Friday, October 07, 2011

Buster Keaton is so damn funny

Buster Keaton is my fave movie persona of all time and Kino has seen fit to release two of his shorts, "Battling Butler" and "Go West." So that is grand news. Why Buster? Because he did all his own ridiculously dangerous stunts (and many of his co-stars' as well). Because he was endlessly inventive. Because he was the ultimate poker-faced yet charming screen presence. Here's a bullet-point what-makes-Buster Keaton-great list:

  • Although he did the bulk of his best work throughout the 1920s, his films are still wonderfully strange and somewhat timeless, due to their being extensions of his wonderfully strange and somewhat timeless thought processes.

  • He is playful onscreen, even during deadly situations. Especially during deadly situations.

  • He knew deadly situations are fraught with tension and therefore can result in the biggest laughs, if done correctly.

  • He was a perfectionist who strove to do most everything correctly.

  • When stuck for an idea, he would call a time-out to play some baseball with his film crew. He loved baseball. It helped him think.

  • He was a genius.

  • He was adorable.

  • He wore that little hat.

  • I am in love with him.

See some Keaton films. "Sherlock Jr." has much to say about cinematic storytelling. "Steamboat Bill's" hurricane scene is dream-like yet so physically imposing. "Cops" is the ultimate surreal chase film. "Seven Chances" asks the question. what is more imposing--outrunning multitudes of giant boulders, or multitudes of brides trying to herd you into a church? "The General" explores every possible absurd stunt that can be choreographed on a steam train. In every situation, with every mechanical device, throughout geographical locations, Keaton delved into the potential weirdness and usually came out the other side, somewhat the wiser, though still deadpan.

The weirdness of car/motorcycle chases in "Sherlock Jr."

The weirdness of steam locomotion in "Daydreams."

Steam locomotion is weird (watch the train's arrival in the end).

The weirdness of home ownership in "One Week."

The weirdness of extreme weather conditions in "Steamboat Bill."

City streets in "Go West." San Francisco is starting to feel like this to me.

How not to box in "Battling Butler."

Thanks to diggia81 for many of the Buster uploads.

Roger Ebert's appreciation

No comments: