Film Junk Podcast Episode #357: The Artist

0:00 – Intro / Jay’s New Film Announcement
9:40 – Review: The Artist
59:10 – Trailer Trash: The Amazing Spider-Man, The Bourne Legacy
1:12:00 – Other Stuff We Watched: The Woman, The Other F Word, This Means War, Sanctum, The River, Nightmare Factory, Paris, Texas, Southland Tales, Donnie Darko, Three Outlaw Samurai, Adaptation
1:47:20 – Junk Mail: The Artist vs. Avatar, Actor Performances Influenced by Real-Life Experiences, Career Redefining Roles, Thinking Too Much About Ratings, Quitting Movies Halfway Through, Movies We Each Like that the Others Hate, Bilingual Packaging, U.K. Ratings on DVD Spine, Counting Box Sets, Special Widescreen Format TV, Premium Episode Top 5, On Cinema + Geaux Hornets
2:24:35 – This Week’s DVD Releases
2:27:00 – Outro

Film Junk Podcast Episode #357: The Artist by Filmjunk on Mixcloud

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  • I just realized that I want to add THE ARTIST to my 2011 Top 5 list. Not sure where it would fall. Maybe second after TREE OF LIFE.

  • I’m pretty sure that J. Jonah Jamieson is not in The Amazing Spider-Man

  • Dan Squires

    Downloading now.
    You guys need a new updated pic on your site.)

  • Goon


    I don’t think you can make The Artist as a ‘regular’ film, and I don’t think it’s any more of a gimmick than Death Proof, Machete, Hobo…

    The story is simple, but I’d revert to the old “its how its about it” line – the style hides Valentin’s voice which shows why he can’t/won’t speak, and the occasional spot-use of sound in the nightmare reflect his worries, nightmares, his stubbornness. The story is a basic “get over yourself” story which I think is a nice reflection of the the of common kid movie default of “be yourself”.

    But more importantly, beyond any talk about gimmick or authenticity, it just viscerally connects and charms me even more than the Muppets can. Essentially these are real life Muppets for me, hits the sweet spot.

    Strangely enough I find among a lot of people I know this and Hugo have an either/or, not a conscious choosing of sides but people usually greatly prefer one over the other. I was about as lukewarm on Hugo as you guys seem to be on the Artist, really didn’t care much for that story and felt a lot of Scorsese’s choices undermined any message. Chacun son gout.

  • Sam

    I really enjoyed The Artist. The silent “gimmick” forces the viewer to concentrate more on watching the faces and movements of the actors, which served to remind me how much of movie-watching is just that. The two leads had great faces.

    I agree with Sean that the second act dragged — George’s downward spiral went on a little too long. I don’t think you can release a 75-minute feature film these days, but I wonder if this would have been even better if it had observed the tradition of the silent-era run time.

    I liked the irony that (**spoiler**) the advent of sound caused George’s tailspin, but actually contained the seeds of his redemption. The last scene was basically them inventing the Busby Berkeley-style musical, which meant not only that he would have work going forward, but that he was probably going to become a big star once again.

    Lastly, I enjoyed seeing some old tropes. I mean, quicksand! I laughed out loud at that.

  • I think this is one of those clear cut cases of over hype and expectations. Hearing about this movie non stop and expecting an Oscar win and all that can totally dampen your spirits on this one.

    Seeing it at a film festival or in theaters 4+ months ago when it was first released helps worth the surprise/charm factor.

    Sort of dove tails into my argument and preference to know as little as possible about any movie before I go see it.

  • Goon

    Andrew, I think I want to call this The Hurt Locker Effect. it seems in both cases the people who saw it early were completely blown away, and people coming after the awards season begun have had much higher expections and have been more often disappointed.

  • Scab

    Oh dear.

    I hate to say it, but the review of The Artist was genuinely painful listening.

  • The Good German. Love it. I actually think it’s a better representation of the era it’s going for than “The Artist.” Granted, most of that is because of the DP and the actors. Finally a movie where Tobey Maguire fits in.

    @Frank, nothing but love for ya bra, but you gotta stop saying, “right? like…” I took an imaginary shot of water after each utterance and I am still wasted two hours later.

    On HUGO. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I would argue the 3D in Hugo IS more of a gimmick than in other 3D movies. Simply because it’s Scorsese. Months before the film was released people (you guys included) were all talking about Scorsese is going to make a movie in 3D(!)(?). No one knew anything about the movie as of yet, just that they HAD to go see what a Scorsese movie would look like in 3D. Any other film, meh it’s a 3D movie. But Hugo is the “Scorsese does 3D movie.” I think there’s a difference.

  • Thought both the 3D in HUGO and the silent storytelling in THE ARTIST worked. More than gimmicks, these are HOOKS. Every movie needs one.

  • csidle

    You guys missed a pretty big plot point in The Artist, it seems — it wasn’t without reason that George opposed talkies; the final scene of the film – the final line of the film – signifies that he has a really thick French accent, which means that to him, the talkies represent the decline of his career.

  • I enjoyed The Artist quite a bit, but anyone who says that they were blown away by it is a simpleton.

  • csidle: Very interesting.


    I was wondering what the point of adding sound to the final scene was. Now it makes a lot more sense. I only wish that could have been made more clear.

  • @Andrew

    And if I took a shot of whiskey every time you said “um…so yay” during the Cinecast I wouldn’t last 20 mins before I was shit faced.

  • Scab: Painful as in, you didn’t agree with us? Or painful as in we didn’t make our points clearly enough and just generally didn’t know what the hell we were talking about?

  • @barbariancomic – “hook” vs “gimmick” Good point! With The Artist, I definitely think it’s a hook rather than a gimmick – though it’s a fine line I guess.

    And at this point I think Frank is right about 3D – it’s not a gimmick anymore, it’s a trend. So I guess we all have to work on our nomenclature: gimmick, hook and trend.

    @Mike. I say “Yay” a lot? I haven’t noticed that one. I’ll listen for it though. I say “particularly” a lot for some reason. And of course “off the rails.” But there’s no way I say all of those things combined in an entire show more than Frank says “like” in under 2 minutes of talking.

  • KeithTalent

    I’m now working on my screenplay for The Autist starring Reed Farrington.

  • Kasper

    Reed needs to be the subject of Jays next feature length documentary.

  • Curtis Williams

    @csidle..I totally agree and actually thought the same thing. That’s why I loved the ending. Instead of the obvious choice that they could have took, which would be him having some weird high pitched voice, his reluctance came from his accent, which I thought was pretty cool.

  • Big Hungry

    Sean I agree with you Sanctum is a piece of shit… even in 3D!

  • @csidle, very true, I came here to make the same point. That’s why George never went in to talkies (even at the end he’s not really talking, he’s letting his feet do the work).

  • Goon


    Csidle: 100% agreed. The ending is pretty clear to me, but assumes the audience can put 2 and 2 together about the accent. Immediately redefines his refusal to participate and why he wasnt wanted anymore. But also clued in by his name all along.

    As for the title, its in the movie: when he makes his own silent film its a newspaper headline. Its how he describes himself and the vision for his film vs. The talkies opening against him which crush him at the box office. It was how he justified separating himself from the world which had moved on without him, and perhaps how he justifies its likely failure: its ok because Im an artist and the rest is lowest common denominator crap. A pretty common artist viewpoint.

  • Colin

    Please, please, please do a Film + Game Junk Premium Podcast on video game-centric films.

    I’m thinking The Wizard, Super Mario Bros., and Tron.

  • Napalm

    The constant arguments between Jay and Frank are becoming some of my favorite bits in the show haha. Keep it up guys!

  • csidle

    That said, I don’t want to come off as totally shitting on the podcast. It was a pretty interesting discussion, and I personally gave The Artist 3/4 or something like that, mainly because of the really quite weak middle — but I expect it might go up on a re-watch.

  • csidle

    Sean/Jay: One of you mentioned during JunkMail that Magnolia featured an old man who had just beaten cancer, who in the film portrayed a man dying of cancer, as an example of an actor using real life experiences quite obviously. This is funny, because yesterday, I was listening to Tom Cruise on Inside the Actors Studio, and he brought up that exact scene.

    You see, Tom Cruise had a rough relationship with his dad, and ended up not seeing him for ten years. That is until his father called him, and asked him to come out and see him, as he was dying. Tom basically described how he said his goodbyes to his father just before he died. Shortly after, he was offered the part in Magnolia, and when it came to that scene, he actually went up to Anderson and said: “Hey man, is this written for me? Did you know about the thing with my father?” and Anderson just said “nope, had no idea.”

    It’s funny that you guys brought up the old guy as an example of an actor acting out a real life experience, while in fact, in the same scene, Tom Cruise, too, basically channelled his saying farewell to his own father.

    That shoot must have been pretty heavy, haha.

  • Gerry

    Premium podcast, how about a serial killer ‘cast. Kind Hearts And Coronets, Silence Of The Lambs, Zodiac and Seven.

    Please make all future Cantankerous eps premium podcasts – maybe the cash will motivate Reed to record them.

    Best blu ray review sites bar none are (though I have to use Tor to access it from the UK as it appears to be region locked) and DVD Talk.

  • Xidor

    I want to see a Three Amigos prequel as a silent film.

  • OK, be honest Jay, how much is Letterboxd kicking back to you for all the plugs on the podcast?

    heheh Srsly tho, great job as always, but I miss Greg’s baritone pipes threatening larynx punches.

    Next week, I know. It will all be back to normal then right? RIGHT?!?

  • Xidor

    I’m surprised that The Three Amigos didn’t get any Oscar buzz. The silent film parts were black and white and they used an organ for the soundtrack.

  • I agree that Frank has been an awesome addition; his passion, strong debate skills and easy laughter really round out the show. I like how he calls Jay on his sh*t. The whole gimmick debate between Hugo’s 3D and The Artist silence was classic. Frank missed the ultimate debate ender:

    Which film, with its so called gimmick remove, could still function as conceived. The answer is of course Hugo and proof that its gimmick isn’t on the same level as The Artist.

  • csidle

    But if the presence of a technique or stylistic trait has no meaningful impact on a film, indicates that it IS a pointless gimmick, not that it is a part of the film. It does not speak FOR Hugo that it functions just as well without its ‘gimmick’ (a debate I am tired of), but against it.

  • Goon

    “But if the presence of a technique or stylistic trait has no meaningful impact on a film, indicates that it IS a pointless gimmick, not that it is a part of the film. It does not speak FOR Hugo that it functions just as well without its ‘gimmick’ (a debate I am tired of), but against it.”

    Quoted for truth :P

  • 3D can be a gimmick. In HUGO, it instantly hooked me because Scorsese shot it to look awesome in 3D. All the crazy statues and multilayer tracking shots made this incredible to behold. Not a gimmick.

  • csidle

    I haven’t seen Hugo, but I do intend to see it in 3d in cinemas. However, the argument that it is not a gimmick because it is shot to look great in 3d makes no sense. Whether it is applied well or not, it is still a gimmick unless it plays an integral role in the presentation of the themes of the film.

    An example of a film where 3d would not be a gimmick, off the top of my head, might be one where a man is blind on one eye, but the regains vision in it, where the film goes from 2d to 3d, simulating the experience of earning a new dimension of perception.

    As I said, though, I haven’t seen Hugo, so I’m not disagreeing with whether the 3d in it is a gimmick or not — I’m just saying that you can’t argue that it is not a gimmick on the grounds of it being shot for 3d.

  • You guys need to actually listen to the debate – the issue was WHICH IS THE LARGER GIMMICK between the two films. My example proves one of the gimmicks is larger due to it being essential to the very structure of the film.

  • Xidor

    I don’t think the silent film part of Three Amigos was a gimmick. It was essential character development in that it showed the Amigos unique abilities. The technology at the time was critical leading to the infamous miscommunication.

  • Xidor

    When Hitchcock made Dial M for Murder in 3D he avoided 3d gimmicks. 3D was not essential to the plot, but he wanted to make you feel like you were in the room. Not a gimmick if done for suspense or good film making.

  • csidle

    Rus: I don’t get it. What’s the point in debating which gimmick is larger? I honestly don’t see the point in that debate. An interesting debate is whether a technique applied is a gimmick or not, which is what my posts have been directed towards discussing.

  • “which gimmick is larger” is the debate presented in the podcast…u r debating yourself on if they r gimmicks or not.

    I will add my thoughts on that if you will. 3D is a market driven gimmick part of modern hollywood’s drive to fight of the increases in home theatre quality and the desire to keep the movie house culture alive. the silent movie gimmick of The Artist is a gimmick for the genesis of an actual film idea, much different. I believe The Artist was developed around the idea of presenting a modern version of a silent film. (I have actually read the creators were motivated by the expressive qualities of the french lead actor) I don’t believe Hugo was conceived as a 3D film until very late in the production of the film, if not during the financing of it, therefore the two gimmicks debated here are vastly different.

    In this way, The Artist is as shallow as Sucker Punch – both use a “story gimmick” to cover weak story and characters (Sucker Punch was conceived as a send up of a various video games …..a video game movie…hmmmmmm, sound familiar)

    so the real question is Why is The Artist up for Best Picture and Sucker Punch is not????

  • csidle

    Well, what is a gimmick, then? Is it enough for a feature to be unusual and attention-worthy for it to be a gimmick? If so, like Frank says, 3d is barely a gimmick anymore. This definition, though, seems pointless – to me, a gimmick is a stylistic trait or feature that is unusual and attention-worthy but without bearing thematic relevance to the story. Thus, the silent-film aspect of The Artist is not so much a gimmick as it is a part of the genesis of that film. The 3d in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3d is a gimmick, because it has NOTHING to do with the film, but simply exists for advertising purposes. This is not true for The Artist. Whether Hugo’s 3d is a gimmick or not I can’t say, but you yourself have highlighted some examples of 3d being used in a way that is thematically relevant, such as Dial M For Murder – those do not use it as a gimmick, but as an additional feature, added for the thematic purposes.

  • Scab

    Sean: I felt the criticism painfully missed the point.

    Contrary opinions are great, but when they’re poorly informed they’re hard to understand, never mind accept.

    The begging bowl’s being pushed too forcefully too.

    Much love!

  • Understood, thanks for clarifying.

    By begging bowl you mean pushing the premium podcasts too much? We have a 30 second ad at the beginning of the show, doesn’t seem like much to me.

  • Kasper

    I think Scab is more hinting towards the actual wording of the ad rather than the ad itself. Personally I don’t have a problem with it though, and think the podcast is worth every penny.

  • Scab

    The most recent premium episode was quickly followed by the release of Beauty Day DVDs, and then a fundraiser for Jay’s next project. Within about 2 weeks I’m asked for money 3 or 4 times.

    Naturally I want to support everything, so it’s been a lot to keep up with lately – especially considering that just a few months ago the only thing asked of me was a recurring donation.

    However, I realise it’s atypical and I’m sure I’m being too harsh.

  • The timing of all this stuff just kind of happened all at once, but you don’t have to pay for anything you don’t want to or can’t afford. We’ve always maintained that we can’t stand begging for money (had to do it every year on college radio) so in every case we’re trying to offer something in return that is worthwhile. Either way, we do talk about what’s going on in our lives so you’re provably going to continue hearing about Jay’s movies, even if indirectly.

  • csidle – I like your passion but I feel we are now just going back and forth talking to ourselves?! I was clear that I believe there is a thing called “story gimmick” and in my opinion, The Artist is a perfect example of a bad use of this device. (example of story gimmick used well is Memento – again my opinion) I’ll leave it at that…the whole 3D vs. other gimmicks is sort of ridiculous really… on to the next debate!