Every year I enjoy the luxury of attending the screenings, parties, a variety of lectures and hanging out in the filmmakers’ lounge. Of course it’s all thanks to my wife, who works in the industry and gets first cut at tickets and passes. And every year we have the chance to see films before they are released to the public; before the hype and buzz starts. It really is pure moviegoing in a sense, it’s the opportunity to see movies without really knowing anything about them…the way I imagine filmmakers would like you to see their creative vision (before the studios slap on all the marketing whiz bang and drum up trailers that almost reveal the endings).
Of course there are a few films that come to the festival with some hype, like George Clooney’s The Descendants. But, then there are those that you know nothing about. And those are truly the surprising gems. Last year one of those gems was Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. It’s a story not always easy to watch, but wonderfully told in such a real and emotional way that sticks with you for days (or months, or years). Making the experience even more powerful was the fact that Cianfrance, a BFA graduate from the University of Colorado (my alma mater), spoke after the film about working with the actors, the creative process and his vision.
This years’ surprising gem, for me, was The Artist. Directed by French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, it is a silent film, shot entirely in gorgeous black and white, that beautifully depicts Hollywood between 1927 and 1932.
If you love movies, and are fascinated with old Hollywood as I am, you will truly enjoy the delightful performances by Jean Dujardin, a declining male film star, and Bérénice Bejo, a rising young actress. It’s the Hollywood of Singin’ in the Rain, at the very cusp of the advent of the talking picture and it includes everything that makes for a compelling story: lovable characters, adorable romance, hard-drinking depression and a car chase. Plus, the dog actor in the film, Uggy, won the Palm Dog Award for best performance by a canine at the Cannes Film Festival.
And when I say it is beautifully shot, I mean it is exquisite! It really looks like an old silent film. Everything about it is meticulously actuate and lovingly recreated…and it represents everything that old Hollywood was…risky and adventurous. And to think…this is a French film, shot in modern day Los Angeles, with French actors. And all for a mere $18 million!
The Artist opens November 25th. Don’t miss it. You won’t be disappointed.
Hopefully, next year I will see you at the 35th Annual Starz Denver Film Festival.