Monday, November 28, 2011

Movie with Abe: Hugo

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Released November 23, 2011

There’s a certain magic to movies that exists in no other art form. Looking back on cinematic history, it’s staggering to recognize the tremendous impact of things that seem infinitely archaic now at the time of their invention. Some of the best movies are glorious celebrations of cinema itself. Martin Scorsese’s most unconventional film to date is a love letter to the history of film and one of its most prominent figures, demonstrating not only an appreciation for early milestones in cinema but also taking full advantage of the wondrous technology at his disposal in creating the newest entry in film history.

One thing that “Hugo” indisputability does not run short on is imagination. Its protagonist lives within a railroad station, secretly tweaking the clocks to ensure that they operate properly. His central perch allows him a perspective on everyone in the station but also puts him in a position of extreme loneliness, surrounded by people but never afforded the opportunity to talk to anyone. A botched theft presents him with the chance to practice his love for building and fixing machines, and leads him to make a friend and begin a new adventure with her.

“Hugo” is fascinating for the way in which it presents its concepts, but it isn’t in any rush to get to its revelations. Its style is reminiscent of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, somewhat less sweet and charming but about as whimsical and colorful. Its themes of young hopefulness are similar to those showcased in this summer’s “Super 8,” minus the supernatural slant. The story is appealing and ultimately irresistible, but the film isn’t without its dull moments, and isn’t entirely effective in its path towards its resolution. It’s most enthralling when its characters’ sense of wonder permeates the film’s entire being.

An intriguing cast of players is on hand to fill this magical universe. In the lead is wide-eyed Asa Butterfield, whose enthusiasm and energy shows through with every look he wears on his face. Chloe Moretz continues to demonstrate her talents as Hugo’s precocious young fried Isabelle. The adult cast is populated by the likes of Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Emily Mortimer, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law, and Sacha Baron Cohen, lending a good deal of gravitas to this particular tale. The cinematography, art direction, and sound truly make the experience, and this is certainly not a typical Martin Scorsese film. It’s a marvelously interesting voyage to another world, which, more often than not, is extremely pleasant and gratifying.


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