Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Martin Scorsese's latest film, Hugo, is a wonder of whirring gears and Parisian light. It's a little difficult to say exactly what this film is about, except to say that there is a little boy who lives in the clock tower who fixes clocks, and, in relationships he develops before our eyes, he fixes people as well.

Hugo becomes an orphan when his father (Jude Law) died at the museum one day and his uncle comes to claim him. His uncle puts the boy into the clock tower and then is never seen again. Hugo keeps the clocks running, and steals food at the train station in order to live. But he also tries to steal mechanical toys, which are put out to entice customers by the shopkeeper (Ben Kingsley). Most of the action takes place in this French rail station, including chase scenes involving the station's gendarme (Sacha Baron Cohen) and the boy.

But there are several secrets that will be revealed during the running of the film, as the drama plays out in relationships between the boy and the toy shopkeeper as well as the shopkeeper's granddaughter. While I won't reveal these secrets, most of them have to do with the beginning of the art of the motion picture.

I found the movie quite show-moving, a bit boring, in the telling. However, most of my friends who have seen the movie adored it, loved the slow evolvement, and one even thought it one of the most perfect movies she had ever seen.

The delights are in the characterizations, particularly Sacha Baron Cohen as the policeman in the rail station. He gets plenty of film time, and if you're used to him being overbearingly tasteless, this is a different Cohen, an actor who is magnificent as physical comedy.

I felt the film needed the comedy bits because the entire mood is terribly serious and I was put off by that. But Scorsese's films are always visually arresting, and in 3D, this is triply so. And Scorsese obviously loved dealing with a matter close to his heart, the preservation of the history of film.

Thumb's up.


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