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Category: Hugo

'Muppets,' 'Arthur Christmas,' 'Hugo' hit with movies critics

November 23, 2011 | 12:13 pm

Arthur Christmas

Film critics are falling all over themselves — and not for the last spoonful of stuffing at the holiday buffet. Reviewers have come out in force in support of this week’s new movies, with nearly across-the-board raves not only for the limited-release silent film “The Artist” but also for the mass-appeal family films “Hugo,” “The Muppets” and “Arthur Christmas.”

According to averages of the three leading movie review aggregation sites — Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Movie Review Intelligence — the best-reviewed of the PG-rated movies is Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” a 3-D live-action drama adapted with screenwriter John Logan from the best-selling novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Rotten Tomatoes assigned “Hugo” an average score of 96, Metacritic gave it an 84 and Movie Review Intelligence called it an 87.5, for an average score from the three sites of 89.2.

The latest live-action “Muppets” story also drew extremely strong marks, with a 97 from Rotten Tomatoes, a 76 from Metacritic and a 77.4 from Movie Review Intelligence, for an average from the three aggregators of 83.5

“Arthur Christmas,” an animated film about what really happens at the North Pole around Dec. 25, earned a 94 from Rotten Tomatoes, a 72 from Metacritic and a 74.3 from Movie Review Intelligence, for an overall average of 80.1.

But none of Thanksgiving movies can quite touch “The Artist,” which so far has collected some of the year’s best reviews — right up there with “The Descendants,” “Shame” and the documentary “We Were Here.”

Rotten Tomatoes gave “The Artist” a score of 98, Metacritic said it rated an 83 and Movie Review Intelligence gave it a 91.1, for an average of 90.7.


Movie review: 'Hugo'

Movie review: 'Arthur Christmas'

Movie review: 'The Muppets' are sweet and subversive

--John Horn

Photo: A scene from "Arthur Christmas" Credit: Aardman Animations


Nothing says Thanksgiving like Bruno [poll]

November 21, 2011 |  4:18 pm

Sacha Baron Cohen
When you count your blessings over the Thanksgiving holiday, being grateful for Sacha Baron Cohen may not be at the top your--or anyone else's--list. But a close examination of next week's family movies shows that the star of "Brüno" and "Borat" has direct ties to all three of the PG-rated titles opening Wednesday.

The most obvious case is "Hugo," director Martin Scorsese's adaptation of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret." The "Raging Bull" director cast Cohen as the story's station inspector, and even gave the character a bit of a love story.

"Arthur Christmas," a new holiday story looking at the real inner workings of the North Pole, was written by Peter Baynham, a screenwriter on "Brüno" and "Borat."

Finally, "The Muppets," an update on the legendary puppets, was directed by James Bobin, who directed numerous episodes of Cohen's "Da Ali G. Show."

--John Horn

Photo of Sacha Baron Cohen in "Brüno." Credit: Universal Pictures




Word of Mouth: Demolition derby at the Thanksgiving box office [video]

November 17, 2011 |  3:49 pm

It's one of the busiest moviegoing weekends of the year. And this Thanksgiving could also be one of the ugliest.

No fewer than three PG-rated movies will be released Wednesday, and because all of them are pursuing the same basic audience — parents and their kids — it's likely there will be a bit of show business cannibalization. In this week's Word of Mouth column, John Horn looks at the opportunities for and challenges facing the three movies — "Hugo," "The Muppets" and "Arthur Christmas."

The movies not only have to compete against one another but also the second weekend for the latest "Twilight" sequel and "Happy Feet Two." Like a big Thanksgiving meal, perhaps there will be enough to go around for everyone.


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Scorsese rousingly endorses 3-D, says holograms next

November 6, 2011 |  1:25 pm


Some Oscar-winning auteurs are ambivalent about 3-D; some are cautiously enthusiastic.

Then there's Martin Scorsese.

The helmer behind gritty crime stories including "The Departed," and "Mean Streets" says that not only is 3-D the future of storytelling, but that he also hopes the movies over the next few years will become ever-more interactive. Like, hologram-interactive.

"As I sit here now, I see you in 3-D," the director behind the upcoming "Hugo" told an audience in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. "So why belittle that part of our existence? Why not use it? "

Scorsese said that he expected 3-D to be just the first step in 21st century cinematic storytelling. "If everything moves along and there's no major catastrophe were headed toward holograms," he said, adding, "They do it in theater," citing how an actor might walk into the audience while in character. "You have to think that way. Don't let the fashion and the economics inhibit you."

While big-budget storytellers such as James Cameron and Peter Jackson have embraced 3-D, the format has yet to receive this kind of endorsement from an old-school dramatist like Scorsese.

Continue reading »

'Hugo' author's movie companion illuminates film world for youths

November 2, 2011 |  1:23 pm

Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz in

Characters in movies like this summer’s “Super 8” and the recent British comedy “Son of Rambow”  remind us that even youngsters can fill the director’s chair. But ask a child if he knows what a second unit director or a 3-D stereographer does and you probably wouldn’t expect him to have the answer.

Author Brian Selznick set out to change that with “The Hugo Movie Companion,” which hit shelves Tuesday. The book takes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “Hugo,” which is based on Selznick's children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Unlike the typical official movie companions that studios release with new films, this one is geared toward a younger audience, like the movie itself.

“I interviewed 40 people from Scorsese to the dog trainer and asked everybody to define their jobs for children, which is something I don’t think Scorsese had been asked before,” Selznick said.

The Academy Award-winning director may be more accustomed to darker fare like “The Departed” and “Taxi Driver,” but he supplied Selznick with a poetic answer for his young audience:

“[The director’s job is] the same thing that children do when they play … make up stories, give people parts to play, and figure out where they go and what they do,” Scorsese said in Selznick’s book.

The cover of Brian Selznick's The Hugo Movie CompanionThe young and the young-at-heart stay prevalent in the book. Selznick interviewed the filmmakers about their favorite films when they were children. A photo of a miniature train is accompanied by an anecdote about a 12-year-old boy visiting the set who got to call “Action!” for the take, sending the train crashing through the window of a miniature set.

Featuring other key players, from the cast to the dialect coach to the set decorator, “The Hugo Movie Companion” also includes photos from the London set built at Shepperton Studios, annotated pages of the script, storyboards, concept art and Selznick’s illustrations from the novel.

In the book’s last chapter, Selznick describes the making of one scene in the film where all the people he interviewed play a part –- including the author himself in his own cameo.

“It was really fun to interview everybody and get to look at how a movie really gets made, because there’ll be a lot of jobs that kids didn’t even know existed until they read this book,” Selznick said.

“The Hugo Movie Companion” is published by Scholastic Press. “Hugo” opens in theaters Nov. 23.


Martin Scorsese winds up 'Hugo' [Trailer]

Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' not just a kids' movie [Trailer]

Scorsese's unfinished 'Hugo' shows 3-D's promise for NYFF crowd

–- Emily Rome

Photos, from top: Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz in "Hugo"; cover of "The Hugo Movie Companion." Credits: Paramount Pictures; Scholastic Press

Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' not just a kids' movie [Trailer]

October 26, 2011 |  3:06 pm

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz in 'Hugo'


This post has been corrected. Please see note at the bottom for details.

A new trailer hit the Web Wednesday for “Hugo,” Martin Scorsese’s first family-oriented movie and his first venture into 3-D filmmaking. 

“Hugo” is based on the Caldecott Medal-winning novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick about an orphan boy who lives in a Paris train station in the 1930s.

Compared with the trailer released in July, the new one seems to be out to prove that this isn’t just a kids’ movie. The earlier trailer featured a lot of Hugo (Asa Butterfield) leading a playful chase around the train station to escape a clumsy station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). The new trailer features more Ben Kingsley, who plays a character inspired by pioneering filmmaker George Méliès, and takes a more serious tone with the same music used in “The Fighter” and “The Adjustment Bureau” previews. (The piece is “Breath and Life,” by trailer music company Audiomachine.)

“Hugo” has been touted as revolutionary for its un-gimmicky use of 3-D. Getting its first test of those high expectations, an unfinished version of the film had a surprise screening at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 10.

Wider audiences will have to wait to judge the 3-D for themselves, but they will get to see a 2-D version of the trailer on the big screen when it starts screening in theaters in front of "Like Crazy" on Friday.

“Hugo” also stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Jude Law, Christopher Lee and Emily Mortimer. The film hits theaters Nov. 23.

[For the Record, Oct. 27, 12:15 p.m.: An early version of this post misidentified the author of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" as Ben Selznik.]


Martin Scorsese winds up 'Hugo' [Trailer]

Moviegoers may end up paying more to see 3-D films

Scorsese's unfinished 'Hugo' shows 3-D's promise for NYFF crowd

–- Emily Rome

Photo: Asa Butterfield, left, and Chloë Grace Moretz in "Hugo." Credit: Paramount Pictures

The week in film: 'Hugo' and 'Footloose'

October 14, 2011 |  3:42 pm

It's been a week of realigning the old with the new. Director Craig Brewer takes on his favorite movie from the 1980s in his revival approach to redoing "Footloose," while veteran helmer Martin Scorsese seems to successfully tackle 3-D in his upcoming kid flick "Hugo."

Nicole Sperling and Steven Zeitchik discuss the first screening of Scorsese's "Hugo" at the New York Film Festival where the auteur's mastery of 3-D was lauded by critics. In the hands of an accomplished filmmaker, does 3-D have a better chance at a resurgence? And what are the commercial prospects for "Footloose," a remake of a popular film, one that doesn't feel all that different from the original?



Craig Brewer: Keeping it 'Footloose'

Scorsese's unfinished 'Hugo' shows 3-D's promise for NYFF crowd

Photo: The remade "Footloose." Photo credit: K.C. Bailey/Paramount Pictures.


Scorsese's unfinished 'Hugo' shows 3-D's promise for NYFF crowd

October 11, 2011 |  3:10 pm

Martin Scorsese
General audiences will have to wait until November to see "Hugo," Martin Scorsese's first venture into 3-D filmmaking, but on Monday a select crowd at the New York Film Festival got a sneak peak at the work in progress. The film, which is based on the book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," by Brian Selznick, tells the story of an orphan living in a 1930s Paris train station who tries to unlock a mystery left behind by his late father.

Although the visual effects, music and sound are unfinished, the initial reaction to "Hugo" has been largely positive, with particular praise for the film's artistic use of 3-D, a technique often derided as gimmicky. The film is also being called a love letter to the history of cinema.

Matt Singer, of IFC, says that while Scorsese's film won't single-handedly save 3-D filmmaking, it does demonstrate the medium's artistic potential. Scorsese, Singer writes, "essentially upends the classical model of 3D cinematography, in which objects in the frame constantly move towards the lens. Scorsese does the opposite; he constantly moves the lens towards the objects in the frame, playing as much with our perception of movement as our perception of depth."

On Deadline.com, Mike Fleming says Scorsese's use of 3-D is more engrossing than eye-catching. "Scorsese has provided the most intriguing use of 3D since James Cameron did in 'Avatar'; instead of the gimmicky opportunity of using 3D to have objects jump out at audiences, Scorsese employs it to subtly immerse the audience into Hugo Cabret’s world," Fleming writes. He adds, "Scorsese has infused the film with his love of cinema history and passion for film restoration."

CinemaBlend.com's Katey Rich considers the film's underlying narrative: "The story stops and starts a bit too often, and some side plots could use tightening, but the movie is a charmer overall, combining physical comedy — very clearly inspired by silent films of the era — with some touching coming-of-age elements and, of course, a full-throated love of the movies."

For Eric Kohn, of IndieWire.com, "Hugo" is a triumph of technique, if not of storytelling: "It’s certainly a heartfelt feast for the eyes, but 'Hugo' may lose some awards season momentum due to a less-than-satisfying plot and a fixation on silent film history that could alienate larger audiences. However, it’s still a visual marvel that may be best remembered as the director’s most advanced technical feat."

Edward Douglas, writing for ComingSoon.net, applauds the production design and compares the visual style to Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" and the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Douglas also notes that "Hugo" is part of a recent trend of cinematic nostalgia: "It's particularly interesting how 'Hugo' continues whatever is currently in the zeitgeist in terms of how filmmakers are paying tribute to the cinema of yesteryear as seen in 'The Artist' and 'My Week With Marilyn.' "

It sounds as though "Hugo" is shaping up to be a cinephile's dream; time will tell whether it resonates with wider audiences.


Martin Scorsese winds up 'Hugo' [Trailer]

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Martin Scorsese: An open letter to Michael Govan and LACMA

--Oliver Gettell

Photo: "Hugo" director Martin Scorsese. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


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