'The Artist' isn't the only film celebrating Hollywood's Golden Age this year

Posted by · 8:40 am · November 22nd, 2011

Okay, I’ve been a bit down on “The Artist” since day one. And I took another shot this morning. Well, allow me to take one more.

Really, I don’t want to be a wet blanket. I appreciate that people are discovering and loving the movie on the festival circuit. I think it’s a thin sort of satisfaction, though, and oddly enough, some of the same people who took “The King’s Speech” to task for being (in their view) a trifle against the STAGGERING density of “The Social Network” last year are glomming onto Michel Hazanavicius’s film like it were a blast of freshness. It’s not. It’s novel. And charming. And yes, it celebrates Hollywood’s Golden Age, which is delightful.

The thing is, when I see a runaway locomotive narrative getting out of hand like the idea that “we should award ‘The Artist’ because it celebrates film history” or what have you, I feel like I have to step in. Especially since that narrative isn’t at all unique to “The Artist” this season, or even this weekend, for that matter.

So good on Tom Shone at Slate for pointing out that “The Artist” is but one example of a few films harkening back.

He writes:

“Come Nov. 23, cinemagoers will have a choice of two valentines to the silent era: The Artist or Hugo, Martin Scorsese”s 3-D adaptation of Brian Selznick”s best-selling children”s book, whose poster echoes Harold Lloyd”s clock shenanigans in Safety Last (1923) and whose final 25 minutes turn into a loving revivification of the earliest days of cinema…

“‘The Adventures of Tintin,’ Steven Spielberg”s adaptation of the much-loved Belgian comic strip, [is] a movie whose sight gags and breakneck pace hail back to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and from there to the hey-day of Mack Sennett and the Keystone cops.

“Nobody could accuse modern blockbusters of silence, but the aesthetics of silent cinema-its favoring of the visual over the literary, action beats over dialogue, international markets over domestic- is alive and well.”

From there Shone spins a thesis around these films recalling, specifically, the aesthetics of silent cinema. And it’s a fine note to make on a season that is full of so many interesting trends, many of them already explored in this space.

But I’m only just now really noticing that Hazanavicius and Scorsese’s films are both hitting theaters tomorrow, and despite my trepidation on “The Artist,” it is a delightful little flick that would make for great holiday viewing this week. Meanwhile, Scorsese’s effort is a thorough piece of reverence from one of the only guys in the industry who could have given it that proper care.

So, see both. Come for the puff pastry appetizer, stay for the hearty turkey dinner.

(Two other films that kind of fit the theme, though abstractly: “Midnight in Paris,” which reflects on a simpler but invigorating time of creativity in 1920s Paris, and “Super 8,” which is a love letter to analog days of yore.)

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