Film (with rating): The Artist (PG-13)
Pictures Home Entertainment
movie star, and appropriately named, George Valentin (Oscar-winner Jean
Dujardin) is afraid that the coming era of talking pictures will cause him to
fade into oblivion.
“The Artist” swept this year’s Academy Awards, I wasn’t surprised.
Take a silent, black-and-white film with a mainly foreign cast and it spells
Oscar gold. For better or for worse. Yes, I was a bit cynical, but that’s
usually how these things go.
But now that “The Artist” is out on DVD and I’ve
had time to figure it out, I have to agree that this film by director/writer Michel
Hazanavicius is well deserving of its praise. For one, it is pretty
revolutionary when compared to today’s “normal” cinema fare. There
was not a single word spoken in this movie; instead, title cards, fantastic
acting and a magnificent soundtrack served as dialog. No giant explosions, 14
subplots, government conspiracies, vampires, evil demons, web-slinging
superheroes or partying/pooping bridesmaids made an appearance.
Yet even so, “The Artist” could hold the
audience’s attention, evoke emotion and tell an unforgettable story.
While I at first scoffed at the Best Actor Oscar for
Dujardin, I later ate my words. It takes a very talented actor to pull off an
entire movie without the help of dialog. He couldn’t just talk–he had to act.
And charmingly so. So yes, I agree, his Academy Award was well deserved.
“The Artist” touches on fears we all have, be this
2012 or 1927. Becoming unneeded and obsolete, losing our touch, being
forgotten. Dujardin and his leading lady, the adorable Brnice Bejo, conveyed
so much emotion into their roles. The audience didn’t need words to know what
they were thinking and feeling.
Some reviewers have commented that “The Artist” is too simple, that the storyline really doesn’t allow for much thought because it is so basic in nature. But let’s be fair. This is a silent movie. How complicated can the plot be without any dialog to develop it?
Truth be told, people who really dislike black-and-white
films and silent films in particular will have a hard time with “The
Artist.” It is a tribute to this style of filmmaking, so if you hate that,
you’ll hate this movie. With all the hype it received during awards season
(five Oscars, seven BAFTA awards, three Golden Globes, etc.), “The
Artist” also falls into the trap of looking like the best film ever
created. So much hype preceding any movie viewing is bound to equal
My advice? Give it a shot. Go in with an open mind. Block
out preconceived notions of silent movies as well as excessive accolades from
reviewers across the globe. Just give “The Artist” a try.
Besides, the dog, played by Uggie von Muller, is worth
watching the film for all by himself. That little dude is remarkable! He’s a
rescued dog who really wasn’t an enormous big-time Hollywood star before this
movie. Gotta love those canine stars who really light up the film. Who needs
words when you’ve got a wagging tail, anyway?
Q&A with Filmmakers and Cast. Or read my story about Uggie here.
What to serve for dinner: For tonight’s Meatless Monday Movie entre, let’s
honor Dujardin’s homeland of France with some crepes.
Cheesy Vegetable Crepes (www.bettycrocker.com).
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped (3 to 4 cups)
cup chopped green bell pepper
4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)
teaspoon instant minced garlic
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup Original Bisquick mix
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add zucchini,
bell pepper, onions and garlic; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally,
until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes. Sprinkle
with salt. Cover; let stand 2 to 3 minutes.
Lightly grease a 6- or 7-inch skillet; heat over medium-high
heat. In a medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk and eggs with wire whisk or
fork until blended. Heat oven to 350 degrees. For each crepe, pour 2
tablespoons batter into hot skillet; rotate skillet until batter covers bottom.
Cook until golden brown. Gently loosen edge with metal spatula; turn and cook
other side until golden brown. Stack crepes, placing waxed paper between, as
you remove them from skillet. Keep crepes covered to prevent them from drying
Spoon filling onto crepes. Sprinkle half of cheese over
filling on crepes; roll up crepes. Place seam sides down in an ungreased
11×7-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake
uncovered 10 to 12 minutes or until hot.
What to talk about over dinner: Did this movie work, or was it just an overdone
effort to get Oscar attention? Did you agree with all of the awards it won? Who
was your favorite character? Could you get into the movie, or was it difficult?
Were you bored? Did this change your mind about silent films or black-and-white
movies? Did you just love the dog? Do you think we’ll be seeing more of
Dujardin on this side of the Atlantic? What is your favorite black-and-white
movie? Would you have liked to live in the 1920s? How are things today like
they were back then?