Sunday, March 4, 2012
Family Adventures: Hugo
Image via Kidsmomo
In some ways, it seemed kind of silly to go see a movie in the theater the weekend after it had been released on DVD. But Essex Cinemas had a 10:15 a.m. showing of Hugo today and, as it turns out, Sunday morning's a great time to see a film. We were the only ones there - essentially a private screening! And now, I can definitely say that it was worth seeing this particular film with the big screen, the 3D glasses, the surround sound - the works. It was, after all, Our Girl's introduction to Martin Scorsese films. Mind you, I expect we'll hold off for a while on the others...
Last week's Academy Awards reminded us how few of the nominated films we'd seen this year. Hugo, in particular, had been on our to-see list for a while but we just never got around to it before this. We were lucky that it stayed in our local theater for so long. The Artist, of course, was the big winner last Sunday, beating out yet another Scorsese film for Best Picture. Scorsese's woes at the Oscars are well known. The almost undisputed greatest director of his generation has only ever won the Best Picture and Best Director awards once each - both for Departed, a film which most who know his work wouldn't even put in his career top five. His masterpieces - Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas - all fell short. With 20+ years hindsight, all three are seen as seminal films of the era, far better than Rocky, Ordinary People and (really?) Dances with Wolves respectively. If time be the true test, Marty always wins.
Scorsese photo via Rotten Tomatoes
I expect the same will be true for Hugo. I'll admit to skepticism during the early part of the film. The movie was dazzling to the senses but the story was slow and lacked the sort of hook to draw you into the narrative.
But once the big revelation hit about the true identity of Ben Kingsley's character, Georges Méliès, the legendary French filmmaker, the real magic kicked into gear. I'll admit upfront that I'm a sucker for movies made for people who love movies and Scorsese's homage to early film is simply divine. The tale of Hugo Cabret, an orphan living on his own in the clockworks of a train station, is a wonderful parable for the true tale of Méliès, a genius lost to the wilderness of obscurity only to be rediscovered later in life. Oscars or no Oscars, Scorsese's legacy is secure and I love that he's chosen to use his high pedestal to celebrate a forgotten titan of his medium.
My favorite film geek moment actually comes up twice, the shot of movie goers ducking in reaction to the image of an oncoming train in a very early 2D film. It's a nice little joke in our current cinematic age, and Scorsese's first 3D movie.
!!!END OF SPOILER!!!
Five out of five stars for Hugo. On my Netflix profile, I don't give five stars very often. For me, this highest rating is reserved for those films against which I judge other films. The Empire Strikes Back is a five. The Wizard of Oz is a five. GoodFellas is a five. Now, not only might Our Girl be inspired to see more of Scorsese's films once she's older, but might also be curious about the history of the art form and be eager to learn of its early masters. That's the true gift of Hugo.
On the way home, we stopped at Pulcinella's for lunch. I had the polpette parmigiana panini - a nice choice but, as usual, My Wife ordered better. She got the salsiccia e broccoli rapini panini. The highlight of the meal for me was dessert, a sinful chocolate stout cake made with Guinness.