Charm and Nostalgia Take Over: The Artist Review

This year, if anything, we’ve been given a common theme throughout film, especially those who are attacking the Awards scene.  There’s nothing like being sent to the past, especially those that can connect to the specific time period or similar memories.  Films like Hugo and Super 8 are examples of creations where we are sent back to those “good ole” days of yesteryear.  The Artist is no different.

The Artist, envisioned by the French director Michael Hazanavicius creates this small little film about silent era, where sound is not an element in Hollywood.  it focuses on George Valentin, wonderfully acted by Jean Dujardin, a prominent silent film actor who is one of the biggest draws in the film industry, and his coincidence in creating a star in Peppy Miller, who is brilliantly played by Berenice Bejo, and create this strong connection and bond.  But the focus is not on a love story, but on the rising of the new and trending and the falling of the old and unchanging.  Sound is the future of films, but Valentin refuses to adapt to this new innovative creation for the industry, and he leaves his studio to create his own film, a silent one, while Hollywood shifts their entire focus and emphasis to sound.  Miller, on the other hand, is a rising star with her delightful dancing, a young and attractive face, and what I’m assuming, a decent voice, where she eventually becomes the talk of the town.  She eventually replaces Valentin in their fight for fame, and as time progresses through the stock market crash, Valentin begins to lose everything he has, mainly because of his unwillingness to accept the new, and the pride that clenches on to what he believes is the best and correct way of creating movies.

Sounds simple enough and it honestly is.  But what we experience here is also a silent film.  It’s the first silent film I’ve ever seen, and it something that I had to get used to, I’m not going to lie.  As an impatient viewer who has constant knack for making sure audiences are continuously entertained, at times, it seemed like this was too much of a gimmick, and as the film progressed, it was tough for myself to actually make a connection and understand the whole purpose of this.  But what seemed like a gimmick plays out as an extremely charming and playful film with a lot of heart and wit.  Yes, there were times where I was sitting in my chair, hoping to hear some sound effects, a line of dialogue, or something other than an orchestra (and we do by the way, no spoiler intended), but you what is provided on screen is so much more than just a different style or an innovative and creative idea that really isn’t that innovative or creative.

It’s a tribute to the past, but not just in film, but in every individual.   It provides us a time where innocence and enthusiasm is what it took to make it in the industry, and that a good smile shows the individual at heart.  The story is extremely simple, obviously, but as I think about The Artist more and more, it is a look back at a time where we saw film as a blessing, an exciting experience where we all gather to enjoy the latest from Hollywood.  You get a sense of genuine motives, and a tribute to times where success was measured by how much the audience enjoyed it.  All actors and actresses wanted to do was to make good films that people of all ages could enjoy, and we don’t just see it from what’s on screen, but we feel that passion and heartfelt in every scene as the director, is trying himself to send us into that kind of still moment in time.  Though I am only 23 years old and really have no clue about that time era in film, there’s a sense of youth and love through every scene, and all you can really do is smile.  I mean, the last time I laughed at such innocent things like a goofy face, a dance or a dog and an owner’s connection, I can’t even remember, but that’s the whole point: is to send the audience to a place where we can be the person at heart where those things were enjoyable and entertaining.

Allow me to mention the great performances by Dujardin and Bejo.  I mean, wow, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to really display emotions, subtle feelings and distinct mannerisms without saying word, especially in a time where words mean more than actions, but they do a heck of a job in making the audience believe in what they’re doing.  They are the reason this movie works so well, and both should be nominated for Oscars for their roles.

But this is not a perfect film.  I had some issues, especially with the pace and timing of the film, I mean, how long can a silent film really be?  And though I loved the first act, the second moved very slowly and thought it got the point across very early on, but stuck with this tone for a long time, and I thought it hurt the film.  But in the end, The Artist achieves its goals, and succeeds in the only way it wanted to succeed.  It provides something not many films can provide, and from the young to the old, it’s a tribute to a time where we could enjoy such innocent pleasure.

The Artist is worth: 3/4 of a clock (3 1/2 stars).

Week Full of Award Candidates

In this past week, I’ve seen Another Earth, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Artist and still need to take in Shame, My Week With Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Young Adult, etc. Who knew awards watching would be so tiring? But with this comes much perspective and understanding during the awards season. So far though, I have made one conclusion.

No performance is better than Rooney Mara’s.

Been There, Done That. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

Sherlock Holmes does a great job in being nothing special. We’ve seen A Game of Shadows before. Yes, it was called Sherlock Holmes from 2009.

Under the same famous detective written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we find the intelligent and very observant Holmes, Robert Downey Jr., in some sort of, crap, I don’t even remember how the movie started because it’s all one big mess. Oh right, there are big bombs…in the 1890’s. Random acts of terrorism has frightened all across Europe, and tensions between France and Germany has risen as both have accused one another on the random acts of violence. Obviously, Holmes knows all of this and understands that it is not the work of any European countries, but from Professor Moriarty. Teacher at day, terrorist mastermind at night, he creates a chain of companies and organizations to create these powerful and destructive the 1890’s, to sell to these European nations so that even though war would completely annihilate the European continent, Moriarty would profit all of it considering that he would be the weapons provider for both sides. As this all unfolds, we get the Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. John Watson, played by Jude Law, combo to figure out how to stop this madman and end what could be a massive European war (If they waited 20 more years, Moriarty wouldn’t have had to do anything).

Obviously, there’s more to the plot and story than the brief overview above, but that’s honestly all I could remember. The first Sherlock Holmes was a decent surprise. Obviously, the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Law is clearly what ties this movie together. Without them, there is no sequel, and likewise in the first, A Game of Shadows only works because of their ability to put a dull movie into the not-so-dull movie category. I like Guy Pearce too. He creates some great actions sets in A Game of Shadows specifically in a train and in the forest (one of the best actions scenes I’ve seen this year). But two actions scenes do not complete a movie. The problem I had with the first Sherlock Holmes is that everyone except Holmes and Watson, you don’t care about. In this one, you wish they all died. Okay, not really, but the audience has no ability to share any emotions with any of the characters on screen. Even with Holmes and Watson, we see them doing the same exact thing time after time, from either bickering and arguing or Holmes doing that crazy recollection of all the little important things he notices. If there’s one thing I hate about mysteries or twists, and this goes to all films, not just Sherlock Holmes, is that providing a twist that the audience would never have seen, is actually, not a twist at all. There needs to be some sort of evidence within the audience’s realm to make it more twisted and shocking. Pulling a rabbit out of the hat just makes us feel like we were all part of some dumb trick.

I didn’t hate this movie. Not at all. I did find myself enjoying bits and pieces of it, but my issues has nothing to do with hate. My issues is the fact that with this cast and this talented of a director, you could create something really special. But all we get is a decent action film with quick dialogue. Nothing daring, nothing new and definitely nothing special. I know I shouldn’t compare films, but I look at the Batman series by Christopher Nolan. Pearce is no Nolan, obviously, but Nolan understands that okay, I did something good with the first one, but the next chapter cannot have the same exact elements and equations or else I’ve done absolutely nothing with the characters. What are we getting in the second installment in Sherlock Holmes? Honestly, nothing. They could’ve just projected half of the first Sherlock Holmes and it’d be the same, exact thing. Instead of really trying to do push the series into a new level, all they did was try to get an easy dollar.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is worth: Half a Clock.  (2 1/2 stars)

Andy Serkis: The Performance You Don’t Know About

Andy Serkis is renown actor, except you most likely don’t know who he is.  But I’m pretty sure you know some of his roles like Gollum from Lord of the Rings to King Kong from…King Kong.  Well, if you were as big of a fan as I was on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, you will understand that no, Caesar was not all computer generated images.  There had to be a performance still, and yes, it was Andy Serkis who provides one of the best this year. Oscar consideration is necessary.