Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Talkie Type

How often do you see a silent movie two nights in a row?

But then how often is there a brand-new silent film at the movie theater?

After seeing the previews for "The Artist" several times, I was pretty sure I'd enjoy it.

And I did, except for the man with the oral fixation chewing loudly on a plastic straw one seat away.

Just for the record, that was after he'd polished off a sandwich (wrapped in foil), a canned Diet Coke and a king-size fountain soda

But I digress.

After all the silent movies I've seen in the past four-plus years at the Silent Music Revival and James River Film Society events, I've actually seen a fair amount of silent film.

I mean, I'm no Jameson Price, but I've probably seen more than your average bear.

But I think the most recent one I ever saw was 1948 and even then, it was highly unusual to make a silent film that late.

So of course a French film director decides last year to make a black and white silent film tribute to Hollywoodland.

Count me in.

The hero looked like a matinee idol (and had the greatest smile in his eyes), the photography was exquisite and the music perfectly attuned to the scenes.

I know Kim Novak is upset about them using a snippet of music from "Vertigo" but it didn't bother me.

The romance was suggested but never developed, only hinted at.

But you should have seen the way they smiled at each other Oh, it was romance.

What I was curious about was what the audience's reaction to seeing a silent film would be.

Besides hearing every cough (and straw chewer), you clearly heard comments ("That's a gun") and reactions (a woman's audible gasp when the hero carelessly stepped off a curb and almost got hit by a car).

Everything unfolded but not with words, only with movements, gestures and nuance.

Which I can (and did) totally appreciate as far as telling the story went.

But no words? In a romance?

In a movie, fine, but that would never fly, at least for me, in real life.

If you're going to go romantic, it's got to be wordy or just shoot me now.


  1. just a movie for a whole evening, k? you're slipping!!!

  2. Are you kidding?

    After the movie, there were hours at Stuzzi with many glasses of Nero D'Avola, a meat and cheese plate (Soprasetta, Fontina, Prosciutto) and two kinds of pizza (Forte and Pancetta with caramelized onions).

    Oh, yes, and the rum-soaked goodness of zuppa anglaise for dessert.

    Let's see, under discussion were the work ethic of Neopolitans, what the Irish and the Italians have in common and the importance of hearing whatever music you can hear.

    All while inhaling the perfume of white lilies.

    Does that make you feel any better about my evening?

  3. I went to see the Artist last night as well. Caught the 4:40 showing and there was an audible gasp at the almost car accident scene in my showing as well. Thought the movie was great for something that is usually not my cup of tea. The music conveyed so much of the emotion and I kind of got used to the lack of speaking. Only complaint it was about 80 degrees in that upstairs theater. Me thinks they wanted me to buy a $4.50 water.

  4. Definitely worth seeing, IMHO. It'll be interesting to see if word of mouth gets others to go check it out.

    It was stuffy and warm in there, wasn't it?

    1. Lord yes. My friend was having hot flashes before we got there, practically had to strip naked. They need to move it downstairs while the Oscar buzz is building.

  5. True that! I was very surprised to arrive and discover they were showing it in the upstairs "closet."