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Entries in Hugo (17)

Monday
Nov212011

The Family of "Hugo" Cabret

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Hugo a second time at my favorite* NYC theater, the Ziegfeld. It's an enormous "Old Hollywood" feeling place, one of the last of its kind so it couldn't have been a better setting for an all guild screening of a movie that's obsessed with the history of the movies just like Martin Scorsese himself. Let's call him "Papa Scorsese" today since he brought along nearly his entire movie "family" apart from cinematographer Robert Richardson (referred to as "Bob") who Scorsese joked was  'off filming a movie with this new guy called Quentin somebody (?)'

3-time Oscar winners Thelma Schoonmaker and Sandy Powell await their cue © Nathaniel Rogers

Everyone else was there: Legendary art director Dante Ferretti, legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker, legendary costume designer Sandy Powell... well you get the idea...

NOTES FROM THE EVENT 

Dante Ferretti, Art Direction
His job didn't change much in 3D, he revealed. He joked that the room we're sitting in is 3D. It took him six months to build the sets. He and his team built everything: the station, the glass movie house, even Papa Georges's (Ben Kingsley) apartment. With the look of the film they were attempting to base it not on realistic research but on images from the cinema and French cinema of the period specifically.

Ellen Lewis, Casting
She had not seen The Boy With Stryped Pajamas when the casting search for the lead role of Hugo began in New York, London and Los Angeles simultaneously. Someone sent her the movie and she met with Asa Butterfield the first week she was in London.

She added:

Many times, oddly, in casting children you find the child you're looking for in the first week or the last week. I don't know how to explain why."

They decided to have everyone speak in British accents after casting Asa because they didn't want to alter his voice and he was the first actor cast. 

Visual Effects
The visual effects supervisor -- his name escapes me in. Apologies -- had this to say about George Melies as the originator of special effects?

He didn't have anything to refer to besides his own imagination. Before I started the movie I had only seen Voyage to the Moon and I thought it was okay but then I started to really study his films, like that clip where he throws his head up into the stanza of music. That's genius. I had to play it back three or four times to figure out how he did it. He did this in 1905 so I felt rather small."  

Costume recreations, Scorsese joking about budgets and more after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov072011

Links: Shoot Kristen Wiig, Vote Hugo Cabret, Fire Brett Rattner

Deadline is Hugo a serious Best Picture contender. Industry giants are getting behind it's 3D immersiveness and movie love.
Animation Mag ginger tomcats on the rise and it's not just Puss in Boots. Here comes word of a new animated film called Tailchaser's Song. I suspect we won't see this one till 2013 or 2014 because you know how long animated films take.
Empire another new animated film coming our way soon is Hotel Transylvania with Adam Sandler voicing the count who runs a destination for famous monsters and Miley Cyrus voicing his daughter Mavis. That's what she'll look like to your left.
Rope of Silicon revisits David Fincher's Panic Room (2002). How long has it been since you've seen that one? 

In Contention Spielberg's now talking War Horse but not everyone is happy about the screening strategies thus far.
24 Frames reminds us that Tom Cruise is going to be in a musical. We keep forgetting this one, Rock of Ages
AV Club Ebert Presents... At the Movies may be shuttering this season due to cost.
Terry Richardson just had two women we love in his studio: Dakota Fanning and Kristen Wiig. Which reminds me just got my "consider" copy of Bridesmaids. Yay... so eager to rewatch though it will be weird to watch without the hysterically laughing audience we saw it with in the movie theater.  

hate him
Have you heard the latest on new Oscar director Brett Rattner. As if his bad movies weren't enough reason to object to him. Now he goes and says "Rehearsing is for fags." Really, Brett? He's since apologized but really...? That's the kind of thing the would be director of Wicked should really feel. Big epic musicals, after all, are best when improved (lol)... and calling actors fags? Yikes. Awards Daily thinks AMPAS should fire him and The Film Experience seconds. And we all know how well AMPAS listens to our every suggestion like the time we gave them brilliant notes about all the legends who have never presented Best Picture an... oh wait, never mind. They never listen. Whaddya want bet it's Spielberg, Hanks or Nicholson presenting best picture again this year? (sigh)

Christopher Neimann illustrated his NYC marathon run. small screen
Wow Report It's not enough to make me start watching TV's Once Upon a Time again (it make-a my eyes bleed! it got dumped from the DVR) but get this: Greer Garson's genes are in one of the actor... them's world class genes. Greer Garson Genetic Greatness! I guess we should write about her sometime. We love.

offscreen fun
Paper Mag someone live tweeted live illustrated his whole NYC marathon run. Yowza. That's going the extra mile. Although honestly I thought this was illegal. I thought they had very strict rules about no phones and no tweeting while doing it. They only have a limited number of spots in the marathon each year for eager runners. Every year I go outside and clap for them until I am tired. What, that's exercize for me. All that arm movement. More strenuous than typing.

Tuesday
Oct112011

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.

Saturday
Jul162011

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.

Monday
Apr042011

Predix: Supporting Actor and The Matter of Young Leads

Jim Broadbent as Dennis ThatcherWhen it comes to blindfolded Oscar predictions, almost nothing beats the supporting categories. I have this vague fantasy of time travel and returning to propose all 10 supporting acting nominees correctly one April to reams of laughter from the internet. They can be so hard to see coming for so many reasons including: adaptations sometimes lean on different characters than the novels or plays that birthed them, ensembles are tricky because you don't know who will win "best in show" reviews, one lead films are tricky because the huge role at the center (The Iron Lady, J. Edgar) sometimes end up sucking up all the oxygen and other times have coattails. Then there's the small matter of Oscar being more diverse aesthetically when it comes to supporting work. Here is where comedy, horror, sci-fi, fantasy  and even comic book movies (Dick Tracy, The Dark Knight) can show up even though they rarely if ever get play in lead categories.

Kenneth Branagh? Christoph Waltz? Philip Seymour Hoffman x 2? Viggo Mortensen x 2? Armie Hammer or Josh Lucas? Ben Kingsley? Christopher Plummer? Jim Broadbent -- his Iron Lady performance already has tongues (and fingers) wagging -- Richard E Grant or Anthony Head? Nick Nolte? Brad Pitt? You can drive yourself crazy thinking about all the possibilities. Maybe you have?

The first predictions for 2011

NEW TOPIC: This is as good a year as any, I assume, to prove my frequent statements about Oscar's double standards with gender. There are at least three very high profile films with young male leads this year: HUGO CABRET (Asa Butterfield is 14 years old), WAR HORSE (Jeremy Irvine is ??? years old), and SUPER 8 (Joel Courtney is ??? years old).

Asa Butterfield, Jeremy Irvine and Joel Courtney

If you've ever doubted my assertion about this double standard -- some people have objected to the statements -- watch how these performances are treated this year while keeping in mind how Hailee Steinfeld's work was greeted in True Grit as if the heavens or the red sea had parted. The media, critics and Oscar voters are quick to shove aside experience and accomplishment in women when a "fresh player" enters but not so with male actors. My prediction: at least one of these three does work on par or better than Hailee's and doesn't get anything like her traction. Watch and see.

Obviously there are exceptions, as there are to every rule: There was no denying Haley Joel Osment's gift in The Sixth Sense (1999) although he did get demoted to Supporting and lost to somebody who already had an Oscar, and Justin Henry won a nomination at 8 (!) for Kramer Vs. Kramer. In both cases the films were absolute sensations at the box office. Dramas no longer explode with audiences like Kramer vs. Kramer did but in today's dollars its box office haul was truly insane. We're talking a domestic haul closer to the latest Harry Potter than a True Grit or King's Speech. In other words, even Oscar doesn't ignore the zeitgeist.

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