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The Artist – It’s really rather pleasant

April 5, 2012

Coming to The Artist 3 months after its release and a month after its numerous Oscar successes meant that a lot of expectations had been built up about this film. I certainly didn’t hate it, it was great, a very well executed hark back to a bye-gone age with enough of a modern angle to make sure it stayed relevant. Fantastic. My only complaint is with those expectations!

I touched on this in the previous post about Mad Men. Something has clicked about just how subjective all this stuff really is. Do people read reviews because they want to preempt what they would enjoy watching? How much of that enjoyment relies on personal taste and even more arbitrary, mood? 

The reviews of The Artist are 98% positive, according to Rotten Tomatoes and I intend mine to be too. But there’s something about the endless praise (I hesitate to say ‘hype’, as I don’t mean to make it sound artificial) that really dampened my enjoyment of the film. Media voices have to exaggerate, because ‘new silent film, which some other commentators may have been cynical about when it was presented to them as an idea and not a finished article, turns out to be a) really good and b) rather popular’ doesn’t read so well. Audiences have to be ‘wowed’ and ‘blown away’ rather than pleasantly entertained.

As much as I try and disregard all this – and I will use the word now – hyperbole, I spent the whole of the film with a little voice inside daring Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin to blow me away. To a certain degree, an awesome film past me by with the expectation of it being a once-in-a-lifetime, extravaganza of all that is good about cinema.

I don’t really have any prescriptions or solutions. Perhaps, watching a film as quickly as possible, before everyone else’s opinions get a chance to flood your sub-conscious. I just see this as an extreme case of what happens every time we sit in front of something.

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