The Artist reviews

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Re: The Artist reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:48 pm

Sabin wrote:what is The Artist saying?


It tells a story, Sabin. It just tells a story.

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Re: The Artist reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:26 pm

Italiano wrote
And no, I'm not defending The Artist as a work of art, which it isn't. Just as an extremely pleasant film which also wants to be a tribute to a movie era which was full of extremely pleasant films which also weren't works of art - and I don't understand what's wrong with it; honestly I didn't think this could be the kind of film one feels aggressive towards, but it seems that I was wrong.

I'm not aggressive towards it, I just found strangely dull and strangely thin. The thinness could be me projecting a different film onto this one, but regardless it's just a very average silent movie made today. It's fun to look at it, and say "Oh, look a silent movie! Oh, look a silent movie star!" But the pleasures don't really extend beyond that. I smiled enough that I would never tell anyone not to see it, but it just underwhelmed me. Again, I'm not aggressive towards it.

Italiano wrote
Also, I mean, did you really go to this movie expecting something very complex and profound? No, because in this case you'd be a bit naive, honestly.

I went into it hoping for one of two things: either a film that has something to say about silent film or a good silent film. I think that's about all you can ask for from The Artist. I didn't get either one.

Italiano wrote
Also, profound is so relative... For example, you found Eternal Sunshine Spotless Mind a profound movie, and I didn't (I actually think that The Artist is more profound). Complicated doesn't necessarily mean profound.

Shakespeare in Love, The Hurt Locker, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I guess I have nobody to blame but myself.

Instead of arguing about whether or not Eternal Sunshine is profound, let me ask you: what is The Artist saying?
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Artist reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:09 pm

Sabin wrote:As for your last point, I think there's something kind of shitty about making a silent movie that appeals to objectively makes people love a silent movie - except for people who have a love for the films and the era. Outside of Rex Reed and other Tickle Me Critics.


Your English is too good for me... I'm sure you'll be the next Salinger and one day I'll say "I know him", but what do you mean???

And no, I'm not defending The Artist as a work of art, which it isn't. Just as an extremely pleasant film which also wants to be a tribute to a movie era which was full of extremely pleasant films which also weren't works of art - and I don't understand what's wrong with it; honestly I didn't think this could be the kind of film one feels aggressive towards, but it seems that I was wrong.

Also, I mean, did you really go to this movie expecting something very complex and profound? No, because in this case you'd be a bit naive, honestly.

Also, profound is so relative... For example, you found Eternal Sunshine Spotless Mind a profound movie, and I didn't (I actually think that The Artist is more profound). Complicated doesn't necessarily mean profound.

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Re: The Artist reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:51 am

Italiano wrote
Yes, well, not-profound, anti-profound... The result is more or less the same. But the point, Sabin, is that The Hurt Locker is the anti-profound movie par excellence - for the things that it could have said about its subject, and carefully avoided saying (and Americans were only too relieved that it avoided saying those things). So, to be honest, I prefer the anti-profoundness of The Artist to the anti-profoundness of The Hurt Locker. I'll say even more - I was almost afraid that The Artist could be a "profound" movie, and I was glad that it was, well, not superficial actually, but certainly "simple".

Just for purposes of not wrecking this thread before it really begins, let me just say A) it's your preference, and B) I'm not sure if I agree with what you're saying about The Hurt Locker. Let's move on...

Italiano wrote
People, as I've noticed in another thread, tend to think of silent movies as if they were all masterpieces directed by Eisenstein, Chaplin and Griffith. But most were actually crowd-pleasers without any kind of artistic pretension, and I think that The Artist's cleverness (it is admittedly a clever movie) is in preserving that - it's pleasant, intelligent, but I'd never compare it to a work of art. (But then not many movies today are works of art, let's face it).

That's not really a great defense of any movie. You're basically saying that the problem isn't that The Artist isn't better but that the model it's based on is worse. No, not all silent movies were masterpieces but that doesn't excuse The Artist from being...y'know, a good movie.

Also, how is The Artist intelligent?

Italiano wrote
Does the director love silent movies? I think he does - I mean, let's face it, it's not like they forced him to make one, or that he made one because they are so popular and fashionable today! Of course he does, and it shows. But, I mean, I don't really care. Does Ang Lee, of Brokeback Mountain fame, love men? Maybe not, but what's important is that he makes love between men intense, believable, understandable. The Artist objectively makes people - well, some people at least - love a silent movie, and I'd say that that's enough for me.

There difference is that this decidedly thin take on silent films has been a labor of love for Hazanavicius for years, while Ang Lee was brought onto Brokeback Mountain in the fears that Gus Van Sant would make it too arty and gay.

As for your last point, I think there's something kind of shitty about making a silent movie that appeals to objectively makes people love a silent movie - except for people who have a love for the films and the era. Outside of Rex Reed and other Tickle Me Critics.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Artist reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:13 am

Sabin wrote:Marco, say what you will about The Hurt Locker, which is certainly not a profound film, but there is something almost anti-profound about The Artist that wore me down.


Yes, well, not-profound, anti-profound... The result is more or less the same. But the point, Sabin, is that The Hurt Locker is the anti-profound movie par excellence - for the things that it could have said about its subject, and carefully avoided saying (and Americans were only too relieved that it avoided saying those things). So, to be honest, I prefer the anti-profoundness of The Artist to the anti-profoundness of The Hurt Locker. I'll say even more - I was almost afraid that The Artist could be a "profound" movie, and I was glad that it was, well, not superficial actually, but certainly "simple". People, as I've noticed in another thread, tend to think of silent movies as if they were all masterpieces directed by Eisenstein, Chaplin and Griffith. But most were actually crowd-pleasers without any kind of artistic pretension, and I think that The Artist's cleverness (it is admittedly a clever movie) is in preserving that - it's pleasant, intelligent, but I'd never compare it to a work of art. (But then not many movies today are works of art, let's face it).

Does the director love silent movies? I think he does - I mean, let's face it, it's not like they forced him to make one, or that he made one because they are so popular and fashionable today! Of course he does, and it shows. But, I mean, I don't really care. Does Ang Lee, of Brokeback Mountain fame, love men? Maybe not, but what's important is that he makes love between men intense, believable, understandable. The Artist objectively makes people - well, some people at least - love a silent movie, and I'd say that that's enough for me.

As I said, it's not the kind of movie I'd pick as the best of this or any year, and I wouldn't see it more than once. But I think that anyone who loves cinema should at least find it charming, which of course doesn't have anything to do with great, profound art, but these days it's not a bad thing either, and doesn't happen so often.

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Re: The Artist reviews

Postby Sabin » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:15 pm

Italiano wrote
But the fact that, except for a few moments, it's as simple as those glorious silent movies of the past - which, of course, doesn't mean that it isn't very expertly and cleverly made - is its main quality, and the reason why it proves so affecting for so many...

And that's pretty much where it lost me. And you, to be honest. There is a world of subtext going on in films from every year this film spans, and ultimately I'm going to need some of that. This is all simple silent sledgehammer.

There are two films in The Artist, and I would have enjoyed one of them to truly be explored for what they were worth. The first is a lovingly nostalgic look at an era past. And the film coasts off that charm for a little bit, but The Artist is ultimately as culturally indifferent and historically apolitical as...The King's Speech and Slumdog Millionaire (gulp!). The second is a comedy about a silent film star who refuses to talk. Strangely, this is implied in his life as well, that he refuses to communicate. There is a fantastic dream that he has where the world around him starts to make sounds and I thought "Oh, God! Please continue in this direction!" Alas, the film takes the direction of a portrait of a dull downward spiral and doesn't really even ask if he talks in his real life or not, or questions the rules of a silent movie star talking! This is a shockingly lost opportunity! Marco, say what you will about The Hurt Locker, which is certainly not a profound film, but there is something almost anti-profound about The Artist that wore me down.

Near the beginning of the film, George Valentine (Jean Dujardin, incredibly charming) just can't bring himself to leave the stage and keeps taking these self-congratulatory bows before the audience. That scene is basically this entire film. Oh, there are smiles in The Artist. And there is craft. But really how much can you warm very much to the most grossly malnourished retelling of film history in memory? In order for The Artist to be a film I thoroughly enjoyed rather than intermittently on a surface level it would have to be made by a man who appeared to have a love of silent film. I'm not convinced that Michel Hazanavicius does.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Artist reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:02 pm

This is a nice movie, and I actually liked that admittedly the story it tells isn't original and is quite predictable - knowing the French, I was expecting (or fearing) a show-off of cinematic intelligence, a pure, mechanical exercise of style, a sort of silent equivalent of (the, for me, overrated big hit) Amelie. But the fact that, except for a few moments, it's as simple as those glorious silent movies of the past - which, of course, doesn't mean that it isn't very expertly and cleverly made - is its main quality, and the reason why it proves so affecting for so many (the audience I saw it with was complaining at the beginning and clearly missing the sound, but by the end had obviously completely forgotten about it, which says alot about its power).

Is it a masterpiece? No, and it can't be compared to the great masterpieces of that period (it doesn't even want to, I think). Would it be my personal Best Picture? No, it's not the kind of movie I'd pick as "best" in any year, definitely not in a year which has given us - along with other movies that I still haven't seen - The Tree of Life and A Separation. But I'm Italian, and Italians have learned to compromise - so I can't deny that, if it turns out that its main rivals for the Oscar are Steven Spielberg's horse story or Stephen Daldry's 9/11 movie it's very, very possible that I will be among those rooting for The Artist. It's not, after all, less profound than some of the most recent Best Picture winners - including the celebrated The Hurt Locker - and it's, I feel, a sincere hommage to a form of art that, let's face it, nobody living today has really, deeply experienced.

(It's not, by the way, a foreign-language movie - the few words you hear in it are in English).

Jean Dujardin, the unknown - at least in Italy - who plays the leading character, has a face, a profile, and a (very French) smile which are perfect for that period. Most importantly, unlike what other actors would have done, he doesn't do "too much", doesn't fall into the trap of being exaggerated or intentionally grotesque; his performance is natural, effortless, and for this reason more charming than if he had played charming too hard. He will certainly be nominated; he will almost certainly lose to a local boy.

His co-star (I wouldn't consider her supporting), Berenice Bejo, has a more contemporary look and a less interesting character - plus, it's impossible to say, from this movie, if she's really a talented actress or just a lucky one. I'm not sure that she will be nominated, she probably won't, but if she is, it means that they LOVE the movie - and that they find her pretty, which often plays a role in these things.

The critics seem to like this movie alot. Academy members may have one more reason to like it: it's set in the familiar (to them) world of cinema, and its main character is an actor whose career has its ups and downs. It may be silent, but it speaks directly to them. It's too soon to say for sure if it will win Best Picture or not, and one almost wishes that it won't - it's, as I said, a nice movie, and a movie one feels affection for, but it's not a "big" one, and all this massive recognition may result in a kind of backlash.

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The Artist reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Nov 28, 2011 2:26 pm

Do we really not have a thread on this one yet, or did I just miss it?

I think many people are going to find the artist enjoyable, as I did. It's a very easy movie to like, full of touching moments, clever asides, and stylish direction. Obviously a lot of people here will be a soft touch for this sort of thing, given the subject matter as well as the treatment. Director Michael Hazanavicius has a lot of fun recreating the silent movie area, and plays with the form of his movie in inventive ways (I particularly liked the sequence where sound effects first pop into the movie, and, at the end, the moment when the characters start to speak, providing some fun laughs). Jean DuJardin has a great screen presence -- charming and roguish and lonesome, often all at the same time -- and Bérénice Bejo is, in a less weighty role, a delight. I think the appeal of both actors here is a hugely significant part of the movie's charm. (Although whoever started this Bejo supporting nonsense is on my naughty list. If she's a supporting actress because she's unknown in the states, then the equally unknown to me DuJardin is a supporting actor. End of discussion.)

Despite finding The Artist a lot of fun, I have a caveat, and it's not an insignificant one: I don't find this plot to be much more than A Star is Born in the silent era. I think a lot of the details here are clever, but I was rarely surprised by ANYTHING that happened on a narrative level, simply because the film just took a template I've seen (not once, not twice, but thrice!) and set it in a different time period. (Okay, the ending to The Artist isn't as tragic as that of A Star is Born, but you could probably anticipate that from the trailer.) I wish I could be euphoric about this movie -- I really wanted to be -- but, in the end, I find it entertaining but rather slight, simply because I don't think it spins the his-star-fades/her-star-rises tale in any new thematic direction that is as exciting as the pleasures offered by the film's form.

I suspect a slew of Oscar nominations are likely -- maybe even double-digits -- and I'll have no problem with that. It's a very fun movie. But I wish it had a little more kick to it.

Oh, and the score is heavenly.


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