OK, up front: I’m just not a Martin Scorcese guy. I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it again. I can explain it any number of ways—he makes movies about topics I’m not particularly interested in, with people in them who don’t seem to be worthy of the attention, for example—but when you get down to it, I’m just not into him.
I don’t deny he has considerable talent. He makes beautiful movies. He knows how to block a shot and how to light a set. All that. But when I see his movies? I don’t hate them. They just completely fail to reach me. I was mildly entertained by The Departed and seriously bored by (and slightly offended by the naivete of) Shutter Island but ultimately, his movies are just a big meh in my book.
So, I’ll redundantly say of his new family-ish film Hugo: Meh. The Boy echoed that. The Flower thought it was okay, not up there with your average Pixar/Dreamworks film. What’s different about this film, compared to other Scorcese pictures, is that I should have loved it, based on the subject matter.
The trailers are really misleading. This is not an animated child’s film about mysterious city, robots and adventures. This is a live action movie with ridiculous, atmosphere destroying CGI pull outs to a completely fake looking 1931 Paris.
Yeah, it’s Paris in the ‘30s again. The story is about a freshly-made orphan who lives in the service areas of a train station winding the clocks to cover for his drunk (and missing) uncle, while stealing parts from a toy repairer to try to finish a project he and his dad were working on right before his dad got killed by some really silly looking CGI fire.
The project is an automaton which, contra the trailers, isn’t a robot or any sort of fanciful thing, but a genuine wind-up automaton, like they used to have in the 19th century. (Here, buy this $500 book through my Amazon link.) While occasionally Scorcese imbues the proceedings with a certain fantastical aura, the movie is a very literal period piece.
The plot crosses through the work of the grandfather of film sci-fi, Georges Melies, so I should have been in movie nerd heaven throughout most of the film. And yet.
Well, look, I’ve already said Scorcese just doesn’t reach me, so anything I add is going to be gratuitous. That said, this is a self-indulgent film. Not horribly so, but enough to need to be edited down by half-an-hour. Kind of like how I could have edited this entry down and eliminated these last paragraphs.
If you’re a Scorcese person, and a film person, you’ll probably dig it.