Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Divided at the Movies

Last weekend I saw Martin Scorsese's new movie, HUGO, with Jack Skillingstead and Ted and Christine Kosmatka. Seldom have I been with such deeply divided movie goers.

HUGO flirts with science fiction but never truly gets in bed with it. There is an automaton, suggestions that the entire world functions as a giant clock-work mechanism, a few quasi-magical moments in which objects (such as drawings released from a box) do not behave as objects actually do. But for the most part, the movie sticks to a sort of heightened, highly-colored reality, which is appropriate because it is the world as seen through the eyes of a child. It's also, and primarily, a movie about making movies, specifically the early fantasy silents of Georges Melies, an actual person but now largely forgotten. Scorsese is fascinated by those early movies, and whether or not you like HUGO depends in part on whether you share that fascination.

Jack loved the movie; Ted and Christine hated it (see his blog for just why); I thought it has a certain pallid charm but is too long and self-conscious. Also, since I'm not interested in early silent movies, I was slightly bored. HUGO is visually arresting, something to which I'm only intermittently sensitive, but there is not much story. What there is, occasionally feels strained. Melies, for instance, does not maintain enough of a consistent character for me to believe in this version of him.

I prefer Scorsese's less sentimental movies: THE DEPARTED, TAXI DRIVER, GOODFELLAS. But you may disagree.


specmex said...

Hi, let me begin by apologizing for my english writing, i am from Mexico and my english is (and i refuse to use the google translator) sloopy at best.

I just finished reading your book Beggars in Spain, and i really enjoy it, cant wait to read the sequel.

Sincerely your new fan in Hermosillo Sonora Sergio Palacios

qiihoskeh said...

Obviously, any movie titled Hugo _should_ be SF!

Nancy Kress said...

Thank you, Specmex!

Lou said...

I felt exactly as you did. Impressed by the visuals of the movie (my version of choice was the 3D, but I felt that the 3D detracted from the experience rather than heightened it), I was disappointed to realize that the story was weak. Pallid is an excellent word to describe it. It's as if Mr. Scorcese was more impressed with the 3D and the green screen than with the story itself. As with AVATAR, give me MORE story, less glitz!

CC said...

Nancy, have you read the book? If yes, did you like the book?

(Sorry if I have missed mention of this in a previous post.)

I enjoyed reading the book to my children a couple of years ago. I am planning to see the movie tonight.

Nancy Kress said...

I didn't read the book, no. Maybe that would have made a difference.

CC said...

No, I don't think reading the book would have made much of a difference. You may have liked the movie less:).

I have to say that I liked the movie, and I didn't like the movie.

I felt as if I were watching two movies at once. One movie about Hugo and Georges Melies (the movie I wanted to watch). The second movie was about the Train Inspector (which I thought made the movie way too long and barely watchable).

It was strange. I don't think I've ever seen a movie where there were two stories going on at one that were so unrelated and never really tied together at the end.

CC said...
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cd said...


Very belatedly, Lo, Aletheia, and I watched Hugo on DVD. We all liked it. Jack wins!