The Magic of M‚liŠs

Seen from the vantage point of our present age of CGI-driven films, the visionary genius of Georges M‚liŠs has never seemed so prescient. M‚liŠs was one of those brilliantly impatient thinkers who grasp the essential elements of a new technological discovery and, while others are still mulling over its basic properties, indulge their fantasies and turn the whole process on its head. As much a dyed-in-the-wool entertainer and committed magician as he was a protean visual artist, M‚liŠs ranks among the most influential figures in international popular culture. And as The Magic of M‚liŠs collection makes clear, his short films are still as deliciously absurd and delightful as they must have seemed a century ago. Although the absence of the most famous of all his landmark works, A Trip to the Moon, disappoints, it doesn?t diminish the sheer enjoyment or importance of this set. Quickly grasping that film editing could creatively alter the viewer's sense of space and time, M‚liŠs calls on old-fashioned magic acts, music hall shenanigans, children?s book narratives, and proto-surrealist imagery to fashion mini-masterpieces that, to their betterment, shrug off conventional logic and verisimilitude. The very titles of these 15 films practically advise us to ditch reality at the doorstep and surrender to these over-the-top flights of fantasy; among them, The Living Playing Cards, The Untamable Whiskers, The Enchanted Sedan Chair, and The Impossible Voyage. The addition of the compact documentary Georges M‚liŠs: Cinema Magician provides us with the facts of an artist who, thankfully, hardly gave facts the time of day.

July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.

Landline

What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.