Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"The Artist"

While I have long since ceased to care about what films are nominated for Oscars, one title has managed to capture my interest: The Artist.

From what I have read and the clips that I have seen, The Artist is an homage to the era of silent films in Hollywood.  In it, a 1920’s actor (Jean Dujardin) fears for his own relevancy as widespread release of talking pictures looms on the horizon.  During this time, he meets a dancer looking for her first big break.  And yes, this really is a silent film.

I became further interested in The Artist by an opinion piece on CNN today written by A.S. Hamrah, a film critic at n+1.  In it, Hamrah asserts his own rationale for why this particular film seems to have struck a chord.  One reason he seems to claim is that of nostalgia and sentimentality:

“Do these movies smuggle the past into the future or just use it as pastiche? In an era where airports feature bizarre signs reading "Snow globes are not allowed through the security checkpoint," these movies insist on the physicality of silent cinema, a memento mori in the age of the delete button.”

While I am certainly not one for longing for a “simpler time,” especially ones that really weren’t all that simple once their veneer is stripped away, another point Hamrah makes is well taken. 

We need silence.

As I have said before, of all the weird things I research, people are by far the weirdest.  I am surrounded by people, both in the media and in real life, who seem to want nothing more than to talk incessantly…while never really saying anything at all.  This is unremitting.  I keep searching for a mute button for the rest of the world, so that I might silence voices as easily as I do threads on my Google+ stream.
Our entertainment has become much the same way.  While I do enjoy science fiction and action films, including the eye and brain candy of a special effects-laden opus, there is an adverse consequence to them: all the noise.  Both auditory and visual.  Just look at Cameron’s Avatar or better yet, any of Michael Bay’s Transformer movies.  The first edition in that latter trilogy was so loud I contracted the same ear ringing that I get from a concert.  The visual mess was so splattered, kinetic, and overwhelming with CGI blebs that I couldn’t tell what was going on.

We need silence indeed.  I do, anyway, as a refuge from the downsides of modern society.  That may in fact be why I appreciate art so much.  Certain paintings can evoke great sensations of serenity.  I get that feeling every time I look at a Monet, a Renoir, or certain works by Hopper.  This is just one aspect of the many things that art can do for us.  Sure, that absent need for social contact probably makes me weird, strange, an outsider, but there it is anyway.

So far, everything about The Artist looks good, even the promo poster (see above).  I look forward to seeing it.  I will enjoy the silence.

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1 comment:

  1. On Twitter, BStudie said: "You really need to see this! The audience didn't know how to handle the silence. Seemed like a new concept. Great movie!"


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