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The Artist (2011)


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#41 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 12:47 PM

SDG wrote:
: BTW, any documentation of this happening? I mentioned it last night to Suz, RN, and she was skeptical that a person could have two sets of DNA.

Yep. And yep:

Take Karen Keegan, who discovered her chimera-ness at age 52. When Keegan needed a kidney transplant, she and her two adult children underwent DNA testing to figure out which kid's kidney would be the best match for mom. Surprisingly, the tests showed neither. In fact, according to DNA, Keegan's children weren't her children at all. The case confounded doctors for more than two years until, in 2000, the docs finally realized that Keegan's blood cells carried different genes from the cells in her ovaries---the long-absorbed twin was found.

Oh, and yep:

Lydia Fairchild was pregnant with her third child when she and the father of her children, Jamie Townsend, separated. When Fairchild applied for welfare support in 2002, she was requested to provide DNA evidence that Townsend was the father of her children. While the results showed Townsend was certainly the father of the children, the DNA tests indicated that she was not their mother.

This resulted in Fairchild's being taken to court for fraud for claiming benefit for other people's children or taking part in a surrogacy scam. Hospital records of her prior births were disregarded. Prosecutors called for her two children to be taken into care. As time came for her to give birth to her third child, the judge ordered a witness be present at the birth. This witness was to ensure that blood samples were immediately taken from both the child and Fairchild. Two weeks later, DNA tests indicated that she was not the mother of that child either.

A breakthrough came when a lawyer for the prosecution found an article[2] in the New England Journal of Medicine about a similar case that had happened in Boston, and realised that Fairchild's case might also be caused by chimerism. . . .

Fairchild's prosecutors suggested this possibility to her lawyers, who arranged further testing. As in Keegan's case, DNA samples were taken from members of the extended family. The DNA of Fairchild's children matched that of Fairchild's mother to the extent expected of a grandmother. They also found that, although the DNA in Fairchild's skin and hair did not match her children's, the DNA from a cervical smear test did match. Fairchild was carrying two different sets of DNA, the defining characteristic of a chimera.

FWIW, I first heard about this phenomenon when Amanda mentioned it in one of the earlier incarnations of A&F about a decade ago (back in the Novogate days), but I can't find the exact thread right now.

I'm actually kind of surprised that Suz has never heard of this phenomenon.

Oh, and consider that chimerism is only detectable when FRATERNAL twins merge into a single embryo. If an embryo separates into two embryos, producing IDENTICAL twins, and then the identical twins re-combine into a single embryo, no one would know that the one embryo had ever been two.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 10 January 2012 - 07:20 PM.


#42 vjmorton

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:29 PM

WARNING: Veering off topic ... also SPOILERS for a few 50/80-year-old movies (but really, folks, c'mon ... I'm not gonna spoiler-tag em. Statute of limitations has passed.)

Heh. I am still the lone voice of dissent on the Tomatometer for this film. :)

.....and this one as well. ;)

Ha. True, but there are a lot more reviews for the other one, which makes the contrast more striking.


I like HIS GIRL FRIDAY more than you do, Steve, and I really don't care that neither Walter nor Hildy are moral exemplars (though I would say they ARE likeable enough for a comedy's purposes, in the way that rogues with flair can be likeable; see also Bill Clinton, Max Bialystock).

But the reason this is not an all-time favorite for me is the suicide of Molly Malloy. (That's also in Hecht's play and the 1931 and 1974 films, FWIW.) It's a total tone-breaker. In a discussion with Catholic blogger Eve Tushnet at my site a couple years ago, she and I discussed that film and SOME LIKE IT HOT. Her first, then me, then back to her:
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Totally agree re: suicide. Actually the “capital punishment as macguffin” aspect of HGF made the whole movie curdle for me. It’s used so blatantly as a plot device that it _can’t_ be gallows-humor, so it just feels coarse to me. Weirdly, I think my reaction to HGF is sort of parallel to my reaction to MEAN GIRLS–a lot of the pieces and lines are terrific, but the way characters and situations get _used_ feels cheap.
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I saw another classic farce today which has two scenes where gangsters are mowed down en masse, but that didn’t bother me one little bit. The key difference is that SOME LIKE IT HOT didn’t attempt to milk either scene for pathos (or gore fetish) and never used the gangsters as a kind of moral center to the movie the way FRIDAY had two scenes where Molly Malloy is made out to be a kind of moral center — her scene with Earl alone and her spitting rage at the newsmen. You can’t kill off a character like that in a screwball farce.

But see … that’s precisely why the capital punishment angle doesn’t bother me — it IS only a Maguffin, and hence not much emotion is invested in it and there’s no violation of the film’s tone or the viewer’s emotions. Also FWIW, the Maguffin ends happily within its own terms (not that this matters too much to the film overall).
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Yeah–I’m honestly not entirely sure why the mob-fleeing works (for me) as comedic setting and the death-penalty stuff doesn’t. I think it’s mostly because the ongoing danger in SLIH threatens the protagonists, not essentially cardboard characters. So while I take your point that the gangsters who get killed at the beginning, setting the plot in motion, ARE treated in a macguffiny way, there isn’t the same ongoing sense that the characters we like are treating the personal tragedies of characters we don’t really know with insouciance.

Or you could argue that I just really love SLIH and am willing to make excuses for it! But this “other people’s pain is the excuse for our shtik and/or heroism” seems to me to be fairly common to newspaper movies–I seem to recall that THE PAPER did it, for example, possibly with a race riot or racial killing which existed to provide drama for the white protagonists?? or am I confusing two movies?–and it’s more or less the only way to make me dislike a newspaper movie.

#43 John Drew

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 02:25 AM

Saw this tonight. For me, this is one of the most over-hyped (though not here at A&F) and least deserving films to be considered for a Best Picture nomination (let alone possible win) since Slumdog Millionaire. It has some charm... the dog... but the accolades this film is garnering really seem over the top.

#44 Nick Olson

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 10:35 PM

Ok. I've not read any full reviews, and I've skimmed the first couple of thread pages a bit. I saw THE ARTIST tonight, and my first thought right now is to feel sorry for the film in a way. I wish it was not saddled with so much praise/expectation/buzz. I wish my first thought after the film wasn't "that's the frontrunner for best picture?" I wish it was just appreciation for what it is--a charming, flawed little film.

Jeffrey, I haven't read your review, but when you say that it "takes things too lightly," I wonder if you're referring, in part at least, to the failed marriage? I know that thought stayed with me nearly the whole film. I expected something more when, after the newspaper montage about "talkies," his wife pleaded with him that they needed to talk. But, in the end, the subject of his failed marriage was unimportant. This bothered me, I admit.

And I agree with SDG about the prolonged melancholy. Great images, but kept waiting for the next act.

For me, if it really does come down to The Artist and Hugo 3D, give me Hugo!

It really is interesting how central the theme of nostalgia is this year among the nominees--between THE ARTIST, HUGO, and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. I even used the phrase "nostalgia for the absolute" in a description of THE TREE OF LIFE.

Edited by Nicholas, 07 March 2012 - 02:23 AM.


#45 Nick Olson

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 10:40 PM

Annnd I see the subsequent discussion about the failed marriage. :)

On the one hand, this is the trouble with not living in a city. Most of the good conversation has been had by the time I get the chance to see many of the good movies discussed on this board. Couple that with my tendency to agree with several thoughtful folks at this board and I recognize how redundant I sound most of the time!

Edited by Nicholas, 25 January 2012 - 01:00 PM.


#46 Tyler

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 10:50 PM

Saw this tonight. For me, this is one of the most over-hyped (though not here at A&F) and least deserving films to be considered for a Best Picture nomination (let alone possible win) since Slumdog Millionaire. It has some charm... the dog... but the accolades this film is garnering really seem over the top.


Most over-hyped Oscar movie in three whole years? Posted Image

#47 Tyler

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 05:54 PM

I finally got a chance to see this today. I thought the dream sequence was brilliant, but then it turned out to be the only surprising or unexpected thing in the whole movie. I get that The Artist is an homage to everything, but following that template so closely left me feeling bored for several stretches.

I also think the silent movie aspect works against the film in a way: Since we don't get to hear Valentin's voice until the last moment of the movie his refusal to star in a "talkie" came off as him acting prideful and stubborn instead of being born from a genuine problem.

#48 Overstreet

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 06:21 PM

Elijah Davidson, Reel Spirituality:

The time between the end of the silent era and the advent of sound has been better explored in Singing in the Rain. The territories of fame and obscurity have been better surveyed in Sunset Boulevard. Granted, just because a narrative space has been well-traveled doesn't mean it is not worthy of further traversing, but the character arcs in those other two much better films are more true. The characters in The Artist are rewarded for that same desire for fame which dooms the characters in Sunset Boulevard, and their affections are sparked in adultery and seem more like obsession than the more innocent love displayed in Singing in the Rain.

Furthermore, if a silent film is a film that relies on music and image to convey meaning instead of dialog, I have seen better (mostly) silent films this year. Drive is almost nothing but music and image, and Hugo is a better homage to the pre-talkie masters.



#49 Tyler

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 07:10 PM

I thought of the same comparisons.

#50 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 02:42 PM

I could be wrong, but I suspect that this film would probably be more liked (and considered more innocent) around here if it had never been nominated for Best Picture. In fact, if it had ended up being ignored, I bet it would have been on more Top 2011 lists than it is now (being so incredibly hyped as it now is). I finally get to see this for the first time next week.

On another note, for more fun: OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and OSS 117: Lost in Rio are now both on Netflix Instant viewing.

#51 Ryan H.

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 02:54 PM

Yeah, the worst thing to happen to THE ARTIST was that it became part of the Best Picture race.

#52 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:57 AM

Karina Longworth @ LA Weekly:

Harvey's unique gifts aside, The Artist wouldn't have captured the imagination of the industry if it didn't also speak to its anxiety du jour. For all of the silliness surrounding them, the Oscars are valuable as an indication of how Hollywood feels about itself in the given moment. This year, The Artist is not the best movie in the Best Picture field, but it is the best reflection of both the moment Hollywood finds itself in (facing a massive technology-driven industry transformation) and of why the Academy was created to begin with (to help the industry's powerful elite survive a massive technology-driven industry transformation). The Artist, then, isn't any silent film; it's a silent film that transforms a real, historical Hollywood crisis into a fairy tale, complete with a happy ending depicting the industry emerging from that crisis ever stronger. It's a fairy tale that Hollywood currently desperately needs to hear.

The Artist begins in 1927, the same year the Academy was conceived by MGM honcho Louis B. Mayer, who pitched the industry's elite that strength in numbers could help Hollywood survive two significant predicaments: heat from the morality police, which was increasing in intensity as the celebrity gossip media expanded; and the rapidly escalating transition to talkies. At the same time, studio chiefs were smarting from a recent wave of unionization, and Mayer's desire to consolidate power at the top of the industry later would be read as a move to protect his own bottom line by staving off further labor organization. The actual handing out of awards came later, as a PR move, an attempt to take the industry's product, dismissed by some as a degenerate fad, and rebrand it as an art form worthy of canonization and preservation.

Over the next few years, studio heads like Mayer (represented by the mogul played by John Goodman in The Artist) took advantage of the change in technology and their consolidated power to cut salaries, renegotiate contracts and generally eliminate squeaky wheels. As The Artist dramatizes, well-fed older players were shipped out, and cheap "fresh meat" was brought in. A typical performer's contract in the early days of talkies included a rider "approved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences," which gave a producer the right to record and reproduce an actor's voice infinitely, and didn't require payment for audio tests and retakes. These were just some of the ways in which AMPAS, as Anthony Holden writes in Behind the Oscar: A Secret History of the Academy Awards, served to "protect the studio bosses' muscle against rebellious technicians, and to keep talent in its place."

The Artist dramatizes the flexing of that muscle in a way that ultimately and cheerfully endorses the subservient relationship of the talent to the producer/studio. When the Goodman character fires Valentin, the star defiantly pledges to strike out on his own. "I'll make a great movie," he says. "And it's not like I need you for that." The rest of the narrative essentially proves him wrong: If Valentin wants to make a movie that anyone cares about, he needs to do it with a studio. That we're supposed to accept his film-closing rebirth as an Astaire-esque dancing movie star -- contracted by the same mogul who all but left him for dead -- as a happy ending and not a humiliation, is a baffling turn of events, if we're also supposed to sympathize with his plight as an independent artist. The Artist, then, is a film in which an iconoclast hits rock bottom by staying true to himself, and learns via near-death experience to embrace conformity. . . .

Steve Sailer:

Other nagging problems with "The Artist" are that the title seems like an inept translation from the French. "The Star" would have been much better, since the hero loves being a movie star and pays no attention to whether he's an artist or not. But the title "The Artist," combined with being silent and in black and white and made by a Frenchman, makes it sound like some good-for-you ordeal, which it mostly isn't. . . .



#53 Anders

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:33 AM

I saw THE ARTIST tonight, and my first thought right now is to feel sorry for the film in a way. I wish it was not saddled with so much praise/expectation/buzz. I wish my first thought after the film wasn't "that's the frontrunner for best picture?" I wish it was just appreciation for what it is--a charming, flawed little film.


Finally saw this. The above pretty much sums up my thoughts on the film, except change "frontrunner" to "winner."

It's charming, has some great moments (e.g. the dream, the shadow), some inexplicable ones (the use of the VERTIGO music), and in the end was an enjoyable watch.

#54 Attica

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:53 AM

following that template so closely left me feeling bored for several stretches.


Amen. Saw it tonight, and there were probably at least three or four times that I was squirming in my seat and thinking of leaving.

I did love the first 20 minutes or so of the film, when it was just pure fun and charm. I loved the music and dance, and the film scenes. After the delightful start though it just started to go wrong for me, in pretty much the same ways Arts and Faithers have already mentioned. For me the fact that I adored the first bit made the films later mistakes seem to stand out more.

This film also reminded me of Mel Brook's A SILENT MOVIE. To my mind it was a novel idea that couldn't hold its own for a feature length run-time.

I guess I should have gone to a talkie.

Edited by Attica, 07 March 2012 - 02:00 AM.


#55 Jeremy Ratzlaff

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 03:23 PM

Quite honestly, I would watch the entire film again merely for the soundtrack alone. Now that was a well-deserved Oscar.

#56 Attica

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:05 PM

Quite honestly, I would watch the entire film again merely for the soundtrack alone. Now that was a well-deserved Oscar.


Yeah. There was some great music in the film. I was quite enjoying the music at the start of the film before the story went south for me. It really was fun.

As to the music from VERTIGO... I'm wondering if part of it's inclusion wasn't a nod to the fact that Hitchcock is one of the directors to have survived the transition from silent films to "talkies". Actually some say that he flourished as a director, in part, because he had cut his teeth in silent cinema and therefore had a stronger understanding, of the use of imagery instead of words in telling his stories, than many of his contemporaries.

Edited by Attica, 07 March 2012 - 06:36 PM.


#57 John Drew

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:57 PM


Quite honestly, I would watch the entire film again merely for the soundtrack alone. Now that was a well-deserved Oscar.


Yeah. There was some great music in the film. I was quite enjoying the music at the start of the film before the story went south for me. It really was fun.

As to the music from VERTIGO... I'm wondering if part of it's inclusion wasn't a nod to the fact that Hitchcock is one of the directors to have survived the transition from silent films to "talkies". Actually some say that he flourished as a director, in part, because he had cut his teeth in silent cinema and therefore had a stronger understanding, of the use of imagery instead of words in telling his stories, than many of his contemporaries.



That's a good call about Hitchcock. But The Artist isn't the first time Hazanavicius has "paid tribute" to Hitchcock. I just saw a double feature of Hazanavicius' and Dujardin's previous works, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and OSS 117: Lost in Rio this past weekend. Lost in Rio has an extended sequence at the end which takes place both inside and on the arms of the Christ the Redeemer of the Andes statue, that uses both musical and visual cues from Hitchcock's Vertigo and North by Northwest. I guess you could also make a case that this same sequence pays tribute to Hitchcock's Statue of Liberty sequence from Saboteur.