Thursday, November 24, 2011

Box Office Review - Hugo

It’s about time that Martin Scorsese made a family film. As Scorsese′s thoughts on the film The Thief of Bagdad are the reason that I sought out and now consider that film one of my favorites, it has been clear to me for sometime that Scorsese has an eye for great adventure. Unfortunately up until now we have only had amazing films of the adult nature from the master director, but now there is a reason to celebrate. Hugo is a family film that delivers classic adventure, beautiful set pieces, and a kid friendly message. It is also a Scorsese film 100%.

Set in Paris during the 1930s, Hugo Cabaret [Asa Butterfield] is an orphaned young boy living in a train station. His life consists of maintaining the many clocks in the station, spying on shop owners, and alluding the station inspector [Sasha Baron Cohen]. After being caught stealing from a toy shop owner named Georges [Ben Kinglsey], Hugo starts out on an adventure of a grand scale.

I didn’t know much about the film going in to it, and I’m glad that I didn’t. The film presents a rather intriguing mystery right a the beginning, and the way things develop is just fantastic. The kid that plays Hugo is more than up to the task, and goes toe to toe in scenes with Kingsley and Cohen as an equal. The best performance of the film goes to Ben Kingsley though. The way that his character Georges is developed is amazing to watch, and his monologue at the end of the film was nice and powerful. Sasha Baron Cohen provides most of the laughs in the movie, and it is good to see him in such a role.

Since the film is mostly set at a busy train station, there are many crowd scenes in the film. Smartly the movie focuses on a few of the regulars in the station. Richard Griffiths who played Mr. Dursley in the Harry Potter films, and Frances De La Tour who was also in the Harry Potter as Madame Maxime have scenes throughout the movie as a couple looking to court each other that are absolutely charming. Emily Mortimer also plays a small role as a flower seller, and Christopher Lee has a role as a book shop owner.

While most of these actors play small roles, in the end they all serve as a support for the overall message of the film. This being that everyone plays an important part in the world, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. This is a good positive family message, but what affected me more was the more personal elements of the film. The elements that must have been pure joy for Martin Scorsese to indulge in.

Unbeknownst to me, a lot of this movie is about the creation of film making, and the power that films have. I would have never thought that the Lumiere Brothers would be mentioned in a family film, much less their film Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat be shown. Also the fact that the 1902 film A Journey To The Moon plays a significant role in the movie, is rather impressive. Throughout the film there are multiple recreations of scenes from films made during the invention/creation of cinema. Filming and constructing these scenes must have been an amazing experience for a director as obsessed with film as Scorsese.

Hugo is a family film that I hope will be accepted by the cinema going public. I can’t think of another film that has been released recently that is like it. To be honest, I can’t even think of the last live action family movie that I watched in the theater. Thankfully, I now have one to remember, and Hugo will be in my memory for a long time to come.

A Gold Banana