THE PUPPET MASTER: The Films of Jiří Trnka

by Carlos Valladares

Jean Cocteau said of Jiří Trnka, the Czech animator and puppeteer, that the very name conjures up childhood and poetry. Note the “and”—childhood and poetry, la poésie de l’enfance, which Trnka treats with the depth and respect those oft-belittled years merit. We are only too quick to gloss over our fanciful kid dreams, our stumbling attempts to use simple words to convey huge emotions which we spend our adult trying to refine and intellectualize and know, know, boringly know.

Image result for Jiří Trnka - A Missing Friend | TrailerTrnka, by contrast, was a seer, a dweller. He dwelled in youth, dwelled in the crevices of language before social and linguistic codes are mastered (most of his films’ narratives lose you along the way, and that’s when you know they’re working). His magic is the magic of the slow burn, the way the worlds of imperial China or a rose-wrapped Greek forest unfurl before your childlike eyes with a responsible contempt for the straight-edged story-line. Trnka’s gift—the gift, also, of Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, François Truffaut, Demy in Donkey Skin mode, the late Stephen Hillenburg, and other bards of childhood—was to give kids what they most needed for maturity, a truthful artifice wrapped in a lived-in melancholy and wistfulness, and to make jaded adults see as simply as their kids again.

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Bringing Back Films Alive

A Celluloid Detective’s Adventures in the World’s Deepest, Darkest Vaults and Beyond

By Russell Merritt

When I remember David Shepard, I think of high adventure, the kind that turns film reclamation into a series of quests, conspiracies, improbable partnerships, witty banter, and second story work.

7. Magic and Mirth.AGILE.jpg

 TIT FOR TAT (La Piene du talion)
(d. Gaston Velle, France, 1906)

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EAT MY SHORTS- A Pie in the Eye

Monday, March 14 is National π Day and we thought it would be fun to have a special Pie edition of Eat My Shorts.

In late 2015 it was reported that the long-thought-lost complete Laurel and Hardy two reeler The Battle of The Century had been found. Bay Area collector Jon Mirsalis acquired a large film collection and has been working his way through the prints. When he came across a reel marked “Battle of the Century, R2” Jon assumed it would be the same chopped up version of the movie’s famous pie fight that people have seen since the 1950s. But to his shock and delight it included all the missing footage. Jon worked with Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films and they have done a total restoration –and we have it on good authority that it will screen at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in June.

The Battle of the Century (1927) excerpt

Read about the discovery in the New York Times. Continue reading