Buster Keaton lives on in Peter Bogdanovich's 'The Great Buster: A Celebration'

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Simple, yet brilliantly delivered, that is Buster Keaton's genius explained in just a few words. If you want to see absolute cinematic insanity, watch "The General." That film, like most of Keaton's, is full of death-defying stunts. That's part of the reason why it's considered one of the greats of all-time, the other reason is the way Keaton would frame his shots, present his mise-en-scene and use the space around him to create cinematic magic. 
Yes, "The General" is an astounding technical achievement, even more so now, 91 years after its release. "The Navigator" is also an immaculate Keaton classic, and lest we forget "Sherlock Jr" as well, his valentine to the early days of movies. They've all aged magnificently well. In fact, one of the reasons why Keaton surpasses Charlie Chaplin in my books is that, despite being almost a century old, his movies haven't aged, slightly, better. I still love Chaplin, how can you not? But Keaton had that extra oomph, that edge that seems to fit better with today's modern-day filmmaking. For example, most of his stunts surpass what Tom Cruise did, astonishingly well, in the last few "Mission: Impossible" films.

From David Thomson‘s 1.29.06 Independent essay, titled “Buster Was Stoked By Genius, But He Hit The Buffers Hard.” [Thanks HE]
“Buster Keaton was tragic, shattered, a survivor in name only and a genius — he was company for Bresson, Ophuls. And it was in the 1920s that Keaton hit his great purple passage: The Three Ages; Our Hospitality; Sherlock Jr; The Navigator; Seven Chances; Battling Butler; The General; College; Steamboat Bill Jr; The Cameraman. In those years, Chaplin made The Gold Rush and The Circus, two fabulous hits. All I am trying to make clear is that Keaton worked at a more rapid pace, and he made one thing — masterpieces. These are the films that any newcomer needs to see. And in that process he or she should realize that the experience is not only comic — it has to do with space, light, movement, duration, time. It is great theatre, but it is music and form, too. These are among the most beautiful films ever made in the silent era.”  




Peter Bogdanovich’s "The Great Buster: A Celebration" is a documentary about Keaton, which world premiered at Telluride and then screened at Venice the week after. It opens in theaters October 5 at New York’s Quad Cinema and October 19 in Los Angeles at the Nuart, hopefully ti expands beyond that soon afterwards.