The Artist

Movie Information

In Brief: Last year's Oscar winner for best picture is showing on Oscar afternoon at the Hendersonville Film Society — which, if nothing else, allows viewers to see if this year's awards do a better or worse job of it. The film itself was — and is — a novelty for being in black and white and largely silent. It's lightweight and likable, but if it's more than that, I'm missing it.
Genre: Comedy Drama
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller
Rated: PG-13

I am assuming the Hendersonville Film Society is showing last year’s Oscar winner, The Artist,  as a kind of prelude to the Oscar awards on the evening of Feb. 24 (and I guess there’s some sense in that because few things fade so fast as last year’s “Best Picture” — at least most of the time). I didn’t think this deserved its Oscar a year ago and, if anything, I am more convinced of that now than I was then. But my feelings for the film have been conflicted from the first moment I saw it — simply because the waning days of the silent movie were among the most remarkable periods in the history of film, and what we get here, instead of an evocation of that greatness, is a simplistic recreation of a very ordinary silent movie that in 1927, 1928 or 1929 would have gone unnoticed as “just another studio movie.” As I said then: “A great deal of the appeal of The Artist is the pure novelty of the experience. It will probably be a lot of people’s first exposure to any silent film — at least as an entire feature-length movie — and in that respect, I suspect the film’s calculations are very shrewd indeed. Making it a movie about silent movies — and their demise — makes it feel authentic (even if it’s not very), as well as fun and nonthreatening. It doesn’t demand much of the viewer to get into a vibe that itself is based on the idea that silent movies are old-fashioned stuff, and that their quaintness is part of their charm. At bottom, it’s a silent movie for — and, I can’t help but feel somewhat by — folks whose idea of silent movies comes from Singin’ in the Rain (1952).” I can’t say this is a bad movie, but it seems more and more negligible to me.

Full original review here:

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Artist Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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