Because I am pathetically far behind on modern mainstream movies - a tragic confluence of a) hating movie theatres, and b) not having any video rental places within walking distance of my apartment - I finally got around to watching two biggies: John Carter, and The Artist. John Carter: True to many of cinema's greatest financial failures (Heaven's Gate, Ishtar), I quite enjoyed John Carter. The only real misstep in it (besides assuming that people are way, way more familiar with the source material than they actually are) is Carter himself - Taylor whatever-the-fuck hasn't got the chops to pull off the charmingly scurrilous rogue archetype, so he just comes across as a dick for most of it. That's a problem for the supposed hero of the movie. But I loved pretty much everything else about it - the art design is fucking fantastic, the CGI is really great, and Mark Strong gets to Mark Strong his way through another movie. Those books were some of the very first fantasy books I ever read as a kid, so the whole thing was warmly nostalgic for me. Your mileage may vary, of course. The Artist is just fantastic. It's so good at evoking the time period that it almost comes across as fetishistic. I was a big fan of the director's previous OSS series of spy-spoofs, and this has exactly the same manic obsession to detail. The story's pretty good too - it starts off as a cross between Singin' In The Rain and All About Eve, but doesn't quite go where I expected. Anyway, it's a great example of a movie who's very existence is self-selecting for an audience: Are you the kind of person who would be turned on by a (mostly) silent, monochromatic picture shot in 4:3 about the introduction of the talkies? Then you should totally watch this. Here's the weird connective tissue between the two movies: Awesome dog characters. John Carter's got this pet that's a cross between a pug and a rhinoceros that is absolutely the best part of the movie. Whatever team did the animation for that creature clearly had a blast. And in The Artist, the whole movie is stolen by Uggie, a little Jack Russell terrier who gives a more convincing performance than, say, Keanu Reeves ever has in anything. Uggie is such a good dog that he will inevitably make you look at your own dog with mounting disgust.