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Showing posts from December, 2011

The Artist

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), not so long ago a movie star, finds himself an anonymous figure in a crowd filling the lobby after an afternoon matinee, a talkie entitled "Guardian Angel", starring America's newest cinematic sweetheart, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo).  Poor George, as ever in the company of his loyal Jack Russel Terrier, is like a defrocked priest milling about this cathedral of the motion picture.  Young people in the crowd pass Valentin by, oblivious to his fame as a star of silent cinema.  Finally, an older woman smiles in recognition.  George returns the smile, one of significantly of lower wattage than those he beamed during his heyday, but still enough to signify his gratitude at  the acknowledgement.  But no, he quickly realizes, the woman isn't responding to him, but the adorable pooch in his arms.  After she expresses her admiration, George says, "If only he could talk!"

No need to worry about the cute dog, but much of The Artist, …

The Descendants

It should spoil no one's surprise to learn that Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie), the wife and mother in The Descendants, is destined to die at some point in the film.  Her family is one of the groups of descendants to which the title of Alexander Payne's latest feature refers.  Elizabeth is seen conscious only briefly before the opening credits, happily buffeted by sea spray and wind as a passenger in a power boat.  Even if you haven't seen the trailer for The Descendants, there's something slightly haunting about the close-up of the contented woman as she's carried across the water.

Sure enough, as the voice-over of her husband Matt King (George Clooney) tells us as the film commences, Elizabeth was ejected from the boat, struck in the head and rendered comatose.  He's informed early on that there's no hope of recovery and must break the news to his daughters Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller) as well as family and friends.  This is somew…