The other day, I was thinking about how foolish we NBA fans have been for this decade plus of speculation about who the next Michael Jordan would be. Sure, it’s died down of late, but for some time, every great player, especially those who were clearly the best in the game for a time, were compared to Jordan. Young players who seemed to have an extra special makeup were crowned as ‘The Air Apparent’ (not my wordplay). Truth is, there will never be another Jordan. Lebron will never be Jordan, Durant will never be Jordan, Kobe isn’t… no one will be. He is and was too singular, an isolated incidence. I will cut myself off now, because this post isn’t about Michael Jordan.
I mention Jordan’s singularity, because such is the case with Buster Keaton. No one will ever be what Buster Keaton was. He was the perfect storm of talent, born into the perfect moment in film history’s youth. His self-effacing charm, his daring stunts, the sweetness of his writing, his groundbreaking directing, his ability to act out hilarious physical comedy without ever changing that wonderfully melancholy facial expression… I could go on and on and on.
Sherlock Jr. is Keaton at his best. A pure joy. As a child of the late 20th century, I sometimes have trouble with silent film. Even some of the quintessential films from that era jar a bit with my talky sensibilities. That is never the case with Keaton’s silent films. They are too perfect, there wasn’t a single scene in Sherlock Jr. in which it feels like something could be added with audible dialogue.
Keaton was the master of his medium, and the pinnacle of pre-sound film. And come on, at only 45 minutes, it’s like watching a commercial free hour-long television show. You should watch it… again or for the first time.