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John Carter (2012)
Animation prowess does not necessarily mean live action skill.
Once again, we get an animation director gone rogue in to the live action arena. Who will enter alive?? MI:4 raked in almost $30 million wide opening weekend and $670 million wordwide to date. Dang, Andrew Stanton, you've got your work cut out!
Ashton Kutchar, in his best role since Dude, Where's My Car?, plays the gritty ex-Confederate soldier who is on a search for gold. Update my editor has informed me that Taylor Kitsch, not Kutchar, starred in the movie. Taylor Kitsch, in his best role since the Battleship trailer, plays the gritty Virginia man who takes the mythical planet of Mars by storm. Transported through a freak accident that left him radioactive and hulk-like, John Carter has to choose between continuing his disgusting search for riches on earth or letting go of the past and helping the Mars babe in need. What will he do? If you've seen ANY trailer, you probably know the answer. I guess all we have to wonder is.. does he get the girl?
File this one under "Movies I Wanted to Love." Andrew Stanton directed one of my favorite movies of all time: Wall-E. Just like MI:4, I had outrageously high hopes for a film that most likely would not live up to the hype in my mind. I think in my head is far worse than the internet, because I have zero different opinions to possibly shock me back to reality.
John Carter never read the books, so I can't comment from that perspective. Beautiful film, wonderful visuals, did a great great job of world building, something I love in cinema. There was a little too much going on to truly build characters into believable beings, but they at least made an attempt to make John Carter seem like a man with a past, someone who actually had conflict about whether on not he wants to chill out as a Warrior God on Mars. The visual aspects and beautiful scenery made you forget that Mars is up there, real, and a lifeless chunk in space. Add to that some nice funny moments, and you'd think it was the perfect film. Nicely done, Andrew.
The grade I'm giving maaaaaybe doesn't really match the movie I described up above. Here's the problem: it's PG-13, but desperately wants to be a kids movie. As a result, there were the smattering of goofy characters, wacky falls, and just insultingly stupid moments in an otherwise fun film. It's a violent struggle involving deceit, magic, and a whole lot of death. Give it to me uncensored, Disney! Stanton is capable of sprinkling in kid-friendly jokes and moments in to bleak, adult worlds, so I can't really tell where the disconnect happened. Too many cooks in the kitchen? Not enough dangerously-close-to-JarJar characters to mold in to overpriced toys and Happy Meal stuffers? Who will ever know. I'm sure Andrew Stanton does, but in the interest of having a career, his lips are sealed.
John Carter opened up to a disappointing $30 million, $100 million worldwide weekend. It still finished #2 behind The Lorax. While that's not exactly a flop, the $200+ million spent on making and marketing the film has yet to be recovered. I guess animators should stick to what they know best.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Slow-paced Drama, but Enjoyable Nonetheless
There's a right and wrong way to do a remake. For example, you don't take a creepy, slow-paced Swedish film called Let the Right One In and hand it off a year later to the creator of "Felicity." Instead, you take a classic TV drama made over 30 years ago (plenty of time to bottle age properly) and hand it off to the brilliant director of a creepy, slow-paced Swedish film.
Like all spy movies, there's a mole and it must be trapped. Why can't there be a spy movie where everybody is who they say they are and you can trust everyone? Hmm? I think it's called a Western. Anyway, it's the Cold War era and there's a Soviet spy in MI6. George Smiley is Britishly coaxed out of retirement to take care of the situation, and (SPOILER) he does.
As spy movies go, this one isn't high on drama. It's a very well crafted, clever film but did not have me on the edge of my seat. That's what Mission Impossible movies are for. This movie was also pitched early as a "thinking" movie and I completely disagree. Sure, it wasn't laid out for you in every detail, but the investigative work done by Smiley makes sense and has good results. Story-wise, I didn't see it as being a great choice for Best Picture©. Where the movie really got my attention was the characters. I swear this movie had every great British actor since ever. Their attention to detail on the subtlety of the characters, especially by Oldman, convincingly put the movie its proper era a time of tense distrust and unease.
I also thought the film had a nice high-grain look that lent itself to feeling like you were watching a period film. Hoyte Van Hoytema, the Cinematographer, was the fine gentleman that shot The Fighter as well as Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In (can you tell I'm a fan?). Add to that great costuming, nice hair, and you've got a realistic piece. Just once I'd like to see costume design win an Oscar for a movie depicting 20 or 30 years back instead of Victorian or Elizabethan times.
All in all, an enjoyable film. I have not seen the original series or read the source text, but it seems to be a crowd pleaser from that respect. I'd probably get better insight into the subtleties of the characters, but it would also ruin the ending so
that's my defense of going in to a remake unprepared.
Real Steel (2011)
Not enough action, didn't care about anybody.
First outing to see Real Steel, I got to witness one of the most extreme examples of poor theater behavior. A family of about 15 sat in the front row, directly in front of me and my wife. Their kids had no interest in the movie, so they ran around and yelled and played. The dad sat at the end of our row talking loudly on the phone, and then about 10 minutes in to the movie plopped down in front of me and had a conversation with his wife who then started texting and talking. I imagine this is what it's like at home for them. I could have taken a hammer to each of their phones.
So we walked out before Atom even makes an appearance.
Try number 2: on DVD. No interruptions except to replenish booze supplies and a chance to focus on the part of the movie I completely missed in my blinding rage.
To summarize big robots fight each other for sport. Former sleazy boxer fancies himself a robot fighter. Big bad robot beats everybody. Reality check this is just for fun, unless you owe money and then you'll get an unholy beat down at the hands of robotic thugs. The future sure is scary. Sleazy boxer has long lost son, who has a womanly figure and shrieks like one too. Womanly son finds robot, beats many other robots, we all cheer even though in the end nobody changes a single ding-dang thing about themselves. Got it?
For being a super-future film full of cool robots, the film sure was predictable. No surprises, except for the final match (although.. I'll explain). Hugh Jackman phones in a random performance as Charlie Kenton, Dakota Goyo acts his heart out but still comes across as a bit embarrassing, and Evangeline Lilly sits about like a hat stand showing her brand of talentless acting. Let's be clear here, I wasn't expecting good performances or a storyline that even made sense. I don't care about story or characters in visual feasts I just want action and lots of it! Real Steel really failed me in two big ways.
First, if you're going to have a bad story with bad actors at least make it bad enough to be funny. Grab the worst takes and do the audience a favor. The movie wasn't bad enough to be enjoyable, but it also didn't excel in any big ways. Hugh Jackman is arguably a very good actor, but the director at least managed to make him look like a classic "foreign guy playing an American tough guy" mis-cast. I would have liked a few more obviously mispronounced words. Dakota Goyo could have been better if it wasn't for his ear-splittingly annoying voice. I enjoy kids movies, but the acting by a lot of child stars come across as a Jar Jar Binks addition rather than an impressive performance by a young person. See Super 8 no shrieking children there.
Second way Real Steel let this Fat Man down was on the pretty CG action. If you think big fighting robots, you've got to imagine that at least 2/3 of the movie should be action. No no. We didn't even get to watch the entire final fight 5 rounds at 2 minutes each. We got a crossfaded 30 second recap of rounds 2 through 4 and then got to watch the last round in slow motion. Spit my beer, why don't you. I'm going to spoil the last fight and to my co-writer Queer: SHUT UP! I can't talk about the finer points of story structure in mindless children's films without a little spoilage!
Atom ALMOST beats the big bad robot, but can't produce the KO and loses in the decision. I wonder why? Maybe we'll get to see a rematch in:
REAL STEEL 2: Rematch City The Reckoning!
It drives me insane when studios are so confident they've made a winner that they just go ahead and plan on a sequel. Jumper ended in a similar fashion and.. I've yet to see a sequel to that, unless you count Chronicle maybe.
It's not a terrible movie, but really wasted a good idea by skimping on the action. Sure dad may have learned a lesson, but in the end he still doesn't have custody and probably faces so restraining orders.
The Descendants (2011)
Clooney is Clooney in Hawaii
In the 4th in my 7 part Best Picture Review Series (because let's face it, I'm not going to watch Incredibly 9/11 or War Horsey) we look at Alexander Payne's latest Big Thing.
Note: this summary is all in the trailer. No spoilers from The Fat Man today. So George Clooney plays Matt King, a wealthy land owner, lawyer, and the least Hawaiian looking member of his purely Hawaiian family guess we can chalk that up to his mother. His wife has been in a terrible accident and cheated on him (perhaps in that order, based on the trailer), so Matt must gather up his unruly daughters and go on a wacky adventure looking for HIM and just trying to keep the family dynamic alive. It sounds a lot like Sideways, but with a change of scenery.
As a showcase of Hawaii, it was beautiful. The shots at sunset, the views over the green-crusted mountains, the ridiculously blue ocean it's more of Hawaii than I've ever seen in my life. I'd love to run off in to the hills and on the the perfectly white beaches. Beyond all the pretty was a story that made me feel less than inspired. I'm having trouble with the idea of medical-oriented story lines. It's a familiar story we all know to some extent. We've been there watching someone die or wondering if they'll get better. Hospitals can be a terrible, scary place and we write what we know. Earlier this year, 50/50 played the friend/cancer card and managed to rip a few tears from me. However in this case, it felt like a weird crutch for every emotional scene. Everyone was fine.. except when they talked explicitly about Matt's wife. Every other moment was wacky, oblivious of the tragedy at hand. Since we write what we know, I know that when someone you care about is ill or dying, everything reminds you of them. Songs, colors, just driving to work can make you break down crying. It's hard. You don't just shrug it off.
I feel as though I've gotten a little abstract. Let me simplify and say write what you know, but be aware it can come of as a little cheap and forced. It takes some real talent to write familiar themes in to unfamiliar stories or to take familiar situations and approach them from a unique angle. The Descendants just didn't feel like it did either of those familiar situations, familiar reactions. I still stand by my view George Clooney is just George Clooney in every film. In the Ocean's movies, Clooney is Clooney stealing things. In Burn After Reading, Clooney is Clooney building something odd in his basement, in The Perfect Storm, Clooney is Clooney yelling at a storm. I've just never seen any depth in characters from him. He's really good at being Clooney, but if you want something else well don't hire Nick Cage either.
I know I've been pretty critical, but this is a Best Picture nominee. It was an enjoyable movie, nice to look at, had a few laughs, but nothing like Sideways or any of the other nominees. I'm not sure why it's even up there, to be honest.
Found Footage gets another mark in the "No Thank You" column
Oh boy, another "found footage" movie! I haven't been this excited since I hate these movies. Can't stand them, just like I can't stand any gimmick as your major selling point. I also feel incredibly cheated since the trailers made it look like a "normal" movie and then I got suckered in to 84 long long minutes of handy-cam work. This one doesn't really have the decency (or maybe it was smarter?) to give a cutesy "we found this footage, never heard from again" explanation to the POV shooting style, which I think made it worse I was expecting the movie to snap out of "boy with a camera" mode for about 20 minutes before I realized this was it. Should have done my research, I suppose.
Let me see if I can explain the plot of Chronicle without spoiling too much. Unpopular kid decides to boost his popularity by wandering around with a camera filming everything. Many awkward staring at boobies scenes happen. Ha! Ha! Then he, his cousin, and the Popular Guy find some strange cave that gives them teleke..telokoni..mind powers that allow them to lift objects and fly through the air. Unpopular kid somehow becomes a little popular, but then like all popularity the winds shift, it's too much for his fragile psyche, and he snaps signaling the beginning of one of the longest, most repetitive fight scenes since the all of Shoot 'Em Up.
Max Landis, the writer, says in a Reddit chat:
Found footage is a medium that's yet to really find its footing. It should be entirely based in character. Cloverfield didn't do anything other giant monster movies haven't done, which bothered me because Found Footage should always be more personal in my opinion; Paranormal Activity really is something special.
Allow me to interpret: "I wrote a gimmicky movie, but I think I should be respected anyway. Do you know who my dad is? Cloverfield sux because J.J. Abrams, Paranormal Activity awesome because bandwagon. Do you know who my dad is?" Sure it should be personal we have someone running their mouth behind that camera, so we get to know the character and their ideas on every little thing. Chronicle has a serious problem in this respect none of the characters are likable. Andrew, the Unpopular kid, never progresses past his "feel sorry for me" attitude about his life. Sure it's rough, but life doesn't always go your way bucko. You can't fly of the handle with your superpowers and start killing innocent bystanders because your dad didn't love you enough. You'll never win sympathy from movie viewers in that way because that's a real life situation that some people have managed to get past and deal with it without resorting to mass murder. His cousin is stuck in neutral as well - pseudo intellectual that sort of stops being quite so judgmental of everyone around him and eventually just runs away from it all. And Popular Guy is just filler until he's out of the picture.
The technical aspects of the film left me limp and withdrawn as well. Point of view usually stays either with the primary camera for the entire film, or it switches between other found cameras of the same action. We were going fine with Andrew for a bit until Casey comes along and she films stuff too! Now we can conveniently leave Andrew when we're bored with his antics instead of sticking with it. During the long (long. long. long. long.) fight scene, we switch to a number of conveniently places shots that completely cover the action with great sound. A little late to be asking for that level of suspension of disbelief. The SFX came across as youtubeish in nature. It's as though Freddie Wong made a movie, came up with a scenario that only took about 30 minutes to explain, and then had to make 50 more minutes of filler scenes of cool stuff happening. NOTE: he did produce a movie called Bear. It's as bad as it looks.
I know it sounds like I'm just complaining for the sake of complaining. I'm just really mad. 84 minutes should be a slam dunk for an action/thriller cram that full of special effects, wow me, and send me home not caring about story and actually having enjoyed my time. Instead I got a whiny brooding character that takes the majority of the movie to get to any real action. Oo, a floating rock. Big deal. Maybe if this was 1962 that would be a cool effect, but you've got to step up your game these days.
Unknowns, please stay that way and spare me from any more Chronicle- esque movies.
Bird Delivers Abrams' Goods
Brad Bird, oh you masterful animator. You made me cry with Iron Giant, grip the edge of my seat watching The Incredibles, and laugh raucously with the jokes of Rattatouille. Now on to live action, rewarded with the cream of the money crop the incredibly successful Tom Cruise/Mission Impossible franchise. Bird has the chance to show that animation isn't his only gig.
Mission: Impossible 4 opens up with a mission gone wrong and a fun, brutal prison escape that (re)introduces the cast of characters. Once we get that nonsense out of the way on to the mission. Using high tech gadgetry, fast thinking, and smooth talking, the crack team manages to take down a man set to destroy they world. Once again, the team makes it look easy except
They didn't. Everything went wrong "Red is Dead" gadgets broke, team members made mistakes, and nothing went quite as planned. It ended up being a major miracle that anything got done at all. It was sort of strange seeing this sort of plot and character development out of a normally polished action series, but I'll give the credit to Brad Bird. Previous Bird films felt very realistic, even when the subject was talking rats in a French kitchen. He has a knack for bringing real issues and conflicts in to otherwise insanely outlandish stories. Maybe I'm giving him too much credit, but Ep. 4 was different enough from most action movies to make me thing J.J. Abrams gave Bird a good bit of leeway in film making.
Beyond the nice bits of conflict, it was very nice film making. I could actually tell who was who and what was going where during action scenes. Smooth camera movement took precedence over shaky cam and "gritty" shooting styles. Just how I like it. Top it off with some gutwrenching sound effects and you've got a complete film.
Ghost Protocol wasn't perfect by any means. It had a lot of product placement, some goofy dialog, could have used a trim here and there but it was probably one of the more enjoyable films I saw in 2011. I don't often see movies twice, but when I do, it would be this one.
Too Much Shame, Not Enough Plot
I've decided to take a look at this film through two lenses (CAUSE IT'S A MOVIE SHOT WITH CAMERAS, GET IT???) one will examine the story, characters, and my overall impressions of the film; the other includes my discussion with an MPAA rater over the reasoning behind the NC-17 rating.
Shame is a happy little tale of a well-endowed sex addict living in New York City. His sister derails his daily plans by showing up and living on his couch. Obviously they have a stressed relationship, but they're family and deal. In the end, Brandon's word is shook and, we assume, changed by a scary incident with his sister (spoiler: not incest).
I couldn't tell you much more about the movie, not for spoilerific reasons, but because there wasn't much too it. If we cut the scenes down to a sane length, Shame is nothing more than a 20 minute short film about an addict and his sister. Each incredibly un-sexy scene simply hammers home his addiction prostitute, two prostitutes, weird back- alley sex, gay sex (oh, what a low!), more prostitutes, and, whoops! he can't seem to perform when he actually might care about the woman. We get it, way to beat that theme in to the ground. There's nothing more to Brandon's character he is addicted to sex, that's all we ever find out.
Carrey Mulligan, as usual, was embarrassingly bad. Watching her sob on the phone to her ex-boyfriend made me more uncomfortable than all the big-screen wang I saw the rest of the movie. I don't think she, like Michael Fasbender, had a lot to work with just in terms of dialog, but what she got she squandered.
As short films go, Shame was pretty daring and good. As a feature, it never had a story or a point other than being artistically NC-17 .which brings me to the second half to my review.
Although there was nudity, sexuality, etc, there was never anything that made me say WHOA, that was unexpected. Without being too crass, I'd say the usual bits that make a film NC-17 did not appear, so I'm not sure why it got the rating. Why wonder? The MPAA is here to answer all of our questions.
First call went something like this:
"Hello, MPAA, how can I help you?"
"I'd like to speak to a rater about the movie Shame."
"Why do you want to do that?"
"Well, I was just wondering what made the film NC-17."
"It's rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content, what more you do you need to know? Have you SEEN the movie?"
She had a bit of a testy tone, so I explained that compared to other films, I didn't see anything uh.. anatomical that put it in NC-17 range and wondered if it was maybe duration or something a little more abstract. She said she would have someone call me.
Second call a few weeks later was death by hold.
Third call, just now, I was put on hold, then hung up on.
Well, I've got to get this review up, but it's not over MPAA! Not by a long shot!
Fincher adds a liberal dash of dull to a great story.
You may or may not be familiar with the original Girl movies from Sweden or Norway or wherever they don't speak the Lord's fine language, but they do exist. Made for TV, but containing unfiltered images of the sex, violence, and perversion from the thriller, the original trilogy was a great tribute to a now passed author. WHat's that Hollywood? You know what's good for us? This isn't a review of the originals, but they do bear mentioning since the Fincher feature is intended (and being hailed) as a superior version.
Mikael Blomkvist is a simple investigative reporter he wants the biggest names in corporate corruption to fall. When he gets raked through the courts for a huge financial loss, he slips out of the public view taking a job solving a long standing murder for a strange wealthy family living on an island in north wherever. He soon figures out there's more to the single incident and employs the services Hot Topic poster girl Lisbeth Salander as his chief researcher. She's unhinged, but has the uncanny ability to hack EVERYTHING using the Mac OS a feat worthy of praise, for sure. Mystery unfolds, solves, and it only took 2 hours and 40 minutes.
In typical Fincher fashion, everything was grass-growing slow. It's a thriller, but even the climax contained long, riveting scenes of Lisbeth flipping through old records, getting coffee, walking, walking, walking, riding elevators there's pacing and then there's self-indulgence. Thankfully Queer had graciously tossed me a free large soda coupon, so I filled my time by drinking, eliminating, and refilling several times. Choosing the flavoring for my soda = most exciting part of my evening.
Daniel Craig really could have been anybody. It's not really his fault, Mikael isn't a very complex character. He's thoughtful, passive, and likes his little trysts (don't we all?), but never really has any intentions other than the ever-noble seeking the truth. Rooney Mara got the real gem Lisbeth Salander with her stormy past, violent nature, and unfettered lust. Through the talented (and, funny, English- speaking) Noomi Rapace, the character has some maturity and more control in the crazed moments. Rooney Mara never broke from a sullen, pouty demeanor until the absurd final minutes of the film where she suddenly goes all Tin Man and finds a heart telling a brain-dead old man "I made a friend!" Rapace was a terrifyingly unhinged woman, Mara was a pouting teenager.
It's more than just the dull pacing and flat characters that made this movie boring as dirt, it was the entire experience. The Trent Reznor score sounded like someone leaning on a keyboard, the locations had zero deviation from the original, the accents fluttered somewhere between Swedish and British, and product placement overran the screen at all times. Far from the gritty source material, the film spewed out the watered-down, pretentious Hollywood version of edgy.
The one positive first film I've seen shot on RedOne that had a beautiful cinema look to it. Too bad everything else couldn't match the picture quality.
Critics may fawn over Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and probably the subsequent two films, but I think I'll be taking the Twilight route and skipping the rest of the series having had the taste of the first.
The Darkest Hour (2011)
The Darkest Hour - A Series of Unfortunate Choices
Christmas day! What a day for seeing movies! I really wanted to see Sir Brad Bird's Mission Impossible, but my friend wanted to see it with me, so I went for the next best thing: a Summit film. If you have can't the best, get the worst, Fat Man sez. Just going to start off with a disclaimer: SPOILER ALERTS. I won't say the movie was predictable, but it certainly wasn't rational. Throughout this review, I'll be throwing in some sane person/writer pop quizzes. Let's see how you stack up!
The Darkest Hour starts with our " " "heros" " " " I really couldn't put enough quotes around that word flying in to Moscow on the worst CG airplane I've ever seen. Nice, Summit. Sean and Ben are there to pitch their newest internet craze Apple phones apps World Travel Hunter (I honestly don't remember) to an investment group. They find that their Swedish buddy, Skyler, has ripped off their idea and is selling it as they walk in the room. WHOA!! In a fit of being sad, they end up at a hip hip Moscow night club with two of the stupidest people on the continent, Natalie and Anne. Now that we have our cast of dummies, aliens invade. They hide in the basement of the club for a week until the coast is clear.
POP QUIZ #1! Aliens have attacked and slaughtered most humans alive. You're an American in Moscow and still alive. What do you do? A) Head for the closest police station. B) Head for the closest military base. C) Head for the highest building to get a vantage point on the action. D) Head for the American Embassy.
If you chose D, you're in good company. Off they go! Oh wait, it's time for
POP QUIZ #2! Aliens have attacked and slaughtered most humans alive. You're in Moscow and you know nothing except that they are out for blood. You've got to get to *sigh* the American Embassy. How do you get there? A) Try to move from building to building, using interconnects. B) Walk down the middle of the biggest street you can find, in full view of everything. C) Use the ancient Moscow sewer and tunnel systems. D) Take advantage of the extensive underground transit system.
If you answered B, not only was that the best choice, but you're still alive. Now at the embassy, they find nobody is there, but somehow discover there's a SUBMARINE leaving soon that will take them to relative safety. Joined by others along the way, they finally get on a boat to float down to the sub. Oh, Ben, Skylar, and Anne are now dead. Guess those choices weren't so good after all. A huge blast knocks the boat over, and everybody manages to make it to the sub 50 feet away except for Natalie
FINAL QUIZ! #3 FOR ALL THE MARBLES! You are trying to get to the safety of a submarine when you're knocked in to the water. Do you.. A) Resurface, swim to the sub, and get in. B) Resurface, swim to the sub, and get in. C) Resurface, swim to the bank, walk 20 feet to the sub, and get in. D) Resurface, swim to the bank, head a half mile inland at a dead sprint, and hide in a bus.
If you chose D, you are the love interest of The Darkest Hour and we're supposed to be cheering for you to make it. Wow. Wow. Needless to say, or maybe I should since nothing else made sense, they retrieve her, kill a few aliens, and head off. The crappy VO at the end lets us know a few other aliens have been killed and one or two ships blown up. So? They're strip-mining the earth and then leaving.
I've aired most of my complaints already, but it's worth noting a few other things. Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella are no slouches, acting- wise, but you couldn't tell. Even good actors need direction, I suppose. I also take back everything I've said about wanting better monster design. These were completely original and completely horrible.
Darkest Hour really leaves me a little torn. On one hand, I enjoyed the film immensely. It's like watching a car full of Hollywood producers roll down a hill, catch fire, and burst in to flames. Beautiful and hilarious in its tragedy. On the other hand, this film got heavily marketed, released in over 2000 theaters, and did terrible in the box office. Hollywood complains that nobody wants to go to movies, nobody is buying tickets, it's all the fault of pirates, we need more more more restrictions so we can make every bit we can. Funny, the top monthly grosses have all happened since 2007, most since 2009, and 4 in 2011 alone. Who's not making enough money? This will also be held up as an example of why original work doesn't sell more prequels, sequels, and remakes for everyone! Maybe if you had a screening process for scripts and gave creative control to directors and writers instead of a pile of producers, good, original work would be successful.
Merry Christmas everyone. Continue to vote with your dollar and give your hard earned cash to deserving movies.
Hugo - History, Passion, and Art.
Hugo! Darling Hugo. He lives in the walls in a French train station, fixing clocks and working on a magical little man. He encounters a toy maker who seems horrified at the thought of little mechanical men and the mystery unfolds. I won't spoil anything, but this is based on true events. In fact the most believable part (little French urchin living in a train station) was the fake part. Bravo, real life.
Hugo wasn't at all what I was expecting. I though it would be more of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close set in 1910s France boy searching for the answers to life pertaining to his lost dad. Touching stuff. What I got was a celebration of film sneakily slipped in to a children's movie. From the scenes in the film to the actual clips shown as part of Hugo's journey to discovery, everything paid homage to the classics Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Voyage to the Moon, - every piece of film celebrated the art. As someone who grew up on old films, I really enjoyed seeing these greats back on the big screen. They even got laughs from folks I suspect never knew these treasures existed.
That's not to say that every part of this modern film wasn't also spectacular. The opening shot made me dizzy, the colors were dazzling and rich, and even the costuming showed great attention to detail. Scorsese hasn't been my favorite director, but I appreciate his skill and his love of film. Well done to all involved, this is one of my favorites of the year!