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.

Hey That's Smooth

Do you know the lyrics to "Smooth Criminal"? I assumed I did without thinking about it, until this subtitled version (music starts ~01:30) made me realize that despite hearing the song thousands of times, throughout almost all of my life, I had absolutely no idea what the lyrics were. Well, aside from the one, obviously.

Friday, May 10, 2013

1911 - Little Nemo

This was a hard opening scene to see:
 I mean, I just watched an "attempt drawing pictures that will move" that was made three years earlier. Plus, Wikipedia seems to think pictures had already been moving for more than 80 years already, at least.

But then again, Little Nemo! Created by and starring the original artist! WHILE LITTLE NEMO WAS STILL BEING PRODUCED! And Nemo himself is pretty wild. Here he is warping space locally to trip you out.

I'm still alive

... and I'm still planning to continue with Chrono Order.  I relocated to my Dad's place in Portland to be more productive, and so far I have been. But I also have internet access at home here, which means too much of my leisure time has been spent doing things like this:

The novelty should wear off in a few days. I should have the universe pretty much figured out by then.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

1910 - Frankenstein

I'd been looking forward to seeing this since Pud told me that it existed. Thomas Edison's version of Frankenstein! In 1910! I forced myself to finish the book (finally) before watching it. It did actually make it more interesting: What did people think Frankenstein's monster looked like before everyone knew he was big and green and bolty?

That stuff isn't in the book - Dr. Frankenstein refuses to reveal how he created life so that it could never happen again. So instead of electrocuting something, Edison's Frankenstein just dumped a bunch of stuff in a cauldron and locked it in a room, peering in to see what happened.


So, yeah, you should watch the scene where the monster is created for sure.