Catching Up #6

The fascination behind The Artist, for me, would be it’s unexpected charm with which it was entertaining (unendingly, so) and boy it just didn’t stop.

It’s hard to complain about life once you watch Valentin’s pet dog. 

More than just a lucky charm with Jean Dujardin in the lead I am now unable to think of anyone who would’ve waltzed the role with such heart-breaking affection. Probably Johnny Depp. Clooney’s eyebrows are lazy mostly. Probably someone/anyone from a TimBurton/JeanPierreJuenet film, maybe the Big Fish, yes a taller, thinner Danny De Vito perhaps. But this again could be (the reason for searching peculiar faces) due to the treatment of film in duscussion. A stage to shine one’s charm. The old-world showbiz talent. A picturesque emotional travelogue. That propelling “மிகைத்தன்மை” that punctuates the unique charm of an actor, also recently discussed in a NeeyaNaana show too, here, (commercial “exaggeration” vs. realism in cinema).

99 francs (2007), an unwittingly energetic look at the world of advertisement and art, is how I got introduced to Jean Dujardin. Eyebrows and eyes almost constantly communicating with an innocuously naive outlook at life that may dare question only when they meet someone more than just an acquaintance, more than just a walking, miming human being. Probably that’s how the film and it’s characters look at us, the audience, for a childish peck on the cheek. The Artist was pacing, no, almost dancing with an ease that it constantly brought up the question behind the dialogue narrative that came up later into films. Then you think, Dialogues just seem so tedious, don’t they?


Just, look at that dog. Why would you want it to talk and mess up what you have? (IDEALISTICSIGH)

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” Oscar Wilde.

Valentin’s stubborn art pride later smoothened by romance, Peppy Miller’s gamechanging peppiness and the suave reconciliation through dance, alltogether an adorable film it shaped by the end, that it was made for a loud applause and a happier audience. An unbreakable charm was the sole talent, with dialogues came more nuances to transform the art into something else that we see today. The film gives us many chances through these human silences, cartooning the drama and emoting through a constant adoration of both the art and it’s artists. How easily that driver Cliffon-Valentin friendship was sold. Was it because of the minimalistic effort? Many trinkets to wander about film philosophy and how this (still young) medium communicates with us. Some of them still in memory are- the beginning scenes where Valentin realizes that he has fallen for Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) dancing through a crowd, she might just not be another extra in his films that are predominantly silent, except for his loud charm to fill up the romantic stage or vice-versa when Peppy amuses herself in his changing room. An ingenious dream sequence where we understand Valentin’s confusion with the addition of atmospheric sounds, the key crux of the film, where the artist is lost in reality “out of the art” but in a dream. Like a blind painter able to see his paintings, stuck in delirious peril and utter inivisibility, something a blind person might consider as hell. 

Common place, The Artist is just adorable.

Valentin’s movies made a lot of money without having to open his mouth.

Dujardin’s ummm… did not do that well (32 million in U.S), but hey, he got an Oscar. (whatever that counts.)

Hugo took 150 million to make and it has made only 70 million, fetched 5 Oscars. (did you see a pattern? :O)

I also saw “A Separation”, after a long time a film that made me hold my breath, as Prakash here, writes in an unique dialogue, the film achieves an unbiased morality that hangs around long after it’s over. Lingering.

We also see Scorsese’s film late last year (another Oscar magnet that ended up with 5 Oscars) a cheerful adaptation of Brian Selznick’s book the Invention of Hugo. Another tribute to film and specifically to one of it’s pioneers. “The Father of Visual Effects”. Suddenly it’s not only just Woody Allen anymore with all the affectionate referencing.

The film’s initial scenes, the one where we end up with Hugo’s eye (at the “4” – it’s 7 o’ clock) checking on the station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) after floating through the station,almost like a train and the one where we end up with the toy store “Confiserie Et Jouets” (Confectionery and Toys) (more exactly the shop owner’s eye trying to disillusion/catch the boy about to pilfer, by luring him with a “toy mouse”) after he runs around settings that are wondefully mechanical, a crafty “panache”. The boy slides down a ladder, skates winding down (almost like a play pen), climbs up a winding staircase in a house of complex clockwork. An eye to the Montparnasse station, somewhere in Paris is where Robert Richardson invites us to.

Selznick’s fictional character Hugo is an orphan who “fixes” clocks at a raliway station in Paris (late 1920s-early 1930s). His father (played by Jude Law)dies in a fire accident (shown in the film “by opening a closed door” in the museum) but only after inspiring Hugo on fixing a broken automaton he had discovered. Later, Hugo is taken care by his alcoholic uncle Claude Cabret who also dies after teaching him how to fix clocks. All though, he later ends up “fixing” something else of greater interest.

As the plot moves forward, we find Hugo meeting Isabelle, a girl who lives with this old toy shop owner along with his wife. Later the boy’s (and girl’s) adventures in the station under the strict eye of Inspector (under-used) lead them to know more and more about this strange old shop owner and his magically mysterious past. Yes, George Melies! and Yes, Ben Kingsley!

Isabelle and Hugo. (HEARTshapedKEY)

From libraries to actual Melies film footage, Scorsese actually takes us back in time or rather enlightens us about the earliest pioneers of the medium. Melies saw film as an imaginative illusion, but what’s more interesting is his length of imagination. Well, least said, he went to the moon long before everyone did, the first sci-fi film ever.

Moreover, in the relation to the film, it’s interesting that the automaton’s that appear in the film were real. (shows the length of Scorsese’s perfection). Here Selznick himself is baffled.


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