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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Artist (Advanced Screening) Review

The Artist (Advanced Screening) Review
2011, 100 minutes
Rated PG-13 for a disturbing image and a crude gesture

The Artist is the new film by director Michel Hazanavicius that stars Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, and John Goodman.  It will be released at the end of November or beginning of December.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this film.  It touched me like no other has this entire year.  At the screening of this film that I went to, I felt like a kid in a candy shop, reveling in the wonders of Hazanavicius' film.  I can only name a few times when this has happened to me, one being when I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at an outdoor venue on a big screen with a live orchestra.  Films such as these are so original and ambitious in their composition and scope that they cannot help but inspire awe.  The Lord of the Rings films were so fantastic due to their visuals, acting, scope, action, etc.  The Artist is so unique and ambitious because it is a modern-day film in black and white and is SILENT.  This term normally turns people off as it did my dad whom I saw this film with.  The movie began with a titles sequence, shaky background and all and then launched into a beautifully executed sequence in which George Valentin (the astounding Dujardin) attends his own movie premiere and shows off on stage.  This sequence is so ingeniously done as Dujardin steals the show.  He is an actor that has worked with director Hazanavicius on the OSS 117 films before this and is a natural at silent film acting.  From the moment that he pops out from behind the curtain and does his act, I immediately fell in love with his character.  He maintains his character throughout and electrifies.  Bérénice Bejo is also phenomenal as Peppy Miller, a woman whose career George launches and falls in love with.  She puts on a refined, classy, and believable performance and is an absolute pleasure to watch.  She and Dujardin have perfect chemistry and are both bound for larger careers and hopefully Oscar nods.  
Hazanavicius' script is the best I've seen all year because what he shows is that a film does not need many words, and there aren't many, to make a beautiful and powerful point.  He uses his exquisite camerawork and visuals to tell a marvelous story.  He does not rely on sight gags to make the movie funny.  Obviously there are some, but the ones that exist are hilarious and clever.  Much of the humor is provided by Dujardin and Bejo as they simply do their act.  Hazanavicius' directorial skills are impressive also as he knows where to place the camera and which angle to take at every moment.  He employs camera techniques from classic silent films and demonstrates them here with a striking accuracy.  His black and white cinematography, though, is not grainy as it would have been in a real 1920s or 1930s silent film.  It is a hyper stylized black and white that looks crisp and clean and lends a modern  feel to the film.  
Overall, I cannot rave about this film enough.  This is by far the year's best film and if it does not win Oscars, it will be one of their biggest snubs.  This is a special film that everyone can see and relate to.  You will fall in love with this especially if you are a film buff.  Please see this when it opens at the end of November.  The day it opens will be an absolute day to save in your calendars as seeing this will be a touching, beautiful, humorous, and life-affirming experience.

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-Joshua Handler

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