The Artist: Review

Being something of an ignoramus, I’ve always had an irrational objection to silent black and white films. They’ve always just seemed so boring. Alas, I’m glad to say I was proven incredibly wrong when I went to see The Artist.

James Borg states that human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paranlinguistic cues, while only 7% of communication consists of words themselves. After watching The Artist, this theory has never seemed more true.

The extremely handsome Jean Dujardin as George Valentin (image: altfg.com)

Nowadays we’ve become accustomed to films with booming explosions and dramatic scripts, but the soft and silent approach of the The Artist speaks to the audience in a voice that is both loud and clear.

Apart from the lively score, the film’s discernible silence is what makes it so utterly gripping. Never have I gone to the cinema before and seen an entire audience so genuinely engaged, and never have I personally been so absorbed in a film from beginning to end.

In fact I was so wrapped up in the 100 minutes of runtime that I barely touched my sweets (though to be fair, the silence made it quite difficult to go rummaging around my paper bag for white chocolate mice. Lesson: silent films help the waistline).

The fact that you can’t hear the characters speak doesn’t matter. In fact, the lack of words means you focus more intently, and as a result each step of the storyline feels far more poignant. Indeed, the characters’ actions are all the more powerful because of the silence.

Peppy Miller

The beautiful Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller (image: indiewire.com)

It’s easily argued that as a modern audience we’ve become desensitized; we’re used to watching violence and graphic sex scenes without even flinching. But each expression and each romantic embrace in The Artist seems to deliver an acute blow, one which sears through your heart and really makes you react.

When George Valentin smiles, you smile too.  When sparks fly between George and Peppy Miller, you feel excited. When George looks sad, you actually feel like crying. If Hollywood blockbusters are the raging machine guns of the movie industry, then The Artist is the silent sniper; far more subtle, and with precision it hits you right between the eyes.

I think a full analysis of The Artist is better left until a later date, namely when the film comes out on DVD, so as to not reveal any spoilers to those who haven’t seen it yet. I also genuinely believe that, having only watched the film once, I’m not actually able to summarize all that’s so wonderful about it.

George Valentin and Peppy Miller

Sparks fly between George Valentin and Peppy Miller (image: indiewire.com)

But what I will say is this: The Artist is absolutely unmissable. Brilliant in its simplicity, but even more fantastic in its intricacies; striking in black and white, but colourful in all its nuances.

The Artist plays with myriad themes; from the pressures of fame to the wonders of romance. It even touches upon technology and the fickle nature of the economy. The film may be set during the crash of 1929, but its topics and events clearly resonate with those of modern-day society.

The Artist Peppy Miller Bérénice Bejo

Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller in The Artist (image: Telegraph.co.uk)

You’re bound to fall in love with the characters too, all of whom have charm, beauty and charisma in bucketloads. Jean DujardinBérénice Bejo, and John Goodman in particular absolutely steal the show. And, superb acting aside, to top it all off the costumes and set are absolutely beautiful – I predict there will soon be a major revival in flapper dresses and 1920s make-up.

The Artist is filled with glamour, humour and innocence (and also a brilliant canine sidekick) and my bet is that, once you’ve seen the film, you’ll leave the cinema feeling happy and entertained – and possibly with a strong desire to learn how to tap dance. Consequently I would recommend this film to absolutely anyone – especially those who hate silent black and white films.


Essex and the City

It’s been a shaky start to series 4, but TOWIE has totez redeemed itself with the latest episode!

The programme had a lot to live up to after the spectacular finale to series 3, but after watching the most recent installment, I think it’s safe to say that TOWIE is back on track. So, let’s take a look at what made episode 5 so great…

1. Ridiculous animals in ridiculous clothes

Victims of the Essex poochy parlour, these poor dogs look pitiful, but hilarious nonetheless.

Elvis dog Towie

Elvis the dog aka rat in a costume (Image: ITV2)

Dog Towie

Suits you, sir. (Image: ITV2)

2. Good old girly chats

Given this episode had a Sex and the City theme, it was only right that the producers should construct a scene where four women gathered around a coffee table to discuss men.

Essex and the City Towie

Chloe Sims appeared to take on the role of Miranda Hobbs when she expressed a somewhat cynical view on men. Referring to her cousin Joey Essex, she said: “Once he has his heart completely broken he’ll turn into an asshole like the rest of them.”

…And by ‘the rest of them’ she probably means the small pool of people she knows in Essex, rather than every single man on the planet. Because that’d be a bit sexist, wouldn’t it.

3. A burgeoning bromance

As mentioned in my previous post, TOWIE is in need of a good old bromance, and it looks as if Mario & Little Chris may be filling Marg’s shoes.

In this episode Mario was keen to give his more submissive (and arguably less good looking) pal Chris some advice on a) exercise and b) the ladies.

Whilst doing a spot of gentle rowing, Mario kindly said to Chris: “Mate, you’re so sad. You’re shit with women… if you stick with me, train with me, this time next year on Valentine’s day you will not be single.” How sweet of him.

Mario Chris Towie

Could Marris be the new Marg? (Image: ITV2)

There’s also plenty of ‘banter’ going on between the pair. When discussing the prospect of a woman proposing to a man, Chris asked Mario if he could imagine Lucy going down on one knee. Mario, ever the gentleman, replied with: “Yes, as long as she wasn’t proposing I wouldn’t really care.” LAD.

Anyway, there’s definitely some strong parallels between these two and Marg, but will they become the new fave bromance? And if they do what should we call them? Marris, I guess…

4. Essex sushi

Chloe Sims being adorned with sushi (a la Samantha Jones) for Bili and Cara’s “Essex and the City” party was simply brilliant. When discussing whether Chloe was up to the challenge, she and Bili came out with some cracking quotes…

Chloe Sims sushi TOWIE

Something fishy's going on... (Image: ITV2)

“I dunno how people are gonna eat it,” mused a perplexed Chloe. “I’m gonna have like moisturizer, fake tan, a bit of body shimmer – that’s all gonna get in the sushi.”

“I know,” sympathized Bili. “The rice will probably end up bein orange and glittery. It’ll be even nicer though! It’ll be like Essex sushi.” Ah, Essex sushi. Wonder if anyone will try that on Come Dine With Me anytime soon.

Sushi Chloe Sims Towie

Keeping abreast of the sushi situation (Image: ITV2)

Bili then went onto reassure Chloe by saying, “We’ll cover all your bits up and make sure people eat around your bits.” Well that’s good, otherwise guests might have confused Chloe’s trout pout for an edible delicacy.

Sushi Chloe Sims Towie

Sushi, or trout? (Image: ITV2)

Anyway, kudos to Chloe who actually went ahead and did the task in the jolliest manner possible! My personal highlight was when she shouted out “I feel like I’m in a weird fish dream!” around the point where Bili and Cara brought out the lobster.

Chloe Sims sushi Towie

LOBSTER ATTACK! (Image: ITV2)

5. Joey and Arg discuss Manolo Blahniks

Arg, while looking somewhat like Miss Piggy in his dressing gown, unveiled a pair of specially made Manolo Blahniks. Watching Joey estimate the price of said shoes is, well, priceless. See for yourself:

Joey: “Is he big?” LOL.

6. Lucy and Mario make up

Ahh, proof that there’s hope for all couples who have troubles. And as cringeworthy as they are, they do seem genuinely happy together. Awwww.

Mario Falcone Lucy Meck TOWIE

Mario & Lucy 4evz (Image: ITV2)

Mario Falcone Lucy Meck TOWIE

Mario and Lucy's second first date (Image: ITV2)

7. New man on the block

Ricky’s turning out to be quite the ladies’ man! Whenever he appears the women immediately form a swarm and buzz around him. In this episode Lydia, Lauren and Cara couldn’t stop batting their false lashes or flicking their hair extensions in his presence. Could he be the new Mark Wright?

Ricky Towie

Ricky's got the situation under control (Image: ITV2)

8. NANA PAT!

It’s the last thing on the list, but it’s certainly not the least. She may only have had about 2 seconds airtime, but it was good to see Nana Pat’s face again. Now all we need is a sausage plait.

Nana Pat Towie


Has TOWIE lost its way?

Now we all know TOWIE’s staged, and that some (aka most) of the scenes are set up for our entertainment. It may be called a reality show, but a true reflection of reality is the last thing we’d expect from a programme featuring men who look like Ken dolls and women who look like pageant children. After all, fakery is the foundation upon which TOWIE is built. Fake-tan, fake eyelashes, fake boobs – it’s what the show is all about.

Pageant Children

Sam & Billie Faiers were the perfect hosts at their Malibu themed beach party

But there’s something strangely false about the new series. It’s as if the scenarios have become too contrived, for example the recent lads’ caravan holiday, where the lads (being lads) jumped into the sea, huddled around a fire and drank beer (you know, because they’re lads, and that’s what lads do). Nothing about that trip seemed credible, or entertaining for that matter.

Arg in the sea, caravan holiday TOWIE

A wonderful scene of male bonding.

But fakery aside, what really seems to be missing from the new series is Mark Wright. The moment Mark left the programme the entire dynamic changed. Hardly surprising, given that he was at the heart of every major spat and love triangle the show’s ever had.

Think about it; he was the catalyst behind Lauren’s feud with Lucy, he constantly created tension between Lydia and Arg, he played a key part in Lucy’s near break-up with Mario, and who could forget the catfight he caused between Lauren and Sam?!

Lauren Goodger Sam Faiers fight

The acrylic claws are OUT! (image: ITV2)

But that’s not to say that Mark didn’t have his positive attribitues, or that the show was merely entertaining due to the sagas he caused. Indeed, Mark Wright brought us some truly heart-warming moments, mainly thanks to his bond with Nana Pat and his friendship with Arg.

Looking back, it’s clear that everything changed once Mark Wright left the programme. Yes, he was often an arrogant douchebag who objectified women, but despite his personality flaws (or perhaps because of them) he was the glue that kept TOWIE together. As 3am once so aptly put it, Mark Wright was the turd which all the flies fed off.

Mark Wright naked

A perfectly normal pose. (image: thisislondon.co.uk)

But sadly that turd is no longer with us, and now what TOWIE really needs is a new ladies’ man; one with a huge ego and a wallet to match. In other words a rich, good-looking prat that can charm the ladies into bed and cause havoc around the county of Essex.

Mario is certainly a contender, but I have a feeling he’s too slimy for this role. Joey’s cute, but he’s not calculating enough, and the whole dress dumb / act reem routine is laughable rather than sexy. And the less said about James Argent’s recent attempts at becoming Mr Essex the better (note to Arg: blurting out chauvinistic comments about your ex while stuffing your face with jammie dodgers doth not a player make). In short, the show needs a new alpha male, and it needs one fast.

Something else TOWIE’s missing at the moment is a genuine bromance. Whatever’s going on between Joey and that new dude Diags is not cutting it, and watching Arg moping around by himself is just tragic. We want to see some proper brotherly love on the programme again. Real tears and man hugs and whatnot.

MArk Wright Arg bromance

Oh Marg, how we do miss your blossoming bromance. (image: mirror.co.uk)

Another thing which could help restore TOWIE to its former glory is a fiery romance. Arg and Lydia are way too whiny to fulfil this role, and Lucy and Mario are vomit-inducing (did you see the episode where he sent Bruno Mars’ tone-deaf brother to serenade her? Cringe o’ clock).

Mark and Lauren’s on/off relationship, however, had all the fine ingredients of a romantic novel. Passion! Adultery! Heartbreak! Forgiveness! They were like the Essex equivalent of Ross & Rachel. The programme requires another couple like this immediately.

Lauren Goodger and Mark Wright arguing

Will Lauren and Mark stay apart for good? (image: unrealitytv.co.uk)

And one more thing the programme could reeeeally do with is a comedy duo. After all, we need something to fill the void left by Harry Derbidge and Amy Childs (why on earth the producers ever axed Harry is beyond me. He was a funny gay man – what’s not to love?)

Jirk (aka Joey and Kirk) were fairly humorous, but since Kirk sodded off to be BFF’s with Frankie Cocozza in real life, now all we’ve got left as a double-act are the mini muscle twins, who might be funny if they weren’t so Goddamn creepy.

Who knows though, maybe TOWIE will survive regardless. Maybe this is just a bump in the road, and maybe the series will suddenly get a whole lot better. From now on though let’s hope that, for TOWIE’s sake, The Only Way Is Up!

Gold twins TOWIE

The golden boys (image: ITV)