Sunday, December 25th, 2011


I’m still reeling from the shock that I have just left
my local Multiplex Theater where the crowds were out in full force for the
latest ‘Mission Impossible’ blockbuster and another ‘Sherlock Holmes’ flick,
yet my screen had a sold-out house even though it was playing a French
Black & White Silent Movie, and as the end credits rolled the entire
audience broke out into spontaneous applause. 
Its not a question of what have they been putting in my neighbors’s Christmas
Eggnog, but more the fact that the movie in question is ‘The Artist’ and is
evidently evoking the same response up and down the country.
George Valentin is a good looking, but very hammy,
matinee idol that is a big movie star at the peak of his very successful
career.  One night at the premiere of his
latest movie Peppy Miller a young flapper girl literally falls over him by
accident and the picture of the two of them together is all over the newspapers
next day inadvertently jump-starting her career as a film extra.   The year is 1927 and movie buffs will know
that’s just a couple of years before the ‘talkies’ arrive. George can suddenly
hear sound coming from everywhere except his own voice.  Even his dog Uggie, not only his constant
companion but also his movie co-star, starts barking.  In the midst of this nightmare the Studio
halts production on all silent films to focus on this new trend.

Valentin hopes that it is just a passing fad and his
day will come again, so using his savings he finances another silent film to
stage his comeback.  Meanwhile young
Peppy has worked her way up through the ranks and has her first starring role
and when her movie opens to great acclaim the very same day as George’s which
bombs, his fate is sealed.   Homeless,
penniless, wifeless and with just a bottle of whisky and Uggie for company he
is headed on a downward spiral, except we find out that he does have a guardian angel out
there after all.

‘The Artist’ is so totally charming and completely
mesmerizing from the word go. It’s a refreshingly bold and delightful romantic
comedy that really cannot fail to move everyone. Jean Dujardin as George
Valentin gets you from the very first big dazzling smile and is so utterly
perfect there are times you can be forgiven for thinking he actually was a
Silent Movie Star.  It’s a glorious
performance and is a big factor in making this wonderful gem of a film so
thoroughly entertaining.  The chemistry
between him and Berenice Bejo (Peppy Miller) is electric and greatly
enhances her performance too.  Look out
too for some stray Americans in the cast: John Goodman as the tough Studio Head,
James Cromwell as the loyal chauffer and Penelope Ann-Miller as the neglected
wife.  Blink and you will miss Malcolm
playing an Extra.
There are echoes of ‘A Star is Born’ in the plot, and
more than a passing resemblance to ‘Singing in The Rain’ but as the (genius?)
writer/director Michel Hazanavicius insisted it is important not to think of ‘The Artist’ as an old movie.  It very new
indeed, and he clamed it’s a neglected format with gave him some exciting
options as a storyteller.
R.T.V. The fact that M. Dujarin won a Palme D’Or for this role, and that the movie
has already 8 Golden Globes Nominations and 3 SAG ones etc., should not be the
main reason you should see this movie. 
Go see it because it is a sheer joy.


Posted by queerguru  at  02:35



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