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Hugo

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*****

This might be an adventure, and I’ve never had one before – outside of books, at least.

This is just like every other Martin Scorsese film: it stars a couple of kids and has almost all British actors playing French people. Okay, maybe it is different from the gritty crime movies that deal with life and death, but Hugo’s young protagonists—Asa Butterfield’s Hugo Cabret and Chloë Grace Moretz’s Isabelle—both are orphans, children raised by old, mean people.

Hugo first appears as a little boy in internal workings of one of Paris’s train stations. He is alone, but keeps the clocks running. His father, Jude Law, is dead. Ray Winstone should be raising him, but he is a drunk and, as Isabelle would say, a reprobate. Hugo faces two antagonists: the station officer–Sacha Baron Cohen–and a bitter old toymaker–Ben Kingsley. Kingsley’s Georges Méliès is Isabelle’s godfather and he is married to Jeanne—Helen McCrory, whom I thought was a better preserved Sigourney Weaver. The depth of the cast includes Richard Griffiths, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, and Michael Stuhlbarg.

I want to say that the visuals were not the only thing in 3-D, the character were as well. Yet, that sound so contrived and inappropriate for a film that has so little contrived about it. Every character has a story. Howard Shore did a phenomenal job providing the music for each locale and each role, which describes the characters better than individual themes. For instance, there was certain music that surrounded the automaton, featured in all of the posters. Yet he played more of a role, of a function, than as a character. The same is true for the characters, except that they are fully developed and function as cogs in a wheel because of the film’s message, rather than because of poor writing or directing.

Hugo showed a world of magic through film. It also acknowledged the glory of the written word, which is appropriate since this is an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Film has always struggled with acceptance as an art form, in a way that books have not. So for a film to show the struggle of early cinema and failure, yet to showcase the power of books shows the dexterity of the story. When Martin Scorsese was a child directors often made artistic children’s movies aimed at adult audiences, but now we just have “there’s something for everyone in this” or Pan’s Labyrinth—an amazing children’s movie that no-one under 15 should watch. This nostalgic film harkens back to a time that probably never existed, but does so without the saccharine sweetness of glossing over our dark past. Just a great, great film, regardless of age of its audience.

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The Color of Money

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***½

You gotta have two things to win: you gotta have brains and you gotta have balls.  Now you have too much of one and not enough of the other.

Martin Scorsese reads opening monologue and it is cheesy pie.  It’s interesting how much Paul Newman’s voice changed from The Hustler until this one.  That said, he can still deliver when he’s got the right material, Mary Mastrantonio and he have a great scene with him outclassing her as a hustler.  I feel like this movie has me saying uh oh a lot.  On the bright side, one time has Tom Cruise getting the crap beaten out of him.

The irony of having actors yelling at each other about acting, and then to have Mastrantonio use the analogy of people acting in movies not going home and sleeping with each other.  The only thing that would have made the scene cooler would be if there were a rumor about Tom Cruise and Paul Newman having an affair with each other during the movie.  The pool/drinking/hanging out montages were very well done in this…well, except for the part where there’s some sped up footage of pool—what the hell was Scorsese thinking?  And what happened to Mary Mastrantonio?  She seemed really good in this.  She deserved her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nom.

I went into this film assuming that this would be a let down, that Paul Newman won Best Actor because of his body of work leading up to this film.  He failed to win for The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, The Verdict and two other films before this.  Looking back, how could the Academy rationalize Newman’s failure to win at least one Best Actor Oscar in those films!  Newman brought ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson back to life and added in years of life experience.  Having not seen any of the other 4 nominees from 1987, I still believe he actually deserved this one.  If not for the cheesy pie ending, this would easily be a four star movie.