Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cannes Coverage 2011: "The Artist"

I truly love such unique and odd little confections as The Artist when they present themselves. When I heard that there was a silent film shot in traditional black and white releasing at Cannes, I first thought that it could be a ham-handed attempt at imitation, or else it could be a brilliant homage to the gold old day. Reviews have begun circulating, and it seems like the latter is most prevalent in this case. If this reminds me of anything, it's last year's beautiful animation piece, The Illusionist. Guy Lodge notes as much in his review, and the comparison itself makes it one to look out for. Director Michel Hazanavicius is looking to have some sort of success on his hands here, but I worry that it will be overlooked by many across this year. Take a look at the trailer after the jump.
Guy Lodge (In Contention), ***1/2: "Hazanavicius’s technical crew are clearly as well-versed in the form as his star: Guillaume Schiffman’s silky monochrome lensing perfectly captures the silvery sheen (as opposed to currently the more fashionable chiaroscuro effect) of late-silent-era studio filmmaking, while Ludovic Bource’s glorious score adeptly shuffles between the tinkly, upright-piano mode of live accompaniment and more grandiose orchestrations that signal the sea change to come. If The Artist were merely a hollow feat of cinematic mimickry, it’d still be a lavishly beautiful one; as it stands, it’s a joyous, even moving, bridge between estranged forms of creative expression."

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter): "It’s a good bet that most contemporary directors would have a hard time pulling off a silent movie, so it’s all the more impressive what Michel Hazanavicius has wrought with The Artist, a real black-and-white silent in the 1.33 aspect ratio that takes place in Hollywood when silents were overtaken by talkies. A playful, lightly melancholy tale with A Star Is Born echoes about a young actress whose career takes off in sound pictures just as that of a veteran male star declines, this unusual Los Angeles-made French production is, by definition, a specialty item, perfect for festivals and buff enclaves worldwide but a tough proposition commercially outside France, where the director and stars are household names by virtue of the OSS capers."

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