Magic still exists at the movies

Martin Scorsese delivers his love letter to cinema

Martin Scorsese delivers his love letter to cinema with Hugo

By Robert Moyes

arts@mondaymag.com

 

After being endlessly chivvied first by his wife and, later, by his young daughter, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese (GoodFellas) eventually surrendered: he agreed to forsake

the gangster-ridden mean streets of New York and travel back in time to 1930s Paris by way of adapting a beloved and very clever children’s book named The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Now named simply Hugo, the result is nothing less than marvelous: the lapidary filmmaking has a clockwork elegance, the set design is gorgeous, the actors fully inhabit this nostalgic but unsentimental world, and the tacky gimmick of 3D has finally redeemed. Best of all, Scorsese has fashioned a whimsical yet splendid love letter to the world of cinema.

The story features a 12-year-old orphan named Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who literally lives in the walls of a Paris train station and secretly maintains all the massive clocks that look down on the teeming crowds. His father (Jude Law) had been a talented clockmaker, and Hugo has kept an antique clockwork automaton that he and his dad had been trying to restore. Lonely Hugo believes that bringing the automaton back to life will somehow reconnect him with the spirit of his dead father. To aid his repairs Hugo has been pilfering tiny gears and other bits of metal junk from an embittered toyshop owner named Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), who eventually catches him red-handed and torments him for days after. To add to Hugo’s misery, the station has a remorseless security guard (an eccentric and highly amusing Sacha Baron Cohen) who, accompanied by a large-fanged Doberman, hunts down orphans and packs them off to the orphanage with sadistic glee.

Hugo slowly builds up a relationship with the toyshop owner, at the same time as he is befriended by the man’s goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass). The train station becomes the young couple’s playground, and we take in amusing characters such as a quintet of musicians playing gypsy jazz, and an older man whose attempts to court a widow are continually frustrated by her bad-tempered dachshund. Eventually Hugo and Isabelle discover a huge secret about Papa Georges’ past that explains his overwhelming sadness — a secret that not only involves Hugo’s automaton but also relates back to the earliest days of cinema. The film’s third act plausibly resolves all the personal angst of its characters while allowing Scorsese — a film scholar possibly without equal — to revel in the history of an art form that, right from the start, cast a dream-like spell on the whole world. M

 

Hugo ★ ★ ★v

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Ben Kingsley, Jude Law

PG – 127 minutes

Continues at the Odeon

 

 

 

Perfectly Potable

 

Paris is wonderfully evoked by one of the licorice liqueurs such as Pernod. Always tasty, sure, but more of a summertime libation. So let’s head southeast to the Rhone region for a mouth-filling red that will go superbly with a hearty dinner designed to ward off winter’s chill. The Vacqueyras “Les Christins” is earthy yet elegant, with a core of dark-berry fruit lifted with those herbal notes that give these wines their special charm. Not cheap at $27, but a bargain amongst its pricey Rhone peers. Salut!

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Duncan’s Big Stick lights up red to signal COVID’s devastation of the arts

“COVID-19 has been truly devastating to the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre”

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

From Nanoose Bay to the bookshelf, Howard the Gnome now a children’s book

Vancouver Island author explores Howard’s move down-Island

Nanaimo country singer releases new music video

‘Adrenaline’ is the second single from Joel Lee’s upcoming debut EP

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Art+Earth Festival gets growing this weekend

Find out what events are in-person and what’s happening online

Film about missing and murdered indigenous women makes Nanaimo debut

A mother and daughter search for answers in Sonia Bonspille Boileau’s ‘Rustic Oracle’

Nanaimo’s Harbour City Photography Club goes virtual to adapt to COVID-19

Club’s exhibitions, meetings and presentations are now occurring online

Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre returns to the stage in Port Theatre debut

Theatre group presents ‘2 Across,’ described as a ‘middle-aged romantic comedy’

Authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Three Nanaimo-area writers up for CBC non-fiction prize

Sheila Brooke, Vicki McLeod and Rachael Preston make 35-person longlist

Resident Alien returns to Ladysmith for filming in early October

New SyFy series back after spring filming interrupted by COVID-19

Most Read