Aug 27, 2012

[Movies] The Artist (2011)

It's interesting how so many people talk about the sort of beauty and grandeur of the silent movie era and yet far too many of us have not truly experienced it. I'm guilty of that as well apart from silent movie clips embedded in other movies, I can't say that I've actually spent time watching them. Boo me.

And on a related tangent, I can't say that I've watched all Academy Award winning movies either, which is sort of one of those typical goals for movie enthusiasts. I try from time to time to catch with the most recent winners especially for the big awards like Best Picture and Best Director, but there are just too many past winners to catch up with, it all gets a little daunting.

So this movie was certainly one that caught my interest, especially given it sort of combined the two above elements. It made waves for being an actual silent movie (of sorts) and it bagged quite a number Oscar statues as well.

So I finally got around to watching it recently. And darn it, it was AMAZING.


Synopsis: The Artist is a 2011 French movie that is part romance, drama and comedy all at once - which may actually seem a bit typical of many French movies, now that I think about it. It was written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius. The movie was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five along with numerous other prestigious awards.

It is 1927 at the height of the silent film era and George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is present at the premiere of his latest movie, The Russian Affair. He accidentally bumps into a young lady by the name of Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) and as he graciously tries to remedy the situation, his attentions get her to the front page of Variety. This leads to her auditioning for a role as a dancer until Valentin insists that she have a larger role. After bullying the studio executive Al Zimmer (John Goodman), he helps her land her first acting role. Thus beings her rise to stardom.

But in time Zimmer announces that Kinograph Studios will not be moving on to the new "talking pictures", thus ending their silent movie run. George sees this as a passing fad and that no one will ever abandon the artistry of silent movies. Thus he sets off on his own to produce his own silent movie while Kinography goes on with their first talking feature with Peppy Miller as their star. Thus they race to complete their movies and see which will come out on top and pretty much determine the fate of Valentin's career.

Now we need to make this clear that this is a nearly silent movie about silent movies. When I say nearly silent, the movie still has rich scoring (which merited an Oscar all on its own) that certainly helps build the mood and bring the movie forward. You just don't have any actual spoken dialog, thus you rely on title cards intercut with the scenes to help with the wordier parts of the story

But on the whole, one has to appreciate how different a medium the old silent movies were. Sure, they're still "moving pictures", but at the same time the medium developed a whole style of acting all on its own. Thus it seems some of gestures and movements are a tad exaggerated and not quite "normal", but these remain essential in ensuring the audience still gets the conveyed message. And it all works brilliantly to tell this story, which initially seems simple but has so many intricate facets and nuances to it as well.

On a sort of side note to things, I really appreciated the dog Jack (as played by Uggie) in the movie. I mean seriously, that little guy was just adorable. Quite the brilliant animal actor right there.

I worry how insubstantial this review seems to me at this point, but that may be more due to the fact that I really, really enjoyed this movie. There are just so nuances to it that I feel I will need to watch it a few more times before I get everything out of it. There's a particular attention to detail that went into the creation of the piece that really came through for me and made it all the more impressive. Plus the actors all did rather spectacularly, especially with the challenge of no longer having the option for actual dialog to help express themselves.

The Artist is a movie that is smart without being overly pretencious and thus the end result is simply beautiful. There's an inherent simplicity to the movie that may seem deceptive at first but in the end it all works out and makes for a great movie as a whole. Thus I happily give the movie 5 cute tricks that Jack performs out of a possible 5.


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18 comments:

Aileen A. said...

I'm glad for this review, this reminds me to watch the movie soon! I love movies like this :)

Fred Hawson said...

i have also enjoyed this film immensely. My own review is posted here: The Artist

Stephanie Mayo said...

Fairly entertaining, but totally overrated. Brilliant and unforgettable performance by Jean Dujardin, though.

Reginald Requiño Agsalon said...

honestly i dont watch the movie but one of my friend watched it and find it great :)

Angie Vianzon said...

I haven't watched this movie yet but from your review I think I'm going to look for this one.

Geeky Guide said...

Well to each his own I guess, hehe. But I still strongly recommend it.

Geeky Guide said...

Go for it! =D

Geeky Guide said...

Well everyone has their opinions, but yes Jean was rather impressive, too. =)

Geeky Guide said...

Glad I could help! Hope you enjoy it.

Geeky Guide said...

Glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for sharing your review as well.

Demi Barbra Angeles said...

Did you watched this during this year's Silent Film Festival? I haven't tried watching one of these yet, but I ought to try :)

Shirgie Scf said...

I failed to watch this movie last March. i saw the trailer and it reminds me abot the movies of Charlie Chaplin. Wordless movie but great

nivekzeuqracne said...

5 out of 5? wow! i must be missing a lot! try to watch this. thanks mate!

Geeky Guide said...

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Geeky Guide said...

Go get a copy soon! You won't regret it. =)

Geeky Guide said...

Nope, had to secure a copy online only recently.

pepang said...

This sounds interesting and a must to put on my list of "movies to download and watch" hehe :)

Geeky Guide said...

Oh definitely! Hope you enjoy!

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