A Saturday home viewing update:

*Yes Mr. Fraction, I am excited! That little puppy is going straight on my Christmas list. I refer of course (for those too wearly from their bustling Saturday to click the link) to the upcoming "Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film" seven-disc box set: over 17 hours of silent and early sound era films, all of them falling under an expansive 'avant-garde' banner. Quite extremely expansive, according to Bruce Posner (who heads this project along with film preservation powerhouse David Shepard): it seems that they're including everything from home movies to documentary footage of people suffering from epileptic seizures, intended for study by the medical community. The objective here is to grasp and present an avant-garde free of intent, "sufficiently advanced in content and form to establish new boundaries for early film aesthetics." Thusly, it appears that a lot of material produced by filmmakers still struggling with the uncertainties of a toddling medium will be included: one does not usually consider D.W. Griffith and Edwin S. Porter to be 'experimental' filmmakers, yet they most certainly conducted experiments in those early days. Posner seems to be aware that not every bit of this material is at all accepted as 'avant-garde', but the intent of the project isn't to provide strictly acceptable examples. "The juxtapositions conjured by the retrospective’s mix of experimental, documentary, and narrative formats provides a new light under which to examine these early experimental efforts," says Posner. Thus (despite the project's title), if not only avant-garde material is presented, then at least the interplay between the acceptable and unacceptable will afford us a greater understanding of the context that gave rise to the 'formal' works that the title suggests, and perhaps lead us to a finer appreciation of the ephemeral product of the early cinema, across the landscape of amateur and professional work. I love this stuff.

Judging from Matt's links, the dvd set will apparently be a refined version of the recent touring series of a similar name, which even contained a feature-length goodie: the design-crazed 1923 Alla Nazimova vehicle "Salome". I'll report back once some full specs have been released.

*I'm far too behind on my infant cinema purchases: I still need to get Kino's "Edison: the Invention of the Movies" box set (covering 1891-1918). And hey, if anyone out there missed out on the amazing "Treasures From American Film Archives" box from 2000, which soon went out of print, there's a brand-new Encore Edition just released the other week, presenting the same stuff over again for new viewers. I wrote about it way back when this site was nary a month old, and I stand behind everything. And that sequel set is great too, at least what I've gotten through so far.

*As as for some more, shall we say, mainstream silent releases: this Tuesday, Fatty is coming to get ya! A four-disc set from Mackinak Media, decently priced at under $50 retail (and for much less online), collecting a whole lot of work from Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. You may have seen some of this stuff playing on TCM during their April comedy programming. From the looks of the full specs it's heavy on his Keystone material, though we do get a sampling of his post-scandal output, including a sound short, directorial-only work, and the complete 1921 feature "Leap Year", which was never officially released in the US and banned in several European nations, entirely due to the media typhoon surrounding events at the time.

And hey! Mackinak's site is even hyping Fantagraphics' recent release of "Fatty Arbuckle and his Funny Friends", that Kim Deitch-covered collection of vintage English silent-era comic strips! Looks like this post has something about comic books after all! Whew!