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About JonasEB

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  1. At this point they’re as well known as anyone...at least to silent film people. They’re no worse off than most silent film figures, largely neglected with even people who would call themselves “classic film fans.” I only say so because even though Kevin Brownlow, David Shepard, and others have been referencing and featuring them in their work for decades, this idea that they’ve been overlooked is still mentioned left and right, year after year. Alice Guy was working during the pioneering days and is on par with those filmmakers - interesting, but mostly curiosities for those interested in early cinema and the era and not great art. Lois Weber was a part of the second generation, where things really started to ascend, and made some very fine films of the period like The Blot. Her work has had difficulties getting out until recently, but I think that’s just the fact of life for a lot of silent era figures. Flicker Alley and Kino each have released sets in the past few years about early women filmmakers that are quite worth picking up, especially the Flicker Alley. Alice Guy has also been covered extensively in Gaumont’s releases of their early years, released by Kino in two box sets over here (she is in volume 1 with other key Gaumont figures Louis Feuillade and Leonce Perret) and was featured in the great The Movies Begin series of releases back in the 90s. (As an aside, the Flicker Alley set’s liner notes also makes some outrageous reaches to try to make Guy’s work seem finer than it is...and makes a particularly baffling attempt to add a ridiculous modern socio-political angle that isn’t there to a film called Making An American Citizen - the immigrant being “pressured to assimilate and give up traditions” when the film’s only message is a very one note, straightforward “don’t beat your wife,” which I’d have thought everyone would think is a total positive.)
  2. This is the truth. Whenever I hear public domain mentioned in the positive, my first thought is, “Do you see how public domain films look when they’re on TV? Pretty bad!” Most just take the easiest, lousiest rip off they can find of anything and slap it on their disc, station, or service. In some cases these may have hurt the prospects of superior versions being released by people (usually studios) who have the best, or even only good, materials. Public domain was created with printed material in mind - all one needs in the case of a book is an authoritative copy of it and it’s easy enough to replicate in full. This isn’t the case with film. The way things are going, I would really like public domain to be a good solution to the problems of film distribution and presentation, but hardly anyone independent of major studios actually goes about this in the right way (Thunderbean Animation is an example of a company that tries as hard as possible to do great releases of PD material - there are very few like them.)
  3. Apparently classic film fans just can’t see the forest for the trees. A few Chantal Akerman films, out of 300 some films a month, is really a huge problem? If you can avoid them on Imports how do you struggle to do so on The Essentials? So TCM is making Silent Sunday “woke” by...showing exactly the same films that they always do? That’s exactly what the schedules for the next three months show. I fail to see how showing those mediocre William Haines films again qualifies as forcing wokeness on anyone. Someone there really likes Oscar Micheaux (an interesting figure but his films aren’t that great) enough to keep showing Symbol of the Unconquered perhaps more than it needs to be but otherwise it’s the same stuff TCM has always shown. If it’s the intros, wow, it’s pretty easy to skip over them (you have a remote control for a reason, you’re not watching TCM on an old dial TV.) If it’s not “fun” anymore, sorry, that’s you making a problem for yourself.
  4. This was the best post in this thread and no one responded to it (fortunately it was noticed by a few people.) There are other ways to watch and engage with film. If you’re not going to try, it’s not necessarily the film’s fault. But it seems if less than 1% of a channel’s programming deviates from the norm it’s a huge problem for some people. That said, Cleopatra 1912 is a poor film...but it’s not like TCM hasn’t replayed that one before, or other mediocre to bad silent films like it. Let’s blame the presenter instead and pretend that the schedule isn’t really running along like it usually is (Faust and Phantom Carriage are indisputable classics and have been on before.) If you want a TCM issue that really needs some complaints to rectify it, how about the awful frame rate problems since April that afflict pretty much every film on the channel that isn’t from an HD master? I can’t be the only person who sees this.
  5. "Perfected it" is stretching it quite a bit. I have all of the Kinos too and enjoy them very much but the new restorations are really quite wonderful. One thing that I do not like, though, is that each of these will be presented in 1080/24p. This is absolutely fine and right for 24 frame per second films like The General, Sherlock Jr., and Steamboat Bill Jr. but the films intended for a lower frame rate such as Our Hospitality and Three Ages will have duplicate frames inserted to conform to 24 frames per second, making them noticeably jerky. The original Kino editions of these two films were transferred using interlacing, which has preserved the smooth motion that these films can and should be seen in (ditto their edition of One Week on the original Keaton shorts collection - one of the gems of my home video collection.) This will be lost on the Cohen editions, despite the improvement in picture quality that is quite likely with Our Hospitality (based on the documentary, this certainly seems to be the case.) For me, this is a step forward...and a step backward. I'm considering that the trade-off might be worth it but we can and should have both improved picture quality and proper smooth motion for these films. (Oh yeah, whatever negatives you may have heard about interlacing, like "combing," are all bogus. De-interlacing an image for playback is dependent on the player - not all of them do it properly. A great Blu-ray player like the PlayStation 3 or 4 prove that these supposed issues are, in fact, non-issues.) Criterion's upcoming restored edition of Keaton's The Cameraman, not yet announced, will fortunately preserve smooth motion. I believe they, with the possible exception of Milestone (haven't seen their recent titles,) are the only company that currently does silent films with non-standard frame rates the right way - interlaced. Their edition of Safety Last and many of the Harold Lloyd shorts, the 20 fps version of The Passion of Joan of Arc, The Phantom Carriage, etc., all play back smoothly and beautifully.
  6. TCM for the last month plus seems to be having some sort of scaling issue with SD content that makes motion choppy (most noticeable in camera pans.) Some of the odd aspect ratio stretching and squashing must be related to it.
  7. I actually had some down time that day and decided to watch this and it really is a good film. Good enough that I decided to watch several of the others on On Demand the week after. I recant. I don't know if a flip was switched or TCM just happened to save a number of their better films for that day but I enjoyed them.
  8. I was going to record these but then thought the better of it. I've given these guys enough chances already, I can't bear the thought of sitting through another eight or so of their films.
  9. You certainly seem to be “fretful and agitated” by the article, which isn’t anything like you’re making it seem. Quite an overreaction.
  10. I haven't looked in too often over the last month but it seems lately every film TCM shows from an SD master has the same stuttering frame rate issue. That certainly seems to be the case this morning. I'd like to think it's Comcast's fault but this is restricted to TCM and does not affect their interstitial advertising or HD-sourced films. Not only does it affect the frame rate but the video compression also seems to reach terrible lows. It's really ugly. Maybe it's AT&T's fault? New cost cutting measures? In any case, hope it gets fixed.
  11. Also a terrible dramatist. Everything you ever hear about Napoleon comes from the stunning Act 1 and the Triptych from Act 4. Act 3, which I like to call "Napoleon & Josephine: The Blandest Lovers of All Time" is dire, a gaping hole of mediocrity that no one ever mentions when this film comes up (hearing about this film for more than a decade, I had absolutely no clue this was coming when I finally watched the BFI's release a couple months back because the boosters invariably skip over it; they just don't talk about it.) It's all of his weakness with plot and character and none of his strength with visuals (well, save perhaps some of the very beginning of this Act at a party.) As for the triptych, I don't think it's nearly as interesting as it's made out to be. The early widescreen is nice, but the more experimental portions did nothing for me (indeed, after Act 3 I neither need or want to see multi close-ups of the Josephine from this film.) The BFI's Blu-ray (United Kingdom, Region B) of Napoleon is Kevin Brownlow's (the film's biggest proponent and savior through the decades) restoration form the early 2000s. Francis Ford Coppola and The Cinematheque Francaise have their own restoration in the works that is supposed to include some more material (these two different restorations are the result of a feud with Coppola, issues of who really owns the remnants of the film, and how exactly to restore it - Gance revised this film continuously over the decades.) Criterion is apparently going to release this version over here. As for the TCM aspect ratios, that's down to the studios that make the masters. When Warner prepare masters for home video releases of 1.85:1 films, they leave the matte open to 1.78:1 instead (most of the time they leave it open, they may zoom in in a few cases, I can't remember for sure.) I'd prefer they didn't but the difference really isn't terribly big.
  12. Wholeheartedly agree, but at least the Road Runner cartoons had some thought put into them. Every single Speedy Gonzalez short is exactly the same as any other and I know they used the same Sylvester/Guillotine gag at least three times. I don't care about any stereotyping - I probably won't watch that disc in the Golden Collection ever again because it's just soooooo boring. Also agree about when the Warner shorts started to heavily decline - pretty much around the start of the widescreen era. Robert McKimson's work probably fared the worst as the fifties progressed. One-offs tended to be better than the characters at this point, although the later Yosemite Sam short Honey's Money will always be one of my favorites. When I was a kid, I always preferred to watch the packages on TBS and later Cartoon Network, because the Turner package was the prime stuff from the 1940s. Nickelodeon and the network TV packages that showed the WB owned stuff did have some of the peak Chuck Jones shorts but they also showed the terrible DePatie/Freleng era shorts too much (and pretty much deleted any of the black & white stuff by 91 or 92; they only showed a few that were colorized after that.)
  13. Actually, Disney brought themselves low themselves back at the time of The Jungle Book. Walt was known to be dissatisfied with the animation unit for a long, long time by the time he died. I'm sure he hated stuff like The Sword in the Stone (quite rightfully - it's awful) and wouldn't have cared for much of anything the studio did in the sixties and seventies (quite rightfully, that stuff was lazy and constricted, both in terms of animation and story, compared to the 30s, 40s, and 50s stuff.) Don Bluth and Wolfgang Reitherman had great technical skill in their day but they weren't the greatest filmmakers (Bluth was and is lousy.) The recent Disney films ARE way better than most of what they made (now, the true Disney classics from before the sixties...that's another thing!)
  14. I'm sure TCM would like to spend more money...but they can't get that money from their parent company. I wouldn't throw the TCM Film Festival in with the Wine Club and the Cruise (hell, even the cruise, if not for someone like me, is surely a nice idea for other people); it gives people an opportunity to see a lot of films theatrically that they might not otherwise see and meet and interact with some of the last surviving members of the Old Hollywood system. Plus, the festival debuts big restorations of certain classic films before they surface anywhere else, like the Buster Keatons a few years back. It's pretty darn far from a money grab on the scale of things. Yeah, let's not consider the changing media landscape that's having a great effect on practically everything and just blame the people, many of whom have been with TCM for a very long time (as long as Robert Osborne,) who try hard to make this work. This is the sole Turner station that hasn't dramatically changed like every one of its sister stations did during the last 10-15 years - that says something. If you watch a channel for 10+ years, you're going to get diminishing returns eventually (I haven't, there's still too much stuff for me to DVR every year on the channel - hundreds of films every year.) If you're getting tired, there are new people coming to the channel all the time who will discover the best treasure on TV, by far.
  15. That the films largely come from Janus Films/The Criterion Collection is totally correct but also it's because there aren't so many films from Nazi Germany and post-war Germany that are readily available to programmers to use. It would require a great deal of resources from TCM itself beyond its means to specially acquire some of this stuff. Just as noteworthy, Japanese cinema (and Italian cinema as well) rebuilt itself much, much faster than German cinema did; it started its new Golden Age relatively quickly, many of its brightest talents continued working as soon as the war ended, while German cinema was a shambles for many years after the war. Japan was one of the titan countries in film production since the 1930s and it resumed that status quickly while German cinema never really regained its past status, even with the New German Cinema era. It would be interesting to see some of this stuff but it's not a deliberate decision to ignore it.
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