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"The artist": overhyped?


Aly_M
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Hi I just wanted to ask people, maybe I am alone in this, but in what I've seen of the artist ( the film with all the oscar noms) it totally turns me off. It looks way too stylized for one thing and I don't think it is doing any sort of tribute to classic films at all. Simply taking the gloss of classic film era and re-imagining it for today's audiences who aren't interested in learning the true classics.

Also, I am suprised no one has pointed out that the subplot is exactly like a star is born.

Frankly I don't see the purpose of making a silent film today and if they are trying to do a tribute to silents, why are they making it a musical? Who heard of a silent musical? They did not do tap dance routines like that in silents. It just really annoys me, the whole film. Is there anyone out there who is anything other than rapturous about "the Artist"?

AM

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THE ARTIST is definitely getting noticed, and is even creating new Silent film fans. Or at least allot of people who will be looking into the genra more. Hopefully, it will also lead to several long awaited Silents from the major studios getting official DVD and Blu-ray releases. Such as THE BIG PARADE and BEAU GESTE. If that is the case, I am all for it.

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> Also, I am suprised no one has pointed out that the subplot is exactly like a star is born. Frankly I don't see the purpose of making a silent film today and if they are trying to do a tribute to silents, why are they making it a musical?

 

*A Star Is Born* wasn't a musical. At least, not until somebody got the idiotic idea of remaking it.

 

(Sorry, I don't like the singing of Judy Garland or Barbra Streisand.)

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I agree with you, Aly. After the stratospheric, *SCHINDLER'S LIST*-like reviews, I was expecting a much more overwhelming experience. I actually took a few catnaps during the first half, and was only mildly entertained by the rest of it. The positive hype seems to be the result of wishful thinking by film critics and buffs, who would like to believe that all black-and-white movies are automatically masterpieces. And yes, the plot is very similar to *A STAR IS BORN*, but with a deus ex machina ending.

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The main point is that today's movies are crap. I'm sick to death of CGI. I can't stand it. Even the commercials for every up coming film look ridiculous with all that overblown CGI. Even worse are the explosions. So much Garbage is being spewed by Hollywood it's not funny. Young people can't follow a story line today. They really can't. Toss in a big explosion here and there to wake them up and alert them that something has just happened. Pathetic.

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I thought The Artist was a delightful film, kind of a Singin' in the Rain, except the Gene Kelly goes downhill, rather than gets a fresh career from sound. The lead actor actually reminds me a bit of Kelly, but in the drunk scenes, he also reminds me of Frederic March -- in A Star is Born, of course. I, too, am really sick of CGI and movies that are just endless action with no script, or remakes, or sequels. However, after seeing Hugo, I'm convinced Hugo is the best picture and both says something about film, and yet also does many wonderful things visually, the only 3D film I've seen that really uses that technique in an artistic, rather than a gimmicky way. The entire cast of Hugo is also excellent, from Ben Kingsley to funny Sasha Cohen to the little boy who plays Hugo..

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> {quote:title=Aly_M wrote:}{quote}

> Frankly I don't see the purpose of making a silent film today and if they are trying to do a tribute to silents, why are they making it a musical?

There was a movie a few years ago (2008?), an independent production called SILENT, which ahs yet to be released on DVD. I'm really excited about seeing it...it's about a silent black-and-white gothic world (kinda like Nosferatu) where one girl suddenly discovers one day that she has a voice and can speak. She's the only character in the film thereafter who talks...the rest of the cast is silent with title cards.

 

"Don't see the purpose of making a silent film today"? Frankly, just because filmmakers can make something in sound and color doesn't mean they have to or should. There's such a thing as artistic expression, and homage, you know.

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Every movie seems to have to be overhyped and advertised, because movies play far less longer in theaters today than they used to many years ago...maybe 2 months tops, for a big hit. One month or less for other movies. Then they start making more money from digital download/streaming, pay-per-view, DVD sales, On Demand viewings, etc.

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> {quote:title=phroso wrote:}{quote}The positive hype seems to be the result of wishful thinking by film critics and buffs, who would like to believe that all black-and-white movies are automatically masterpieces.

There are plenty of film critics and "buffs" (don't like this word - implies people who obsess over trivia) who have mixed feelings about The Artist or don't like it at all and most of the reviewers praising The Artist to the heavens have done nothing to help most other black & white films of the last thirty or so years to reach the top of the Oscars (or any part of it for that matter.)

 

This is a bit of another post from another thread about The Artist that I made...

 

 

 

 

 

 

> {quote:title=JonasEB wrote:}{quote}It's awfully cynical of me, but the reason why The Weinstein Co. picked up the movie in the first place is because they knew they could advertise it in a very specific way to specific people and get these results.

>

> It's as focus grouped and market tested as any of the blockbusters but in a different way. The Artist passes market muster not because it conforms to a formula but because it has a...level of quirkiness and obvious difference that can easily be marketed. The Artist has obvious differences in its appearance from the normal product we get, but at the same time it appeals to the same things that audiences always like at the movies - sentiment, conventional plotting, etc. (Not that I'm opposed to any of these things mind you.)

>

>

> I haven't seen The Artist yet, I very well might enjoy it, but I have wider concerns about its portrayal of silent films, chiefly, that it exploits the idea that silent films are different from sound films when they really aren't; it's only the most superficial difference. It's a novelty I don't appreciate. I get the feeling that 90-99% of the people who see The Artist won't seriously engage themselves with silent films, that ultimately the film's novelty only hepls itself and does nothing to improve the conditions real silent films face.

>

 

 

(And I really would like to be proven wrong on that last point: If The Artist was the catalyst that finally forced Warner to unleash the cache of silent masterpieces they've left to waste in the vaults on DVD and, I wish, on Blu-ray then it would be a rousing success in my eyes.)

 

Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Three Times (the middle part of which is a silent film - and it's just like his other films) and Guy Maddin's films (often black & white and playing with silent attributes) didn't/don't achieve this market penetration because they neither fit what a modern audience might expect from a silent film nor do they fit the same audiences' model of what a movie is today. The Artist toes the former line and fulfills (or seems to, again I haven't seen it) the expectations of the latter. It's loaded in many ways and it's easy to build something out of it.

 

> {quote:title=Aly_M wrote:}{quote}Also, I am suprised no one has pointed out that the subplot is exactly like a star is born.

>

> Frankly I don't see the purpose of making a silent film today and if they are trying to do a tribute to silents, why are they making it a musical? Who heard of a silent musical? They did not do tap dance routines like that in silents. It just really annoys me, the whole film. Is there anyone out there who is anything other than rapturous about "the Artist"?

>

The Artist is in the tradition of films like the silent Show People, the "Star is Born" predecessor What Price Hollywood, Singin' in the Rain, etc. It's deliberate and a lot of writers actually have pointed it out. And there are actually a lot of "musical" moments in silent film history.

 

My issue with The Artist is not that it would dare be a silent film in 2012 but that it places silent films in relief for an audience in a way that isn't exactly truthful about what silent films mean to film history. As much as I like Kevin Brownlow's writing and work, I disagree with the notion that silent films are essentially different from sound films - it's all cinema and practically any good film since 1929 does things the way that any silent would have done them. Instead of reconciling something "alien" with what is familiar, we should affirm that silent films are like any other film. More people would appreciate silent films if they could see that it's not really different from a sound film and that the accomplishments of silent films are practically 90%+ of what the art form is.

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Being "Overhyped" at Oscar season comes with the territory. It is a particular trademark of Harvey Weinstein who bought the U.S. distribution rights to the film. The man is a master of marketing movies during awards season.

 

What is somewhat unique is how the film has leapt off the entertainment pages and has been discussed by non-arts columnists and writers or in places where movies seldom intrude. "Hardball" with Chris Matthews even hosted an interview about the film. People seem to want to use the film as a metaphor or touchstone for discussing larger issues. And there is nothing wrong with that - if it is done intelligently.

 

I do think it is unfair to disparage the film for being not being "authentic" to films of the silent era. An "homage" wants to be "romantic" rather than "authentic." The Steven Soderbergh film *The Good German* went to great pains to be "authentic" and failed. The 1940's "look" and technique used in the film was a distraction. I doubt that viewers of that film were enticed to search out other WWII films from WB after watching it.

 

Is it fitting to have "musical-style elements" in the silent film? Sure. One of the greatest dances ever put on celluloid is Valentino's Tango from *Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse*. Dancing was not absent from silent films.

 

There do seem to be some anachronistic elements to the film. I've read of "overhead shots" a-la Busby Berkeley being in the film. There is that lifting of music from *Vertigo* for use in the film. Some even quibble over the choice of a terrier as the dog because German Sheherds were "the dogs" of the silent era. And the commercial's use of 1940's Big Band Swing music does strike me as a poor choice. But only a "purist" would object to such film references simply because they came after the silent era ended.

 

*The Artist* is an audacious enterprise at homage. *WALL-E* was an inspired one. *The Good German* was an honest one. Even *Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow* had its heart in the right place. But these films were not made to be "commercials" promoting the joys and greatness of films from a past era. They've been made to be watched today. And if the film gets "over-hyped" in order to attract an audience, fine by me. "Movies For Grown-Ups" - especially ones that honor the legacy of the medium - don't come around too often. Maybe that is why the hype has bled into the mainstream conversation.

 

 

--------------------------------

 

From the Wall Street Journal -

 

*Final note.* We are at a point in our culture when we actually have to pull for grown-up movies, when we must try to encourage them and laud them when they come by. David Lean wouldn't be allowed to make movies today, John Ford would be forced to turn John Wayne into a 30-something failure-to-launch hipster whose big moment is missing the toilet in the vomit scene in Hangover Ten. Our movie culture has descended into immaturity, deep and inhuman violence, a pervasive and flattened sexuality. It is an embarrassment.

 

In Iraq this year I asked an Iraqi military officer doing joint training at an American base what was the big thing he'd come to believe about Americans in the years they'd been there. He thought. "You are a better people than your movies say." He had judged us by our exports. He had seen the low slag heap of our culture and assumed it was a true expression of who we are.

 

And so he'd assumed we were disgusting.

 

Credit, then, to those who make movies for grown-ups. I end with words I never expected to say: "Thank you, Harvey Weinstein. WELL DONE."

 

_Peggy Nonan_

December 27, 2011

 

Edited by: hlywdkjk on Feb 11, 2012 6:45 AM

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From the little I've seen of the promos, I think so too.

 

I've no interest in seeing it. If I want excellent silents, I need go no further than Keaton - or Mel's Silent Movie.

 

But it's the darling of Hollyweird, and the idiots who couldn't figure out for themselves the worthiness of silents without having the Oscar jam this movie down their throats. You've noticed the idiots in this country are suddenly ANTI plastic water bottles, as IF that were a good idea when the same corporate idiots who are now pushing tap water pushed plastic bottles instead?

 

When in doubt, Hollyweird (and the rest of this stupid country) redoes something already done better a hundred years ago.

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> {quote:title=hlywdkjk wrote:}{quote}Peggy Noonan

> The Wall Street Journal, December 27

>

> *Final note.* We are at a point in our culture when we actually have to pull for grown-up movies, when we must try to encourage them and laud them when they come by. David Lean wouldn't be allowed to make movies today, John Ford would be forced to turn John Wayne into a 30-something failure-to-launch hipster whose big moment is missing the toilet in the vomit scene in Hangover Ten. Our movie culture has descended into immaturity, deep and inhuman violence, a pervasive and flattened sexuality. It is an embarrassment.

>

>

> Credit, then, to those who make movies for grown-ups. I end with words I never expected to say: "Thank you, Harvey Weinstein. WELL DONE."

>

 

 

Not...true. Proactive moviegoes know better, Peggy Noonan seems to expect things to be dropped into her lap. She's just perpetuating the same falsehood that damages not just film culture, but culture in general. Strike 1!

 

Every year, at this time of year, we get a lot of movies for "adults" because the industry has found a way to market them in a particular way - this includes making people think "movies for adults" are rare but every time this year we get more and more movies like The Iron Lady or My Week With Marilyn. They're very successful too - another thing perpetrated by marketing or hype, that they're not successful - so there's no reason for the studios to change the policy we've had for about 30 years now - using "indie farms" (my term - Weinstein Co., Fox Searchlight, etc.) to produce "adult" fare at the end/beginning of a year, making blockbusters and cash-cows for the rest of the year.

 

What this strategy that the studios and people like the Weinstein's use does do, however, is keep people from looking farther than they should to find movies. We don't have to pull for movies for adults, they're abundant, we just need to look for them. Not even Certified Copy, maybe the best film of 2010 and starring the beloved-by-practically-every-facet-of-filmdom Juliet Binoche, got any mention from the mainstream press.

 

 

"Descendants of Lean" type films still come around every few years - The English Patient and Atonement, Strike 2 for Peggy Noonan - but just like "Epic Lean" I don't think much of these films. As with Lean then and as with English Patient and Atonement now, superior things are ignored in their favor: The Leopard in 1964, Mysteries of Lisbon in 2012. The Academy is still pushing the same artistic values they always have, and continue to suppress the very same things.

 

 

If Raul Ruiz can make a wonderful 5 hour period film in this period for less than $5,000,000 then we're still capable of enormously great things - it's on us to pay attention, not to expect the powers that be to drop them in our laps, and it's only our loss when we do not do these things.

 

 

John Ford: Westerns still manage to get nominated for Best Picture, but the mainstream still can't recognize Heaven's Gate for what it is so I'm not sure America deserves a John Ford when they so violently screwed over a descendant of Ford (and of Luchino Visconti/The Leopard) 32 years ago and continue to scoff at it to this day. (Note: Only one John Ford western was ever nominated for Best Picture, the conventional Stagecoach. The post-war westerns, some of his most important work, were ignored or faintly patronized at the time, never recognized for the rich view of civilization, myths and heroic figures, and our country that they were. We weren't any more interested in what he was really doing then than we are today.) Strike 3!

 

 

I don't weep for culture, I weep for us, for we do not appreciate what we already have, we hide it and ignore it (as we always, always, have.)

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The producers are taking a huge gamble, making a black and white silent film in this day and age. Such a risk must make them want to resort to more than the usual amount of hype in order to put it over. The TCM fan community (God bless them!) is not totally representative of the general moviegoing audience, many of whom may have little or no experience watching classic films. Our familiarity with vintage film gives us a standard against which to judge such a production, something the average movie goer may not have experience with.

 

I'm with the producers on this one. The important thing is to raise popular awareness and appreciation for our classic film era heritage with the general public, most of who are primarily affected by current popular culture. The masses need a contemporary film to stimulate them into appreciation for that earlier era of filmmaking.

 

I wish them the best in box office returns. (A constant in the business that hasn't changed since the silent days!) I'm even hoping for a sequel. It would be nice if this film could be the start of a retro trend. Imitators are more than welcome to jump in!

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Just as A Star is Born is a ripoff of What Price Hollywood. God knows Hollywood has cannibalized its own material enough for us not to be so outraged at the occurence. How many original stories are there to tell? It's not so important that something is a ripoff so long as it does not rely on its success from the previous film.

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Of course it's similar to A Star Is Born-- I really doubt it was trying to hide that. Which is why the suicide scene is so moving -- you know that if this really is A Star is Born he's not going to make it. The film is crowded with references to lots of classics like Metropolis and Citizen Kane. It's leading man intentionally looks like Douglas Fairbanks with a Gene Kelly smile. If tributes bother you, I can see the objection, but they don't bother me.

 

As someone who saw this in a literal vacuum (never saw trailers or even pictures, just heard it was a silent film) before no one else had even really heard of it, I walked in with no expectations at all (except, like any movie, that I hoped I might like it) and away feeling like this was the best film of 2011. And I still think that-- better than Hugo, The Help, Midnight in Paris, and all the other Best Picture contenders that I have seen. (Mind you I haven't seen The Descendants or Moneyball).

 

After the lucky few of us in big cities saw it first, we naturally were so delighted to see something well made and well written, we wanted to tell everyone about it. Then it started winning awards and getting lots of Best Picture buzz. And THEN, after it was picking up awards, it finally got released other places. So of COURSE if you came to the film during all that, after people started talking about it, or especially after it started getting Oscar buzz, you would naturally walk in with what would most likely be overly high expectations. Some people are able to hear other people's opinions and still be objective about a film, but most people allow it to raise their expectations. In this case, then, if your expectations were raised to the level that "this is the best film of 2011", you will probably be disappointed, since no film can live up to any intelligent person's ideal of a Best Picture Winner. Someday in the future when the hype is gone and it's just another movie, maybe you can watch it again and enjoy it much more because this time you have low expectations. But then some people are like Mr Darcy: "My good opinion once lost is lost forever."

 

It's sad because this happens with movies all the time. It comes out, and if it's good word of mouth and Oscar buzz blow it out of proportion, etc etc etc. There are lots of people around me that I know would have loved a certain movie if they hadn't had such high expectations for it. And in fact often they will revisit the movie later on and find they actually do like it. Which is why I often will revisit movies I didn't like the first time.

 

I for one am so glad I got to see THE ARTIST (and, actually MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, too) in a vacuum knowing little more about a movie than the title, perhaps some actors, perhaps a wee hint of the premise or a tip from a friend saying "I think you'd like this one," having never seen a trailer or anything, with absolutely no expectations beyond "I hope this will be worth the ten bucks." That's my favorite way to see any movie. I wish we could all see movies this way. Alas.

 

Anyway, that's my theory, which comes from lots of testing in the field, and is presented with absolutely no hard feelings intended. I love you all (and I'm not just saying that because it's almost Valentine's Day) and wouldn't let a movie come between us (especially a recent movie for Pete's sake). Now, forum buddies, go let loose and pick it apart-- I know you all want to!

 

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Polecat, I'm not going to pick your critique apart. Au contraire, yours is the most insightful and fair-minded defense of the hype that I've read so far. I'm still not convinced that the movie is as great as it fans insist, (maybe another viewing or two will change my mind), but it was refreshing to hear from someone who didn't turn their love of *THE ARTIST* into a broadside attack on the dumbing down of America. Thanks again for your input.

 

 

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What made the suicide sequence moving for me was hearing Bernard Herrmann's haunting music from VERTIGO which seemed to fit but might have been a bit distracting personally for me. I know the music from VERTIGO so well as it is one of my favorite film scores. I have not seen one mention of the sequence using Herrmann's music, or did I miss something. I imagine Herrmann would not have been too happy lifting part of his score and putting it into THE ARTIST.

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I have not seen the film. But, it is clear that if you have seen the film, and like it, awards are proof that it is a deserving film, and therefore, not over-hyped. But, if you don't like it, then the awards prove that it IS over-hyped. So, either way, it is really just one's personal opinion.

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