Posts Tagged ‘ cinema ’

The Artist

«We didn’t need dialogs, we had faces» said the narcissistic Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) in Billy Wilder’ “Sunset Boulevard”, referring to the Silent Era, when she used to be big … before the ‘pictures got small’.

The reason of this introduction is that after watching Michel Hazanavicius’ critically acclaimed: “The Artist”, I strongly felt this was the perfect illustration to Norma Desmond’s iconic eulogy. From beginning to end, my eyes never ceased to be amazed by the communicative smile of Jean Dujardin as George Valentin, the aging silent movie star and the sparkling eyes of Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller, the young and flamboyant starlet. Their faces occupy the screen with such an electrifying magnetism that they don’t just steal the scenes, they steal the dialogs … literally.

I had so high expectations for this film and luckily (because it doesn’t happen very often) it somehow managed to impress me even more! Everything about it is superb. From the story, the screenplay, the direction, the play, the structure of the frames…. everything. It’s just amazing.

The plot is simple. Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin(Jean Dujardin) wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller(Berenice Bejo) , a young dancer set for a big break (IMDB). The play is so impressive. Made me think about my first acting classes when we couldn’t use words and had to express various emotions by letting the feeling rule our bodies. Both Dujardin and Bejo are indeed powerful in an Oscar-worthy level and at that moment, I can’t continue without mentioning the third character of the film, George’s dog. The relationship between George and the dog provides a sort of Chaplinesque feel to the movie, a mix of tenderness and poignancy, so natural and convincing I wonder if the Academy will think of a honorary Oscar. Anyway, I applaud Hazanivicius for not having reduced “The Artist” to a flashy spectacle with no substance, with the word ‘homage’ as the director’s convenient alibi, and make a touching romance about two people who met each other at a pivotal time in the history of film-making, each representing a side of cinema, the old-school silent generation: Chaplin, Keaton, Pickford and the exuberant talkers: Grant, Hepburn, Davis … And I’m glad he found the true note to reconcile between these two universes at the end …

There are so many marvelously beautiful frames in this film. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone reading this so I will just say: Watch it! “The Artist” is incredibly clever and just flatters you. It is funny and witty in the classiest way possible.

It’s like a breath of fresh vintage air in an era when being hi-tech becomes more important than the film-making itself. I mentioned in a previous post how disappointed I was two years ago with the “best movie” competition between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. I had so many argues about how stupid it is to forget ourselves in the special effects. And a lot of people told me: That’s the future. To them I answer: This is the future of vision, may be, but it shouldn’t be more important than the film itself. Cinema is after all, and I don’t care how hipster-ish this sounds, an art. So please respect it.

But let’s get back to the particular topic of this post.

“The Artist” plays like a missing link between “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Sunset Boulevard” and it’s indeed one of the best films of 2011, with the absence of words as an endearing ‘beauty spot’.

p.s. There was another earthquake in Italy while I was writing the post. This time – 5.4 by Richter with epicenter under my city(with 4.9, 5 and 2.6 earlier this week). Awesomeness. I have to admit I got a bit scared this time, hope there aren’t anymore.