I had the good fortune to get a comp ticket to see the closing night film at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Good fortune because I would have happily paid the $35 dollars to see The Artist, and listen to the director Michel Hazanavicius.
I first read about The Artist on Towsen’s blog, (you can read the article here) The movie made a major splash at Cannes this year, and just opened in France last weekend. It is a rare film because it’s black and white, silent, and presented in 4×3 aspect ratio. It has a wonderful music track and is quite funny. Since I am all about the visual comedy, it was right up my alley. It concerns silent film star George Valentin, and his relationship with rising actress Peppy Miller. Shortly after their paths cross, his world is disrupted by the arrival of sound films. There is something counter intuitive in creating a movie about sound recording in a silent film, but perhaps that is what makes it interesting. The main character lives in a world of silent film, and it’s his story. It isn’t slapstick at all. It’s charming has many touching moments. If you don’t want any spoilers, you may not want to watch the trailer.
It was incredibly refreshing, sitting in an old theater, watching a “narrow screen” image, soaking in the beautiful black and white images, and luxuriating in the orchestral soundtrack, and just watching an interesting story unfold. As luck would have it, I happened to sit next to the director, and while he waited for the Q&A I was able to shake his hand and tell him I loved the film. I also liked his previous work, the two “OSS 117” movies, which feature the same actor, Jean Dujardin. I hope to see The Artist get some good distribution.