Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"The Artist"

Michael Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” is pretty much a non-stop sequence of witty, magical moments; an homage to, rather than a pastiche of vintage cinematic story-telling. With a narrative shamelessly borrowed from “Singing In The Rain” and “A Star In Born”, it is (mostly) without dialogue, but far from silent; the sound design is ingenious, and the score, by Ludovic Bource (and others) is wonderfully evocative. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo as the falling and rising stars of old Hollywood are effortlessly charming, and John Goodman’s gift for visual comedy is well exploited; although Penelope Anne Miller, as the brittle wife of Dujardin’s character, is sadly under-used. The film surely deserves all the awards coming to it, although it falls short of true greatness because it doesn’t plumb the emotional depths of the classics of the vintage era, such as Chaplin’s “The Kid” and “City Lights”. It wears its cleverness in a highly entertaining manner, though – and is almost worth seeing for Uggie the dog alone.

This is “26 Beers” - my own attempt at “silent” filmmaking.

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Friday, January 06, 2012

"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"

The first thing to say is that “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is an excellent film – beautifully executed and constantly gripping. I’ve neither read Stieg Larsson’s novel, nor seen Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 Swedish-language adaptation, but this being a gruesome, cerebral crime tale, David Fincher’s coldly forensic directorial eye is a perfect fit (cf. the wonderful “Se7en”, not to mention “Zodiac”); and screenwriter Steven Zaillian seems to have ordered the (by all accounts, somewhat confusing) narrative elements into a satisfyingly coherent whole. And yes, everyone speaks in slightly distracting, vaguely embarrassed Scandinavian accents, but this is necessary for consistency, given that the cast is drawn from several continents (even ex-“Neighbours” star Alan Dale turns up, adding to his ridiculously impressive list of credits). My main problem, however, is Daniel Craig – an authoritative screen presence, of course, but apparently unable to portray vulnerability, which is essential if one is to feel that journalist/investigator Mikael Blomqvist is ever in emotional turmoil or real physical danger. On the plus side, this means that the film’s beating heart is the excellent Rooney Mara as the wounded geek-girl Lisbeth Salander, who touchingly embodies Larsson’s thesis examining the link between long-entrenched power-structures and the institutionalised abuse of women, while simultaneously being as much of a male fantasy as Lara Croft. The Swedish adaptations of the rest of the Millennium trilogy have been less well received than the original; provided that Fincher remains at the helm, Hollywood may be actually in the process of serving the author well.

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