Saturday, July 13, 2013
CASABLANCA Review by Taylor Wright
GONE WITH THE WIND Review by Taylor Wright
Thursday, June 6, 2013
THE CAMERAMAN Review by Taylor Wright A master of self-depreciating physical comedy and what are still some of the most impressive stunts in cinema history, Buster Keaton still manages to put a smile on our faces and get some great laughs. In The Cameraman, Keaton stars as a small-time photographer, named Buster who falls for a secretary named Sally who works for MGM Newsreels. In an effort to be close to her and impress her, he spends all his money on a film camera and tries to get a job as a cameraman for the studio. This seems to work, but nothing is ever so simple as Keaton finds himself is increasingly wacky and dangerous scenarios. As he had just moved to MGM, albeit reluctantly, his was to be the last film Buster Keaton would make where he had considerable creative control, beyond starring in his his own films as the lovable underdog, he directed the films and created incredibly funny and exciting scenes often through improvisation. This film proves to be what may be his last real masterpiece. Some of his greatest moments are in this film, Buster taking Sally to a pool for a date and having to a share a changing room with a big man, leading to a hilarious mixup of swimsuits, a cop who witnesses Buster's antics as he dashes about town and my personal favorite, Buster's solo reenactment of a baseball game at an empty stadium. The heart of the story is the relationship between Buster Keaton and Sally, played sweetly by Marceline Day. Unlike quite a few leading ladies, she's a warm, supportive and likable character and a more realistic love interest than the fickle women who appear so often in the silent comedies. And Buster Keaton shows off his own acting prowess in the film's quieter moments, soaked and cold in the rain after their date, the pep in his step when Sally kisses him on the cheek is a charming moment, just as the sadness from his supposed defeat by his rival for Sally's affections is genuinely disheartening, but this is a comedy after all, do we really believe it will end sadly? And as the plot suggests, Keaton's fascination with film is on full display. The footage of the Tong war (violent wars between criminals in Chinatown, put simply) is magnificent and has an air of authenticity; the climactic rescue of Sally from drowning and the aforementioned baseball antics are all shot beautifully. Buster's own mishaps with his camera are familiar to anyone who has dabbled with a camera, albeit more modern ones. Even early forms of photography are something for modern audiences to learn about. At the beginning of the film, Buster is a Tintype photographer. Tintype was a method of photography that involved print a photo directly onto a metal plate, it was something of a novelty in it's time and is interesting to see on screen. But it's Buster Keaton's love of the art that makes the film a masterpiece, spectacle, humor and heart win the day and it makes for great entertainment. Even if it was to be his last great film, it's a fitting swan song.