I’m surprised to see that this week’s films, The Artist and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , have such low ratings given how high the praise has been elsewhere. Metacritic, for example, which is surely the most reliable online movie barometer, gives them 89 and 85 respectively, the second and fourth highest scores of the last three months.
And I have to admit that I would have been inclined to jump on the bandwagon and give The Artist six stars. It’s a massive 1/5 favourite to win the Oscar later this month; it’s probably technically very good; you have to applaud the bravery of, in this day and age, making a silent movie; it will undoubtedly make Francophiles of us all as we increase our daily usage of “Oh, la, la” and “Mais oui” despite it not even having any words; and it’s even got the cuddly toy factor – more column inches have been written about the unfortunate curtailment of the career of the lead dog (a Jack Russell no less: nippy little bastards with a
Napoleon complex) than the ongoing atrocities in the horn of Africa. And don’t forget the reviewer’s obligation to compare like with like. Because, whichever way you look at it, it’s one of the best silent movies of the last 80 years, along with Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie (1976), in which the only line is delivered by mime artist Marcel Marceau – how droll!
But it would be an insincere opinion. I wouldn’t watch a silent movie unless you paid me – funnily enough, while I have a similar aversion [correction made] to opera, I have actually seen La Traviata and it is the perfect pre-Valentine mood-setter until she finds out she’s got tuberculosis – which fortunately in our case is what we routinely do to obtain reviews.
But while it doesn’t look good us giving three stars to the winner of the best picture Oscar for the second time in three years (the other was The Hurt Locker, which won for 2009 despite being released outside the US in 2008 – see G20 for our film of the week), I applaud our reviewer for his stance.
Talking’s good. To echo a line from Diamonds are Forever, if god had wanted us to make silent movies, he wouldn’t have given us vocal cords.