In memory of Grandpa Knight

This weekend, we celebrated the life of a beloved family member and friend. I knew him as Grandpa, but he was born Clylas Elwood Knight, Jr., on his mother’s family farm in Hawley, Texas, on Christmas Eve 1925. In his early 20’s, he became known as “Tex,” and it stuck with him the rest of his life.

I wanted to share the above photo of my brother Nick, Grandpa, and me (left to right). It’s from an epic cross-country camping trip that the three of us took in the summer of 1991. It is my favorite memory of him.

In 2010, I helped Grandpa publish his autobiography. It’s been revised with minor corrections a few times and the 3rd Edition is available on

Links below to his obituaries. (The correct date of his passing is Wednesday, August 21st.)

1920’s Painlevé nature films on new Criterion Channel

While browsing through the oldest films available on Criterion’s new streaming service, I noticed several by Jean Painlevé.* These are from a DVD collection released in 2009 called Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé (parts also released earlier by BFI). From 1925 to 1982, Painlevé directed hundreds of short films, most around 10 minutes long.

The mesmerizing, utterly unclassifiable science films of Jean Painlevé (1902-89) have to be seen to be believed: delightful, surrealist-influenced dream works that are also serious science. The French filmmaker-scientist-inventor had a decades-spanning career in which he created hundreds of short films on subjects ranging from astronomy to pigeons to, most famously, such marine-life marvels as the sea horse and the sea urchin. This definitive three-disc collection brings together the best of these, and also includes the French television series Jean Painlevé Through His Films, rock band Yo La Tengo’s eight-film score The Sounds of Science, and an essay by film scholar Scott MacDonald.

The Criterion Collection
Read more 1920’s Painlevé nature films on new Criterion Channel

114 Lumière shorts now on Amazon Prime

It’s been more than 20 years since we’ve seen a home video release of the inventors of cinema, Auguste and Louis Lumière. Their catalogue was produced between 1895 and 1905, so what could have changed in the past 20 years? In 2015, the Institut Lumière led an effort to release many of their films through new 4K scans (nearly 4 times the detail of Blu-ray, and 24 times the detail of DVD), now that the technology is more affordable. The fruits of their effort has finally come to Amazon Prime streaming (in 1080p), with English subtitles for the commentary. Simply entitled Lumière!

Baby’s Tea Time (Louis Lumière on left)
Read more 114 Lumière shorts now on Amazon Prime

Box office movie records

Normally I don’t pay much attention to blockbuster movies, but in listening to one of the Oscars episodes of the Unspooled podcast, my curiosity was piqued. Box Office Mojo is a treasure trove of stats on gross earnings of mostly-American films. There are all sorts of metrics you can investigate on their site, but I found the All Time Worldwide (Top 20) and All Time Domestic (Adjusted for Inflation) (Top 30) to be the most interesting overall.

All time blockbuster films
Read more Box office movie records

Archway screenshots from The Great Dictator

Inspired by the cinematography and set design of The Great Dictator (1940), I stitched together the vertical pan shot of the great arch at the Tomainian rally, about 3/4 of the way into the movie. I’m still baffled as to how this was made, considering you can see people clapping in the audience.

Tomainian arch in The Great Dictator (1940)

Also, my full review (posted on Letterboxd): Charlie Chaplin deftly plays on the edge of comedy and tragedy with this parody of Nazi Germany.  Read more Archway screenshots from The Great Dictator