March 25, 2012

The Movie of the Year - the Artist

George Valentin - a man with an edible heart























Oh, wow.

I saw a movie a few weeks back with Senior S and Junior S. Let me tell you: It blew my heart (I think it is possible not only to blow one's mind, but also one's heart).

Senior was a bit skeptical. He prefers soft action movies or romantic comedies. Junior and I had to convince him that it was worthwhile. Why was he hesitant? Because it was a silent movie, and it made him think about Charlie Chaplin and he wasn't in the mood for a modern day Charlie Chaplin movie. A silent movie. Yes, Sir. Some ingenious director (read: Michel Hazanavicius) came up with the idea to make a silent movie again. And he did it to boot.

The product is The Artist, the movie that swept the Oscars a couple of weeks back. Although the movie is French, the setting is Hollywood between 1927 and 1932, at the time when the movie industry was transitioning into "talkies", or movies with sound. The hero of the movie, George Valentin, is the heart throb of the silent movie industry before he is plunged into irrelevance by the emerging "talkies". The movie depicts the fall and rise of this artist. And of course there is a touching love story that will melt a stone's heart.

It was a strange feeling as the movie began. There was only music, filled with emotions, twisting and moving with the story. And the odd title card, that would flash on the screen when a snippet of a dialogue was deemed important, such as:

Go and buy a piece of jewelry for my wife.  A nice piece, to make it up to her.
 or 
We belong to another age, you and I, George. Nowadays, the world talks.


(Oh, I love it!)


I was entranced. The faces and the bodies of the actors took on a new dimension. I don't know how to describe it, but this movie awoke a greater range of emotions in me than most other movies I have seen. And it was so blissfully wordless. A perfect anti-dote to modern day life. Not that I am against modern life. But I want a new kind of modern life - with more silence and dance and....men like George Valentin. Perhaps that is what I want most - more men like George Valentin. There is a saying in Hungarian that goes something like this: You're heart is so tender, I feel like eating it. Georg Valentin, acted superbly by Jean Dujardin (France's crushing answer to George Clooney), has an edible heart.


Valentin contemplating his fall from greatness

Seeing Peppy for the first time

Smiling to Peppy






George and Peppy


The next day I phoned another group of friends and urged them to see it. So it was a good excuse to see it again - with them. I think I will see it several times, like Slumdog Millionaire, and Good Will Hunting, and The King's Speech, and O, brother, where art thou, and Moulin Rouge, and Chicago, and The English Patient and....that's enough for now. 


I finally located my favorite scene of the movie on Youtube. It is the scene where George Valentin falls in love with Peppy. It is called Peppy's Waltz.




I will add two more bonus tracks here at the bottom; the movie trailer and Jean Dujardin's acceptance speech at the Oscar:




And here is the link to Dujardin's acceptance speech when he received the Oscar for best actor. I have never before seen such an excited winner.

P.S. 


I think it is interesting to watch the comments under the trailer of The Artist in the Youtube comment field. It is fascinating to see how some people are very upset that this movie won the Oscar award for the best movie, calling it by shameful names. I have not understood if it is Americans irate over the fact that the movie is a French production (maybe they still have Dominique Strauss-Kahn's naked butt fresh in mind), or if it is because they can't handle the silence - it might simply be too loud for them.

A funny analogy fell into my head. In the beginning when I stopped eating meat, it happened quite often that some individuals became aggressive upon hearing my preference, as if going vegetarian (or vegan) was an act of war against them. Now I wonder if these nasty commentators might be offended by the vegetarian version of movies - they can't handle a movie meal without meat! Ha, ha!


That was a rather clever observation, she said self-congratulatory....

March 7, 2012

Jonathan Safran Foer and Animals

I remember almost falling into a trance when I read the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. To my great delight, the book has just been released as a movie this year. He has since written other books, one of which is the important On Eating Animals.

I came across this video with this wonderful conversation with Jonathan Safran Foer talking about On Eating Animals. Please enjoy!