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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Artist Gives Us a Gilmpse of the Grand Way It Was

I was fortunate to see the wonderful new film The Artist at a packed house at New York's famed Paris movie theater. About halfway through this mostly silent film - both a tribute to the films of the past and a history - I took a look at the heads below the screen and the black and white images on them and thought that this is what it was like: a huge screen in a big cinema with a balcony (and $13 prices!). French writer and director Michael Hazanavicius has crafted an age-old story of boy-meets-girl and aging star loses luster and added so many clever wrinkles that the result is incredibly smooth and heart-tugging. Kudos to the casting director for using Jean Dujardin (of the OSS 117 spy spoof films) and finding Berenice Bejo to team with him. They are both athletic and graceful, and look good together. John Goodman shows how to bluster without any sound, James Cromwell admirably plays the good chauffeur - I still shiver when I think of him in LA Confiudential - and Penelope Ann Miller (wow where has she been?) plays the unloved wife. It is amazing to see how a story can be told so well without sound - although there is a beautiful original score by Ludovic Bource which is crucial to the film. So I don't know if you can find an old theater to see this in. Let's hope either the Avalon or the Uptown shows it. If they do, please see it there. It's such an original film, which is so odd to say considering it's a silent. There must be a lesson there.

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