I Saw A Film Today… Hugo

Sir Martin Scorsese has always been very up and down for me. I’m not arguing that he’s not a master behind the camera because he clearly is. But even masters can have missteps. Although many people liked it, I thought that Shutter Island was a really disappointing film. There is another film he has done that I don’t particularly care for but to avoid the possibility of a heated debate I will keep the name of that film to myself. And I honestly wasn’t too keen on Hugo. For Scorsese to make a stereoscopic film (3-D) and to talk about how much he loves it, well it almost feels like sacrilege. But Scorsese has a tendency to surprise me and this film did in a big way.

******

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) s a young boy who lives in a Parisian train station in 1931. After the death of his father (Jude Law) and his drunkard uncle (Ray Winstone) leaves him, Hugo spends his days making sure the stations clocks continue turning and avoiding the train inspector named Gustav (Sasha Baron Cohen) who will send Hugo away if he finds out that he is now an orphan.

Hugo also spends his time searching for parts for a broken automaton that his father found at the museum he worked at. This means stealing parts from a toy shop in the station run by a older man named Papa Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley) who eventually catches Hugo in the act. He makes Hugo do work in the shop to pay off the pieces he stole. But the more Hugo gets to know Papa Georges and his goddaughter (Chloe Grace Moretz), the more Hugo begins to realize that Georges is more connected to the automaton than he could of possibly known.

Movies are, for the most part, a way to escape the dark realities of this world by emerging ourselves into a dream world (with the exception of those films whose subject matter is to take us deeper into those dark realities). No one seems to understand this more than Mr. Scorsese. Otherwise he would not of been able to so masterfully create this interesting and odd world primarily in an Parisian train station. Indeed, my initial perception of this film was far off the actual mark. And I have no shame in saying that more than once a tear was brought to my eye.

Although you can categorize this film as a children’s film, it is more appropriately a film for film lovers. Hugo is an exploration of the art form in its early beginnings, even serving as a history lesson at some points. The only thing I wish was different about this film was the 3-D. While this may be one of the better examples of stereoscopic photography, it is still useless and gimmicky. It just seems odd to me that Scorsese would use this “technology” in a film exploring its own roots.

Performances are great as well. The two young actors, Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz, are so filled with wonder and discovery that they are a joy to watch. Sir Ben Kingsley is simply wonderful and deserves a supporting Oscar nomination. And Sasha Baron Cohen is great as well, proving that when he is not being a complete moron he can be a successful actor. Jude Law and Christopher Lee are good as well, as brief as their performances were.

Hugo is a magical movie about the magic of movies. Easily one of the best of the year.

Verdict: SEE IT!

* Rated PG for mild thematic material, some action peril and smoking

** When did smoking become a part of the MPAA ratings? And don’t get me started on “mild thematic material”…

*** Poster by Hunter Langston

Comments? Opinions? Leave them below.

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3 Responses to “I Saw A Film Today… Hugo”

  1. You definitely made me want to see Hugo more than I already did. Excellent review!

    I do have to take issue with your apparent disdain for 3-D though. I see 3-D as the next step in adding depth to images. The step before it was taken when Brunelleschi painted/invented linear perspective back in the year 1425.

    I can’t think of anyone better than Scorsese to experiment with the new technology that is slowly becoming a norm rather than a fad.

  2. The movie itself runs a bit long at 127 minutes, but Hugo is worth every minute for the visual feast it provides, and features Scorsese in probably his most delightful and elegant mood ever, especially with all of the beautiful 3-D. Good review Kevin.

  3. Glad you liked this one. I completely agree bout Ben Kingsley’s performance, but somehow think that it may get overlooked given the emphasis on visuals that the film has.

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