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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:14 pm 
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Not a fan. A calculated crowd-pleaser, a lot of moments were very cloying - many of its frothiest moments immediately cut to a forced cutesy reaction shot of an extra being entertained, which quite frankly, is one of the most irritating tropes in "feel-good" filmmaking. It's no different than pumping up a god-awful laugh track to create the illusion that a sitcom joke is funnier than it really is. A shame because there are some (but to me, not a lot) of funny moments in this picture, and many of them were undermined by this.

One reason I tried to like this movie is that I love silent films and do miss them, especially silent comedies, but I thought the way this movie handled that conceit was really hit or miss.

They pack a lot of tongue-in-cheek one-liners (or rather title cards), making fun of the fact that this is a silent film. At least one or two are a little poignant because they highlight the main character's misfortune from the rise of sound pictures. But most of these jokes were too clever by half.

There was one brilliant moment that I thoroughly enjoyed - I won't give it away, but you'll know it when you see it because it's so much better than the rest of the movie. In fact, it even suggests a different, insanely brilliant film they could've made using the same raw material, but unfortunately, a minute or two later, you'll see that it won't come to pass, something that was a massive disappointment for me.

Also, the concept seemed too derivative, even unimaginative. As an homage, it often remains a pale imitation of films from that era. Not sure if anyone considers this a serious silent film revival, but it isn't because Pixar already did it, several times over and a whole lot better. Granted they weren't complete silent films, but watch the first half of Wall•E, then the prologue to Up. A whole lot more impressive, a lot more innovative, a lot more entertaining, and they did it without words too. (The Artist still makes heavy use of title cards and signs.)

Jean Dujardin is good, he was very enjoyable without ever becoming cloying. Bérénice Bejo wasn't bad - casting her as the up-and-coming star is a bit of a cheat because she's Argentinian, and female stars of the silent era were generally lilly white, but that's a minor complaint. (They sort of addressed this in one of her character's first roles.) I generally like John Goodman and James Cromwell, but their performances were somewhat like the film's storyline in reverse - they weren't bad, but the visual and physical aspects of their performances didn't make up for the loss of their excellent voices.

I think trying to like this film made things worse because the effort just made me more aware of everything that wasn't very good about it. But whatever, it's a crowd-pleaser, it's got the Weinsteins' money behind it, it'll probably be a hit, win a bunch of awards and take its place next to the The King's Speech in film history.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:21 pm 
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So it's basically a Hazanavicius picture than.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:44 pm 
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This is the first time I've seen any of his films...I take it, I should proceed no further with his work?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:48 pm 
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You can if you want, but they're all about as good as you described (though more straight forwardly farcical with little "feel-good' film making). He tends to do very average pastiches that just seem to have something a little off on them that distracts from the otherwise excellent period detail.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:04 am 
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This feels like a stupid complaint, but the fact that The Weinstein Company is distributing this really casts it in a bad light for me. I'll still see it, of course, but I've come to associate the Weinstein brand with ... well, exactly the kind of thing that heartthesilence describes in his last line of his review here. I don't really like using 'middlebrow' as a perjorative, because it sounds rather smug, but the Weinsteins are so aggressively middlebrow that I find myself holding it against a movie when they're attracted to it. This also applies to the upcoming My Week with Marilyn and The Iron Lady.

Like I say, it feels stupid, but on the other hand, the trend is amazingly clear and consistent since they left Miramax. And for some time before that, really.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:27 am 
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hearthesilence wrote:
There was one brilliant moment that I thoroughly enjoyed - I won't give it away, but you'll know it when you see it because it's so much better than the rest of the movie. In fact, it even suggests a different, insanely brilliant film they could've made using the same raw material, but unfortunately, a minute or two later, you'll see that it won't come to pass, something that was a massive disappointment for me.

Agree with hearthesilence pretty much across the board, especially in regards to the above quote, assuming he is referring to the
[Reveal] Spoiler:
dream sequence.
It's not a bad film, and it's frequently charming, but it's so slight and sentimental, and has little appeal beyond its novelty. I do feel that Jean Dujardin's performance is pretty great, and I'm a sucker for Jack Russell Terrier performances.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:15 am 
Dot Com Dom
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Get thee to Beginners, then!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:21 pm 
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I've not seen this yet but every time I hear about this film for some reason my mind keeps going to those Maurizio Nichetti comedies of the early 90s - Ladri di saponette (Called the The Icicle Thief in the UK), in which a film director presenting his classic film (a thinly veiled version of Bicycle Thieves) for the first time on television finds his black and white masterpiece steadily being invaded by the commerical breaks! Or Volere, Volare, a post-Who Framed Roger Rabbit 'animation invading the real world' comedy. Neither of them are set in the 1920s but perhaps I'm just thinking of them because both of those films have sequences lovingly recreating previous filmmaking forms and have lots of satiric fun contrasting that with the modern day.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:59 pm 
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Jeff wrote:
hearthesilence wrote:
There was one brilliant moment that I thoroughly enjoyed - I won't give it away, but you'll know it when you see it because it's so much better than the rest of the movie. In fact, it even suggests a different, insanely brilliant film they could've made using the same raw material, but unfortunately, a minute or two later, you'll see that it won't come to pass, something that was a massive disappointment for me.

Agree with hearthesilence pretty much across the board, especially in regards to the above quote, assuming he is referring to the
[Reveal] Spoiler:
dream sequence

Yes, that's exactly what I was referring to!

Brian C wrote:
This feels like a stupid complaint, but the fact that The Weinstein Company is distributing this really casts it in a bad light for me. I'll still see it, of course, but I've come to associate the Weinstein brand with ... well, exactly the kind of thing that heartthesilence describes in his last line of his review here.

I didn't know they distributed it until the opening credits, and when I saw that logo, I pretty much cringed.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:32 pm 
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Slant pans The Artist.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:14 am 
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I saw this on my recent trip to New York City. I dragged a friend (who I met originally from these message boards, how about that?) along with me who was reluctant to see it for all the reasons that have been stated here. I was just curious to see it though, as I'm sure is a reason many are buying tickets for this in general.

I have to agree with the OP here, I thought it was well made but completely trapped in a homage that it wanted to escape but couldn't. It was a tug of war between contemporary approach and experiment in recreation which never found a true balance.

The cinematography was excellent but was representative of the fundamental problem in the film for me - some shots were ellaborate "modern" styled camera movements that embraced all the technology and capabilities a 2011 film has at it's disposal to make such beautiful, fluid, interesting camera movements, framing, etc. However, sometimes the camera was forced into a lock down position and framed everything as if it were trying to recreate how they made a film in 1920 - fine, but once you've shown me how interesting things can be and look with all the modern stylization, I'm more interested to see a silent film made by contemporary artists than to see contemporary artists try and recreate a fake old film. At times, some of the sequences seemed to be borderline embracing the cliched fast movements of silent films... which is actually a frame rate problem of whatever transfer and not intentional (correct me if I'm wrong?). For example, more or less whenever there is "action"... like the car driving into the tree - the movements of the characters seem to be flirting with that "style", which isn't a style at all.

I also agree wholeheartedly with the OP about the missed opportunity
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the dream sequence had me sitting up in my seat and thinking "this is what everyone must be talking about - what a great idea!" I loved where that was going. And before it even started, it was over!


The acting was very good though and I thought it was funny that Dujardin and Bejo were going to be catapulted to international stardom on these roles - and face the exact same problem that the film focused on... stars of silent cinema typecast into silent roles and unable to make the jump to sound films. That will make for a peculiar situation. Worthy of a film in itself! :D

So despite the "feel good" cheese of too much of the film, I did enjoy it and think it very nice that something like this will get some major Oscar traction and be a gateway to silent cinema for a lot of new viewers who otherwise wouldn't have even considered it. And if it wins Best Picture, all the better. It's cheesey, but hey it's beautiful, in black and white and not something you see everyday. I enjoyed it for what it was and tried my best to turn off my film buff brain for a bit to enjoy the experience (for the most part, unsuccessfully). 3 or 3.5 / 5 for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:11 am 
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I quite liked the film, even though I wouldn't call it great. I can't mount a spirited defense, but I do want to ask
[Reveal] Spoiler:
hypothetically, of course: how long can the dream sequence really last without wearing itself out? I also thought it was by far the most brilliant scene in the film, but I just don't know if it could've been extended for much longer than it was.
But I'm curious as to what others think.
Anyway, I liked it a lot, perhaps because it wore its heart on its sleeve without becoming positive Spielbergian in its sentimentality, and maybe because the Xmas spirit had finally gotten to me.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:37 am 
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Guy Maddin's producer Greg Klymkiw is not a fan.

He's also bang-on about Billy Zane in Titanic.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:02 pm 
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I sort of resent the implication that Guy Maddin is the only person who's allowed to make silent films anymore.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:06 pm 
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Hm, yeah, throwing in Maddin's name at the end there doesn't do his argument any favors.

I've not yet seen The Artist, so I can't say I agree or disagree with any of his criticisms.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:13 pm 
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mfunk9786 wrote:
I sort of resent the implication that Guy Maddin is the only person who's allowed to make silent films anymore.

I don't think he's implying that at all. In fact, surely his opening paragraph makes it clear that he actually thinks the exact opposite - that he'd love more people to explore the aesthetics of the 1927-30 period, provided they do it with the love and understanding that he failed to detect in The Artist?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:19 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:
I sort of resent the implication that Guy Maddin is the only person who's allowed to make silent films anymore.

I don't think he's implying that at all. In fact, surely his opening paragraph makes it clear that he actually thinks the exact opposite - that he'd love more people to explore the aesthetics of the 1927-30 period, provided they do it with the love and understanding that he failed to detect in The Artist?


I don't know, I read that opening paragraph as a red herring, further enforced by his closing comments on Guy Maddin. Maybe I'm wrong, it's often the case, but I did get the vibe that he was taking a very "new silent films should only come from this crowd that I'm involved with" approach to his review.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:30 pm 
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Bill Thompson wrote:
I don't know, I read that opening paragraph as a red herring, further enforced by his closing comments on Guy Maddin. Maybe I'm wrong, it's often the case, but I did get the vibe that he was taking a very "new silent films should only come from this crowd that I'm involved with" approach to his review.

He wasn't involved with Hugo.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Was Hugo a silent film?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:34 pm 
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Bill Thompson wrote:
Was Hugo a silent film?

No, but that's not the point he was making. Which was:

Quote:
I want my homages to bygone days to be, like Coca-Cola, the "real thing". I want my filmmakers dabbling in celebrations of cinema to actually know and love cinema more than life itself. Scorsese's Hugo works so beautifully because it's infused with that director's love and breadth of knowledge and appreciation for all the glories of the medium.

Put it like this: do you think he'd have complained if Scorsese had made a silent film?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:41 pm 
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Based on this,

Quote:
Worst of all, The Artist feels like a Guy Maddin movie without Guy Maddin.

I can't think of anything more annoying than that.


Yes, yes, I do. Which is also why I think, as I said, that the statement you quoted was a red herring to distract from the implications I took away from the review.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:46 pm 
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I think these two quotes reveal that he's genuine rather than self-serving in his criticism;

Greg Klymkiw wrote:
For me, silent cinema feels like it was flushed about 10 years too early (even though Chaplin was able to brilliantly keep it alive for many of his own films).
...
Once again, it seems that (here it comes, folks, my familiar refrain) PEOPLE WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER are wildly extolling the virtues of this execrably directed homage to a vocabulary of cinematic storytelling that still had so much more room to expand and deepen.


He understands (correctly in my view) that sound interrupted silent cinema at the cusp of its maturity as an art form, much in the same way that stereo cut short the glories of monophonic sound just as engineers were beginning to realize mono's potential. Central to his criticism is that Hazanavicius doesn't get that and without that understanding could only produce a parody, no matter what his actual intent was. At least, this is the way I read his critique. I've yet to see the film.

(He may in fact feel only Guy Maddin can do it right. After all, who else today is even trying? But even if his criticism is colored by his association with Maddin, I'm not certain that distracts from his central thesis.)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:00 pm 
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Bill Thompson wrote:
Yes, yes, I do. Which is also why I think, as I said, that the statement you quoted was a red herring to distract from the implications I took away from the review.

Well, shall I quote the opening paragraph instead? Or indeed quite a bit of the rest of the review that seems to directly counter these "implications"?

I think the problem is that the Maddin quip is the last line of the piece, so it's obviously going to be more memorable (especially given that they're old friends and long-term colleagues). But if you read the piece in toto, it seems pretty clear that his objections to The Artist are rather more extensive than the fact that it wasn't directed by Guy Maddin.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:28 pm 
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Then end your rant on a more substantial note, guy

It's just silly that we're even at a point where we're whining about who is and isn't able to make films under the constraints of a method of filmmaking that has been quite literally unnecessary for nearly a century now.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:34 pm 
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mfunk9786 wrote:
... a method of filmmaking that has been quite literally unnecessary for nearly a century now.


Sigh...where to begin.


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