How CGI Can Convert People To Silent Films

It was towards the end of Aquaman (2019), where a stunning underwater battle full of glowing aquatic kingdoms and zapping weapons and vast crab armies and armored sharks ended with the superhero commanding the most enormous sea beastie ever while standing triumphantly on its head (seriously, the only thing missing was him whipping out an electric guitar), when it occurred to me that CGI had entered its Baroque period.

Thất Hải Chi Vương Aquaman: Hành trình từ chàng thanh niên bị coi thường  tới Bá chủ biển cả
I mean, dang.

Generally speaking, we live in a remarkable era of special effects, don’t we? Anything we can imagine, no matter how epic or “out there,” can be brought to life onscreen. Mythical creatures, gorgeous landscapes, alien cities, giant robots, ancient gods, dinosaurs…the sky’s the limit if you have the right team of artists and animators. It’s no exaggeration to say that the scope of our creative abilities is something unprecedented in human history.

The Best CGI Characters in Movie History
Image credit: Screen Crush

So naturally, while being faced with jaw-dropping visions the likes of which no human eye hast heretofore seen, we complain about how there’s too much CGI. If we comment on it at all, that is–it’s not a given the way it used to be.

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Wishing You A Fine Fourth Of July

EDIT 7/13/20: New posts are on the way, folks! I had some time consuming projects to finish–am happy to get back to my regular postings! 

Happy Independence Day to my fellow U.S. readers! And lookee what I found:

Mary ad TheLittleAmerican movpicworld '17

Is this not one of the most glorious patriotic images you’ve ever seen? It’s an ad for Mary Pickford’s The Little American (1917), made during WWI’s Great Wave of Patriotic Fervor. And I’d like to offer a challenge to the folks who like colorizing images–see what you can do with this! (I’d like vintage-y colors, myself.)

Well, 2020 has certainly been the strangest and most offkilter of years so far–this is definitely not how I planned on welcoming the New ’20s. However, holidays always provide opportunities to reflect and to remember the many silver linings in life. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions of the moment, but holidays can ground us in ways nothing else can. And dang it, there’s few things better than a Fourth of July BBQ with your family and friends on a steamy summer’s day. To take a slightly modified sentence from Dickens, who was writing about a completely different holiday: though the Fourth of July has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket,  I believe it has done me good, it will do me good, and I say, God bless it!

Readers, I hope all of you have a fine summer weekend, no matter where you are. And now, I’m off to light some sparklers.

 

Wishing You All A Fine Easter Sunday!

We’ve made it, my friends–through the most unexpected of early springs, and through the strangest of Lents. As a Catholic, I have to say that if anything, Lent was an awfully suitable time to get through a pandemic (I sure streamed a lot of Masses in my apartment). And while it’s not nearly over yet, today’s nevertheless a good time to cue Handel’s Messiah and enjoy the beauty and significance of Easter–even if it’s in a small way.

Easter with Mary Pickford | Mary pickford, Vintage easter, Vintage ...

Follow Mary’s lead!

Here’s something festive, Motion Picture Magazine’s 1922 throwback to the popular Easter parades of yore. These parades aren’t as common today (especially not today) but from the 1870s onward they were a wildly popular tradition in major cities, especially New York City. It was a time for ladies and gentlemen to stroll the avenues in their festive finest, and ladies showed off their fanciest new Easter hats:

(You can right click the images and open them in a new tab to see the details.)

Here’s one more–Film Fun decided to collect images of actresses in fancy hats just for Easter:

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade…”

Wherever you are, reader, know that I’m thinking of you today! Have a fine Sunday!

 

Silent-ology Recommends: “CHASE! A Tribute To The Keystone Cops”

Hold the candlestick phone! Another new book on silent comedy is available to brighten our bookshelves? And it’s the first-ever book on the Keystone Cops?!

26 Best keystone cops images | Keystone cops, Cops, Silent film

“It is? Seriously?

Why yes indeed! I’m happy to help spread the word that the fine new book CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops is now available from BearManor Media. It represents a dream team effort by a number of historians and writers, all compiled by editors Lon and Debra Davis. Many of the names you probably know already: Sam Gill, Joe Adamson, Michael J. Hayde, Rob King, Mark Pruett, Chris Seguin, Paul E. Gierucki, John Bengtson, Randy Skretvedt, Rob Farr, Brent E. Walker, Mark Wanamaker, Stanley W. Todd, Lon Davis himself, and Lea Stans.

Wait–Lea Stans? Why yes, that is me, and I’m very proud to announce that this is the first time my writing is appearing in a good ol’ turn-the-pages book! Continue reading

How To Set Up A DIY At-Home Silent Film Festival!

Good heavens, what a lot of changes there’s been since the blogathon! I’m sure many of you are either homebound or staying in as much as possible, and are probably already wondering–what shall we do for the next couple weeks (or more)? On my part I’ve got Silent-ology, other ongoing research projects, and an upcoming move to keep me busy, but even I know that the coming weeks could be pretty darn long.

Harold portrait seated

Harold would not thrive under these conditions.

So here’s an idea that’s been simmering in my head for awhile, and now seems like the opportune time to share it–since there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, why not have some fun putting on your very own, DIY, cozy-at-home silent film festival?!

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Maybe not this fancy, but you get the drift.

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The Sixth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

UPDATE: Just put up a couple more posts, check them out! Apparently WordPress likes to add some comments to the spam folder for no discernible reason. 😉 Since there might be another late post or two still trickling in, I’m going to give everyone a little extra time and hold the drawing for the gift certificate tomorrow (the 12th) instead of today. Many thanks, everybody!

Aaaaand we’re back! Welcome, my friends, to:

Busterthon 6 2

I feel like the past year really flew by, didn’t it? And now our ‘thon is on year 6–I can hardly believe it, folks! A hearty “Welcome Back” to all my regular readers who’ll be checking out the blogathon this weekend, and a big “Welcome!” to all new readers! Every year many talented bloggers take part in this big Buster Keaton celebration, and it’s always exciting to see what fun, informative, and even heartfelt posts are in store.

This year is extra special since our blogathon is proudly being sponsored by the famed International Buster Keaton Society, which has worked for over 25 years to preserve Buster’s films and share his extraordinary work with new generations of fans. I’ve enjoyed their annual convention and have also written for the Keaton Chronicle, so I can say from personal experience that you couldn’t ask for a lovelier group of Buster superfans. I’ll go ahead and plug the fact that you, too, can become a Damfino–memberships are inexpensive, and you’ll be playing a small role in keeping Buster’s legacy thriving!

Image result for international buster keaton society logo

Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today or tomorrow (and thanks to those of you who sent me a link early!). I’ll be updating periodically throughout the blogathon. Don’t forget that I’ll be holding a drawing for the participants, too! The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to the Damfinos’ online Buster store. The drawing will be held on Thursday, March 12th–I’ll be in touch with the winner!

Image result for buster keaton

Readers: Drop by often today and tomorrow to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers love comments!

And if you’re curious, here are the links to the First, SecondThird, Fourth and Fifth Annual Buster Blogathons–a veritable library of all things Buster!

Alright, get cozy on your couch and let’s start reading!!

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Reviewing all of Buster’s 1930s Educational shorts

MovieMovieBlogBlogIIThe General

Cameras Against Humanity | Keaton and the Kuleshov Effect

Big V Riot SquadThe Saphead

MovieRobThe Stolen Jools

and The Navigator

Thoughts of One Truly LovedThe Navigator

Groovy Like a Silent Movie | Essay on Buster’s fandom

Ben Model’s Blog | “Buster Keaton Inspires Don Lockwood” essay

and “Undercranking Study: Buster Keaton Trails a Suspect” essay

Taking Up RoomIn the Good Old Summertime

Wonderful World of CinemaDay Dreams

Movie Crash CourseThe General

The Everyday CinephileThe Cameraman

Century Film ProjectConvict 13

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write a BlogSpeak Easily 

Critica RetroSherlock Jr

Talk About CinemaThe Railrodder and Buster Keaton Rides Again

Silver17 Productions | Fan trailer for The Cook

Kino JoanSherlock Jr

 

Well Look At That, Silent-ology Turns 6 Today!

As I finish up post #1 for Soviet Silents Month (I wanted to publish it yesterday but I’m not satisfied with it yet), I of course had to share that today’s Silent-ology’s SIXTH birthday!

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Why yes, Clara, you may cut the cake.

Good lord, that’s over half a decade. That’s getting us closer to a decade, my friends. And this is all thanks to your support and mutual love of this fascinating, game changing era of film. A project like Silent-ology isn’t undertaken lightly–to call it “time-consuming” is a understatement–and knowing you guys appreciate what I write makes me feel…well, like a dancing Louise Brooks!

So now, let’s review how Silent-ology did in the past 365 days! Continue reading

Ask Me Anything!–Answers To Your Qs

Alrighty! It’s time for the answers to Silent-ology’s first AMA, which a number of you kindly responded too. Many thanks!

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I must say, you guys asked some really great questions–and a couple doozies! 😀 Which is grand–doozies are encouraged here. Without further ado:

What are your top 3 films by decade, going back to the beginning of cinema? (Yes, I’m including the 1880s.) 

By “top” films, I’m guessing you’re asking what my personal favorites are from each decade–heck, that’s what I’m going with! (Man, just choosing three of my faves was hard. My poor brain.) Continue reading

Ask Me Anything!–Silent-ology Edition

HAPPY ’20s, FOLKS!!

Image result for 1920s partiers bar

It’s been a week and we’re still partying!

To kick off this glorious and familiar-sounding new decade, I thought we’d shake things up a bit and do Silent-ology’s very first AMA: Ask Me Anything!

How it works is pretty simple: you guys ask me whatever silent cinema-related question that pop into your heads, or whatever you like really, and I’ll post my responses in a few days. It’ll be a kind of “come and know me better, man” post.

Image result for silent film star writing

Pictured: Jobyna participating in her own AMA.

Want to know my (brief) thoughts on films I haven’t written about yet? Looking for obscure factoids about silent cinema and wondering if I can help? Wondering what some of my favorite talkies are? Want to know my favorite color or how I’d rank all the Star Wars movies? 😉

Yes, you can even drop the oh-so-cliched “Keaton or Chaplin?” on me. Ask away!