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Posts Tagged ‘lists

So you’ve watched and loved The Artist. You liked its smooth leading men, charming ingénues, black and whiteness and best of all, none of that god damned talking. Well, great news, because there’s decades of early silent cinema just like The Artist for you to seek out and enjoy. Here’s my selections for a gateway to the delights of silent cinema.

City Lights

And why not start with the most famous? Chaplin’s little tramp made a simple transition from silent to talkies but didn’t need a voice to make the world laugh, cry and generally feel some serious emotions. In fact, things seem a tad sentimental in the age of cynicism, but that doesn’t take away from the deft storytelling and endearing antics. In City Lights, the tramp falls for a blind girl, and finds himself negotiating the world of work to pay for her operation.

The General

Full feature
While Chaplin is the icon, for my money, Buster Keaton is the genius. Famed for his poker face, Keaton’s films have aged remarkably well. In The General, Keaton is a railroad engineer rejected from the Confederate army for being more valuable in his current role, and is then shunned by his girl for cowardice. He and his train, the titular General, end up stuck between the two armies, and he has to warn his compatriots and rescue his kidnapped love. Combined with treacherous stunts and dry humour, The General is a film out of time, one of the greatest films of any decade, and somehow a huge flop on its 1926 release.

It

It wasn’t only the men who were headlining classic comedies. Clara Bow was one of the biggest stars of the silent era. Her flirtatious naivety and knowing sexuality sets the tone for every female screen comedian since, including Berenice Bejo’s Peppy Miller. In It, the original It girl is a sassy shopgirl who falls for her boss – a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in any romcom today. Bow’s flapper joie de vivre went out of style after the Wall Street Crash, and her thick Brooklyn accent ended her career on the coming of sound, but for a while, Bow was the shining star of the silver screen.

Safety Last

The last of the Big Three screen comedians, Lloyd is responsible for one iconic image – dangling from a clockface off a skyscraper. The enthusiastic go-getter to Chaplin’s wide-eyed tramp and Keaton’s stone faced irony, here Lloyd attempts to make it in the big city, and fails at every point, until he meets a challenge to climb a skyscraper for $1000.

The Girl With The Hat Box

The glory of silent cinema is how easily a film with no dialogue translates across territories, and of course, it wasn’t just the US churning out classics. Amongst others, Russia had an extremely healthy kino industry, more than just newsreel and propaganda but social issue pictures and the occasional delightful romcom, such as this, starring Anna Sten who would go on to make a name in Hollywood. Sten works in a hatshop, and longs for a railroad worker while pursued by a student. Meanwhile her boss has just won the lottery but the ticket has disappeared. Proving convoluted plots could be just as charming in any language, and indeed, no language, The Girl With The Hat Box is as fresh as anything made over 80 years later.

Bonus: Les Voyage Dans Le Lune

It’s not just The Artist that has been raising the profile of silent cinema. Hugo is the culmination of Scorsese’s passion for the form, examining the mechanics and history behind the birth of cinema, and specifically, the work of the visionary Georges Melies, who depicted fantastical worlds with more originality and verve than most directors working today. This is a good use of your time.

I never make new year’s resolutions, because I never keep new year’s resolutions. I am an extremely fickle person, and lose interest in things very quickly. However, in a state of what could generously be called “flux”, I decided to give it another try for the arsehole of a year that was 2011. Apparently we get to judge our worth as human beings according to how successfully we follow arbitrary rules we set for ourselves. This is the list I made:

1. Write a list of every film you watch
2. Moisturise your neck
3. Don’t fall in love
4. Write every day
5. No snacking
6. Don’t fall in love
7. Be smart
8. Read

I snacked. I can’t hide it from you. Sometimes I wasn’t hungry but felt like eating, so I had some bread with nutella, or an ice lolly, or whatever leftover sweets lying around my little monk’s room. I’m human, okay? I’m weak. Sometimes three meals a day isn’t enough. Sometimes I’m sleepy at work so I need a muffin from Cafe Nero. Do I wish things were different? Of course I do! But they’re not and that’s that. I snacked.

I also didn’t write every day. I barely wrote at all, in fact. There were a few deadlines, a few requests to write something for a specific day or date or performance. I was stymied by a broken laptop and an overwhelming sense of hubris. But I started some things. I didn’t finish them, I didn’t come close. But with writing, it’s probably okay so long as you try.

By fall in love (the resolution so nice I broke it twice), I meant of course those early days of watery-eyed obsession, where you think something might be happening in your life, when you’ve spent too long alone. It is a time when you are at your most stupid. You drift out of conversations because you can’t help but wish you were talking to them instead, or about them. You get angry when you receive a text and it’s not from them. Your life becomes a countdown to the next time you see them. It is a terrible way to live. The joy of an actual relationship is that this point passes very quickly. I broke this resolution, mostly on people who didn’t deserve it. But I’m learning.

I read less than I should have, but more than I could have. I read at lunchtime. It is a nice habit. I need to read more on trains and buses, and in bed at night. I am currently trying to read The Corrections, in an attempt to finish it before I fly back to London. I’m on page 277 of 653. Wish me luck.

I was not smart, but also sometimes I was smart.

I didn’t get as far as moisturising my neck, but I have started moisturising under my chin and jaw. It’s a start.

As for my list of films…this was a resounding success, which I will elaborate on in a seperate post…

1. I have, through no one’s fault but my own, ended up with the theme to Animal Hospital in my head.

2. My life is going nowhere.

3. I am incredibly open to the possibility of someone massaging me vigorously on my back.

4. Animal Hospital.



And now, a look at the week that was:

Bitches be singing along to post-Franco era Spanish pop songs despite not speaking any Spanish.

Bitches be forgetting to buy Father’s Day cards.

Bitches be saying they’ll make you a mix CD and then not getting round to it, but also sometimes getting round to it, so bitches be not all bad.

Bitches be going to work despite being unwell.

Bitches be buying halloumi and not getting round to eating it, despite really really looking forward to eating the halloumi, but bitches have half a stir fry to finish before it goes out of date, and bitches also just made soup that bitches should either freeze or, I don’t know, something.

Bitches be registering for a GP after only 3 years in London, then subsequently making like eight appointments all the while apologising profusely.

Bitches be reading up on the “Paul McCartney died and was replaced” conspiracies until they sort of believe it, so bitches quickly stop and look up tortoise pictures instead.

Bitches be looking into career prospects by googling the phrase “teachng adult literacy” [sic] and then feeling that it may be a dead end.

Bitches be returning items to a shop then immediately going out and buying other items worth double the initial returned items because bitches be bad with their finances.

Bitches be writing verse form love poetry about boys who broke their heart and feeling slightly embarrassed about the fact.

Bitches be crazy…good at making salads.

For your reference…

The King’s Speech reigns supreme at Oscars – Daily Mail

Colin Firth takes Oscars crown – The Telegraph

Academy genuflects to King’s Speech – The Guardian

Oscars 2011: The King’s Speech reigns triumphant – The Guardian

The King’s Speech crowned with best picture – The Guardian

Oscar is the jewel in Colin’s crown – The Sun

Oscars 2011: The King’s Speech reigns – BBC News

Oscar results: Long live The King’s Speech – News of the World

‘King’s Speech’ Reigns – Huffington Post

‘King’s Speech’ makes lots of speeches at Oscars … – Los Angeles Times

Oscar crowns ‘King’s Speech’ – Chicago Daily Herald

ROYAL MINT! COLIN FIRTH NETS KING SPEECH’S RANSOM – Daily Star

‘King’ reigns over Oscar night – Philidelphia Inquirer

‘The King’s Speech’ Crowned Best Film – ABC News

The King’s Speech reigns at Oscars as Colin Firth wins best actor – Evening Standard

Reign of the King’s Speech – The Mirror

Coronation of Firth and ‘The Kings Speech’ at Oscars – The Independent

CROWNING GLORY FOR KING’S SPEECH – The Express

Finally, in the fading days of February, the dust has settled well enough for me to reminisce about 31st October. I love Halloween without rhyme or reason. It tingles with memories of the first proper time off since coming back to school, shops full of black and orange tacky cardboard accessories, and bowls full of monkey nuts, even though nobody ate them. We lived in a house with a big shadowy garden, surrounded by huge evergreen trees, our forest, casting strange shapes, becoming unfamiliar and suitably spooky after 9pm. Racing around the strange perimeter, burning fingertips with a sparkler, dressed as a witch, usually. (How things have changed.)

More recent Halloweens have involved less time off, more alcohol, and equal amount of themed sweets. I also enjoy using the term “ghosties”. On Halloween evening, it’s best to find yourself on the upper deck of a bus through London, watching the mentalists and ghouls in costumes wandering the streets below (though I suspect you’d see it any day of the year, around Shoreditch, most likely). I don’t really like dressing up, and yet I have a compulsion. For an event I love, I need to celebrate with the whole of my heart. However, in past years, my plans have been thwarted by circumstance – work, lack of suitable plans, cold feet… Here are some costumes that might have been:

1. Unicorn

Yes, I’m still bitching about this.

2. Rosie the Riveter

An eternal symbol of female strength and gender equality, not to mention looking pretty natty in the headscarf. But can you cope with an evening of pulling the same gun-flexing pose all evening?

3. Low-era Bowie

It seems that once you hit 16, your costume is supposed to be less traditional and more sexy/scary. A sunken-cheeked, heroin-eyed, beautiful and damned apparition, the Thin White Duke balances androgyne sexuality with an eerie gaze deep into the abyss.

4. Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club

Because there’s nothing more terrifying than a bitchy rich girl with issues. (See also: Winona Ryder in Heathers)

5. The green Beatnik alien from this Pan’s People video

Two things: I have the Monster Mash on my ipod year round, and Pan’s People were fucking mental.

Of course, it’s never too early to start planning this year’s Halloween extravaganza. In the past, I have made the mistake of going too obscure (hence my Louise Brooks costume being transposed into Kelly Osbourne), so this year I’m going mainstream…

Lichtenstein!

Columbo!
Columbo!


This…thing!

Despite a title that sounds like a suicide note, I have decided to celebrate the end of this annus horribilis with my traditional listus awesomeous. You’re so incredibly welcome.

Song of the Year – “Bad Boyfriend” – Talulah Does The Hula

Song from another year that I only heard this year – so many, but “What” by Judy Street is untouchable.

Film of the Year – I finally saw “A Serious Man” in early 2010 (oh God it’s so good) but if that can’t count, “Four Lions”, though I’m not sure I can bear to watch it again.

Book of the Year – “Birds of America” – Lorrie Moore

Career Choice of the Year – Finally getting a full-time job after eight months. Take that, economic climate!

Emotion of the Year – Ennui. The thing with a negative outlook is you’re never disappointed. Hooray!

Successful Costume of the Year – Countless era-specific nights out with costumes crafted from clothes I own anyway. 1920s, 1960s, 1980s – I got it covered. (“it” being my body, conveniently.)

Unsuccessful Costume of the Year – My unicorn costume. Why couldn’t you let me be great, world?

Achievement of the Year – Various stories published, public readings, zine fairs, events run and art exhibitions. Keep on truckin’.

Anti-Achievement of the Year – Every other facet of my life.

Dog of the Year - The tiny bouncy spaniel in Hyde Park who disturbed a flock of about 200 roosting geese, causing them to remove themselves at great speed into the lake, and honk for some time with annoyance. It was amazing.

Dream of the Year – The one about the Church of St Nazi’s and its sister chapel, St Failure’s.

Revelation of the Year part 1 – When the worst thing happens, eventually everything becomes okay again.

Revelation of the Year part 2 – THIS.

Happy 2011 everyone. May 2010 never come back to ruin us.