Film Review: The Bad and the Beautiful

Vincente Minnelli’s classic film about filmmaking in Hollywood gets a cinematic re-release. The Bad and the Beautiful is more than worthy of its numerous accolades and critical success.

A famous Hollywood actress, an award-winning screenwriter and a respected film director are all asked to take part in famed producer Jonathan Shield’s comeback project. When asked to make a decision by studio executive Harry Pebbel, the three explain their reluctance…

With a perfectly-crafted narrative, The Bad and the Beautiful composes an artful depiction of a notorious character. The story is told mostly in flashback form, not unlike Citizen Kane. And like Orson Welles’ film, the protagonist is an ambiguous character. The story unfolds at a suitable pace, allowing viewers to effectively gage Jonathan Shields. The initial scenes create sufficient mystery to pique the interest.

Characters in The Bad and the Beautiful are well developed, and appear authentic. There is something very believable about proceedings, despite the film being set in an environment which will be alien to most. Certain archetypes appear, but even these characters have enough depth to play a plausible role. Some of the figures can be equated with real players in the movie business, such is the beauty of the film.

Much of the action takes place on film sets and in studio offices. There is a real sense that The Bad and the Beautiful is penetrating the real Hollywood, away from the glitz and prestige of the studio era. It seems as if screenwriter Charles Schnee and writer George Bradshaw aimed to give the audience an insight into how the film industry really worked. There are certainly shades of Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve apparent in Minnelli’s film.

Performances in The Bad and the Beautiful are superb. Lana Turner is entirely convincing as Georgia, as is Kirk Douglas as Shields. Excellent support is provided by Gloria Grahame and Elaine Stewart. Visually, the film features some great composition and shot transitions.

Most film fans would agree that films about Hollywood and the motion picture industry are among some of the best films ever made. The Bad and the Beautiful ranks among these great films about Hollywood; it is a superbly executed production.

The Bad and the Beautiful is released at the BFI Southbank from 20th April 2012, as well as selected cinemas acoss the UK.

Film Review: The Artist

Films about cinema and the film industry rank among some of the best films ever made; one only needs to think about Sunset Boulevard or Singin’ in the Rain for example. The Artist continues in this vein of quality. Michel Hazanavicius’ film is spellbinding and an unadulterated joy.

In the Hollywood of 1927, actor George Valentin is a huge star of silent pictures. Bumping into a young hopeful on the red carpet, George helps give Peppy Miller her break into acting. While Peppy’s career is just beginning, George is concerned by the arrival of talking pictures…

The Artist features a wonderful combination of humour and drama, set against a backdrop of the Hollywood studio system. It is similar to Singin’ in the Rain in that it covers the transition from silent films to talkies. However, The Artist comes at the topic from a different vantage, being a silent film itself. The film is self-reflexive, playing a little game with audiences with its use of sound.

The Artist relies to a certain extent on the viewer’s awareness of Hollywood history. Humour is based around this, but also on the hammy performances that the film itself makes reference to. Archetype roles, such as the move executive, are a source of great amusement. Even in moments of heightened drama, The Artist will pull the rug from under and deliver a punch line.

The sets, costumes and props are excellent, helping to generate the sense of spectacle. Cinematography is at times sublime with some superb composition. The score is so important to the film’s success, and Ludovic Bource’s music works incredibly well. There is also an unexpected but marvellous use of Bernard Herrmann’s Vertigo score.

Performances are great, particularly from lead Jean Dujardin. The film also features one of the cutest and most talented dogs ever to appear on screen. Simply put, The Artist is majestic. A must-see film.

The Artist is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.