Announcing a new series!

Silent Volume: The New York Hat (1912)
Mary Pickford in the 1912 short, The New York Hat. Image source: Silent Volume.

I’m going to do a new monthly series on this blog: Short of the Month.

I love movie shorts, especially silent one or two-reelers. In college, I would actually spend my lunch break binging Biograph two-reelers or Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. That’s how nerdy I am about this.

Like the best short fiction, a short film can pack a lot into a brief running time. While the Shakespeare quote “Brevity is the soul of wit” did come from the mouth of Hamlet‘s long-winded Polonius character, that does not make the phrase any less true. Shorter does not always equate to trivial or shallow.

While I’m mostly going to be focusing on silent and early sound shorts, there will also be titles from the 1940s as well, if not occasionally the 1950s and 1960s.

Here are my main guidelines regarding my selections for this series:

1. The film has to be made between the silent era and the 1960s.

2. No one agrees on what exactly constitutes a “short film,” but I’m going to go with movies that run no more than 40 minutes.

I’m really excited about this, as I have so many favorites. Expect the first post tomorrow!

What Is The Greatest Silent Film?

I don’t usually like “what is the greatest X” questions, but this article is a fun discussion of what might be the silent film most representative of the medium’s strengths. (For my money, it’s either The General or The Passion of Joan of Arc, but we each have our own pick.)

Silent-ology

This is my own post in honor of the Silent Movie Day Blogathon. Hope you enjoy!

When it comes to talking about great movies (in the Roger Ebert sense of the word), I’ve always loved making and sharing lists: top tens, top fives, your “essential threes”–they always seems to prompt interesting discussions. Face it, you’re asked to list what you think are the Top 10 Best Movies Ever Made and it’s hard to resist, isn’t it? Even the top film critics and directors in the world famously contribute to Sight & Sound‘s “Top 10 Greatest Films” lists once every decade. It’s enlightening to see how certain films will fall a bit out of favor while others remain universally praised–often for generations.

The greatest films of all time- a list compiled from multiple sources –  OWEN TEMPLE
Image credit: Owen Temple

But your average carefully-compiled lists, hard as they can be to put together, are one thing. Trickiest of all is picking a…

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I’m baaack– kind of

Well, it’s been half a decade since I’ve haunted WordPress, hasn’t it?

What a wild five years it’s been.

To be honest, I’ve been cutting back on social media in general, both for my mental health and so I can concentrate on other interests. However, I still enjoy posting about old movies, so I don’t plan on totally jumping ship, either here or on that dreaded hellsite Tumblr.

So what does that mean for this blog? Well, I plan on posting blogathon posts here. Let’s face it: WordPress is better suited than Tumblr for longer-form content. Easier on the eyes.

So yep, look for my upcoming contribution to the Silent Movie Day blogathan here! I plan on writing about the top-grossing movies of 1921. Check out Silentology and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood blogs for the full line-up– or to sign up yourself!

Modern Myth: Frankenstein (1931)

I watched this magnificent film again last night. Nitrate Diva’s write-up from four years ago is divine, a wonderful close reading of a single moment in the movie which speaks volumes about its themes. Give it a read!

Nitrate Diva

I need to reign myself in when writing about Frankenstein. God knows, I could easily concoct a series of blog posts about Colin Clive’s hair alone. So, I’ll isolate one moment that has always fascinated me and try to bring it ALIVE!

Recognize the scene? This is a pristine publicity still, I believe, but you can still get the gist (and some extra angst!) from my slightly murky screenshots.

The monster has dragged his maker to the windmill. Henry Frankenstein wakes up and tries to run away, but the creature stops him and they take up positions on either side of a turning wheel in the mechanism of the mill. In shot-reverse-shot, we get Frankenstein looking at his creation and the thing looking back, as the gear continues to turn between them. There’s just so much in these two shots. They conjure up a multiplicity of meanings.

Following a pretty…

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Liebster Award

I have just been nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely Leah of Silentology, a warm and enthusiastic shrine to the wonders of silent film.

Here are the rules when nominated for a Liebster:

a) Answer the eleven questions of the tagger.

b) Share eleven facts about yourself

c) Nominate up to eleven other bloggers

Here are Leah’s questions:

1. You are given the opportunity to make a movie. Money is no object. What’s it gonna be?

An adaptation of Wuthering Heights which is true to the book. While I don’t mind film adaptations of books being different from the source material, I really do wish we had a “definitive” WH film. It would be set in the correct period (the late 18th century), feature both generations, have Heathcliff portrayed as a Romani (the book strongly implies he is not white), shot in black-and-white (fits the atmosphere to me), and filmed on location in England.

2. You have the choice between two superpowers: learning any language in seconds, or being able to fix any car problem instantly. You must choose! 

Learning any language in seconds! I would love to know French and Japanese in particular so I would not have to watch my favorite foreign films with subtitles.

3. Which three places/countries must you visit before you die?

Ireland, Germany, and Denmark

4. You can go back in time to witness one historic event. Just one. What is it?

I would have loved to see the first production of Hamlet.

5. What is one very obscure or off-the-wall film you would recommend?

Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards. It’s insane and probably not objectively “good,” but I thoroughly enjoy it. Imagine Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars meets 1970s acid trip.

6. Which decade of film do you appreciate the most?

The 1920s.

7. If someone handed you a million dollars, what frivolous thing would you buy first?

A copy of the 1920s book tie-in for The General. Maybe not super frivolous, but I want one.

8. Which book do you wish you had written?

The Parade’s Gone By, because I would have loved to interview all of those filmmakers and stars from the silent era.

9. What are your three guilty pleasure movies?

The Sheik, because goofy Valentino faces.

Flash Gordon, because it contains operatic levels of camp.

Dario Argento’s Phantom of the Opera, because telepathic rats and general weirdness.

10. What is the one tip you would give to a beginning blogger?

Follow your passions. Don’t write something if your heart is not in it or you feel you don’t have much to say.

11. Okay, Keaton or Chaplin?

Love Chaplin, but Keaton is a demigod to me.

11 facts about me:

1. The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory was the last book I finished. She’s kind of a literary guilty pleasure for me: her books are not 100 percent accurate to history, but gosh, they’re fun!

2. Anne of the Thousand Days was the last movie I watched– just five minutes ago, actually! As you can see, I’m on a Tudor kick right now.

3. I love me some Shakespeare. My three favorite plays of his are Hamlet, Richard III, and Romeo and Juliet.

4. I’d pick Walt Disney World over Universal Studios any day.

5. I don’t watch many TV series (what can I say, I have commitment issues), but my top five would be Princess Tutu, Animaniacs, Revolutionary Girl Utena, the 1971 Lupin III, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

6. I have German, French, Irish, and Spanish heritage.

7. History was my first major obsession as a child.

8. I am still depressed over what happens to Bing-Bong the cotton candy elephant from Inside Out.

9. My top three favorite video games are Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy X.

10. I have a special fondness for the pre-Studio Ghibli work of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.

11. My bottom three films are The Phantom Menace, the 1925 Wizard of Oz, and Free and Easy.

Alright, here are my nominations: Movies Silently and Hamlette’s Soliloquy. Because I am a recluse and don’t socialize much even on the net.

Here are my questions, mwahaha:

1. Who’s your most attractive historical person?

2. Favorite animated film and three reasons why.

3. Three movies you wish would get released on DVD/Blu-ray?

4. Favorite TV series.

5. Historical figure you find the most fascinating.

6. Would you prefer the ability to fly or talk to animals?

7. A movie or TV series that is objectively well-made that you just couldn’t warm up to.

8. Three movies you love that everyone else hates.

9. Three movies you hate that everyone else loves.

10. Three favorite film scores.

11. Favorite dessert.

The return of Nitrate Glow

Final.Fantasy.III.full.84613

This site is a trial ground of sorts for me. I’ve been blogging on Tumblr for about four years now, but I feel it’s time for a slight change. For those who have followed my previous blog, never fear, I’ll still make posts there, but I’ve been meaning to make a blog solely for my own material for years. May as well stop putting it off.

So what do you have to expect here? Pretty much what I’ve been doing on my Tumblr, posts about all my interests: silent film, animation, other films, JRPGs, and all sorts of additional musings. The usual stuff.

Here’s hoping this all goes well. Take care, readers!