The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: The Weinstein Company - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 100 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.33:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Missy Pyle, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, John Goodman
Written & Directed by: Michael Hazanavicius
Music by: Ludovic Bource
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 26, 2012
THE ARTIST is a heartfelt and entertaining valentine to classic American cinema set in Hollywood during the twilight of its silent era. Love, friendship and an exquisite story make it the most feel good, most original film of our time.
Set in 1927 Hollywood, The Artist tells the story of film superstar George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who is about to be banished from the movie business by the advent of talking pictures. With the introduction of “The Talkies,” as movies with sound were known at their onset, came the abrupt end to the careers of many silent film stars, including George’s screen persona, which soon falls into oblivion. For young, movie extra Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), the sky's the limit, as major movie stardom looms.
I don’t think that I was even aware of The Artist prior to watching this year’s Academy Awards. After it took home five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor it had my attention. As a film fan I was intrigued by the fact that it was a silent picture. This is a superbly crafted film that at its heart is a love story. This is not only in the traditional sense but also as a reverent homage to a bygone era in American Cinema. The story is a compelling one that grabs a snapshot of Hollywood just as the era of silent film is winding down and talking pictures are introduced and take off. It is easy to see how this transition would have been quickly accepted by filmgoers and very difficult for the old school stars of the day.
George Valentin is the epitome of Hollywood royalty in 1927. He knows his craft, writes his own ticket and has amassed a body of work that assures his place as one of the top actors of his generation. His life off camera is private as he shares an everlasting friendship with is devoted chauffeur Clifton but suffers through an unhappy marriage which has taken a backseat to his career. Unbeknownst to George, a chance meeting with budding actress/movie extra Peppy Miller will see reversals of fortune and the development of a bond that will come to mean more than either knows.
Writer/director Michael Hazanavicius does a marvelous job with the development of the characters as well as capturing the essence of the two sided equation that saw unknowns sky rocket to stardom and stars once considered the toast of Hollywood disappear seemingly overnight. I love the portrayal of the relationship between George and Peppy. Far from the physical and passionate depiction we often see in Hollywood romances today the allure found in their connection is subtle but never in question. The lack of dialogue/sound serves to embolden the reciprocity between the characters as well as our interpretations based upon their ability to physically engage us. This is of course underscored by Ludovic Bource’s beautiful music score and Guillaume Schiffman’s terrific cinematography.
I absolutely loved the cast (including "Uggie" the dog!). Jean Dujardin is simply amazing as his charisma, superlative timing, and (unspoken) dramatic eloquence are integral to the credibility of this character and ultimately the film. Berenice Bejo gives a sprightly and engaging dramatic performance opposite Duhardin as they share wonderful onscreen chemistry. Honorable mention goes out to the always reliable James Cromwell whose expressive face and genuine demeanor compliment every scene he is in. That is to take nothing away from John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller and Missy Pyle all of whom are equally deserving of praise.
I loved this movie. I appreciated its thoughtful, heartfelt story, superb and meaningful production elements and marvelous casting/direction. The total sum of its parts, The Artist is a stylish, evocative and refreshingly entertaining film that is justly deserving of the accolades bestowed upon it.
The rating is for a disturbing image and a crude gesture.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Monochrome reproduction:
The Artist comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound with an average bitrate of 2.6 Mbps.
Looking at films from a “colorless” perspective is something that can take a little getting used. It isn’t an issue for me which allowed me to appreciate how wonderful this presentation is. Resolution in this 1.33:1 framed high definition presentation is exquisite as images onscreen appear lucid and sharp with crisp definition. Close ups reveal lots of fine detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast members. Some have expressive faces that reveal every crack, furrowed brow and wrinkle. Finer detail that might otherwise be missed such as the etched/worn surfaces or the texture in the period costumes are clearly discernible. Blacks and contrast have ample dynamic range which plays very well against the film’s gradational shades of gray. Whites exhibit multistage delineation so that the blend of mixed content onscreen has appreciable depth of field. While there is some natural loss of visibility in dark backgrounds the level of shadow detail is quite good. This is a pristinely rendered video presentation that looks terrific in high definition.
Presented via a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio surround mix this is an open and airy soundtrack where the musical accompaniment is integral to the story’s telling. I would say this is a dynamically reserved and definitively refined audio presentation that rewards with sibilant free highs and a warm midrange that compliments the orchestrated variants in the recording. There are moments in the film where traditional/broader elements are present and all are delivered with satisfying and complimentary results.
- (HD) 2 minute Blooper reel – Extra fun with the silent movie theme
- (HD) The Artist: The making of an American Romance – 21 minute production featurette
- (HD) Q&A with the cast & filmmakers – 45 minutes
- (HD) Hollywood as a character: The locations of The Artist – 5 minutes
- (HD) The artisans behind The Artist (four segments totaling 11 minutes) :
- The costumes
- The cinematography
- The production design
- The composer
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Winner of five Academy Awards The Artist is a superbly executed and stylish homage that harkens back to classic American Cinema via an evocative and refreshingly entertaining story that is enhanced by a marvelous cast, excellent direction and beautiful photography. It makes its debut on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, gratifying lossless sound quality and a decent assortment of bonus supplements that offer insights from the cast/crew on the production. Film enthusiasts are sure to appreciate this wonderful genre entry that is most assuredly deserving of the accolades that have been bestowed upon it. It comes highly recommended. Enjoy!
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