The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

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Drucker
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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#101 Post by Drucker » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:20 pm

MichaelB wrote:I'm not sure I follow your argument - are you saying that Herrmann would have preferred his Vertigo score to be repurposed in a film for which it wasn't actually composed? Because I frankly can't think of anything less likely - whatever Herrmann thought of Hitchcock's taste in music, he made damn sure that he did the best possible job, and reached an arguable creative peak in Vertigo with music that fits that specific film's themes of yearning, obsession and loss like the proverbial glove.
As I haven't seen the Artist yet, nor Vertigo in a long time, I wasn't trying to enter a really specific point. But you're right, Hermann certainly did compose for film specifics (Citizen Kane was edited to fit the music, was it not?) so I guess he may have thought it inappropriate. Just felt the quote was worth posting in the thread seeing as how Hermann was being brought up.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#102 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:32 pm

Drucker wrote:...Citizen Kane was edited to fit the music, was it not?...
Sorry for continuing to take the thread off-topic, but a quick answer to Drucker's question: only the montage of Thatcher reading the various Inquirer headlines was (shot and) edited to fit Herrmann's music. The rest of the score (apart from the opera) was done the traditional way.

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DeusEx
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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#103 Post by DeusEx » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:21 pm

Brody raises some good points - acknowledging the extent to which cinema since the new waves is "a cinema of quotation, of reference, of intertextuality." But he doesn't really delve very deeply into the questions raised by this observation, and his assessment of The Artist's (by now infamous) musical allusion strikes me as off the mark. Brody writes:
Richard Brody wrote:When Hazanavicius refers to Hitchcock, he’s coasting—in effect, putting on a lapel button that nobody in his audience could object to. It would have been different if he had paired the music with images that in some way questioned the value or meaning of Hitchcock’s film or even the very weight of tradition—or maybe even put an electric guitar in the orchestra, done something to rub the quotation against the grain. But Hazanavicius, an intelligent and well-meaning filmmaker, doesn’t seem to have such provocation in him.
I don't know that Hazanavicius "questions the value or meaning" of his references; I don't know that Godard or Truffaut generally did either; what's more, I don't see how this matters. But neither is the reference as lazy or unmotivated as Brody lets on. I forget exactly where, in the film, the theme begins, but the allusion isn't just to Vertigo but, in my mind, evokes a very specific sequence in Vertigo - specifically the sequence after Scottie has been released from the mental hospital. Scottie returns compulsively to sites linked to his infatuation with Madeleine: her apartment building; Ernie's restaurant; The Palace of the Legion of Honor; and finally a shop window where he gazes at a bouquet (just before he encounters Judy). The corresponding scene in The Artist finds Valentin similarly haunting sites, not of a lost love (per se), but of his own former glory; as Herrmann's score found Scottie staring in a shop window at some flowers, it finds Valentin
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staring through a window at a tuxedo; the shot is also framed so that Valentin's ghostly reflection seems to wear the tuxedo.
The scene isn't simply nostalgic for Vertigo, and it isn't idly quoting an artistic authority; it's reframing the older film's nostalgia and marrying that affect to this particular narrative (which is sort of an allegory for cinematic nostalgia anyway). This isn't going to work for everybody, and I think I understand where most of the complaints are coming from; but I have to admit it worked for me despite whatever skepticism I came to the film with.

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MichaelB
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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#104 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:59 pm

Well, I don't think I could have seen The Artist under more perfect viewing conditions - the Worthing Dome is one of the oldest cinemas in Britain and has the atmosphere to match, it had a nice big screen, excellent sound and the fact that it was a one-off matinee ensured a large and appreciative audience. Even better, the ticket cost me £3.50, around half (sometimes a third) of what I normally pay...

...and I still came out thinking "meh".

It's mildly diverting from time to time (I did like the dog), but essentially it's a slightly artier version of Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, and with about as much cinematic sophistication.

The thing that most depressed me about The Artist is that Hazanavicius takes the easiest, most obvious narrative route at every single turn - and just when I thought that the film was actually going to get psychologically interesting (when Valentin starts peeking under the sheets in that closed-off room), he blows it with the worst artistic misjudgement I've encountered in a high-profile film in years. When I heard Kim Novak's hyperbolic complaint about the use of the Herrmann music, my initial reaction was "calm down, you daft bint" - but now I've seen the film myself and heard one of the greatest scores in film history being slopped over scenes that don't suit it at all, I honestly wanted to take a cue from Valentin, invade the projection box and set fire to the print. But it was a digital projection, and I didn't have a large magnet to hand.

And there's no way this would have got ten Oscar nominations in the late 1920s.

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Gregory
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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#105 Post by Gregory » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:11 pm

MichaelB wrote:(I did like the dog)
I was standing in line to pay for groceries the other day, leafing through an issue of The Bark magazine, which is about "modern dog culture." (? Don't ask me.) And I saw they had a feature article on the dog from The Artist (and another about the "digital terrier" that appears in Tintin). It seems like this kind of thing can really boost the box office by appealing to the dog-lover market (not meaning you, Michael). "Don't worry, folks, this isn't some boring film with no talking; we've got lots of funny reaction shots from dogs!"

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#106 Post by tavernier » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:31 pm

MichaelB wrote:It's mildly diverting from time to time (I did like the dog), but essentially it's a slightly artier version of Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, and with about as much cinematic sophistication.

And there's no way this would have got ten Oscar nominations in the late 1920s.
And "Silent Movie"--which is a lot more fun--got no nominations in 1976. That "The Artist" not only has 10 Oscar nominations but also a slew of critics' awards is pretty sad.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#107 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:03 pm

MichaelB wrote:...and just when I thought that the film was actually going to get psychologically interesting (when Valentin starts peeking under the sheets in that closed-off room), he blows it with the worst artistic misjudgement I've encountered in a high-profile film in years.
I thought that scene was (sadly) predictable, especially given how treacly so much of the film was up to that point.

Fwiw, I liked the dog too. Everyone I know who loves this movie brings up the dog - I liked the dog in The Mask too (he also played Eddie in the TV series "Frasier"), but I still wouldn't crown that film the best picture of 1994.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#108 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:24 pm

If it means anything for predicting the Oscars, the dog from The Artist did win the Palm D'og award last year, with a jury prize given to the dog in Le Havre! (I personally think neither matched the ethereal quality of the dog from Dogville myself!)

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#109 Post by tojoed » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:08 pm

colinr0380 wrote:If it means anything for predicting the Oscars, the dog from The Artist did win the Palm D'og award last year, with a jury prize given to the dog in Le Havre! (I personally think neither matched the ethereal quality of the dog from Dogville myself!)
(Off topic) Nah, the greatest dog is in "Age of Consent".

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#110 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:00 pm

MichaelB wrote:The thing that most depressed me about The Artist is that Hazanavicius takes the easiest, most obvious narrative route at every single turn - and just when I thought that the film was actually going to get psychologically interesting (when Valentin starts peeking under the sheets in that closed-off room), he blows it with the worst artistic misjudgement I've encountered in a high-profile film in years. When I heard Kim Novak's hyperbolic complaint about the use of the Herrmann music, my initial reaction was "calm down, you daft bint" - but now I've seen the film myself and heard one of the greatest scores in film history being slopped over scenes that don't suit it at all, I honestly wanted to take a cue from Valentin, invade the projection box and set fire to the print. But it was a digital projection, and I didn't have a large magnet to hand.
Jeez, are you attempting to outdo Novak's hyperbole with this overblown nonsense?

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#111 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:09 pm

domino harvey wrote:Jeez, are you attempting to outdo Novak's hyperbole with this overblown nonsense?
No, not at all - that really was my reaction. Up to that point, I thought the film was perfectly pleasant (albeit massively overhyped), but the Herrmann absolutely wrecked it for me.

The problem is, if you know the music and its original context well, the dissonance is horrendous: I was watching The Artist while mentally screening the relevant bit of Vertigo at the same time, and the two didn't match at all.

Oddly, I haven't had that problem in most other contexts - I don't mind Woody Allen recycling Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky score in Love and Death because he had a specifically satirical purpose in mind. Similarly, when Andrzej Wajda used a Penderecki piece that had already performed memorable service in The Shining, it still worked because the same music also turned out to fit the climax of Katyn like a glove. So if the Herrmann music had actually suited the relevant scene in The Artist, I might have been OK with it - but it very painfully didn't.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#112 Post by GaryC » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:55 pm

I don't know what it is about modern-day silent movies and cute dogs, but there's one in Rolf de Heer's Dr Plonk as well.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#113 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:36 am

Probably everyone is tired of discussing this film, but having made several comments before seeing it I thought I would add a short one after seeing it. THE ARTIST is a disappointingly hollow effort that takes the plot from A STAR IS BORN and removes all the dramatic implications in favor of a cutesy homage to how 1950s television misremembered the silent film era. The title alone is completely inexplicable as there is no evidence that any of the actors or film-makers shown on-screen have attempted anything other than B-movie programmers. In all seriousness, THE SILENT ACTOR would have been a more appropriate title. As to the Herrmann cue, it's shamelessly used to generate emotion in a (long) sequence that would hold little resonance on its own. Given that the rest of the score is little more than the standard rinky-tink variations one would expect to hear on a Charley Chase silent comedy issued on DVD, the six-minute Herrmann cue is the only one that stands out as great film music...and it's probably the reason the score was nominated for both a Golden Globe (which it won) and an Oscar.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#114 Post by Finch » Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:54 am

Good piece on The Artist and the Oscars at House Next Door

Vertigo mashups

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#115 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:55 am

So now it's not only an ignorant film that dared to remind viewers of silent cinema via silent cinema, borrowed with credit a music cue from a beloved classic, and for the first time ever won the Oscar thanks to the distributor's successful campaigning, it's sexist. Of course it is. Next it's fascist, right

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#116 Post by Calvin » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:21 am

I certainly didn't see how the film "frames her success as the cause for his failure", I saw it as his resistance to change and advance that was the cause of his fall.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#117 Post by cdnchris » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:53 am

I also have to agree that argument is pretty ridiculous. Whether she succeeded or not he was going to fail
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since English was obviously not his first language and he refused to adapt to the technology.
I'll agree I don't think the film was the best of the nominees (but overall I was pretty underwhelmed with what was nominated this year) but I thought it was a fun, charming film and am honestly finding the attempts to declare it a cinematic monstrosity a bit ridiculous.
Its haphazard gleaning and ultimate distortion of film history (epitomized by the Vertigo cue)
This is still the biggest overreaction towards a cinematic "scandal" ever.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#118 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:20 pm

Isn't this a movie in which a stubborn man finally lets his successful girlfriend help him with his failing career and as a result finds happiness?

When will sexist Hollywood ever learn.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#119 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:47 pm

cdnchris wrote:This is still the biggest overreaction towards a cinematic "scandal" ever.
Hand on heart, it wrecked the film for me. It wouldn't have mattered if the music had actually worked in its new context (for instance, I saw Melancholia only a few days later, and Wagner's rather similar Tristan und Isolde fitted it like a glove), but it really didn't: it just felt tacked on, and the dissonance between what the music was doing and what the film was doing was horribly distracting - especially since it was at such a crucial part of the narrative.

As an extremely musical friend of mine (who's published books on film scoring) put it on Facebook yesterday:
For me many of the moments of musical tension completely missed the narrative ones. Of course, the two shouldn't be in lock-step but when the Tristan chord appears while he's doing something like opening a car-door, you do wonder what it's supposed to be saying!
But can anyone confirm a rumour that the forthcoming Blu-ray includes an alternative soundtrack without the Herrmann interpolation? In other words, the music that was specifically composed for that part of the film?

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#120 Post by cdnchris » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:13 pm

I can see being taken out of the film because of it, and I was momentarily as well once I realized what I was listening to (though admittedly it didn't ruin the film for me.) But some, including that sentence I quoted, seem to suggest the biggest cinematic rape ever because of it, which for me is a little much.

I guess for me it's just people trying to put down an acclaimed film as much as they can just because they don't agree. Although it wasn't a big part of that article I guess, you then have suggestions of sexism being thrown at it, which is really stretching it all things considered. And I didn't even consider Sausage's point about how she's the one that basically saves him, so it really looks like it's a big stretch.

Though I guess that's still a form of sexism, that no man can save his career without a young woman there to help. Hmmmmmm...

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#121 Post by knives » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:11 pm

I would have thought that all accusations of sexism would have been on how his wife is treated in the film. The present argument doesn't make sense to me.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#122 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:24 pm

I do agree that I would have way rather watched a movie about Bejo's character shooting for the stars, with Dujardin's as a depressing background figure, who is redeemed in the end- but yeah, there's a fundamental logical error in assuming that because Bejo's success happens at the same time as Dujardin's downfall they're somehow causally linked. Nor does any character in the movie seem to believe that- certainly Cromwell's chauffeur figure would not have decamped to someone who was in any way a rival or opponent of Dujardin's.

I think Bejo's remarks about how people like her because she's the hot new thing are wounding to Dujardin because she's someone he likes who is reinforcing what he'd already believed, not because she's destroying his career or anything. That doesn't really make sense.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#123 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:21 pm

Yes, I read it as two parallel narratives - I couldn't detect any direct causal link between her rise and his fall.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#124 Post by swo17 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:28 pm

You know how seemingly everywhere you go these days, women feel it's their place to open their mouths and speak? I like how this movie didn't do that.

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Re: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

#125 Post by manicsounds » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:38 am

Although the UK blu-ray disc of "The Artist" from EIV says it is region B locked according to the menu screen, just press the disc menu button on your remote to bypass the region coding. (The same trick as the "Return Of The Living Dead" Second Sight blu-ray)

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