Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review of Hugo

Martin Scorcese is a master film maker by anybody's barometer, and I certainly enjoy his work. But I think he has achieved something transcendantly new in his most recent release of "Hugo." My initial impression of the movie, based on the whimsical but mysterious trailers leading up to it, was that it involved a train station and some kind of hidden world within the world that all revolved around a mechanical man that Hugo, an orphan living inside of the train station, was desperately trying to recreate.

I only got it partially right. And I do think that any attempt by the marketing department to mismarket a film will cause its demise. Anyone remember the fate of Kangaroo Jack or Hudson Hawk? Of course, I'm not exactly weeping over the fate of Kangaroo Jack, which I understand to be miserable, but Hudson Hawk was a whimsical fourth wall breaking 'crime drama' that did not at all take itself seriously, which was instead marketed by yet another Hollywood genius as something similar to Die Hard. Yeah, because lying to your audience is always a brilliant idea.

Then again, when one looks at the fare targeted to the audience in most network TV in recent years, this is no surprise. Then again, given my opinion of Slines after 2010, I'm not entirely convinced they're wrong. Then again again, the Slines do not appreciate being underestimated and most stupider shows have died horrible deaths this season. So I suppose the trick is to play for the lowest common denominator, but not to bid beneath the actual IQ of the critical mass of the mob thereof? Who knows. The price is wrong Bob.

Regardless, this film is both a heartwarming trip into whimsy, but also a celebration of the lost work of the early pioneers of cinema. To begin with, it formally attributes the creation of the motion picture camera to France instead of Edison (who was noted for stealing other people's ideas). The movie basically involves (spoilers follow) the discovery of the long lost works of Georges Méliès and how due to the bitterness and jaded hyperrealism demanded after the horrors of WWI, the fantasies of Georges Méliès were considered trite. Ruined, Melies retired into obscurity as a toy maker. The toy maker who happens to be in the very same shop in the very same subway station being run by the orphan Hugo. It is a whimsical tale in which everyone gets a happy ending. But what else do you expect from a movie set in France but made by Americans? Still, in this case it works, and not only does it work, it works fantastically so.

It is particularly ironic to me that this film is about the robbing of future generations from their cultural heritage as so many of Georges Méliès's works were destroyed that the major zaibatsu studios are destroying their 9mm collections because they find them difficult to maintain. And after all...digital copies exist right? I mean, it isn't like future generations will want to see them on film or anything...they'll want to see them on the latest ASTOUNDOVISION(tm) digital or hyperdigital or whatever made up format that the zaibatsu's dream up next.

I enjoyed this movie and highly recommend seeing it.

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