Cocteau, Keaton and Crisp, Kent, Reed, Welles

Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau, 1946). Cocteau’s take on the famed French fairy tale is elegant and unsettling, standing as a cunning exploration of the ways in which imagery and mood can reshape a familiar story. Beginning with opening credits written on a chalkboard (and then promptly erased) and an explanatory that calls for the film to be viewed with the appropriate childlike wonder, Cocteau also establishes a terrific playful quality. The resulting mix of the sublime and the goofy gives Beauty and the Beast (or, if you prefer, La Belle et la Bête) an absolute surplus of charm. … Continue reading Cocteau, Keaton and Crisp, Kent, Reed, Welles

Burton, Keaton, Preminger, Trank, Vidor

Chronicle (Josh Trank, 2012). Chronicle is good enough to almost–almost–redeem the increasingly tired found footage subgenre. This is in part due to the especially clever use of the footage, drawing it from a variety of sources rather than relying on one dedicated amateur documentarian who keeps the camera running no matter what level of craziness is happening (although the film inevitably must rely on that conceit more than is ideal). Security cameras, police car dashboard cams and other fully believable devices provide all the material that’s stitched together into a narrative. If physics-defying mayhem were happening outside of a upper … Continue reading Burton, Keaton, Preminger, Trank, Vidor