The Artist and The Reader

Having a toddler curtails your cinema going. Though I have always bought DVDs and watched them, it is often  cheaper nowadays to wait a year after a DVD release to watch the film all the critics raved about when it was at the cinema. So, I have not missed out and recently I watched two great films, this is a rare event. There are more bad films out there than good. Earlier this week I watched The Reader written by David Hare and directed by Stephen Daldry. It is a coming of age story and is totally heartbreaking, as a simple lie spirals out of the characters grasps and the audience is challenged to see a historical event, and a character involved in that event in a new light. Released in 2008 and from the novel by Bernhard Schlink. If you haven’t seen it, this is the trailer, I will be buying it on DVD, for its sheer, simple beauty that makes you weep.

Today, I went and saw the new release, The Artist written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius. I am a big fan of the silent movie era, for me there has never been greater stars than Keaton, Lloyd, Arbuckle and Chaplin (Chaplin was the only one to make it to the talkies, albeit briefly). It reminds us when we watch these films how the new craft of film making was as wonderous as a Melies film or as exciting as Keaton falling beneath the onslaught of a water tower. Michel Hazanavicius catches the late flurry and glory of the silent movie and how the talkie destroyed many stars. A little known fact about some silent movie stars was that some where deaf, some where foreign with thick accents and others just had a voice to kill an audience (Gene Kelly parodies this in Singing in the Rain). There is a reminder of this painful scene in The Artist. The Artist is a modern silent film and deserves all the accolade. It is true film in a landscape of tired dialogue, hackneyed plots and famous actors playing themselves. I won’t spoil the ending of the film, but it will make you smile as you follow the ups and downs of George Valentin and the stunning Peppy Miller. It reminds of that films stars of the silent era, weren’t just stars, they were icons that changed the face of modern society down to how we dressed, what we ate and how we decked out our homes. I doubt many of you have a George Clooney bathroom. Long live HOLLYWOODLAND and down with HOLLYWOOD.

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