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Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
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Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
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Entries in Dante Ferretti (4)


The Furniture: The Age of Innocence and the Living Museum

"The Furniture" honors the Production Design of The Age of Innocence (1993) for its 25th anniversary year. The Martin Scorsese classic is newly available from the Criterion Collection. (Click on the images to see them in magnified detail.)

by Daniel Walber

The final act of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence leaps through time. The ever-roving camera comes to a temporary rest in the home of Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), married to May (Winona Ryder) and entering the longue durée of family life. But this relative physical stasis comes with the sudden acceleration of time. Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker fast-forward through years of business, leisure and child-raising. After nearly two hours of social whirlpools and lingering formalities, suddenly it’s a new century.

But despite the speed of this sequence, it’s important to pay close attention. On the wall of Newland’s family home rests one very famous painting. Somehow, through the magic of cinema alone, our hero has ended up with JMW Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire


It’s an icon for his last days, a masterpiece of a bygone era being towed away...

Click to read more ...


"Silence" is Shorter, Still Possibly Golden

a new image from the film - our first look at Adam Driver

In very good news for butts of all shapes and sizes, news came this morning that Martin Scorsese's Silence is no longer going to be his longest feature film ever. That dubious honor will continue to be held by the excruciatingly long winded duo of Casino and Wolf of Wall Street. It seems that Marty and his trusted editor Thelma Schoonmaker have whittled away some 22 minutes from the earlier reported running time of 3 hours and 1 minute (or thereabouts)...

Click to read more ...


NYFF: "Hugo" A Work in Progress

The surprise screening of The New York Film Festival tonight was Martin Scorsese's Hugo, a 3D adaptation of the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret (a much better title for about a hundred reasons) which is about an orphan boy who inadvertently uncovers rich cinematic history while trying to repair a broken automatron that is his only cherished reminder of his father. Martin Scorsese introduced the film himself and seemed a bit embarrassed by the standing ovation before the screening. Perhaps he was thinking Calm down. What if you don't like it?!? 

Father and Son and Automatron in "Hugo"

Though you'll undoubtedly see several full reviews online tonight, we were given a finger wagging public reminder pre-screening that we weren't to do so. Scorsese warned us that the color correction was not finished, the score was a temporary rendition of the completed score which Howard Shore is currently recording, and some of the effects and the 3D still needed touching up. This was especially true of the opening pre-title segment which had a lot of computer graphics in lieu of actual people and objects. So absent an actual review, let it suffice to say that I was too caught up in it to take ANY notes (the only thing written on my pad is "still needs color cor..." yep, that's it!) and was very pleasantly surprised.  

Ben Kingsley as the mysterious Papa GeorgeI had found the trailer so manic and gimmicky that I assumed the film would be a noisy disaster but the completed -- excuse me, nearly completed -- movie is actually fairly gentle and lovely despite flirting with manic slapstick on a few occassions. Production designer and certain Oscar nominee (again) Dante Ferretti's clock motif on steroids should read garish since Hugo lives inside a train station which seems to house ten thousand of them, all of which he hand winds daily. Instead the sets feel like intricate beauties with tiny hand-crafted parts. The film is still settling in my mind and I heard everything from raves to loud but minor quibbling while briefly chatting with other moviegoers outside. But if you've ever loved France, Books, Fiddling With How Gadgets Work, or The History of Cinema, it's a love letter you'll most definitely want to read when it opens next month.


Yes, No, Maybe So: Hugo

Robert (author of Distant Relatives) here. If you, like me, have been wondering how the phrases "Martin Scorsese" and "family-friendly holiday season event film" could possibly fit together ever since the announcement of The Invention of Hugo Cabret...

...later shortened to Hugo Cabret, later shortened to Hugo (by the time the film hits theaters in November it may just be H.) the newly released trailer may answer your questions, though not necessarily satisfactorily, and may leave you with all new ones. Let's discuss.

The name Martin Scorsese was, is, and will continue to be the selling point behind this film, at least for cinephiles who consider each new Scorsese film an event. But the trailer here has definitely been cut for the kind of mass audience that doesn't flock to Scorsese in droves. If you're looking for something non-threatening enough for the kids, but well crafted enough for adults, this trailer is targeting you. And in that sense the trailer does have something of an "instant holiday classic" feel to it. Not to mention some possibly impressive production design by Dante Feretti that could get him noticed again after his Shutter Island snub last season.

Yet while the production design appears promising, there's always the possibility that this busy-looking film will be a gold and teal nightmare. The 3D cinematography is rife with things flying at the camera. In this trailer alone we count at least five: Sacha Baron Cohen's hand, a dog, dragon smoke, a key necklace, and Hugo's hand. (So help me if that scene of Hugo going down a big fun slide is accompanied with a POV shot) Barring the title card there's not much here that feels Scorsese. Sure it's off his genre, but even when he does go off genre, Scorsese explores the same general themes and ideas (once calling The Age of Innocence his most violent picture). So even the slightest hint of a Scorsese touch, like the presence of Ray Winstone, was welcome, though I wanted to shout "No Hugo! Don't go with Mr. French!"

So what is Scorsese doing? Pilling up money for his next project? An academic exercise in trying something new?

Actually what he's doing is a family-friendly holiday season event film in exactly the way Scorsese would do it. Scorsese was never going to do fantasy in the mold of something modern. His films always reference back to the classics. Even Shutter Island disappointed many by possessing the obviousness of an old melodramatic Hammer Horror film instead of something that felt new. But that's what he does. Something tells me that what interested Scorsese in this project was the potential to make an homage to Georges Méliès (played by Ben Kingsley) and the films that birthed the fantasy genre. And those films were indeed intentionally artificial and filled with gimmicks.

So maybe we can't fault Scorsese for inconsistency of vision. We may want Scorsese to be modern and inventive. We may want him to wow us with spectacle like Peter Jackson or Christopher Nolan. But that's the fault of our expectation. What Scorsese clearly wants to do is recreate the magic of the old days. Whether or not you end up liking Hugo may depend on whether you appreciate the note on which the trailer ends, a recreation of the Lumiere's brother's L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat this time with the train actually pummelling toward the audience... in 3D.