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The Beaver – trying to be more than a puppet   Leave a comment

“Sunrise” was the word that came to my mind when I saw Porter embrace his dad at the end of the movie. Walter, Mel Gibson’s character, has been shown with rushed transitions – first into the desperate excitement of having found a puppet in himself and secondly into the man who slips into depression again on discovering himself being “puppeteered” by life anyway. It is almost as if Walter wants to breathe, but realizes that he has to stay within the confines of an oxygen mask because life is too gusty for him. All along though there was a sense of something missing in the film. But as I neared the end of it, I realized that a lot of the connections between the characters had been left in the backdrop which had fallen off somewhere. Like a garden snipped so much that all that is left is a neatly trimmed bush of crocuses huddled in an asymmetrically barren patch.

The depth of the moments between Walter and his older son, Walter and his wife, Walter and his VP were sorely missing. In fact I so longed to see the transition that his VP felt when Walter stepped back in with a puppet, but all I was “shown” was a switch of attitude. A bit too jumpy like a puppet. Meredith too was disjoint as a character. She seems like a kite dipping between the helplessness in her husband’s situation, then into the hopelessness of her child’s inability to open up, into the apathetic dedication in designing roller-coasters and lastly, and surprisingly, into a passionate sex life that lacks any emotion. It is almost as if the headlines for these characters were chalked, their characteristics bulleted, and then someone just forgot the time element to breathe life into each of these characters in a slow fluid motion. Hence, there is a sense of being dazed into the movie, rather than experiencing it.
What was cohesive though, was the parallel story of Norah and Porter. Unfortunately however this thread of story was too disconnected with the main one.
Overall, I found the film unnecessarily serious, too flimsy for the strong personalities in it, too fragile for the kind of a heavyweight Jodie is in terms of acting and too much of “subtitled acting” extracted from Mel Gibson.

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Posted February 10, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in articles, movies

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“The Artist” struck a chord   2 comments

Very rarely does a film come in that makes you feel in and out of time simultaneously. When I watched the trailors of the films being screened at the Cannes Film Festival 2011 on its website, this was the one I instantly connected with. Jean Dujardin, the actor, reminded me of someone I seemed to have gazed longingly at in an era I was never apparently born in. There is a chemistry whirring in the silent magnetic air when the film opens…a mystical l’air du temps only Jean as George Valentin seems to control while connecting all of us as we participate, gaping in our naked surprise. Berenice, the actress in the films in the film reminds of a bygone era of Audrey Hepburn, when beauty was deeper than skin and came around to reveal true characters & friendships as solid as gold forged in a fickle industry that was artist-dependent, rather than studio-dominated. To add to the elegance of filmmaking, the whole film is done in pristine black and white, and the only discerning factor to remind us that this film IS shot in today’s times, is the chic clarity of the frames which seem accidental because the mind expects the dotted lines washing onto the bottom screen line.

Though the plot is almost typical of the era when films were focused wholly on one character and everyone else being his shadow, like a narrow-gauge train for which the tracks would be aligned, it has a dog that adds to the film’s character with as a pivotal sidekick. Moreover, recognizing stars like James Cromwell keeps the subconscious awake to the fact that this film is shot now. But a deeper layer of sensitivity is kindled due to the entire cast speaking, but the sound never reaching us. I felt the audience has a more sound chance to participate in a silent film than being “told” what was happening – it was almost as if I was making the film as it was playing on its own, keeping me focused on feeling Jean’s face and eyes which he masterfully sculpts his way about and engaging me as I spoke the words in my head as he was mouthing them. Add to this the accurately delayed timing of the frames carrying only those dialogues which brought about anticipation, just like the good ol’ Charlie Chaplin days!

Towards the end I had a feeling of agape – thank god for the silent era; it was a flowering fullness of celebration of our human beingness through a greater dimension of silence. This film is not just a tribute, it is a treasure reawakening the voluptuousness of human artistry that can be conveyed in just a dazzling smile.