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If you can get your Weinstein-manipulated expectations WAY down from
"Oscar" to "cute gimmick," then this cinematic truffle could very well
satisfy especially if you've ever seen and enjoyed a theatrical
screening of a silent movie. There's a faithfulness to the spirit and
techniques of the silent era that's undeniably impressive and will
delight those few audience members (myself being one) who have enough
familiarity with silent cinema to appreciate it.
But is it a movie that you should be running out to see because omnipresent web advertising says that it's an Oscar lock? Negative. If you DON'T have the required familiarity with the silent era, the charms and nostalgia evoked by the film will be completely lost on you, and you'll be far more dependent on the thin and unoriginal storyline for entertainment. (Note: the story borrows shamelessly from both SINGING IN THE RAIN and A STAR IS BORN and is fully consistent with the era's cornball aesthetic.) And even if you ARE familiar with silent cinema, "Oscar worthy" is going to seem like a stretch. Either way, if you really want to enjoy this movie, lowering your expectations from their current hype-elevated levels is imperative. (Anybody notice how remarkably similar Weinstein's overhype campaign for this film is to the one he successfully ran for Roberto Benigni's LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL years ago? Anybody watched that movie since?)
I first saw this film at the Toronto Film Festival with a full house at the spacious Elgin Theater, and it received a favorable albeit muted response from the audience. (By comparison, I saw AMELIE at the same theater ten years prior, and it received a ten-minute standing ovation at the end.) If I'd known at the time that I'd just seen the year's BEST movie, I would have been depressed over what this portended for the year-end releases.
You simply can't help being aware of the limitations of silent movies -- and thankful for the quantum improvement that the introduction of sound made -- no matter how deft the filmmakers are in recreating the look and feel of a bygone era. It's a movie-making era that you're glad IS bygone -- as evidenced by the inability of any of the gushing critics to cite a single color talkie favorite that they wish had been a b&w silent instead.
I say "A" for cinematic conceit and "C" for entertainment value ("B+" for silent film buffs).
I don't get why people are agog over this movie. I wanted to like the movie but it was achingly boring through the first hour that I didn't think I could take the last 40 minutes. It picks up a little in the second half as it gets darker but it's still limp. Not as good as any ordinary silent movie I've ever seen. Overly campy, predictable, and frankly boring. I thought the movie would provide modern movie story-telling to an old art form to transform the medium. It clearly didn't do that and also failed as an ode to the glorious silent films of the past. Simply making a silent film today that is weak, insipid and vacuous does not qualify as homage. Even the independent film house where I saw this movie, which has adoring audiences that tend to applaud at the end of every movie, failed to generate the obligatory applause when this tome ended. I was very disappointed.
I won't mince words here: for me this was a desperately disappointing film. I am a passionate fan of the movies, especially the silents, of which I have seen more than a hundred, ranging from the excellent to the almost unwatchable and I must say that "The Artist" does not come up to my expectations. I shall be very surprised if it wins any major awards. It is not a silent film, it is not even a silent film with recorded musical score and occasional sound effects like, say "Sunset" or "The Trail of '98", it is more like a talkie with the dialogue track muted. The musical score is completely wrong as it sounds to me a couple of decades later than the period of the film. There is too much lip movement and there are too few titles: silent movie lovers will know that by the end of the silent era, titles were used sparingly and the unheard dialogue was short and to the point. Add to this the fact that the lead characters were not particularly likable and the film was too long. I was expecting a tribute to the art form I love and ended up watching a spoof! I much prefer "Singin' in the Rain"-at least it is an honest spoof.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sue me I'm not in love with the film.
Yes it's funny. yes it has some charming moments, but I can not for the life of me understand how this is the front runner for this years Oscars.
The plot of the film has a silent movie star meeting an extra at a premiere. Meeting again the next day on a set they are both smitten, but he's married. As her star rises, his begins to fall since he won't move from silents to sound films. However their lives remain intertwined....
I laughed, a had a tear or two but I wasn't blown away. For me the film isn't all the critics have said. It's not so much a loving homage to American silent films, its more a homage to some one's idea of silent films if they really haven't seen them. The pastiche's mostly fall flat feeling more like recreations of recreations (The only silent film that feels like a real silent film is the material they stole from Fairbank's version of Zorro). There are other problems with the historical things in the film, but they are not important since this is after all just a comedy.
To be honest the real problem is the film's short changes too much. Characters, such as our hero's wife are more cardboard than real. There is also the casting of people like Ed Lauter and Malcolm McDowell in roles that give them billing, but in reality are glorified walk ons (was stuff cut?) The plot also leaps through time not building to anything simply moving from moment to moment hoping that we in the audience will fill in all that isn't said.
Don't get me wrong I don't hate the film, I just don't think it's the nearly the best of anything of the year.
Worth a look but don't feel the need to fight the crowds.
This is an example of "The Emperors New Clothes". Everyone is secretly thinking "Why does everyone else like this?", but is afraid to say it aloud. Yes, it is a an OK film. But it is not the movie that everyone proclaims it to be, certainly not worthy of the Oscar nominations it has garnered. This is the same pretentiousness that catapulted Roberto Benigni and his ridiculous "Life Is Beautiful" into unwarranted success. "The Artist" is a movie that screams "Look at me. I am so quirky" while all the while obfuscating the fact that the film is devoid of substance. David Lynch was a master at this. Don't waste your time on a film that was reformatted to black & white because it was irrelevant in color. It is still irrelevant!
I really don't get it. My wife and I went to see The Artist this past
Saturday and I was left with an overwhelming feeling of "meh." Which is
really surprising, given the almost universal, glowing praise this film
has been getting--what with Golden Globe awards and Oscar nominations,
etc (not to mention all the 10-star reviews here on IMDb).
I just didn't see anything special here. I mean, they filmmakers did a fairly good job of recreating a silent film, but they didn't take it any further than that. The plot, acting, etc, was no better or worse than a real silent film. I've seen many much, much better silent films on TCM's Silent Sundays each weekend. Those who are gushing over this movie have apparently not seen very many real silent films from the 20s. If they had, I think they'd have found this film kind of a "been there, seen that" kind of experience as I did. Or maybe this Artist-Praise-Hysteria is mostly the result of folks desperately wanting to jump onto the bandwagon of the newest "cool" thing.
The thing that bothered me most (besides the stretches of tedium) was that the cinematography was distractingly flat and gray--there were no real blacks and no real whites. I understand from articles I've read that this low-contrast, glowy B&W was intentional. But I didn't like it. Just looked like it was poorly shot with a bad video camera with the contrast turned all the way down. (this wasn't helped by the fact that the theatre I saw it in now presents all their "films" via digital projection--a process that, in my opinion, has NOT been perfected yet and is still too "low res" for cinema).
All in all, "The Artist" should be nothing more than a minor, vaguely interesting experiment that would have had a better home on video. How it has become an indie sensation with Oscar nominations is a totally mysterious to me. Wonder how much money it took to convince us all that is was a masterpiece?
This is one of the most pretentious films I have ever seen. It is imbued with pointless clichés (the loyal servant, the love at a distance, the failed artist who burns his works, the dog coming to the rescue...not to talk about the tiring and old storyline of pride leading to downfall before final resolution). The two levels, narrative and meta-narrative, are utterly and inexplicably overlapped, mingled without making a point. The choice of making a silent film which speaks of ...silent films and of an actor who would not switch to the new techniques of sound is a very cheap option for a film which aims at winning an Oscar. What is the conveyed message? That silent films are still enjoyable? Or what...? I simply do not see any greatness in this film, only much pretentiousness.
The Artist is a well-made if not particularly involving homage to the
silent films of the 1920s. The film itself looks beautiful, and makes
interesting use of its lack of sound. However, the story lacks
interest, and is as clichéd as the silent films it pays tribute to.
The artist of the title is George Valentin, a silent film star caught in a loveless marriage to a petulant starlet. He gives a jump start to the career of actress Peppy Miller after kissing her at a premiere. However, he soon finds his stardom dwarfed by hers after the debut of talkies and losing his fortune in the stock market collapse.
The film is at its best when it plays with the whole concept of silent movies. The most impressive example is a dream sequence conveying the transition from silent to sound movies. Valentin dreams that his word, previously filled with a silent movie soundtrack, now consumed by overly loud background sounds. This may be the first time in cinematic history in which a dog's bark has conveyed the shift of an entire world.
Unfortunately, the film also suffers from one of the major flaws of silent films in general. Because of the lack of dialogue, The Artist ultimately has a simplistic story with largely one dimensional characters. To a large extent, the plot mimics that of A Star Is Born, focusing on a famous performer ultimately surpassed by his protégé. As a result, the film is boring and predictable.
Furthermore, the film emulates the least interesting of the silent movies. Rather than focusing on the more experimental films that characterized the early years of silent movies, such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and D. W. Griffith's work, it looks at the making of genre films. Given that The Artist, by its very nature, is aimed at film buffs with an extensive set of references, one would think they would give attention to more interesting films.
Still, the film's cast does a lot, particularly given the lack of dialogue. Penelope Ann Miller gives Valentin's harpy wife as much dimension as one can to such a one note character. John Goodman is also good as a dictatorial producer.
It all started last Christmas when I, like many others started hearing a lot of hoo-ha about this new film coming out called The Artist which was silent, black and white, and up for all sorts of prestigious awards. I decided to give it a chance even though I couldn't really imagine how it could possibly be as good as all that, of course unless they brought something new and exciting to the silent picture, for why else would we have moved onto talkie films? To my utmost dismay, The Artist not only turned out to be ultimately disappointing, bringing nothing new to the table but also a member of that most dreaded genre- the tribute film. In other words, the type of film that says 'we've run out of ideas so let's just rehash old ideas and call it homage'. The tribute film is even worse than the remake and just one step up from clip shows in terms of unoriginality; and we all know how much we hate clip shows! I can just about understand tribute bands, they make sense. For instance, you want the Beatles live for your party, so you book a Beatles tribute band- not as good as the real thing but better than a CD. For the rest of this review please visit my blog! http://movielabyrinth.blogspot.com/2012/03/overrated-artist.html
Well, this movie was... okay. Not great, not terrible. It's an interesting idea to try making a silent film (in fact, I thought the places where the film did use sound effects were rather silly), but I think they should have tried to make a more substantial movie instead of relying on the style as a gimmick. The plot was rather thin for the most part and parts of it seemed a bit overwrought. I had no particular problems with the acting, at least not with the lead parts, but there wasn't a whole lot of interest to the characters because their roles were so one-dimensional. I'd be interested to see what could be done with silent films if the filmmakers weren't trapped in the idea of making some kind of "tribute" instead of adding something of their own to the work.
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