Thursday, January 05, 2012
Come and Dream With Me: Scorsese's rapturous Hugo and why you shouldn't miss it.
I have a problem. Whenever I encounter something that matters deeply to me, I experience a failure of nerve. I fall into full Prufrock mode. I want make my readers feel for themselves the wonders of my discovery . . . "I am Lazarus, come back from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all." But in a flash I'm measuring it all off in coffee spoons. "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
That is why I didn't publish my piece on Cecil Balmond until a week before his great exhibition at the Graham closed, why I waited for months to try to express my thoughts on Bertrand Goldberg: Reflections, at the Arts Club. And it's why I'm still working on a piece on Martin Scorsese's new film, Hugo, which has engaged and moved me more than any movie I've seen in a long time.
Hugo has been described as Scorsese's first film for kids, but it is as far from pablum as you can get. Critics have congratulated themselves with the "discovery" that "Martin Scorsese has made a picture about film preservation!," but to say Hugo is a movie about film preservation is like saying À la recherche du temps perdu is a novel about cookies.
The themes of Hugo are as deep and probing as the film is entertaining and beautiful. While the plot is resolved with absolute grace, challenging questions are often posed rather than answered. The score by Howard Shore is both incredibly gentle and subtly insinuating. The performances, especially of Ben Kingsley as the bitter old man who is much more than he appears, are glorious. The physical production is astonishing. The evocation of Paris and its architecture, above all the remarkable reproduction of the Gare Montparnasse rail station, and the surreal world behind its walls where Hugo makes his home, will take your breath away.
Obviously, my reaction to Hugo is deeply personal. I can't guarantee yours will be similar. But with such possibility of delight, why not take the chance? Hugo has been around since Thanksgiving, and its theater count continues to shrink. Go see it - now. On the big screen, where you can appreciate its ambition and visual splendor. In 3-D if at all possible, such as the AMC River East, or, if you prefer, in the restored beauty of the Patio Theater, where it begins this Friday. If you don't like it, I apologize. If you wind up loving it as much I do, come back next week and we'll talk - I promise.