A required read for any self-respecting cinephile is critic Dave Kehr‘s weekly DVD column in the NYT. At a time when most new movies don’t offer much to digest for the sophisticated film critic, Kehr has the best beat in town: DVDs. Every week, Kehr shares his erudite knowledge and elegant prose style. And he outdoes himself with this week’s essay on the greatest silent comedian, Buster Keaton, who like his rival Charlie Chaplin, directed his own films–but for too short a time. (A new DVD of Steamboat Bill, Jr. is hitting stores, as well as Lost Keaton, which includes sixteen Educational Pictures shorts he made in the 30s.)
I fell in love with Buster in high school, when a series of his shorts and features was hitting theaters around the country after decades on the shelf. I watched every single one, read the tragic Rudi Blesh biography, and when I went to college, slapped a Keaton poster on my wall and a straw boater on the head of my big-eyed boyfriend Peter, who was perfect casting for my own super-8 Keaton short.