Been to see Hugo yet? Do so, please, while it is still on at a big screen – it is really quite magical. I took all the little fish to see it the other day, and we loved it. I knew nothing about it before I went, and so was pleasantly surprised: it’s an homage to a past film-making master, George Melies, directed by Martin Scorsese. The little fish and I saw it in full 3-D at the Embassy, which really is the only place to see it – even Lindsay Shelton was there, no doubt keen to get a Scoop in. Only thing is, it is being pitched as a children’s movie, which means you need to, you know, bunk off in the afternoon and catch a session.
Curiously it has not been pulling in the crowds, nor the money, but it is easily the best kiddie flick I’ve seen for years. Of course, children don’t realise when they are better off, and so will probably still go for some animated crap voiced over by Jack Black as a panda, or a penguin. The critics have been raving about the film, and the awards are flowing thick and fast – expect Scorsese to easily pull up an Oscar for best Director, which is well deserved.
No doubt by now you’ve heard snippets about the story. It’s set in Paris.
This lost boy-child has an adventure which involves living inside clockwork at the train station, and he’s a bit of a dab hand at it.
He gets chased by Ali-G, who seems to be acting a dual comic / nasty role as a squeaky station inspector, in probably the first really watchable role Sasha Baron Cohen has ever had. I kept thinking that for a Jewish boy from west London, he has an incredibly adaptable face, being believable as a black urban youff from Staines, a refugee from Kasakstan, and here a petty bureaucrat in France. Silly, but enjoyable, innit?
Hugo hides from the adult world in the undercroft / roofspaces of the train station, which are quite fantastic
and finds the truth behind an old man, which involves reading some books, in an amazingly huge library
and searches more books, served up by Lord Sauron himself….
He finds some joy in the workings of machinery at the toy shop, where he finds Ben Kingsley in a passively Gandhi-like resignation…
and repairs an old automaton that his father found. You’re sitting there the whole time thinking: does it come to life? So, does it?
I’m not telling. There’s a budding love interest from a cute young girl actress
who looks and sounds a lot like Emma Watson, but isn’t.
I know this isn’t much of a film review – I’ll leave that up to Dan Slevin, who is good at that sort of thing, but the only point that grated with me was that the characters are just so damned English. The film is set in Paris, the posters on the walls are in French, the books they read are in French, they call people Monsieur, and yet all the cast act out their parts in perfect plummy English. No doubt this is to suit the tiny minds of children, and Americans, which is much the same thing, but it is a tragic glaring miss-match to me. Secretly I was hoping that they filmed it all twice, with a naturally French version circulating over in France, but no doubt the French will just dub their version so it makes sense – because it really doesn’t make sense for the Poms to be so jolly hockey-sticks in Montparnasse. I kept expecting that the reason for finding a crop of les natives Anglais would be explained, mais non. Je ne comprends pas. I mean, come on, its not that hard to understand French: even the French can do it.
But for me it is all about the clever things like the recreation of the old train crash at Montparnasse, and sure enough, I flinched and ducked out of the way when the train went through the station…
For others it will be all about the special effects and the quality of the 3-D production. And here it really is superb. I even found myself trying to lick the snow flakes that come scurrying out of the picture. The 3-D really makes sense on this film – the trailer before was for the reworked Titanic in 3-D, which was the biggest load of bollocks ever in 2-D and will only look more stupid in 3-D. James Cameron is a boring old fart at film-making and must be stopped. Don’t go and see Titanic in 3-D – see this instead.
Cameron a “boring old fart”? And you don’t like Titanic? The biggest grossing movie of all time? The rest of the world seems to disagree with you my fine flippered friend. On what grounds can you possibly say that Titanic was bad?
While I’m perfectly happy for Mr Cameron to come here and milk our cows and our movie system, the thought of another interminably dull Avatar and equally rabidly crap Titanic just bores my tits off. Wooo, blue people flying around on lizards! Woopee! Lectures on saving the earth if we all live in a tree and recycle our own shit! Yawn! Love story of a loveable irish rogue making love to the boss’s daughter in the night before someone rammed a ship into an iceberg, wow, we’re on top of the world and we’re all going to die – I’d rather stab myself to death with a plastic spoon than have to watch another of his piles of boring schlock.
Now that’s what I call film criticism. Move over Pauline Kael – there’s a new fish in town!
why thank you Starkive, glad to see that you can recognise my huge talent under all the bombast. You’d agree though, wouldn’t you? Blue people? Icebergs? Leo d’Caprio dancing a jig? Psshaw!
I like Wiki’s quotes about her – Kael was known for her “witty, biting, highly opinionated, and sharply focused” reviews,
“She was like the Elvis or the Beatles of film criticism.”
I’ll go for that !
Watching Avatar on tv tonight, where it just happens to be showing, I confess I had forgotten just how much of a terrible schlockfest it truly is. It’s really just a chance to watch buff blue bodies dressed in tiny g-string bikinis, and a truly appalling sing-song along of sub-Enya warbling of mind-numbingly awful soundtrack.
I can’t believe we are now implicit in helping Cameron film 2 & 3.
Finally seen it. Lovely. The kind of thing which makes you want to get up and go to work in the morning – not least because Papa Georges’ little brother Gaston Melies came to NZ and shot film in the 1910s and you never know, we might still find some…
But I do disagree about the accents. I think the point of letting the (mainly British) actors use English accents is that we can read so much about class and geography in our own language which would be completely absent if they were spouting cod French
Sacha Baron Cohen, for example, has a whale of a time channeling Peter Cook’s strangled Essex (a la Pete ‘n’ Dud) – all thwarted social climbing and inferiority complex. If he had gone with the French overlay you seem to be suggesting he would turn into the bumbling gendarme from ‘Allo ‘Allo. Ray Winstone talks cockney because Uncle Claude is a cockney in translation. Which of us would recognise the French accent (in English, what’s more) which tells you someone is a working class bloke from south of the Seine?
Starkive – I’m delighted that you’ve seen the film – this post was as much for you as it was for me. Looking forward for the next discovery of some long-forgotten bits of film…
I take what you mean about the accents – yes, I think you’re right that they shouldn’t have been trying to speak cod french. I guess I was thinking more that all the actors should have been french, and it would be subtitled – I can deal with that, although I know that les Americanes cannot – but even there I think I’m probably wrong – the book itself was in English, not French (written by an American, Brian Selznick), and the film was made in Shepperton Studios in England so it really has little chance of ever being a French production.
Mind you, the French can make fantastic films. Just been to see The Artist in teh new Deluxe Suite at the Embassy – first B+W Silent film i’ve seen outside of the Film Archives for a while! But quite a lovely film – go see it….
Thanks to Lindsay Shelton for this tip to a fascinating interview in the Guardian with Selznick:
Worth reading the whole article – here’s a snippet for you:
“”Yet everything is enhanced,” says Selznick, in his only interview with a British newspaper ahead of the Oscars. “The camera movements are based on my drawings, but bigger, grander and more operatic than anything I could have imagined.” The sequences are an exact recreation of what Selznick has drawn; in no way have the images described or portrayed on the page been imposed upon, unlike most film adaptations of children’s books. The drawings are, rather, brought into motion “and deepened in space, made sculptural and given meaning by the 3D,” says Selznick, so that book and film become inseparable, mutually regenerative, and the combination something greater than the sum of its parts to a degree that has no equivalent in modern children’s literature or cinema.”