I took the mid-week day off from the newsroom yesterday as an opportunity to chill with my dogs and enjoy some air conditioned relaxation. After watching Wimbledon tennis and U.S. Olympic trials, I decided to do something more challenging with my TV time. I picked up two movies at the local Redbox, films I’ve meant to see for a long time now: “The Artist” and “Midnight in Paris.” If you haven’t seen either movie, I recommend them both. They’re two of the best movies from 2011.
“The Artist” is a romantic homage to the bygone days of silent film. Starring Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, the Academy Award winner for Best Picture is itself a silent film but every bit as engaging as a movie with sound galore. What makes it work is the story itself as an aging romantic leading man (Dujardin as George Valentin) struggles to find success in the new era of talkies. While he flounders, young upstart Peppy Miller (Bejo) uses her personality and unique beauty spot (first drawn on her by Valentin) to forge a successful career. One rises, the other falls, but their romantic intrigue and character drives this film to brilliance, alongside the expert direction. The two lead actors are joined by a scene-stealing canine named Uggie, who plays Valentin’s poochy pal.
“Midnight in Paris” should delight anyone with a literary bent, particularly for the 1920s Parisian scene this Woody Allen romantic comedy celebrates. Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard, “Midnight in Paris” charmed me with its depiction of iconic characters like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. As a writer, I identified with the unabashed romantic associations for those Paris glory days felt by self-described Hollywood hack Gil Pender. Wilson brings an endearing, aw-shucks goofiness to that feeling that won me over. Cotillard also shined in her role as an alluring love interest for Pender, as do several big name actors in supporting bits. It’s a fun movie.
- Aaron Brand
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