15 April 2012

Movies: Hugo

Hugo (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970179/

Family Adventure

Hugo is an orphan living in the maintenance crawl spaces in the train station in 1930's Paris. His father was a master clock maker and taught Hugo many things, including working on a clockwork automaton that was found in a museum. After Hugo's father died in a museum fire Hugo lived with his uncle, learning how to keep the clocks wound at the train station. He stayed there after his uncle disappeared, avoiding the station security master, stealing food to survive and stealing various small items to use to tinker with clockworks. Hugo gets caught by the owner of a toy shop in the station. The story then takes us in a new fascinating direction.

The story is from a fiction book that is based on some real-life people and some real-life events.  At first I was surprised that Martin Scorsese would even direct what seemed to be a children's adventure film, considering how adult the bulk of his work has been. However as the story unfolded I realized exactly why Scorsese wanted to direct this film, and that the film isn't quite the type of children's adventure film I thought it was going to be. I don't want to say exactly why because it would spoil a big part of the film. Plus I suspect it was apparent to me so early in the film because I know Scorsese is quite the film historian.

Sets, camera-work, direction, shots, all beautiful and as perfect as one would expect from Scorsese. The opening sequence was stunning. If there's one thing he knows it is how to film a story.  Casting was good too including Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat and more), Chloe Grace Moretz ("Let Me In", "Kick-Ass"), Christopher Lee, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law. I never figured out why people seemed to have British-ish accents when the film is set in Paris. Sort of a niggling thing that I found hard to completely suppress.

I really enjoyed the film overall, and also enjoyed the many levels the story has.

Will children enjoy the film? I can't say for sure, I have lost the ability to see this film from a child's perspective, but I suspect there's enough bits to keep them interested. Will they grasp the bigger underlying story? That I'm also not sure about, but that's probably more dependent on how exposed one is to old films.  But if viewers young and old do catch on and express interest in knowing more, all the better. The material is out there, possibly from libraries, and if not, certainly from Netflix.

Good family entertainment, and even good for adults that have no little childrens running about to entertain. Definitely deserving of all accolades showered upon this film.

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