catching up: treme, the walking dead
music friday: robert johnson

blu-ray series #5: hugo (martin scorsese, 2011)

(The “Blu-ray Series” is by request from my wife, who said I had to watch all of the Blu-rays on the shelf that I hadn’t gotten around to, before I bought any more.)

I think it was a good thing I waited a bit before seeing Hugo, because I forget what it was about. Thus, the big reveal about Papa Georges surprised me, and it was a nice surprise. Up until that point, I found myself enjoying what seemed a very un-Scorsese-like film about two kids (played winningly by Asa Butterfield and especially Chloë Grace Moretz) in an interesting world that effectively blended the real and fantasy.

Then we find out who Papa Georges really is, and the film comes to a stop. What follows is interesting in its own way. Scorsese wants us to know about the film pioneer Méliès, and the way he tells us the story is clever. It is also clever how Scorsese manages to connect that history with the rest of the movie. But the tone switches from the fantastic to the pedantic, which is ironic given that Méliès was a master of fantasy.

There is a lot of heart-tugging in the final section of the film, with stuff about fathers that likely touched many in the audience. Maybe not, though … while the film got good reviews, it didn’t do well enough at the box office to recoup its costs.

For me, the first half of the film was engrossing, the section about the career of Méliès was interesting, and the rest of the movie was tolerable. It was clearly a labor of love for Scorsese, and he has made worse movies. I watched a 2D Blu-ray, so I can’t speak to the 3D aspects of the film. #102 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 250 films of the 21st century. 7/10.

Of Scorsese’s 21st-century films, Hugo is about as good as The Aviator and Shine a Light. I preferred it to Gangs of New York, although I’m in the minority there. For another movie with Chloë Grace Moretz (in a supporting role), try (500) Days of Summer. And obviously, you can hunt down some of the work of Méliès. You can find him all over YouTube.