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Thread: Hugo (Martin Scorsese 2011)

  1. #16
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    I was looking at the IMDB app on my android phone and it lists the top critics for "Hugo." So guess who is listed (alphabetically)? Chris Knipp at Filmleaf.net. Kudos, Chris.
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  2. #17
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    That's nice but maybe something's wrong with your android phone!

  3. #18
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    Magical

    With the amazing incorporation of the more subtle and less blatant, commercialized use of 3-D, Scorese has introduced to the film world a magical visual story telling experience, and captures the youth imagination where time for the audience seems to become irrelevant and the delightful characters seem to be artificial yet somehow vibrant in their performing presentation. One of the best movies of the year, this movie sparkles for its emotive storyline, its rich focus on detail, and yes even its more qualitative slow and perhaps less "energized" pacing that allows the audience to immerse itself in a wonderful, leisurely and historically insightful look into the beginnings of film for the lay audience.

  4. #19
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    go to filmleaf.com and see whose name is mentioned with this site... NOT MINE! so what do my opinions matter.
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  5. #20
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    My lack of a rave for Hugo (and Walter Chaw's) means nothing. It is listed #9 in the top 10 of Film Comment's list, and #6 out of the top 10 of the Metacritic list collating their set of critics annual best lists. Everybody loves it. It's not your opinion that means nothing, it's mine.

    People might pay more attention to your reviews than to mine because they appear less often.

    This is Scorsese's 2nd credit at least for the year if we count documentaries for HBO, the one on George Harrison; but my recent favorite from him (since the Stones film) is his HBO documentary on Fran Lebowitz last year, Public Speaking.

    If you're referring to IMDb again that listing of my Hugo review (now #103 out of a list of 300+) is there because recently I've been going on IMDb and adding the link to my Filmleaf reviews. You can do the same thing for the reviews that you put on Filmleaf. Howard Schumann explained to me how to do this years ago. You click on "critic" on any movie page on IMDb, then click on "EDIT PAGE," then click on the "no change" dropdown and click on "add one item," and "continue," and then you fill in the link to your review and type in on the right "Filmleaf [cinemabon]" and "check these updates" and then finaly "submit." It 's 5 steps and it's easy once you get the hang of it.

    But whether you do or not, your opinions matter plenty to me and the other Filmleaf readers.

  6. #21
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    Thanks, Chris. I was kidding anyway. Have a great holiday season. Looks like we have a plethora of offerings from Iron Lady to War Horse to others in the pipeline. I have my tickets and words lining up... read somewhere that Speilberg was a shoe-in for Best Pix nod when the odds makers backed off on that assessment. Oh, wait... I read it HERE! Thanks, Chris for your post on best movies for 2011 and your continued hard work to keep this site the level of quality it has. May you have a joyous holiday season... and the same to all of you! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
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  7. #22
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    Holiday wishes and cheer to everybody.

  8. #23
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    1. Chris with his typical creative talent, sums up in concise and clear language in his first paragraph the totality of the movie.

    2. By his second paragraph, though, he begins his paragraph with a somewhat misleading sentence using "celebration" and "ennobling" only to go negative with his personal belief that Hugo "lacks the magic" of earlier films suggestive that "more" is "often less" implying that Hugo has too much 3D and special effects that perhaps "ballet" or "music" can better present the magic of film. Curiously, Chris also implies, perhaps unintentionally that without more "sex" and "violence" that the raw energy in Hugo is lost. By calling Hugo "old fashioned" and "artificial" he seems to be comparing the movie to an artificial Christmas tree compared to a naturally cut, still living Christmas tree using the artlike sensation of the traditional ballet or carefully crafted music as preferable approaches to making great movies. The irony here, however, is that while Chris based on his past references to his distain of 3-D he at the same time close to contradicting himself by describing Hugo as "old fashioned" when in effect, Hugo incorporates the most advanced technology use of 3-D and CGI where Scorsese has accomplished the very opposite of "old fashioned" and brought a period film into the contemporary modern era with its rich and amazing use of leading edge science which in some ways replicates in parallel the same evolutionary path that early cinema took as if in a supreme gesture and tribute to Georges Méliès, Scorsese is himself following a similar path as Méliès. The difference between Chris's use of the word "artificial" and his early mention of the lack of "magic" is also suspect as both are similar in that "magic" is artificial and not real, and in essence Scorsese has accomplished in this movie is truly an artificial recreation of the magic of film within a film, bringiing actors and lavish set designs like Georges Méliès to reflect a dramatization of real life. What Chris views of neither "earth shaking" nor "exciting" may reflect in part Chris's having been desensitized through his having committed much of his time and energy and passion to experiencing so many, many movies and films that after a while, nothing seems new or fresh anymore. But for those of us who cannot commit their money and time to experience the wonderful plethora of movies, much like Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a single piece of chocolate to last an entire year and like Hugo, it can be a wonderful, amazing, and yes, exciting experience to discover a whole new 3-D and seemingly understated magical world of early film making and the stylistic characters that seem almost like a ethereal dream. Chris's complaint that children seemingly were not "energized" and only "entranced" seems to evoke within me more puzzlement. Chris's depiction of the "energy" criteria for judging a movie is mysterious in that his focus on "sex," "violence," and "energy" seems to be so blatantly Americanized, so commercially imbued with America's passion for high physical, perhaps brainless, almost meaningless hyperactivity that it surprises me how Chris whose international foreign experience could be so accepting of what seems to be a crass acceptance of American exploitation films. Personally, using Chris's own description of children and Hugo - that they appeared "quiet" and "entranced" seems to be a wonderful emotional behavioral experience for any movie to create... Just like the amazing, magical bed time stories - children are not necessarily jumping up and down on their beds, throwing pillows everywhere, but are dreaming and smiling delicious happy and content thoughts and feelings which for me in this hectic state of our society any parent would be gushing over with great satisfaction for any movie to be able to "entrance" their children in a quiet way, instead of a hyper-kinetic way. Yet by the end of the second paragraph Chris ends it like he started the paragraph changing to a positive tone for the movie which makes for a confusing paragraph indeed.

    3. The third paragraph seems to be a rehash of earlier comments, though as with any of the eye of the beholder arguments the supposedly overly long movie at two and a half hours, is only as one's either boring experience or one's compelling, captivating, thrilling experience time sense allows. For those whose experience of the film and its 3-D is magical and entrancing, time seems to take a back seat and the experience becomes timeless instead of long.

    4. Chris's fourth paragraph is somewhat of a puzzle in that, he has departed from his rather traditional flow of his earlier more fluid movie critiques in that usually such descriptive movie plot outlines (which is well done here) is almost always found in the beginning of the his commentaries so as to separate storyline from opinion (though Chris at times has departed from the absolute demarcation between storyline line and personal opinion). One might suspect that Chris's passionate feelings about this movie had him subconsiously move his strong beliefs about this movie to earlier in his usual commentaries so that readers would immediately feel his passionate distaste for many of the elements in this movie.

    5. Chris's concern about the lack of the serious attention to early film history seems misplaced here, because the tone of this movie, its magic and as Chris would say "artificiality" isn't supposed to be a serious documentary or even docudrama as a film history lesson. The film's focus appears to me to be on the characters, the mystery, and the use of film history as an added but delightful backdrop to the main storyline which serves to enhance the primary story, placing the characters in a meaningful context and in somes way increasing the emotive and visceral experience by allowing the audience to discovery the mystery in the same time path as the boy in the story and with the same childlike viewpoint of the discovery (unlike that of an adult film historian).

    6. Lastly, Chris's final paragraph is his complaint of the Oscar's playing it "safe" with its selection of nominated and best film choices. In the world of politics and art, the final choice of the best movie can always be argued on several levels as to its artistic merits, its political change the world merits. Such subjective aesthetic moral judgments eventually fall into the realm of philosophy and metaphysics and the neverending debate of art. Personally, for me, a great movie is one that stimulates, fascinates, evokes powerful emotions, educates, and leaves one with a great deal of satisfaction for having spent the time and money going to it. And Hugo did this for me.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Knipp View Post



    Holiday wishes and cheer to everybody.

    And the same to you!
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  10. #25
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    tabuno

    Thank you once again for referring to me in such complimentary terms in your opening. I don't think I can reply to all your commentary on my review. There is a lot of disagreement over particular words and imagined internal contradictons, and not much of a reply to my opinions or arguments. It still seems to come down to the fact that you like the movie more than I do. I don't hate it. I think it would be very hard to do that and impossible for me. I could see it as disappointing given the excitement and originality of Scorsese's best period of filmmaking. I'm not saying, though you say I unintentionally imply it, that Hugo needs sex and violence -- just that when there was sex and violence in Scorsese's movies, that was when they were vibrant and original. But I'm not as bitterly disappointed in that way as Walter Chaw is. ("It's heartbreaking to see someone as vital as Scorsese used to be end up in a place as sentimental and treacly as this.") I don't see a contradiction between saying Hugo is a celebration and eulogy and finding that it is a bit flat. It's a celebration and eulogy that falls flat. Shutter Island was a falling off too. Chaw calls it "elderly." Scorsese has been in decline from the early Nineties. He has done a lot of things that fell flat, though a lot of people took them seriously because they were by Scorsese. On the other hand he is an industry to himself with his quality television, his producing, his documentaries, his lectures on periods of film history, and his organization to preserve film. He is a treasure. But that's not going to make me like Hugo. However, as I said above to cinemabon, practically everybody seems to love this movie. There are no clearcut Oscar finalists, but Hugo is well up there. So what does it matter what I say?

    Likewise I don't see any contradiction between Hugo employing "leading edge science" and being old-fashiond. The leading edge science is according to the ends it is put to. Is a new version of 3D really "leading edge science" anyway? It's true I have expressed a distaste for 3D in movies, which basically is a variation on the stereopticon my grandmother had in her attic that used two images from different positions to give a standing-forth effect, but I've said I like it sometimes, such as in the last Harry Potter, and particularly in the latest Harold and Kumar. I was not critiquing 3D in Hugo one way or the other. Hugo is available in 2D as many 3D movies are and I watched it in 2D. However leading edge the latest version of movie 3D is, it still looks like the 3D movies that were prominently featured in the 1950's. You might make some more reasonable claim to innovation for Cameron's Avatar, but I'm not sure how much cutting edge newness comes into Hugo, if it were needed, or how that would make it analagous to the innovations of Georges Méliès in the early days of cinema -- which, anyway were quickly outmoded, and that's why Georges Méliès would up selling toys in a train station. Every time a slightly updated version of 3D is used, you can't claim that the film is evidence of "leading edge science." That's just hype. But all this has nothing to do with the movie. It's external, or it couldn't be watched and appreciated in either format, and that's true of every 3D movie, including Avatar.

    If you'd paid more attention to my arguments and less to words like "artificial" and "real" , "magical" and "old fashioned" you'd notice that I said this film is "delightful" and that Scorsese has "produced something lovely and nice for the holiday season." I said that this is a "serious, lush movie" and that it "may provide the same kind of pleasure that Powell-Pressberger's Tales of Hoffman gave me as a youth." But it doesn't do that for me. As Fran Lebowitz says in Scorsese's 2010 film Public Speaking, one of the reasons the past (for me the time of Tales of Hoffman) looks better to us is that we were young. As I said, Hugo is "made for children and would-be children," and I am neither a child nor a would-be child. That doesn't mean I've lost interest in children. I am interested in entering the world of a child. We get to do that in Céline Sciamma's Tomboy. I recommend it. We get to do that also in the Dardennes' The Kid with the Bike, a wonderful movie. I recommend that too. I have certainly not lost the passion because I see too many movies. The passion for film hasn't been something I've burnt out on and that's why I keep at it. Do not conclude that because someone does not like the same movies you do they have stopped liking movies.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-20-2011 at 09:20 PM.

  11. #26
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    Chris Is A Delightful Read When He's On Fire

    It's so wonderful to read your reply because it's so rich with substance and perspective, it's almost an opportunity to allow us to take a peak into the private realm of Chris. You have a consistent point about how one's feelings about a movie will influence one's commentary. Your apparent dislike of Shutter Island as well as your less than stellar, but appreciative feelings towards Hugo echo my own feelings of stellar comments about Shutter Island which was one of my top ten movies of 2010. Your reply also balances out your more positive feelings about Hugo which I referenced in my earlier post but didn't get as much of a recognition as my focus was on your negative commentary so that your reply presents a much more corrective adjustment for the readership here as to the mind of Chris in relationship to my own thoughts about your commentary.

    As for 3-D, I was less impressed by the 3-D in Avatar and strongly suggest that Hugo be experienced in 3-D because Scorsese has indeed elevated and significantly advanced the use of 3-D into a credible art form. Up until now, it seems that 3-D has only been a prop to market movies and make money and provide thrills that only really create an off-balanced movie while Scorsese has in Hugo really made 3-D an integrated part of the movie that puts to full use the nature of 3-D technology.

    What I nice Christmas present by taking the time to acknowledge my post. Thanks! It means a lot.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by cinemabon View Post
    I was looking at the IMDB app on my android phone and it lists the top critics for "Hugo." So guess who is listed (alphabetically)? Chris Knipp at Filmleaf.net. Kudos, Chris.
    Chris is on Twitter too. I've never tweeted ever.
    Chris is a real critic- he always stays on topic and always lowers his sights properly.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  13. #28
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    Yes, tabuno but 3D will still be a device to market movies and make money, no matter what distinguished director allows his film to be formatted in it. I thought it worked best in the new Harold and Kuman: it suited the jokiness of the genre and overtly mocked the device.

  14. #29
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    Sometimes I like the feeling of independence and self-reliance I get from being on the minority side of the critical divide relative to the debatable merits of a movie. In the case of HUGO particularly, because the consensus here at filmleaf and elsewhere is that it is a great movie. I join the majority in feeling great admiration for it. Scorsese is so skillful and surrounds himself with top-notch talent that when he really cares about something (Shutter Island has no heart!) like film studies, history, and preservation the result is something special. I enjoyed reading CK's "minority review" no matter how much I disagree with it (we even like different Scorsese movies, like Scorsese for different reasons...).
    There is a bite to your review Chris, a slightly snippy tone to lines like "serious, lush movie made for children and would-be children". I wasn't surprised to see it get such interesting responses like the one from Tab1.
    Count me among the "would-be children" :)

  15. #30
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    Judging Something Unseen

    Chris may be on questionable ground when it comes to being able to truly comment on Hugo 3-D in that without really experiencing the movie in 3-D, his commentary can't be based on the actual experience, only the 2-D version. His implicit presumption that 3-D is usually a marketing gimmick while it may be true in most cases, his avoidance to actually experience 3-D in movies such as Hugo will limit his movie commentaries with conditional provisions when it comes to movies made in 3-D, where 3-D becomes a deliberate part of the entire film experience that qualitatively impacts the visuals of characters' acting, the set design and the physical activities that occur, all part of an immersive experience that perhaps are vital elements in such films involving historical or detailed physical elements. In short Chris, may in some instances. will be reviewing a different movie experience than other film goers with the result that such comments would be comparing oranges to tangerines.

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