Robert Youngston’s When Comedy Was King (1960) played the Uptown Theatre in Napa and featured the antics of Charlie Chaplin, among others. I didn’t know one could laugh so hard. That’s when I realized there was a history to the movies. Starved for more, I couldn’t believe my pre-teen eyes when Silents Please appeared on TV with 25-minute versions of the great silent movies. Another TV show, Fractured Flickers (1963) used clips from mostly silent movies with a new narration for comic effect created by Jay Ward (Rocky and Bullwinkle). It ran for one season and while purists have criticized it, the show provided developing cineastes images we hungered to see. Continue reading →
Monday, March 14 is National πDay 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.
Custard pies made the news last summer, as a long-lost Laurel & Hardy film, the aptly-named The Battle of the Century (1927), was rediscovered. Containing the legendary double-act’s most extensive pie fight, the movie has been seen only in severely truncated form in recent decades, and the rescued footage is a welcome addition to a filmography whose tantalizing gaps have slowly been disappearing.
The fight itself is a classic, a reminder of how funny and detailed and varied such an activity can be, in the right hands. The first pie is slung by diminutive Charlie Hall, hitting Ollie’s big baby-with-a-tiny-mustache face. The second, Ollie’s retaliatory attempt, goes wide of the mark, according to a long-standing tradition, and explodes over Dorothy Coburn’s shapely ass. She turns to remonstrate and, in accordance with an equally venerable tradition, is hit full in the face by a second crust-load. From here, escalation to total whiteout is as gradual but inevitable as a marital argument or a world war. Soon, an entire street is bustling with gooey combatants, frantically pasting each other with pastries.
“In their first appearance together at the Smith Rafael Film Center since their initial “dialogue” series in 2009, David Thomson, celebrated film critic and historian, will join award-winning novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje for an entertaining weekend of screenings and discussions around trains as cinematic subject and stimulus.
Discerning, funny, and utterly unique, How to Watch a Movie is a welcome twist on a classic proverb: Give a movie fan a film, she’ll be entertained for an hour or two; teach a movie fan to watch, his experience will be enriched forever.
From one of our most admired critics, brilliant insights into the act of watching movies and an enlightening discussion about how to derive more from any film experience we present Chapter Two for your pleasure.
Some of the most exciting cinema today is created by Asian and Asian American filmmakers. They represent an incredible array of cultures and each year CAAMFest is a perfect opportunity for the San Francisco Bay Area to explore new worlds through the moving image.
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) presents its annual celebration along with plenty of parties and special events to accompany the films at CAAMFest 2016 playing through March 20 in San Francisco and Oakland.