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In the Dark

Illusions and Disillusions

The Artist
Produced by Le Petite Rein and Studio 37 
Directed and written by Michel Hazanavicius 
Distributed by The Weinstein Company

A Dangerous Method
Produced by Recorded Picture Company 
Directed by David Cronenberg 
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton 
Distributed by Sony Pictures

 

As I write, many critics have declared French writer-director Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist the best film of 2011.  I don’t know what “best” means when applied to a movie, but I will say this: The Artist is unquestionably the most beguiling film in many years, combining as it does Buster Keaton’s wondrous ingenuity with Fred Astaire’s effortless elegance.

The story couldn’t be simpler.  Silent-matinee idol George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), studiously reminiscent of Douglas Fairbanks, suddenly finds himself eclipsed when sound films become de rigueur in 1929.  He seals his professional doom by refusing to appear in a talkie.  To do so, he implies, would be a breach of his art.  In a sort of Star Is Born reprise, he’s shunted aside, while his protégé, a young actress amusingly named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), easily adjusts to the innovation. ...

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