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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A feast for the eyes - and a good story, too

Oscar night. Not much point in watching since we hadn't seen very many of the films. And so often, it seems as if lots of nominated films are just not to our taste, no matter how well made or well acted. I mean, "No Country for Old Men" was a fabulous piece of film-making, but I didn't like anyone in the story. That's a necessity for me, whether in films or books (and something I strive to provide my own readers - characters...people...to care about.)

So instead of watching the Oscar show - or more episodes of Burn Notice to which we are currently addicted (yes, some very complicated characters to care about) - we went to the second run cinema and saw "Hugo."

First, yes, characters to care about - a whole cast of them in the first minute of the film as the camera leads you on a chase through a train station in 1930s' Paris. The station guard with his leg brace, the woman with the dog and her portly suitor, the man in the toy shop, the cheery flower seller, the musicians, and many more, each sketched as distinctly as a master writer like Dick Francis can do in a few words. And then the eyes peering through the 4 in the great clock. The story question right there in front of you. Whose eyes and why from inside the clock?

Well done. It was a nice story. Well performed for the most part. About loss and memory. About the magic of...story! But what made the film step into magic for me was
not the story but the language of its composition.

The visual experience. The deep moody colors of the era. The deep stairways and the clicking gears and mechanics of the great clockworks. The shining eyes of the two young friends. The snow. The magical, glowing view of the city at night. The lovely precision of the small mechanical man - the automaton left by a loving father to a lonely son, which brings a mystery (and you know how I love mystery) to the tale. And I have to say that for the first time in my experience 3D really added something special.

Faults? Yes. It gets a bit wordy in ways it doesn't need to. (Don't hammer me over the head by saying things that are transmitted so beautifully by action - another word to the wise author!) A few too many shots of the young Hugo's glistening eyes. (Yes repetition is good, but a wise author will take out one too many.) I wonder if children (and there were many in the theater) love the film as much as adults seem to.

Summing up, a most enjoyable two hours.

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