8:00 PM, 28th April, 2012
Hugo is based upon the illustrated book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret", by Brian Selznick. He wrote, "Because my story is centred around a filmmaker ... I decided to tell part of the story in images, like a movie". That filmmaker is the pivotal director Georges Méliès (Kingsley), famous for his 1902 movie A Trip to the Moon, arguably the first ever science fiction film, which memorably has a rocket crash into the man in the moon's eye.
But, except for flashback sequences, Hugo is set in a later Paris of 1931 when Méliès has fallen upon hard times and runs a Confiserie et Jouets (Sweet Shop and Toys) booth at a railway station. The orphan Hugo (Butterfield) unsuccessfully attempts to steal an item related to a mystery involving his late father from Méliès, who subsequently confiscates the bounty from Hugo.
However Méliès's goddaughter Isabelle (Moretz), likewise an orphan, befriends Hugo and he shows her the secret passages between the walls of the railway station where he lives. The plot thickens when Isabelle reveals that she possesses her own piece of the puzzle.
Director Martin Scorsese famously developed his overwhelming love of film as a sickly child with nothing to do but watch movies and his own enthusiastic discovery is reflected in Hugo's budding fascination with the art. Scorsese's first attempt at a children's movie is clearly a labour of love, his passion for his craft evident in its superb art direction and cinematography. Hugo is not only entertaining to watch, it's also gorgeous. Do not arrive late for this one, as the opening tracking shot is truly spectacular.
10:21 PM, 28th April, 2012
This is the second time I've had the pleasure of reviewing an Almodóvar film. In Semester 1, 2007, I wrote of Volver:
"For those not familiar with the director, he primarily deals with women and their lives and issues... but, more importantly, Volver is a good story with some interesting twists and great performances."
Then, in Semester 1, 2010, Henry Fitzgerald wrote of Broken Embraces:
"Although the film is more than half flashback, the flashbacks don't happen gratuitously, such as when a character stares into the middle distance for no good reason and suddenly it's fifteen years earlier. Rather, we see what happens as the characters tell one another what happened. When you get right down to it, the film consists almost entirely of storytelling. And Almodóvar, who's been doing this for 30 years, is now a marvellously polished storyteller, able to make us feel the tension behind the calm, colourful surface even when we think we can't."
Why have I spent the larger part of this review quoting other reviews? Because (a.) I'm afraid of saying anything about this film, as the slightest loose word will be a major spoiler, and (b.) everything above also applies for The Skin I Live In except even more intense. So, if you know what to expect from an Almodóvar film, then come along because once again, you won't be disappointed. And if you haven't had the Almodóvar experience, then you're in for an unexpected treat.