21.February.2012: Wrapping up Berlinale for The New York Times, Dennis Lim draws special attention to Miguel Gomes’s FIPRESCI-winning Tabu, contrasting the film with the box-office sensation of the moment: “If The Artist, the quasi-silent movie of the moment, has the winking quality of pastiche, Tabu—named for the final film by F.W. Murnau, one of cinema’s great romantics, and filmed in luminous black-and-white—is a living, breathing demonstration of cinephilia in action. For Mr. Gomes, a former film critic, the extinct styles and moods of classic cinema are not fodder for imitation or parody but more like communal dream material, to be mined for something new and mysterious.” Lim also combs the Berlinale “behemoth” for three films that to his mind channel John Berger’s essay “Why Look at Animals?”: Francine, Postcards from the Zoo, and Denis Côté’s Bestiary.
Speaking of The Artist, Indiewire picks it to win in the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor categories of next Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony. “It’s no surprise that the Weinstein Company has pushed The Artist, a pleasant if trivial distraction, into becoming this year’s apparent foregone conclusion,” writes Manohla Dargis in a extended conversation with her colleague at the Times, A.O. Scott. “No one practices Oscar hoodoo like Mr. Weinstein, as witnessed by last year’s forgettable best picture shoo-in, The King’s Speech, yet another of his releases.” Scott responds, “[The Artist] and The King’s Speech, different though they are, may define what an Oscar movie is today: well made, emotionally accessible and distributed, as you note, by the Weinstein Company. People who see them mostly like them. But the movies people love—both the idiosyncratic, ambitious movies that spark passions and start arguments and the hugely popular, hugely expensive genre movies that are Hollywood’s global cash crop—have become marginal.” Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s David Denby uses The Artist as a means to rhapsodize about silent film’s “language of gestures, stares, flapping mouths, halting or skittering walks, and sometimes movements and expressions of infinite intricacy and beauty.” “The Artist, a likable spoof, doesn’t acknowledge that world of heroic ambition and madness,” Denby writes. “It’s bland, sexless, and too simple. For all its genuine charm, it left me restless and dissatisfied, dreaming of those wilder and grander movies.”
Also at the Times over the weekend, Larry Rother interviews the directors of the films nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film and Felicia R. Lee reports on mounting financial difficulties facing Canyon Cinema, the San Francisco-based distribution cooperative that’s the source of many of the avant-garde films streaming at Fandor.
Finally, Andre Soares reports for Alt Film Guide that Pedro Almodóvar once again walked away empty-handed during this year’s Spanish Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences’ Goya Awards. His The Skin I Live In won for Best Actress (Elena Anaya), Best New Actor (Jan Cornet), Best Original Music (Alberto Iglesias) and Best Makeup/Hair, but the major awards went to Enrique Urbizu’s No Rest for the Wicked.