WENT TO THE MOVIES!!!
You might wonder what is so wonderful/unusual about that? Well this indeed is a remarkable event. The last time I was in a movie theatre was in 2000 and I vowed never to go again.
The whole experience was such an aggravation with the incredible uncouth behaviour of the patrons, feet on seats, incessant talking on cell phones, hollering at scenes in the movie, but the final straw was the group of people sitting behind us eating pizza’s and KFC.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO POPCORN??? The place stank of fast foods and the hostility when somebody passed an audible criticism on their behaviour sealed it for us.
Watching movies is a favorite pass time for us, so instead, we invested in a good home entertainment center and have a large DVD collection, which is neatly stored in a comprehensive filing system we developed. Hence my apprehension in going to a movie theatre after so many years.
But I digress. I broke my vow and hesitantly agreed to go to the movies. As most of the big, old movie palaces are gone, here, in Manhattan, we’re left with boxy chain theatres, independents, and – a few post- ‘movie palaces,’ but, pre ‘cookie-cutter’ boxes. The Paris Theatre is one from the last category.
It’s old school. I love that it’s not a massive AMC or Lowes but rather an independent cinema with a lot of history right across the street from The Plaza Hotel and practically attached to Bergdorf’s… doesn’t get much more New York than that.
It’s a decent size for a 1 screen theatre, all seats have good sight-lines, and – joy – there is a BALCONY! AND NO CUP HOLDERS!!!!
What you DON’T get at The Paris Theatre are:
- people talking to the screen
- people yakking on cell-phones
- groups of people who have no CLUE how to behave in a theatre.
I appreciated the fact that the ticket seller sits within a glass booth, that my eyes did not have to scan constantly changing electronic boards to find my movie of choice, that I don’t have to ride escalators to get to the right floor and to look on my ticket to find the name of the screen where my movie will play. Quite charming.
That made it Nice. Civil. Enjoyable. Decent.
Proceeded downstairs to the concession stand and the smell of chamomile tea filled the air. Delicious popcorn with the right amount of crunch with none of that fake butter, but instead real warm tasty butter, at high, but more reasonable than normal, prices. BEST POPCORN in the city.
The films at The Paris are NOT Hollywood’s ‘cookie-cutter’ cartoon garbage. They’re anywhere from European to independents. The one thing all the films have in common is you actually have to pay attention to them – in other words, you won’t be seeing the latest slasher, teen-vampire love story (part 5!) here. I like that.
And, that means, there are NO LITTLE KIDS (I HATE ‘kid-friendly.’ I want ‘grown-up friendly’) whining, or otherwise ruining your (expensive!) film enjoyment.
The Paris attracts an older, intellectual crowd – Upper East Side socialites who dressed as if they were going to see a show or to the Opera. It was 5pm on a Friday. Very civil indeed.
The film began right on time – Curtains gave way to a big screen with only a few previews and no advertisements, no warning to turn off cell phones or to quieten crying babies.
I sat back in my comfy seat, felt as though I was the only one in the theatre and enjoyed sipping my chamomile tea. A real classic.
Remember the old days, when movies were glorious, magical and mute? Neither do I. But the passing of the silent era from memory into myth is what “The Artist” is all about.
But here’s the rub: it’s silent. Yes, ladies and gents, THE ARTIST is not only about silent films, it IS a silent film, and THE ARTIST is truly captivating.
It’s not totally silent. True, the characters almost never speak aloud, but there is a musical accompaniment to nearly every scene, and there are occasional title cards to tell you what the characters are saying.
Few people from my generation have ever seen a silent film, but that’s not the only reason why it’s an interesting experience at the theater. The movie is about the film industry’s transition from silent movies to “talkies,” and it borrows film techniques from each.
It’s fun to see the aforementioned title cards, and then when you do hear certain sounds, like a glass being set down, it’s like you’re experiencing talkies for the first time.
The performances in The Artist are fantastic, especially considering the acting challenge of being silent. The actors rely on their expressions and physical acting (meaning lots of dancing!), and when they deliberately take it over the top, it is utterly charming.
The two leads, French actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo are fabulous.
- Jean Dujardin as George Valentin – is the main french actor and a gorgeous looking specimen. He resembles a young Clark Cable and/or Sean Connery.
- Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller is a delight to watch and is also the wife in real life of Michel Hazanavicius, the director and writer of The Artist.
- John Goodman as Al Zimmer, Movie mogul
- James Cromwell as Clifton, the chauffeur – I remember him fondly as Arthur Hoggett, the farmer from the movie BABE. Of course he has claim to many other excellent roles.
The award buzz is deafening. The Artist just scored big with five Spirit Award nominations, including best feature, and it won the best picture award from the New York Film Critic’s Circle.
This was the surprise hit of Cannes Film Festival’s 2011, the winner of the Best Actor award for Jean Dujardin. The dog actor in the film, Uggy, won the Palm Dog Award for best performance by a canine at the festival.
It’s pretty obvious that The Artist is a shoo-in for Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, which are just around the corner. And just heard today that it has been nominated for a SAG AWARD.
More than anything, THE ARTIST is a film about love, pride, stubbornness and eating humble pie. The deepest love of the plot is not between Valentin and Miller, but rather Valantin and his canine best-friend, Uggy- a Jack Russell terrier.
It is funny, touching, heartbreaking, smart, lovely to look at and UGGIE, the Jack Russell is cute and adorable as a co-star. It’s also French.
Suffice to say, I adored THE ARTIST, it is a profound work of art. Click here for a preview.
After watching the movie, we exited The Paris theatre into the Grand Army Plaza with lights of Manhattan shining in the night. The elegant Plaza hotel looked very inviting, we slipped into the Champagne bar for a quick glass of bubbly and concluded a lovely evening with a stroll in Central Park.