As a general rule, I try to avoid all films that are discussed too much in the media. Especially if something ends up as a Guardian reader’s dinner party discussion topic, I avoid them like the plague. My friend Roy put it best years ago when he said of a film (can’t remember which one), “I feel like it’s been watched for me.”
The Artist has been one of those films, but my wife wanted to see it. What can you do? The few films I’m ever interested enough to want to see au cinéma are never of the kind that she would want to see. I always look at the cost-benefit ratio and decide it’s not worth it. It’s never worth it, especially if you end up having to endure the rancid fat smells and the rancid teenagers at the local Cineworld.
But we went to see The Artist. I knew all about it, too much about it. Colleagues at work had mentioned it to me, expecting me to be interested. Red rag, that, when someone thinks they know you well enough to predict that you’ll like something. Like people who give you crappy CDs because they think they know your genre.
Here is a plot synopsis from IMDB:
A movie star helps a young singer/actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.
Of course, I tricked you there. That’s the plot synopsis of a different film. Here’s another plot synopsis:
A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.
Oh, look, I tricked you again. Here’s the plot synopsis of The Artist:
A silent movie star wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, and sparks with a young dancer set for a big break.
I edited it a bit to remove the specifics (names). You can detect a slight similarity, I expect. The first plot synopsis was for A Star is Born, the 1954 Judy Garland vehicle, which was remade with Barbra Streisand in the lead role. The second was for Singin’ in the Rain, the Gene Kelly vehicle.
But there’s nothing new under the sun; everything is a remix. That doesn’t bother me. I’m sitting in the cinema watching a largely silent film about silent film. The woman behind me, who keeps kicking at the seat back for some reason (there is a lot more room than that in cineworld – you’ve got to be really trying to piss somebody off), keeps chuckling at the dog, every time the dog is on screen doing something. It’s as if it’s the dog she’s come to see. And the dog, honestly, is not even that funny.
The thing about visits to the cinema, you do end up being bothered too much these days by other people and their inability to behave themselves in public. Getting up and down to go to the toilet, or for snacks, kicking the back of the seat, simpering every time a dog is on the screen. One woman got up to go to the toilet after 20 minutes of adverts and trailers, as the film was starting. What? What? I’m reviewing the audience now, and not the film. I’ve got nothing against the film, it was all right. I could wish there had been less media chatter about it, but I’ve seen it now, I’ve joined the chattering classes.
I don’t want to talk about it, though.