Pit director of the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra for Silent Films, UCSD’s ArtPower
The finest screen adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the 1920 silent. The Kino DVD has beautiful tinting effects that silent-era audiences appreciated. Each scene is important: the imaginary ants that pester the film’s comical opium addict aren’t so funny when you recall the earlier close-up of bacteria under Dr. Jekyll’s microscope.
The 1926 silent-era animated feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed features a silhouette technique invented by German animator Lotte Reiniger, involving cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead that she manipulated, frame-by-frame. Delicate lace-like beauty tempered with action, action, action!
I am on record as saying that “talkies” are just a fad. But, if I had to pick a talkie, obviously it would be Sunset Boulevard.
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (USA) 1920, Kino Video
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Germany) 1926, Image Entertainment
Sunset Boulevard (Special Collector's Edition) (USA) 1950, Paramount
Owner, Kensington Video
For Father’s Day, here are two dearly loved movies that I never tire of watching. The first is The Kid, with Charlie Chaplin and a young Jackie Coogan.
My other choice is Tribute, with Jack Lemmon and Robby Benson. It shows the divide that takes place between a father and son because of divorce and work demands. Not until the father’s honored by others and the son learns that his father’s dying does he take a true look at the kind of man his father is.
The worst dad is a toss-up between Homer Simpson and the great W.C. Fields, whose oft-quoted response to the question of how do you like children was, “They are very good with mustard.”
The Kid, 1921, Warner Tribute (USA) 1980, HBO
The Simpsons: Season One 1989, 20th Century Fox
The Bank Dick (USA) 1940, Criterion Collection
Film Curator, UCSD’s ArtPower, artpower.ucsd.edu
Paris, Texas is my very favorite dialogue- and character-driven film. It’s a magical collaboration between playwright Sam Shepard and German new-wave hero Wim Wenders. Intensely cinematic and disarming, this road movie is about rebuilding from the mistakes of the past.
The Five Obstructions is a playful and witty film about the creative process and the mind of a man. Lars von Trier sets five rules, or obstructions, for a cinematic game he plays with director Jørgen Leth (The Perfect Human).
Public Enemy is in my top-ten gangster films, due to James Cagney’s powerful performance and William Wellman’s wonderful direction. An engaging, moralistic Prohibition-era tale set in the bad old days of Chicago; the realistic tone and off-camera violence informed gangster flicks for years to come.
(France/Germany) 1984, 20th Century Fox
The Five Obstructions (Denmark) 2003, Koch Lorber Films
The Public Enemy (USA) 1931, Warner