Capitolfest 15: A Snapshot

My husband and I attend a silent/early talky film festival every summer. Each year, Capitolfest focuses on one artist who worked in the silent era and transitioned to early talkies. This year’s featured artist was Fay Wray, primarily known for her role in King Kong.

Her daughter, Victoria Riskin, is writing a book about her parents, tentatively titled Roses in December. She was Googling her mother’s name and came across this film festival in tiny Rome, NY.  She reached out to the organizers and made arrangement to attend the event. Ms. Riskin spoke to the audience on Friday night, shared the memorial DVD tribute one of her nieces made for Ms. Wray’s funeral, held a lunch-break Q&A for festival participants, and spoke to the attendees again on Sunday afternoon. She also graciously posed for photos.  I did not have one taken with her, but I did take one of TV Stevie with her.

She confessed to the crowd that she had not seen many of the features shown at the festival. Life before DVDs. Life before film restoration. Life before sound on film.

Here is a list of Fay Wray motion pictures shown at Capitolfest 15 (silent films are accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Moller Theater Organ):

  • The Coastal Patrol  (1925, Silent)
  • The Sea God (1930)
  • Four Feathers (1929, Silent)
  • The Countess of Monte Cristo (1934)
  • Wild Horse Stampede (1926, Silent)
  • White Lies (1934)
  • Stowaway (1932)



Bowl Me Over

Today is National Bowling League Day. No, I am not a bowler. I haven’t bowled since high school, and I don’t miss it at all.

The reason I chose this topic for today is because of scenes depicting bowling in the media.

My favorite bowling scene in a romance novel is from Kristan Higgins’  Catch of the Day. The heroine goes on a series of blind dates, once of which is at a bowling alley. Her date–recommended by her priest–is sleazy. He doesn’t come off that way at first, but the signs are there. The he does something, seemingly innocent, but the heroine follows her instincts. Let’s just say payback is a bitch.

My favorite bowling related movie is The Big Lebowski (Jeff Bridges, John Goodman). This is a motion picture people either loathe or adore. I am one of the fans. The protagonist is a bowler. Check out this scene for a taste of the action.  Or this one.


Super Heroes and Why We Need Them

Super hero movies, based on comics, have dominated the motion picture landscape for several years. What is our fascination with these characters? I don’t think it goes back to comic books, where most of the characters originated. I think the movies are more pervasive in than the comics are in this generation.

So why do we flock to movies about super heroes?

Movies (and romance novels) are about escapism. They’re about the fantasy. The “good guy” always wins. Some days it feels as if there aren’t enough good guys out there in our real lives. Super heroes, defeating larger-than-life villains give us hope.

Hope is always a good thing.

Audio: 1913 vs 2017

My husband and I attended Capitolfest this past August. Capitolfest is held in Rome, NY and features three days of old movies–many of which are silent. Those are accompanied by the 1928 original installation Moller Organ. In addition to movies, there are always a couple of presentations related to the early days of film making.

In 2016, we heard the Library of Congress film expert George Willeman’s presentation on the Edison Kinetoscope, The presentation included many photographs of Edison’s laboratory and the work being done to make “talkies.” Several kinetoscopes were shown. The video and audio quality of the 1913 productions was amazing. Edison’s people worked very hard on the lip-syncing aspect of mixing sound and visuals. What we saw was spot on. (There was an amusing segment where a group of people were singing the “Star Spangled Banner” but the video was of the group singing “God Save the King”. )

Sometimes, though, watching TV, I don’t think technology has advanced much over the past 100 or so years. Digital TV has a lip-sync problem that makes me crazy when I’m trying to watch news programs.

Maybe modern technology needs a few lessons from Edison.

Movies About Women: My Reviews

The Academy Awards (Oscars) are coming up. That means  TV Stevie is trying to see every motion picture nominated in the major categories–and not so major categories if the films are readily available for watching.

A few weeks ago, we decided to go to an early showing of Twentieth Century Women. The trailers lured me into thinking the movie was something it wasn’t. It was well acted. The ramshackle house in which most of the action took place was a nice metaphor for people who lived there, as was the vineyard in which the defining moment took place.

But something was…off about the movie. One of the women was born the same year I was, and I should have been able to relate to her, her music, and her state of mind at that age, but it was like a foreign country to me. In fact, I couldn’t relate to a single character.

And the pacing was off. I do have a difficult time sitting during movies, even at home, and when I start to wonder how much longer I have to sit through this, I know it’s not me. At home, I can stand and stretch. Run to the kitchen to refresh my beverage. But I can’t do that in a movie theater.  I wanted to do that several times during this picture.

TV Stevie and I then grabbed lunch and returned to the theater to see Hidden Figures. I am so glad we decided at the last minute to do this. This motion picture is wonderful. Just incredible. Although I haven’t seen any of the other contenders for Best Picture, I want this one to win. It’s about women. Powerless women.  And even without power, they made their voices heard and were able to make great contributions. It’s about time those contributions were acknowledged.

No pacing problems here.  I didn’t want the film to end.