Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Weekend with Marilyn and The Artist

(:)(:)(:) for The Artist
(:)(:)(:)(:) for My Week with Marilyn  

This weekend I saw The Artist and My Week With Marilyn.   I was eager to see one of the films.  The other I was willing to see but had zero expectations--guess which one was better?  Read on...

(:)(:(:) for The Artist seen at the Piedmont Theater in Oakland, California Saturday.  Wow, what a disappointment.  I was all hyped up for this.  So many critics.  So much attention.  I shoulda known that I needed to psych myself down.  My first clue should have been that my husband was only moderately interested in seeing it.  He figures these things out in advance.  I have to experience them.

That having been said, as a movie-going experience, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  If I had just wandered in off the streets to see this film, I probably would have loved it.  But it wasn't as good as Singin' in the Rain, it's obvious cinematic ancestor which covered the same ground: transition from silent to talking pictures.

Judging from the expressions on the faces of the Golden-Globe-winning French team that made this film, they essentially knew it wasn't as big a deal as people were making it.  This is a sweet story, well-acted and compelling with a gimmick that makes you especially interested: it's silent and it's about silents.  That's it.

See it, but don't expect Citizen Kane.

(:)(:)(:)(:) for  My Week with Marilyn at the Shadduck Theater in Bezerkeley.   This was one of those movie choices predominantly driven by schedule.  We were looking for something to fill time in a sleepy Sunday in the east bay before we went to see a play at the Berkeley Rep (see review of A Doctor in Spite of Himself).    We almost saw this movie another time and I wasn't particularly sorry that it hadn't come together.

Wow.  I loved this story and how they did it.  Michelle Williams totally became Marilyn for this.  In fact, she is so Marilyn that I can't imagine it could have been easy to play.    But as compellingly sexy, vulnerable and messed up as she is, this movie is not about her.  It's about Colin Clark--after all it's his week with Marilyn, not Marilyn's, not ours and not not Sir Lawrence Olivier's (played oddly by Kenneth Branagh).

 Colin Clark, played by Eddie Redmayne, is the real engenue of the film.  He's the virginal, wide-eyed innocent, working hard as the "third" (director/gopher) in the fraught production of a film within a film where classically trained actor Olivier and movie star Monroe don't see eye to eye on how to approach their work.

This boy is perfectly cast and gorgeous to watch.  Through him, we experience Marilyn as a near school-boy's fantasy juxtaposed against her f***ed up reality.  Yet, at some point, with his full-lips and wondrous big-eyed looks, one becomes conscious that Eddie the actor may be working the same screen magic on us that Marilyn worked on everyone. How conscious this is for the director and writer I don't know, but it interests me.

The rest of the cast and story is strong.  Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger) plays the small part of a costume girl whom Colin works his magic on while he's fantasizing about Marilyn.  Branagh's choice to play Olivier as if he were an affected actor of German origins must be defensible (knowing Branagh's discipline and sensibilities) but it didn't work for me.

My advice:  see both movies with minimal expectations and you'll (probably) have a good time!

No comments: