Coming to theatres today, Friday, October 5:
THE GREAT BUSTER
Telluride, Chicago, Deauville, Mill Valley
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.