London Diaries Part 3 - Buster Keaton at BFI Southbank and The Hayward Gallery
One of the main reasons I'm in London this week is to watch a couple of Buster Keaton films at the BFI, part of a retrospective celebrating him and his films.
Widely and rightly regarded as one of the greatest comedies ever made, Keaton’s masterpiece also impresses as a vivid recreation of the American South during the Civil War.
The pleasingly symmetrical storyline is basically an extended, virtuoso variation on the chase thriller, charting the perilous odyssey to behind enemy lines and back undertaken by Confederate train driver Johnny Gray (Keaton) when his beloved engine – carrying, as it happens, the girl he forlornly dreams of marrying – is stolen by Union soldiers.
Immaculately designed, stunningly shot and perfectly paced, the film is considerably more than a consistently funny and inspired series of beautifully executed gags, thanks to a dramatically satisfying narrative and deft characterisation. It helps that it’s graced by uniformly strong performances, with Marian Mack especially engaging – and game! – as Anabelle. But it’s Keaton, of course, who carries the day, his athletic skill combining with those watchful, wonderfully expressive eyes to create a credible hero of real resilience and intelligence. As close to perfection as filmmaking gets. – Geoff Andrew (via BFI)
Here's Andrew Pulver from the Guradian explaining why you should watch The General:
Some might be surprised to find in a comedy a brutal prize fight, with Buster’s spoilt millionaire posing as his boxing champion namesake to impress a girl (such, for Keaton, are the follies of love!). Otherwise it’s business as usual, with pacy, streamlined storytelling, expressive camerawork and expertly executed gags (most memorable, perhaps, in a duck-hunting scene), all centred around Keaton’s inimitable blend of wiry physical prowess and deft, subtle characterisation. (via BFI)
Before watching the films, I walked around Southbank and went to the
Martin Creed - What's the point of it?
I couldn't take photos of the Marin Creed exhibition. Below is a video review from The Guardian of the exhibition and you can read The Guardian's review here):