Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weekly Movie #5

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley Chloe Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee
Released: November 23, 2011
Viewed in theaters: February 1, 2012

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to The Artist)
Best Director - Martin Scorsese (lost to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist)
Best Adapted Screenplay - John Logan (lost to Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash for The Descendants)
Best Art Direction (won)
Best Cinematography (won)
Best Editing (lost to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Best  Costume Design (lost to The Artist)
Best Sound Editing (won)
Best Sound Mixing (won)
Best Visual Effects (won)

Despite having a bad viewing experience (at least for the first hour) and despite it being in 3-D (which I loathe) and despite the self-importance with all the "movies are great!" mantra embedded in this film, I actually did enjoy Hugo for the most part.

Let me explain each of these points.

Since this movie had been out for a good two months I wasn't at all surprised when I was the only one in the theater...until these two guys came in and sat in the back (I was seated in the middle) and proceeded to talk in Spanish throughout the movie. During the loud parts I couldn't hear them (and maybe they weren't talking during those parts), but I could hear them talking (in a regular speaking voice) when there were two characters onscreen talking to each other. It was highly distracting and really irritating. Thank God, though, they left one hour into the movie (I know because I checked my phone) and I could enjoy the movie in silence! I don't know why they would pay ten and a quarter to watch a movie they (presumably) couldn't understand only to walk out an hour later, but I was glad when they left. A quick public announcement: SHUT YOUR MOUTHS DURING MOVIES!!!

As for the 3-D, yes it was impressive, but I think the movie would have been just as fine in 2-D. I really hate wearing those glasses because your peripheral vision is blocked and it's really weird when you take off the glasses and see Ben Kingsley with four pair of eyes. Yes, I realize I shouldn't take off the glasses in the middle of viewing a 3-D movie, but it is a bad habit I have. I think 3-D is a passing gimmick and it doesn't add anything to the movie and I will try at all costs to avoid it, but sometimes you can't like with this film and the upcoming re-release of Titanic (which I will see hell or high water!) But I will admit the 3-D was top notch.

Being that Hugo is a love letter to the very first movies in cinema, it does get a little heavy-handed in its "movies are the best thing ever!"It reminds me when singers (mostly rappers) sing, er, rap about how awesome and rich they are. It's just so self-indulgent. I love watching movies, but when movies have to tell me how great movies are, it makes me roll my eyes. Show don't tell!

So despite those three things, I did like this movie. It's a beautiful movie to look at, even more beautiful than War Horse. It's about a boy named Hugo (Butterfield), as you may have guessed, an orphan who lives in a train station in Paris where he winds the big clock. Since he has no money he's always stealing food and other little knick knacks and a toy shopkeeper (Ben Kingsley) catches him and makes him empty his pockets and give all his possessions to him. This includes a notebook that is very dear to Hugo's heart because before his dad (Jude Law in one scene) died, they were working on a project together and the notebook has all the notes and sketches for the project. Hugo follows the toykeeper home after he threatens to burn the notebook and asks his granddaughter (Moretz) to make sure her grandfather doesn't burn the notebook and she promises she will look after it.

They get into a discussion about movies and the girl tells Hugo that her grandfather doesn't allow her to watch movies. We later find out that her grandfather is Georges Melies, a French magician who became one of cinema's first and famous directors. He had a love for movies and made many of them but once the war started he had to give up his dream because nobody had time for fantasy anymore. Hugo and his granddaughter find out about his past and persuade him not to hide who he is and be proud of all his accomplishments. A very nice tribute to the Golden Age of cinema even if it does become a little heavy-handed at times.

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