In Theatres: THE GREAT BUSTER: A CELEBRATION

Coming to theatres today, Friday, October 5:
THE GREAT BUSTER

Director:
Peter Bogdanovich

Premiere:
Venice 2018

Select Festivals:
Telluride, Chicago, Deauville, Mill Valley

About:
A tribute to comic screen legend Buster Keaton.

While most silent film stars have sadly faded into obscurity, Buster Keaton, together with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, has been able to maintain a level of awareness within popular film culture. Peter Bogdanovich presents a fairly comprehensive overview of Keaton’s life and career, in a film that is perfectly conventional aside from its strange structure. Bogdanovich, who serves as a narrator and offers commentary on the several clips of Keaton’s work on display here, splits the film into three parts. The first details Keaton’s early life, marked by a career as a child actor in vaudeville, before his emergence in two-reelers as a partner for Fatty Arbuckle. In an unusual decision, Bogdanovich then skips over the prime of Keaton’s career, the ten features he made, which include THE GENERAL and STEAMBOAT BILL, JR, to instead delve into the performer’s generally sad fate in the post-sound era through to the end of his life. Only after his death does the director revisit and extol the 1920s features through extended clips and commentary that at times feels more like a film school seminar. Supplementary voices throughout the film run the gamut from the obvious – actual friends of Keaton like Dick Van Dyke – to the curious but understandable – physical performers like Johnny Knoxville – to outliers like Werner Herzog or SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING director Jon Watts.

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1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

One response to “In Theatres: THE GREAT BUSTER: A CELEBRATION

  1. Howard Squad

    I hope that Peter Bogdanovich wasn’t attempting to parallel his own downfall as a major filmmaker with what was done to Buster Keaton. Keaton’s downfall had much to do with big studio politics, whereas Bogdanovich became a profligate director whose bad film choices and overblown budgets were only surpassed by his enormous ego. Apart from the terrific footage culled from Buster Keaton’s films, The Great Buster is flat and lifeless. Cut out 90% of the talking heads (did Bogdanovich really believe old girlfriends were the best choices?) maybe then they’d have something. The Great Buster can’t come close to Kevin Brownlow’s brilliant Buster Keaton, A Hard Act To Follow, which is available here in the UK on DVD. More importantly, if Cohan Media has all the Keaton classic films why don’t they reissue those fabulous movies instead?

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