I’m supper excited about this movie, The Artist. It’s a Romance film by French director Michael Hazanavicius, and its going to be a silent! It looks pretty good from the trailer, all dramatic and it really seems to carry the vintage of silent films. I cant wait to see it. :D It’s was released in may of 2011, and i cant seem to find it online, so look around and let me know if you find it.
Every cinephile has at some point in their life met someone who said that they hated silent films, black-and-white films, or foreign films. I’ve heard some version of this too many times. If this person is a child, I’ll let it slide, because kids don’t know any better. Heck, when I was a kid, I was the same way. If this person is an adult, though, anyone over the age of 18 who can read and has full mental agency and says they won’t watch silent or black-and-white or foreign films, then there’s no excuse. You’re either dumb, lazy, closed-minded, or some combination of the three. If you’re one of those people, you’re probably really mad at me right now, and you’re probably going to be skeptical about The Artist, the Oscar frontrunner that just so happens to be silent, black-and-white, and foreign (French, specifically). The filmfollows the career trajectory of fictional silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) from 1927 to 1932, as the sound era takes hold of the Hollywood studios and Valentin’s career fades, while the career of his loving admirer Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) rises. For me, the film’s most stimulating aspect is easily the art direction. The set design and decoration and the costumes, hair, and makeup all believably evoke the late ‘20s and early '30s as well as the backlot sets of the films of that era, which presented a slightly glamorized or romanticized version of Hollywood that fits perfectly with this film’s romanticization of the period; they also make for some very striking images - look for the scene of George and Peppy talking on the stairs as a particularly strong example. While the art direction is great, viewers are more likely to be charmed by The Artist's three stars, Dujardin, Bejo, and Uggie the dog. Lucky for non-fans of silent films, Hazanavicius doesn’t have his actors engage completely in the more-expressive, physically exaggerated, theatrical silent film acting style that you guys hate. Instead, the acting is adapted to the more natural and subdued modern style of acting we’re all accustomed to now. All the actors do a fine job with their performances, but it’s Dujardin and Bejo who excel. Of course, that may be because they’re the only two with fully-developed characters, but that doesn’t lessen their talents. Dujardin’s face is unusually expressive, and tells as much of the story as dialogue would, or even the intertitles here do. George’s charm and confidence radiate from the screen, and make his fall into desolation even more pitiful and painful. Bejo channels to perfection the starlets of that late silent-early sound period, not only in her appearance but in her cheerful, radiant demeanor and her romantic vulnerability, which to me immediately called to mind Ruby Keeler, although you could certainly see a connection between Peppy and several talkie-era women. And then, of course, there’s Uggie, who references Rin-Tin-Tin not only in acting ability but in scene-stealing capability. In all, The Artist is an extremely charming, feel-good film, and I myself was both charmed and made to feel good, and yet, if I’m being honest, I didn’t love this film. I don’t think there’s any one big thing that’s wrong about the movie; instead, it was a number of small things, most of which had to do with the fact that the film asks to be compared to the silent films it emulates. Some of the problems are just my wishful thinking, like me wanting the film to look rougher and more like how silent film looks and how the old projectors made them look, even though I know that would have turned off some viewers and quite possibly looked too hokey. Others, though, seem less dismissible. For example, there are multiple moments where fake films are shown or posters and photos of the actors meant to be from the era are shown. Some of these are made to look period appropriate and look great because of it, but others have a clarity in their photography or graphic design that stands out drastically as modern and even digital in appearance, which seems simply lazy. I also hated the tap sounds in the final scene’s tap dance number, which sounded wimpy compared to the taps in any of the '30s musicals. Again, not big problems, just little annoyances that built up for me. A third one, which is a little bigger, is that the score didn’t work for me. The music itself was fine and fit the tone and the mood, but whether it’s the fault of composer Ludovic Bource or the editing, I thought the cueing was lackluster, failing to accent the story and the emotions the way that music in silent film should and, when done right, does. Basically, what it all boils down to is that I enjoyed The Artist, but all it really made me do is want to watch any of the many superior silent films it tries to live up to. It’s entertaining, but it’s not particularly enlightening or meaningful. The art direction and acting are enough to let me still rate the film fairly well, but truthfully, I’ll be a little disappointed if it does do as well at the Oscars as it looks like it will. If you’ve seen The Artist and liked it and haven’t seen many old silent films, I urge you to do so, because many of them are simply marvelous pieces of work. The Artist isn’t marvelous, but it’ll do for now.
Dirigido por Michel Hazanavicius. Com Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman e James Cromwell.
Uma produção francesa em preto-e-branco e muda dirigida por um realizador cuja experiência resumia-se à um “Agente 86” francês poderia dar certo? Deu. O sucesso de “O Artista” nas premiações do ano, principalmente no Oscar, é reflexo de uma nostalgia quase desesperadora; o esforço que Hollywood faz para sobreviver a uma nova lógica de reprodução e mesmo conceitual dos direitos autorais tem atingido até a temática das grandes produções. Se cada filme é o reflexo de seu tempo, fica claro que “O Artista” não é sobre a decadência dos atores do cinema-mudo e sim, sobre a crise de confiança pela qual os estúdios passam hoje.
À parte disso, “O Artista” sustenta-se como filme; a tragicomédia sobre a queda de um grande astro do cinema-mudo que se perde em meio ao advento dos diálogos nas projeções é de uma sensibilidade admirável; Dujardin e Bejo saem-se bem com atuações difíceis de realizar. É importante destacar a trilha sonora; que em uma produção muda tem a função de ajudar a contar a história, e funciona bem. Porém, apesar de tudo, “O Artista” é um filme sobre os clássicos, será que consegue ser um deles? E, além disso, o que acontecerá com os oscarizados Dujardin e Hazanavicius? O tempo vai dizer se “O Artista” é só um feel good movie fatalmente esquecido ou uma produção memorável; mas hoje, ele bem vale um Oscar.
Though I have not seen as many films as I should have this year, many agree that 2011 was not exactly a banner year for great films, with a few notable exceptions (i.e. Pariah as others have mentioned on the blog). The Artist is also one of those exceptions. A beautiful homage to the silent movies of the early 20th century, the film is, at its heart, a simple love story between two people whose lives move in opposite directions. Entirely in black-and-white, and nearly entirely silent except for a few key moments, it initially may seem too “artsy” or whatever for most people - do not let that stop you from going immediately to your nearest theater of choice that is showing it. It’s truly a remarkable film in how it explores an old cinematic art form in new and unexpected ways.