Reel Mama’s kids’ movie pick for this weekend is Hugo. It’s sheer magic, and it’s set in Paris. It just doesn’t get better than this.
When I was an undergraduate Film Studies major at Yale, I discovered the filmmaking of Georges Melies in a musty archive, and along with it, my passion not only for making films, but for writing about them. So you can understand my astonishment and delight that Brian Selznick’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which chronicles a young boy’s journey of self-discovery after he meets the great but forgotten master filmmaker Melies, had been brought to the screen by a giant of filmmaking, Martin Scorsese.
In my opinion Scorsese, with the exception of Stephen Spielberg, is the greatest filmmaker living today, and he is anything but forgotten. Scorsese is a pioneer in film preservation, and this movie is his valentine to early cinema. His exploration is joyous and fun to watch. You don’t have to understand filmmaking to appreciate this movie. You just have to love movies.
This is the most masterfully crafted 3-D movie to my knowledge to date. This movie is a technical wonder from start to finish. Perhaps Scorsese doesn’t handle the sentimental aspect with the finesse of Spielberg, but I doubt there is a dry eye in the house by the end of this movie.
Seeing this movie in 3-D is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t miss it.
Reel Mama’s rating: Appropriate for kids 10 and up.
The sophisticated story line will be appreciated by older children. Hugo’s father dies tragically in a fire, after which Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is placed in the custody of his drunken uncle (Ray Winstone), who pulls him out of school and forces him to take over his job winding the clocks at the Paris Gard du Nord train station. Hugo suffers perturbed nightmares as he embarks on a voyage of discovery to find a message from his late father, and ultimately to find his way home.
Screenplay by John Logan. Ben Kingsley stars as Melies, who, his work having faded into obscurity, barely gets by as a shopkeeper in the train station. Sasha Baron Cohen of Borat fame gives an amusing turn as the stern and relentless station inspector.