Don Bauder 3:30 p.m., Jan. 21
Critic fight! Big Screen blogger Scott Marks was none too fond of The Artist, calling it a "middling technical exercise" that proved that its director "can trace." But Reader critic David Elliott four-starred the thing, and dubbed it "a silky valentine to silent Hollywood" - less a trace-job than an reverent homage. (Your humble correspondent was probably watching cat videos on YouTube when the film screened, and so cannot take sides in the debate...yet.)
Elliott's review is itself something to behold, a silky valentine to Les Cahiers du Cinema and the days when critics could stretch their verbal legs when reviewing a film, place it in context, consider the parts and the whole and the relation of same, all without looking over their shoulder at the encroaching word count. His conclusion: "Less witty than Zelig, less rich in Depression emotion than Pennies from Heaven, less stunningly stylized than Kerry Conran’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, this oddball charmer is still a triumph, marching blithely to its own, silent drummer. [Lead actor Jean] Dujardin, so much more than a nostalgia moustache, gives it the heart of a star."
Also considered: Carnage, the very embodiment of the talkie. Writes Elliott, "This is marginal Polanski from a minor play, yet it has an infallible equilibrium of actors. The verbal and emotional pinballing is worthy of directors Mike Nichols and Robert Altman in high form." Well, now.
In the capsules: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Sitter, and Young Adult. That last one will get a fuller treatment here on the blog tomorrow, and we should have a word or two about Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.