Hugo: thumbs down

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Hugo: thumbs down

Postby Jnyusa » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:04 am

If you're thinking of taking your children or grandchildren or little brothers and sisters to this movie over the holidays, go see Happy Feet or The Muppets instead.

One would think Martin Scorcese could be trusted to create a watchable movie, but this movie manages to disappoint every conceivable audience.

It's a story about two children, sort of. The child-wooing sets (the hero lives basically inside a watchwork) are shot at dutch angles so the thrill of their beauty is lost in an artsy-fartsy abstraction. The hero and heroine are possibly the most unattractive children ever put in front of a camera. Someone apparently told them to study the Harry Potter movies long and hard because both mimic unerringly the style, inflection, and characterizations of Radcliffe and Watson. Thing is, those long pensive stares into the camera, hair-flipping, and insufferable vocabulary work when the children are pleasing to look at, and don't work when the kids are ... gee, ugly. The kids probably have talent, and might have been chosen for their unconventional looks, but in such a case you want to give them something other than a derivative persona that relies so heavily on physical cuteness. It would be as if Rupert Grint were cast as Harry Potter, with four-second close-ups of his face being expressionless, while Radicliffe were cast as the intrepid schlemiel. It wouldn't work. Scorcese ill-used both of these children.

Then, in every 'children's movie' there has to be a sop to the grownups, and there are funny side-plots featuring Carol Burnett and Sacha Baron Cohen aimed at the adults in the audience, but ... they. move. with. glacial. slowness.

Finally, to cap it off, the plot itself is frustrating because no one will tell anyone else why they are doing what they are doing. When asked to explain themselves they stare into the camera or sink clichéd heads into clichéd hands. Round and round it goes for two hours and six minutes while Scorcese tries to create intrigue out of nothingness. When the story ends, which could have happened about 40 minutes sooner if the movie had a normal pace, you find out it's not about two children at all but about the tragic descent into anonymity of film maker Georges Meliers. And a children's movie, mind, ends with a torso shot of Ben Kingsley filling the screen, arms outstretched, making a speech about the importance of honoring our film makers.

I'm not an easy woman to please at the movies! But also not so often moved to come here and write a bad review because a movie was so bad I wished I hadn't seen it. I took my two grandchildren to this one over the weekend - $10 a pop for children's matinee tickets! - and what we got was a transparently self-indulgent, undisciplined rendering of what was probably a pretty good children's book, incomprehensible to the kids and boring as all get-out for me.
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Postby Frelga » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:36 pm

Aw, that's a shame. I quite enjoyed the book, which mixed text and illustrations in a clever way. It should have been a charming movie.
Impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.
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Postby heliona » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:33 am

Really? That bad, huh? Everything that I've heard about it here says it's amazing, and brilliant, and everyone should see it!

Saying that, I saw the trailer for it when we went to watch Tintin and the trailer made no sense whatsoever and therefore didn't encourage me to watch it. I mean, surely a trailer should give you some idea of what the film is about, other than a child running through a train station for what seemed like forever.

(I have to say that I didn't think the children were ugly, though!)
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Postby Hobbituk » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:01 am

Yes, thats the first negative comment I've seen about this one. Everybody I know who has seen it has said it's wonderful (and the reviews are at 96% on RottenTomatoes).

But that's personal taste for you! :)
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Postby Gandalf'sMother » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:49 am

What does artsy-fartsy abstraction mean, exactly? I'm not sure how the Dutch camera angles are abstracting, and I'm not sure if abstraction, if it's happening in this film, is a bad thing. Do you mean the 3D would have been better utilized to have stuff fly at the camera, as opposed to create depth and interesting composition?

And what's this about the children being ugly? I suppose they don't look conventional (whatever that means), but they look like pretty typical French kids...

This film has been getting such glowing reviews, that I am rather surprised by this. But as Jnyusa is a holder of opinions I respect, I will have to lower my expectations.

-GM
UPDATE: P.S. I have heard that some younger children may not have the patience for it. Is it possible that watching it with a young child who didn't like it colored your perception of the film? I'm trying to weigh whether or not its worth spending money on this...
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:31 pm

Frelga wrote: Aw, that's a shame. I quite enjoyed the book, which mixed text and illustrations in a clever way. It should have been a charming movie.


GM wrote:UPDATE: P.S. I have heard that some younger children may not have the patience for it. Is it possible that watching it with a young child who didn't like it colored your perception of the film? I'm trying to weigh whether or not its worth spending money on this...


I was concerned that the movie might be too old for them, so I looked through excerpts of the book online beforehand and I thought that it looked age-appropriate and cool. My grand-daughter has outgrown cartoons ... she's all into Lady Gaga now ... and though my grandson was indeed a bit young for this (he's 6), I figured that all the mechanical stuff and the fact that it's sort of an adventure story about a little boy would make it cool for him, even if the plot was sometimes above his head. His first choice would have been Happy Feet but that was too young for his sister, and the Muppets looked kind of dorky ....

So, of the three movies we could have seen, we chose that one, based on all those rave reviews. And watching it I felt the enormous potential it possessed to be a real zinger for kids. I asked the kids a couple times if they were bored and wanted to leave but they did want to see how it ended. We did stay to the very end. But they had no joy in it. (If I'd been alone I would have walked out.)

Hobbituk wrote:Yes, thats the first negative comment I've seen about this one.


My taste is not that of the crowd, it's true. The thing that puts my teeth on edge is muddle. This was a muddle, imo. But the kids didn't really enjoy it either, so it wasn't just me. (Of course, they're related to me, so ... there's that.)

Heliona wrote:I mean, surely a trailer should give you some idea of what the film is about, other than a child running through a train station for what seemed like forever.


That is what the movie is about.

GM wrote:What does artsy-fartsy abstraction mean, exactly?


I'll give some examples.

The movie opens inside a clock, which is a real grabber. Hugo winds the giant clocks in the train station, so a lot of the action throughout the movie takes place amongst gears and wheels and pulleys. Hugo doing cool things amongst the gears and wheels and pulleys would be a payoff for kids, but the most we ever see Hugo do is turn tiny, faucet-like valves (in close up), or drip oil from an oil can onto joints that need oiling (in close up). The vastness of these clock works in relation to this little boy seems an obvious visual chord to strike and it just never happens. The clock works are not there for the actors to use; they are deep background, they are existential, they are ... wasted.

Props are only really there, you know, if the actors use them. That's what I mean by artsy-fartsy. It's like the director is saying to the audience, "Look at the great visual appeal of my set! Now no one touch it!" And we're supposed to say, "Wow, you're so creative. I wish I were you."

Hugo gets from the top of the clock tower to the bottom by sliding down this shiny, winding shuttle. This is in the opening sequence. And, you're all ready to take this ride with him, the camera shows him sitting down at the top and you think, 'how cool is this!', but then the camera shimmies off to the right and goes center-screen on some giant stationary gear-wheel while Hugo whips around a curve at the far left of the screen and disappears. Huh? Two more seconds of a giant, stationary gear wheel, then Hugo appears for one second going around another curve to the left of center, angled so that you can't really see anything but his head flying by, camera focuses again on some metal wires going up and down somewhere else, then we switch to Hugo getting off the shuttle at the bottom in what appears to be a coal room. So apparently he was sliding down a coal shuttle, except that it was all shiny and spotless, even though the floor and walls at the bottom are sooty. We're maybe five minutes into the movie and I'm already thinking, "what the hell is wrong with this director?" The beginning of the movie screamed for dirty pants and a roller coaster and .....fffft.

Next scene, Hugo has hiding places from which he watches the toy maker across the station lobby. We get a belabored shot of Hugo's eye through one 'keyhole.' (How many seconds do you think it's appropriate for a director to make his audience stare at a giant close-up of a kid's eye? Seriously. Count to five slowly and tell me if that's too long.) Then Hugo scuttles to another 'keyhole' and we get another belabored shot of his eye through that hole, then across the lobby of the train station at trouser-cuff height, close-up by close-up, during which time I could easily have read ten pages of a book, and it's hard to think of a book that would be less interesting. The Wii generation spent the time getting the paper off their boxes of candy.

Finally, Hugo meets his nemesis, old man Kingsley. The dialogue is aggravatingly repetitive. "You're a thief," No I'm not," "Yes you are," "No I'm not." It was like listening to a stutterer. I literally squirmed in my chair. OK, we're maybe 20 minutes into the movie at this point and I'm ready to leave. I'm wondering if it's too late to sneak into Happy Feet. The kids are doing better than I am but they have pretzel bites to distract them.

It could have started with such a bang. Instead it was all period-set and close-up. Artsy-fartsy. It could have been, you know, an hour and fifteen minute movie. That would have been about right for the amount of action.

And what's this about the children being ugly?


Ugly is unfair. Unconventional is too kind.

Hugo is slightly bug-eyed, which works just wonderfully when the only thing on the screen for five seconds is his eye. That happens more than once. Then, they greased his hair to look unwashed and that made for many more appetizing close-ups. Isabelle has an exaggerated and asymmetric philtrum that looks almost like a hairlip in some shots. The camera sees her through Hugo's eyes and she is taller than he is, so there are all these shots 'up her nose,' so to speak, and at certain angles she looks positively deformed. The camera was very unkind to her, so unkind that it distracted me throughout the movie.

The way the camera was used on the kids, it was almost as if the director wanted to make them look as unattractive as possible, but at the same time pretend that they are immensely appealing, having the kinds of personalities that come from being either very beautiful or very spoiled, neither of which they were. I don't think other children would find either of these characters in the least believable. I found the whole presentation of them to be thoughtless. Cruel even. The props stood by unused and the children were treated like props. .... Yeah, I've been trying to find the right words to generalize my discomfort with this movie and that's it: the children were handled like props instead of characters. It made for a very unsettling aftertaste that I had taken children to see it.

But, you know, that's me. Sometimes the sum of aggravations adds up to a movie that you just hate, even though each of them individually doesn't amount to much.

To repair my own guilt feelings I've been sending the kids pics and information from the life of Georges Meliés. We're going to get something out of this movie, dammit, even if it is sort of weird and would otherwise interest me less than weather reports from China.
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Postby GlassHouse » Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:00 am

and the Muppets looked kind of dorky ....
:?

Isn't that the point of a Muppets movie? It's half their charm. Probably either that or Tin Tin would have been a better choice.
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Postby Gandalf'sMother » Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:09 pm

Thanks for the full review!

I despise muddle as well, and was hoping it wasn't.

Out of curiosity, just to get a sense of your taste (in order to judge whether or not to shell out 30 dollars to see this), what films are some of your favorites? Both adult and children's stories, if you could.

-GM
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Postby Gandalf'sMother » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:53 pm

would otherwise interest me less than weather reports from China.


Weather patterns in China, over the last 100 years, on the other hand, are very interesting. :)

The beginning of the movie screamed for dirty pants and a roller coaster and .....fffft.


So, you mean you wanted the camera to swoop and swerve down the chute, and to swoop and swerve throughout the film?

Personally, I think there's something to say for a more static camera, ala David Lean and older children's films. Shots with interesting, and beautiful, compositions are sometimes more pleasing, on a subtle level, than what we can expect today from the hundreds of copycat, unoriginal directors who take the camera flying just because they can.

Unless, as you may have hinted, Scorcese is all-close up, and no wide shots. I love well-placed wide shots, and would be very disappointed if this was all claustrophobic. I wouldn't call that artsy fartsy, though. Just a particular brand of artistic sensibility and style that you don't care for.

But, do you have a problem with creative film-makers that take shot composition seriously? It is a craft, you know, not something they do just to be able to say: "I'm creative, don't you wish you were me?"

In short, I detect a faint anti-artist tone in your review. Perhaps I'm wrong, and it really is awful, but I'm not yet convinced that this thing is total cr**.

-GM
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Postby Jnyusa » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:27 am

GM, thanks for taking my negative review seriously! You've posed me quite a challenge though to defend my taste. And it is taste, of course. There is no 'rule' of art and the greatest art often does somersaults over convention.

GM wrote:Out of curiosity, just to get a sense of your taste (in order to judge whether or not to shell out 30 dollars to see this), what films are some of your favorites? Both adult and children's stories, if you could.


Shows I would like to share with my grand-daughter now that she has moved into the realm of "realistic fiction." (Her words!) Whale Rider, Little Women, Princess Bride (which I just got her for this Hanukkah), Seabiscuit perhaps, the Narnia movies and the Never Ending Story movies (not realistic but with real actors and not cartoons).

Movies the family has watched together and loved and watched again: Spirited Away, Finding Nemo. I mention these because there are a lot of commercially successful Disney-style cartoons that the kids enjoyed but would not watch over again. Um ... the Ice Age movies flopped with them, for example. I enjoyed Howl's Moving Castle but feel it was too obscure for kids to enjoy (in contrast with Spirited Away). So ... that fine line between highly polished and 'slick' seems to be one criterion for me, and the coherence of the narrative another.

What do I like, personally? I'm all over the map. But for making me feel that I got my money's worth in almost every single movie he ever made, my favorite director is John McTiernan. He delivers exactly what he promises. He doesn't try to turn Die Hard into an art flick, but he doesn't stint on the FX either. Last Action Hero was a commercial failure but it's one of my favorite movies and when my grandson is older I'll buy it for him. I think that the 13th Warrior was a perfect movie for reasons that it would take me about three pages to write down.

Movies that puzzled others but that I loved and felt I understood well: Ozon's Swimming Pool, del Toro's couplet of Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth, and then the first Matrix movie I also considered "perfect" for reasons that would take pages.

Some movies are great because they present a complex idea exceedingly well ... I think the Matrix did that, and the Wachowski Brothers didn't get the credit for concept that they deserved (the credit went to FX instead). Del Toro's couplet was subtly beautiful; I stand amazed by how much depth he was able to convey. But I also think that the depth of those films was lost on the North American public because of our remoteness from the Spanish Civil War, so ... one of the other elements that has to be there, I think, is the audience itself. The Wachowskis understood (subconsciously it seems because they weren't able to repeat it) how an ancient worldview would translate to a modern generation. (They had superb directors of cinematography and FX, too.) And del Toro was wise, imo, to leave his movies subtitled because that helped sustain awareness that the context was foreign to the audience.

But then with someone like McTiernan it's not the high concept that impresses me but just the excellent craft of it. The consistency of the craft raises the director to the level of artist, imo. Hitchcock achieves this too at least once in every film and because he delivers so consistently it rises to the level of art.

Vonnegut wrote that every sentence has to either advance the plot or reveal character and I guess that's the way I feel about movie scenes. Every scene should do one of those two things, even if it's just a car exploding. Film also has the added visual advantage of being able to give you a 'painting' in the middle of a story, but there are very few directors, imo, who use that capability at all, never mind well.

[OK, so I just read that Hugo won some award for the best film of 2011, and it will probably get lots of Oscar nominations as well. So did LOTR, and I guess everyone here knows what I think about Peter Jackson as a director. You might not want to have to say that you took a pass on Hugo because Jnyusa didn't like it, lol!!]

So, you mean you wanted the camera to swoop and swerve down the chute, and to swoop and swerve throughout the film?


No, it didn't have to do that. But this was a movie intended for children to watch (it's PG), and the story pretends to be about this little boy's dire situation, so the opening sequence should have had the child center screen amid the direness of his situation, imo. It's not a movie about a clock. What is the purpose of putting clock gears center screen in the opening sequence while the child is doing something virtually indecipherable off to the side? If you show the roller coaster then you create an expectation that you have to fulfill. Too many scenes just needed a different treatment to be meaningful, imo.

Personally, I think there's something to say for a more static camera, ala David Lean and older children's films.


Me too! There are two still scenes in the Matrix that I'll plug in the disk and forward to those scenes just to see again their their lovely composition. I could just kiss Bill Pope* for those scenes. One is Morpheus and Neo sitting facing each other while Morpheus describes the blue pill and the red pill. The other is Morpheus and Neo on the elevator going to see the Oracle. Both scenes have such wonderful symmetry, and the camera holds still and lets you focus on what is being said, and what is being said is potent. Without moving at all the camera creates fantastic tension. But that's the director's recognition of what is important in those scenes - it's not the ability of a grip to show all sides of Fishburne's head while he is talking, it's the words that he is saying. And also the recognition that the nous of the character is a tremendous stillness. His name, his character, his performance, and the way he is shot all fit together to create a single ... phenomenon. Perfect.

I love well-placed wide shots,


Me too! And there are wide shots in Hugo ... trying to think now ... most were of the train station. We look down on it amidst the Paris rooftops a couple times. We look at the crowds in the lobby of the station and some of the subplot action from a distance. These are 'establishment' shots. There is no scene that stands out as being a good wide-angle used to place the main characters in a psychological context, or anything lovely enough, pleasing enough to be memorable. Wherever there was opportunity to show the smallness of the children against the largeness of the world, Scorcese went to close-up and lost it. The trampling feet of commuters in fuzzy close-up. Trouser cuffs. I understand why he would consider this approach but for me it so totally did not work.

But, do you have a problem with creative film-makers that take shot composition seriously?


Very much the opposite. I think that's the most important thing a director does, together with the director of cinematography, is decide how the scene is going to be composed. That's what tells you what he/she thinks the scene is about.

In short, I detect a faint anti-artist tone in your review.


No, again the opposite. That's why I mention movies like Swimming Pool. Two of Ozon's movies move between the real world and what's inside the character's head without warning the audience where they are (not on first viewing). But then, when you understand what two realities he is showing, and you go back scene by scene, you see that every scene does contain visual information that lets you know where you are. He never clarifies the ambiguity through dialogue, but there is so much attention paid to visual detail that you understand him perfectly by the end, if you bother to really watch.

I'm always game for that, for paying close attention and working to understand what the film maker wants to do. What I dislike is experimentation with unconventional shots for their own sake when they detract from the meaning of the scene.

Decisions about technique should be invisible. When they are the best way to convey meaning the technique disappears into the action, and it's only in autopsy that you realize how the scene was controlled by the technique. But if the technique makes you ask yourself while you are watching, "what am I looking at? and why?" then it has failed. IMO.

So ... the other thing is that the ante is raised by the cost of movies these days. I paid $60 to take two children to a children's matinee, and for that price I could have taken them to the Nutcracker at the PA Ballet or The Magic Flute. I feel like my day was wasted, my money was wasted, my grandchildren's good will was wasted, and we got something way below the usual for Scorcese. It lacked his usual ... his movies usually reveal pretty astute reflection on the significance of the story. I really did feel that this one was mere self-indulgence on his part, it really was for him a story about himself, and as a result it missed the mark in multiple ways.

There was a discussion on some movie blog about which character Scorcese intended to represent himself. So I don't think I'm the only person who picked up on the self-indulgence. But the others were saying he was the film professor trying to save these old works. I thought Scorcese saw himself as Melies, the one trying to be saved.

Lots of films, you see them and you forget them. It's not often that a film makes me angry at the film maker. This one did. Probably because it was Scorcese, and I live in Philadelphia where they pray to him on All Saints Day, lol. Expectations were high going in. :)

*eta - sorry, I called him Alexander Pope when I first posted this, in which case he would be ... dead.

Also, meanwhile I had a chance to read the reviews on RT, and the critics who disliked it did so for pretty much the same reasons I did (but without all the camera angst), namely, it was two competing stories and the wrong one won, and it was slow.
Last edited by Jnyusa on Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Gandalf'sMother » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:52 pm

Thanks Jn.

Just for mentioning Spirited Away as a favorite children's film of yours, you've sold me on your taste. ;) I think Miyazaki is something of a genius. He doesn't always succeed 100% (as with Howl's and Princess Mononoke), but his blend of serious (and unsettling) mythological concepts with child-like wonder are unparalleled, IMO.

It also sounds like you appreciate many of the same things I appreciate in a film, though I'm not of the school that believes every scene must have essential narrative information in it. I think a film can either be of the "stage" variety, where your criteria is important, or of the poetic or artistic variety, where it is not just a narrative, or "filmed play" but a work of poetry or art. Which is why I love Terrence Malick and PT Anderson films (Tree of Life, There Will Be Blood), while many of my colleagues, whose opinion I greatly respect, can't stand them.

In any event, I think I'll wait for Hugo to appear on Netflix.

You just saved me thirty dollars, so I owe you a drink or two!

-GM
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Postby Gungnir » Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:25 am

Gandalf'sMother wrote:Thanks Jn.

Just for mentioning Spirited Away as a favorite children's film of yours, [...]


Spirited Away? I'd rather gnaw out my own entrails than watch that overrated pile of tripe again.
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Postby Gandalf'sMother » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:52 am

Gungnir wrote:
Gandalf'sMother wrote:Thanks Jn.

Just for mentioning Spirited Away as a favorite children's film of yours, [...]


Spirited Away? I'd rather gnaw out my own entrails than watch that overrated pile of tripe again.


Come on, not even the train over the ocean, with the ghosts?

-GM
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Postby Jnyusa » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:04 pm

GM wrote:I think Miyazaki is something of a genius.


I've only seen SA and HMC and keep intending to buy all the Studio Ghimli films. If this doesn't sound too cheesy, Miyazaki's visual sensibility reminds me of Eisenstein in the way he uses shape, and moves between claustrophobic and agoraphobic scenes so that the film almost feels like it's breathing, and the way he uses falling objects to show height. It's more striking in SA than in HMC, but it's in HMC too. Anime Eisenstein, lol! The content sensibility is completely different, of course.

Which is why I love Terrence Malick and PT Anderson films (Tree of Life, There Will Be Blood)


I haven't seen any of Malick's work but he's another director I intend to watch soon. Tree of Life looked wonderful, but the most recent movie I found time to treat myself to was Inception. Anderson - I saw Magnolia and did not like it, but it was pretty well received, wasn't it? I haven't seen There Will be Blood. I'll have to take a closer look at both those guys. Andersons new film is coming out soon, right? With Joachim Phoenix, whose characterizations I always like.

The other director who is supposed to be surprisingly good is David Bowie's son ... I forget his name. He did Moon, didn't he?

And I'm a fan of Oliver Stone, while acknowledging that he bats .500. But when he's good, he's very, very good. Any Given Sunday was one of the best movies ever made about what it means to be "America," imo.

You just saved me thirty dollars, so I owe you a drink or two!


LOL. Well, I do get to Washington from time to time. I used to be down there twice a year before I switched to a less exciting profession more suitable to my age.

Gungnir wrote:Spirited Away? I'd rather gnaw out my own entrails than watch that overrated pile of tripe again.


Taste! There's no accounting for it.

I know just how you feel, though. There are movies that rub me so wrong ... little things about them make them unwatchable for me, while other people aren't bothered at all.
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Postby Democritus » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:04 am

I am afraid that I agree with Jny, I saw Hugo last night and it was a disappointment. It is a film that has all the right ingredients to be a charming and magical family film and yet it manages to be less than the sum of its parts, feeling, I am sorry to say, as mechnical as the animatron that stars in the movie.

I did appreciate the fine tribute to Georges Méliès, a real hero of the medium, who deserves more recognition by general audiences, but the fine tribute comes in the mere act of showing snippets of his pioneering films that manage to be more entertaining than anything that had preceded it in the film. Having said that I did enjoy the recreation of some of the filming of those classic films, in Méliès famous glasshouse, that I think manages to capture some fo the infectious fun and invention (and Magicians talent for sleight of hand) that made Méliès special. Ironically the recreation of these scenes and the snippets of Méliès films makes Kingsleys (Méliès) speech at the end about preserving old cinema utterly unnecessary for those watching, if you hadn't got that message in the preceding two and a half hours then you were never going to get it (or had fallen asleep after the first hour).

Surprisingly for a Scorcese film, I think the lead cast are badly used and underwhelming as performers, and as characters, I didn't engage with them or their personal circumstances, and the rich array of supporting talents had little more than walk on, walk off parts that served little purpose other than to provide some background 'character' in much the same way as George Lucas fills up every scenery shot with background space ships in the Phantom Menace. Emily Mortimer is particularly wasted, asked to do little more than widen her eyes and look romantic at her love interest in a 'romance' than was neither properly explained nor integrated into the overall story. In-fact the only supporting actor that got anything slightly interesting to work with and then carried it off in some style was Sacha Baron Cohen whose station master is a confection of affectations and delights, who in one scene manages to raise the only genuinely true laugh from audience -outside of the Méliès snippets - in the film.

It is sad that such an earnest film, from such an earnest film-maker, paying tribute to a fellow great director - falls so flat. But in the end it is one of those films that could have been, should have been... but wasn't.
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Postby Gandalf'sMother » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:55 am

Thanks Dem. Now I'll definitely wait for it to appear on Netflix!

-GM
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Postby Democritus » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:46 am

Gandalf'sMother wrote:Thanks Dem. Now I'll definitely wait for it to appear on Netflix!

-GM


I reckon waiting until a wet Sunday to watch on Netflix's, armed with low expectations, would be the best forum to enjoy what is likeable about the film.
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Postby portia » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:51 am

I am visiting a relative over Christmas, and she has said she will want to go to a lot of movies. This will probably be one, so I will wait and see.

I am not a particular fan of "Victorian technology" but it could work with the right story.
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Postby finarfin » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:25 pm

I saw this over the weekend and thought it pure genius. I'd go so far to say "instant classic". But I think the marketing is all wrong for the film. Our 12yr old didn't care much for it, but to the wife and I, it was amazingly special. I am unaware of the source material and actually knew nothing about the plot before going in, so to find it was mainly about Georges Melies and how cinema creates connections with generations and can metaphorically make contact with the dead (and even rise from it), was to me touching and an important piece of art. It is a love letter to the early Cinemagicians, one made with incredible heart and soul poured on to the screen with fine performance from the eclectic cast.

Sorry to disagree with Jynusa.

I will be adding the Blu-ray to my collection when it is released.
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Postby Telemachos » Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:30 pm

Huh.

I'm finally catching up to it now and I found it very charming, albeit rambly and off-beat. Could've been tightened up, but I thought it was touching and very sweet. It certainly is Scorsese's love poem to early cinema, for better or worse. I haven't read the book so I have no idea how closely the movie was adapted.
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Postby dhalgren » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:16 pm

I've just seen this (in 2D), and I loved it. Tele is right, it is rambly, it needed a stronger through-line and I thought the decision to flashback to Hugo's life with his father was perhaps a mistake (there are more flashbacks later, and starting with his happy life with his father would have properly delineated his loneliness later), but in spite of these things it was joyous, thrilling, beautiful, grand and heart-breaking.

Ben Kingsley is marvellous as Méliès, but it is Asa Butterfield who is the revelation; what a note-perfect performance. And what a face! (sorry Jny :P ) He's like a miniature amalgamation of David Hemmings and Jenny Agutter (his delivery too, particularly the latter). It will be very interesting to see how he does as Ender in "Ender's Game".

The historical footage was brilliant, what amazing imagery and resourcefulness. It made me wish that Terry Gilliam had stuck to his Munchausen methods when making Parnassus rather than using CGI; it would have seemed like a lost Méliès film!
The arts put man at the center of the universe, whether he belongs there or not. Military science, on the other hand, treats man as garbage— and his children, and his cities, too. Military science is probably right about the contemptibility of man in the vastness of the universe. Still— I deny that contemptibility, and I beg you to deny it, through the creation of appreciation of art.

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Postby Hobbituk » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:56 am

Finally seen 'Hugo' and I've gotta say... you were dead wrong on this one Jnyusa! (By which I mean, of course, I have different tastes to you ;) )

I thought it was a well-written, visually beautiful, wonderfully acted, thoughtful family movie. in an era where people complain of dumbing down, it is so refreshing to have an intelligent piece aimed at the whole family which never patronises its audience... and yet remains really accessible.

And the actors... wow. To see Richard Griffiths, Francis De La Tour, Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Helen McCrory, Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Kingsley perform together in an ensemble, where not one of them phones it in, was like watching an exciting new play in the West End with a stellar cast.

They even worked in a cameo for the criminally unfamous but always marvelous Kevin Eldon.

Maybe at two hours it might be a struggle for young children, but I'd have no qualms about recommending it for intelligent kids over the age of ten.

And to cap it all, I came out of it knowing far more about early cinema than I did before, with a thirst to learn even more.

I predict this will become one of those films that gets shown on TV every Christmas.
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Postby Gungnir » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:41 am

Hobbituk wrote:
They even worked in a cameo for the criminally unfamous but always marvelous Kevin Eldon.


I also love Kevin Eldon (in a purely platonic,manly way). Ever since his Simon Quinlank on 'Fist of Fun'. You'll be pleased to know he's getting his own sketch series

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jun/18/kevin-eldon-bbc2-show
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Postby frodolives668 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:43 pm

I was going to rent it, and watch it in my living room, but after reading this thread, I have completely changed my plan of action. Now, I plan to rent it and call a few friends over to watch it with me. That way, if we like it we talk about it over special features. If not, we can keep watching it and throw popcorn at the screen. Yes, there are more people in the world as immature as me.
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Postby portia » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:00 pm

I just got it from Netflix and I am not sure when I'll have time to watch it. But the comments here have intrigued me.
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Postby solicitr » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:21 am

I think a great deal of the 'disappointment' expressed by some stems from the expectation (based in part on the marketing) that because the central characters are children, it's a children's film. It isn't. It is at least acceptable for children to watch, unlike, say, The Tin Drum, but it's not especially calculated to appeal to them qua children.
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Postby vercingetorix » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:33 am

Hugo: thumbs down

but

Chavez: thumbs up?

Oops! Wrong forum..... :D
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Postby solicitr » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:05 pm

vercingetorix wrote:Hugo: thumbs down

but

Chavez: thumbs up?

Oops! Wrong forum..... :D


Hugo (film) wasn't overtly anti-American.
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Postby vercingetorix » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:04 pm

solicitr wrote:
vercingetorix wrote:Hugo: thumbs down

but

Chavez: thumbs up?

Oops! Wrong forum..... :D


Hugo (film) wasn't overtly anti-American.
But Chavez does obey
Newton's Third Law of Motion! :D

And this isn't even the irrelevance topic! I am ended... ;)
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