So I’ve been thinking: good ol’ Internet listicles are fun. And depending on the context, they can tell you a little about the writer, too. Here I’ve been publishing posts on our beloved old films week in and week out, and never thought to write the most basic one of all–a “my favorite silents” list. So allow me to tell you a little about myself.
Needless to say, picking just ten films was a task akin to scaling Mount Everest. I don’t know if my list is the most surprising one in the world (no worries, it’s not smugly crammed with obscure social dramas from Finland or something), but here it is, in no particular order–except for #1! (Links are included for the ones I’ve reviewed so far.)
10. Metropolis (1927)
There are certain films I love to watch the most in the late evening when all is quiet, the room is dim, and there’s a couple lit candles in the corner. (I have a slight mania for candles, and their glimmer adds hugely to the atmosphere of a Special Film Experience. Feel free to share in my quirk.) There’s an hour or so to while away until bedtime, a period of peace when your mind is free. And if it isn’t free, maybe a great film can give you an opportunity to let it rest and refresh itself while drinking in that hour or two’s worth of art.
One such piece of art that I like to save for an occasional Special Film Experience is a short masterpiece called Ménilmontant (1926). Maybe a few of you cinephiles recognize the name, since critic Pauline Kael said it was her favorite film. She explained that this obscure, 37-minute French silent directed by the little-known Dimitri Kirsanov had “a lyricism Chaplin could only dream of.” I’ll admit I watched it after reading Kael’s recommendation, and quickly realized that she was right. Continue reading
So awhile back, when I was planning a trip to San Francisco with two of my best friends, little did I expect that the dates we chose would just happen to coincide with a very cool event. Which event? Why, nothing less than one of the very best silent film festivals this planet has to offer–the San Francisco Silent Film Festival!
Once I knew this, I just had to go, because A) it was the SFSFF, and B) believe it or not, obsessive-early-film-watching me had never been to a silent film festival before. The closest I ever got were my occasional late night Keystone binges accompanied by cheesy popcorn. (Oh…and my numerous Comique binges. Also accompanied by cheesy popcorn.) I had feverishly sought out any elusive silents that played in theaters near me, but bona fide festivals always seemed to be held on the other side of the country.
Since me and my friends were going to be sight-seeing and creating lasting memories together and all that jazz, I decided to spend only a limited time at the festival. But that would be more than satisfactory. Continue reading