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アーティスト(アカデミー作品賞受賞 原題"The Artist" 北米輸入盤)[Blu-ray][Import]
2011年・第64回カンヌ国際映画祭で主演男優賞を受賞した白黒&サイレントのラブストーリー。舞台は1927年のハリウッド。スター俳優のジョージ・バレンタインは若い端役女優のペピー・ミラーを見初めてスターへと導くが、折しも映画産業は無声からトーキーのへの移行期。無声映画に固執し続けるジョージが落ちぶれていく一方で、ペピーはスターダムを駆け上がっていく。監督は06年の第19回東京国際映画祭グランプリ受賞作「OSS 117 私を愛したカフェオーレ」のミシェル・アザナビシウス。第84回アカデミー賞では作品賞、監督賞、主演男優賞ほか5部門を受賞。フランス映画として初の米アカデミー作品賞受賞作。
They may have been better off making a documentary than trying to recapture an era that had a different audience. I think I will hold out for colour. Be sure to watch the commentaries; even though they seem like one big commercial at the same time it give you insight at to what they tried to accomplish.
The film its self is designed for as a tribute to early film. The actors did well and the sets (especially the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles) were nice. The sixteen cylinder Cadillac would look good in my driveway. Yet the movie was just hard to watch because on every level it was so so so contrived.
The film begins in 1927 when Valentin (modeled after Douglas Fairbanks) is at the top of his profession. He has a chance meeting with (and is attracted to) a young dancer and would-be actress, beautifully played by Bérénice Bejo. As it was for many stars of silent films, Valentin has problems adapting to sound movies. At the time, sound was considered a fad by many but audiences proved such ideas a fallacy, forcing studios to switch to sound as fast as possible. Valentin bucks the trend by making an expensive silent film that bombs at the box office while the actress he had previously befriended is starring in a blockbuster under the name Peppy Miller. The film chronicles the rise of Peppy Miller's star as Valentin fades into oblivion, helped by the Great Depression.
I have had a long affection for silent films so it came as a nice surprise that The Artist was filmed using the same size film that produces a square box on the screen. The cinematography (by Guillaume Schiffman) was also reminiscent of silent film and was tones of the film were superbly rendered. Interesting that a small clip from Fairbanks' Mark Of Zorro was included in the scene where Valentin is watching one of his movies. John Goodman was fabulous as movie mogul Al Zimmer and James Cromwell was terrific as Clifton, Valentin's supportive chauffer. It was also fun to see Malcolm McDowell in a bit part. And lest we forget, Uggie the dog certainly made the movie special and charming.
Much credit for the success of the film goes to Michel Hazanavicius, who took quite a chance of making a silent film. The period of the 1920's and 30's was beautifully broght to life. I hope that The Artist places more focus on silent films, as they are beautiful works of art even if sometimes the acting is old-fashioned.
If you haven't heard, THE ARTIST is a silent (at least, 99% silent) film, shot in gorgeous black and white. It's film about the time in film history when silent film was giving way to "talkies." Writer/director Michel Hazanavicius has crafted a loving tribute to that era, chiefly by fully embracing the over-acting (required for silent film), the camera angles and the pacing of those films. Even his "special effects" hearken to that era. It is, simply, a marvelous exercise in what I can old call "old-fashionness."
Best of all are the two sparkling lead performances, both garnering deserved awards consideration. Ridiculously handsome Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin. He's a big silent movie star, churning out light-hearted action-adventure films (yes, he seems like a combination of Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino). His signature hero is adept at narrow escapes, hand-to-hand combat and charming the ladies. His smile is mischievous and adorable. You can instantly see why he's a star. In real life, he's equally charming...in what seems to be a genuine way. He's a likeable guy. He's enamored; first and foremost, with himself...there are several funny shots of him adoring his own image in the mirror.
One day, while being interviewed after a premiere, he literally bumps into Peppy Miller (a radiant Berenice Bejo), a fan of the star and also a wannabe actress. The two share a bit of light banter, and the press captures it all. This helps her secure a walk-on in George's next film. It is during their incredibly brief scene together, which we see being filmed through several takes, that the two fall in love. These few moments of filmmaking are among the most purely romantic, mostly startlingly detailed and yet endlessly light-hearted bits of cinema I've seen in years. Each time they must reshoot the brief dance sequence we see their fondness for each other grow. It sounds utterly implausible...but it's dazzling to behold. And you know it's a good scene, because later in the film, when we see part of it again for about 5 seconds, it's hard to fight back a tear.
Shortly after the two dance together, the studio decides to stop making silent movies. George refuses to believe talking films are the future, whereas Peppy quickly emerges as a rising star. I won't go into details, but not surprisingly, the paths of the two almost-lovers head in opposite directions. George's marriage falls apart (and it is in his lousy relationship with wife that we see George isn't just a nice guy, but is capable of selfishness and even cruelty). And he begins to fall apart too.
I don't want to say more...because while the plot of the film is actually relatively predictable, it is also told so sweetly as to seem new and fresh. Dujardin and Bejo have chemistry to spare, and give heartfelt performances. Bejo has a fragility that we scarcely see in film anymore, and Dujardin is a revelation. The two stars are ably assisted by a variety of familiar American faces, such as John Goodman and James Cromwell...but this is their film and they utterly own it.
I feel that the final scenes of the film are pretty predictable (in fact, afterwards, my family and I agreed that we sort of saw it all coming about midway through the film), and thus the emotional build that we've been going through does not get a strong pay-off. I smiled at the end, but with perhaps a little more care and creativity, I could also have been wrenched pretty well emotionally. The final scene is CLEVER...but it is calculated. All of THE ARTIST is clever and calculated...but it's imbued with an enthusiasm and love of film that makes it work so very well.
There are a few moments when we perhaps linger on a close-up of George a bit too long, or when the scenes of his films are shown just a bit too much...but otherwise the film moves along at a brisk pace. And the musical soundtrack is virtually perfect. The film MUST win an Oscar for best score...the film literally would not work without the brilliant music of Ludovic Bource.
THE ARTIST is a film of nearly unbridled passion for movies and movie-making, with a deeply romantic heart. If a black and white, silent film doesn't sound like your cup of tea...you are wrong. In about 5 minutes, you'll forget both. Treat yourself to one of the year's true movie pleasures.