - The Patchwork Girl of Oz

Two preliminary notes if you plan to watch this: 
 1) I'd recommend YouTube, or at least some crisper version than the one I originally watched.
 2) These white-powdered people have been turned into statues, at around 14:00: 

I tell you that because I didn't realize it at the time, and as a result had no idea why the hell everybody was on this epic quest to find magic ingredients.

And should you watch it? Well, it's not the first Oz movie, but it seems to be the first Oz movie that L. Frank Baum himself wrote the screenplay for. Also, the Patchwork Girl, pictured here finding love:

... does some pretty rad acrobatics whenever she can. Those are worth seeing, I think.

Anyway, this movie reminded me more of Labyrinth or Return To Oz (1985) than the Judy Garland film. It felt like it had around twice as many fantastical races of beings as the latter. The Munchkins, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and maybe even The Cowardly Lion, if that's what that guy with the huge dreadlocks was supposed to be, are all there.  Here's Ojo the Munchkin playing at being an Igor:

But there were more! one-legged Hoppers!



 The Lonely Zoop!

 And .... uh .... black people.

Monday, May 13, 2013

1913 - Suspense

Reading Lois Weber's Wikipedia page was like reading Grace Murray Hopper's. Each successive sentence in the summary makes your jaw drop a little bit farther. In Weber's, I got as far as "the first full-frontal female nude scene in 1915" and just gave up. This person can't exist.

But here she is on film, in the top-right of the split-screen shot that people seem most interested in:

It wasn't the first split-screen shot, by about 10 years, but it's an effective one. It wasn't the most striking shot, either. I'd give that title to this overhead shot of the villainous hobo:

Oh, and there's a CAR CHASE. Apparently filmed from both cars. The shot from the rear car seems straightforward:
... at least until you remember that it was filmed from the back of a car, using technology developed at least half a decade before the Jazz Age had even started.

The shot from the front car...... well, look:
All of the... action? Plot? Foreground... something? Somebody who knows something about film, please tell me what word I'm looking for to describe this: The portion of the screen in which the story is being told. Anyway, in this case, it's the side mirror of a moving car. For f*ck's sake.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This Week's Films

Thanks for doing the survey. I decided on Intolerance and Where are My Children for 1916. Not enough people wanted to see 20,000 leagues, though more people wanted to force me to watch that than any of the other films.

Also, I couldn't find The Merchant of Venice (1914), but it's probably the least interesting looking of the Lois Weber films that the list has so far anyway. So, I replaced it with two films that I could find.

Anyway, here's this coming week.

1913 - Suspense
1914 - Patchwork Girl of Oz
1914 - Kids Auto Races At Venice
1915 - Birth of a Nation
1916 - Intolerance
1916 - Where are My Children?

1912 - The Cameraman's Revenge

I couldn't find "Cardinal Wolsey", so I watched "The Revenge of the Kinescope Cameraman" instead. I downloaded it long enough ago that I had forgotten what it was about. The title made me think I wanted it because it broke the fourth wall somehow. I was wrong. Sooooo horrifyingly wrong. Here is how I found out:

"Oh, maybe I picked it because I hadn't seen a Russian film yet."

"That's funny, 'Beetle' sounds more like a British name. Why would a Russian film protagonist..." 


If you can stand the fact that you're watching stop-motion-animated puppets made from actual bugs, you absolutely have to watch this film. It's only about 13 minutes long, but considering how small everything is (did I mention that these are actual bugs?) that indicates a preposterous amount of work. But the number of astonishing things that they manage to animate makes the existence of this film almost literally unbelievable. And by astonishing, I mean things like this grasshopper actually painting:
I won't tell you what the other impossible achievements are, since they're really the most interesting part of the film and I don't want to spoil it for you. But if someone showed me this film and said it was made last year I would probably still be astonished. (Though maybe not next year - the bar for tiny animation seems to have hit the ceiling.)

Oh, and this film is... ah... well, this is... um.... weeeeeeell........ it has Chrono Order's first sex scene. Yes, really. And the second. And both are INTERSPECIES.