Your Guide to “Buster’s Century” and More

More exciting news for Buster Keaton fans! This weekend, New York’s Film Forum is launching a two month series of Keaton films called Buster’s Century (though to be quite anal, they’re late for the centennial of his screen debut as well as his debut as a film-maker of shorts, and a year early for the centennial of his first feature). The real timely hook at the moment is James Curtis’s new book Buster Keaton: A Film-Maker’s Life, which I haven’t read yet, but can recommend on the strength of his excellent W.C. Fields: A Biography, one of the best books written about The Great Man. Curtis himself will be on hand to introduce films this weekend.

The first word of this post is “MORE” because Dana Steven’s terrific Camera Man has been out just a couple of months. My review is here. We also read this morning that James Mangold is developing a new Buster Keaton bio-pic based on Marion Meade’s classic book Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase. As Mangold co-wrote and directed one of the best show-biz bio-pics in Hollywood history the Johnny Cash/June Carter romance Walk the Line, I feel that the project couldn’t be in better hands. (I don’t know how funny it’ll be. Based on his track record, the focus will likely be his struggles with the bottle, which is valid).

Of course, I’ve written a few thousand words about Buster myself, both in my book Chain of Fools and here on Travalanche. Below is a list of the movies Film Forum is showing in its Keaton series. Just click on the link for my take on each film:

Our Hospitality (March 5)

Steamboat Bill Jr (March 6 & 7)

Go West (March 6)

One Week (March 6)

The Three Ages (March 14)

The Blacksmith (March 14)

College (March 21)

Cops (March 21)

Seven Chances (March 27)

Hard Luck (March 27)

Sherlock Jr (April 1)

The Electric House (April 1)

The High Sign (April 1)

The Navigator (April 3)

The Boat (April 3)

Spite Marriage (April 10)

The General (April 17)

The Cameraman (April 24)

Many of the screenings are pairings, with one or two shorts accompanying a feature. The strongest double feature is probably The Navigator and The Boat on April 3. The March 21 program is an unusual case of the short (Cops) being stronger than the feature (College), IMHO.

Go here for tickets and more information about Buster’s Century.

And while we’re plugging Film Forum. A couple of other films they’re screening in the near term caught my eye. Fellow vintage culture buffs ought be interested in Lisa Hurwitz’s documentary The Automat (about the eponymous eatery), which is screening through March 8. And a much grimmer note: on March 8 there will be a free screening of Christine Turner’s award winning short film Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day, followed by a discussion by the filmmaker. We presented an exhibition of such postcards at the New-York Historical Society about 20 years ago back when I was p.r. director there. They’re hard to look at, but it’s important to do so. There’s a reason this 15 minute movie will be followed by a much longer Q &A. Bring your friend or relative the January 6 apologist and MAKE them look and listen. (If anyone is disingenuous enough to deny a connection, you might want to point out the small detail of a NOOSE at that event). All you can do is try and keep trying.

At any rate, cheers to the Film Forum for this terrific programming. Seems calculated to get ya back in a cinema after two years away, in’t it?