Hugo

Movies, Magic & Dreams

Hugo; Source: Wikipedia

Movies – it’s like seeing your dreams in middle of the day. Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is a love letter from the master filmmaker to cinema. The film reminded me of why I love the movies so much and even after the end credits rolled, the magic stayed with me. A few weeks ago, Jahan Bakshi wrote a beautiful post on ‘The Joy of Crying at the Movies’ and I could not agree more… this weekend when I watched Hugo, after almost giving up on the chance of it releasing in India, I re-discovered the joy of getting lost in someone else’s dream, someone else’s vision. That is what cinema is – magic!

Hugo is based on a historical fiction book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by American author, Brian Selznick (adapted for screen by John Logan). It follows the adventures of a young orphan boy, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) who lives between the walls of a railway station in Paris. Hugo likes to fix things and maintains the clocks in the station, something his alcoholic uncle is supposed to do. His purpose is to fix an automaton, a robot like mechanical man that can write, in the hope of finding a message from his father (Jude Law), a master clockmaker who died in a museum fire. He is joined in this adventure by a young girl, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is the goddaughter of Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), a toy shop owner at the station. While trying to retrieve a message from his father, Hugo finds another purpose – to fix a man who has lost his raison d’être in life. There are many other fascinating characters in Hugo’s world, including the station inspector, Gustave (Sacha Baron Cohen); the florist, Lisette (Emily Mortimer); the café owner, Madame Emile (Frances de la Tour); the bookshop owner, Monsieur Labisse (Christopher Lee); newsstand owner, Monsieur Frick (Richard Griffiths); Papa Georges’ wife, Mama Jeanne (Helen McCrory); film historian and author, René Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Macmillan, the station inspector’s Doberman (Blackie).

Hugo is technically perfect and has the best 3D I have ever seen. Unlike other films where 3D is a gimmick to raise ticket prices, the technology is used well to aid the narrative in this film. Martin Scorsese takes you inside Hugo’s world and you can’t help but admire each frame. From the depths of the clock tower to the intricate clockwork of the automaton, to the soot from a burnt notebook, everything looks and feels spectacular in 3D. Cinematography by Robert Richardson is simply magical and takes you to the Paris of 1930s with music by Howard Shore and art direction by a team of master craftsmen.

Grand in scale and imagination, Hugo is a very personal film that showcases the passion of a filmmaker as well as the characters in his film. The film moves slowly and lets you soak into the ambience created. Despite its leisurely pace, I can assure you that you wouldn’t want the film to end and would catch yourself admiring the work on-screen with a smile plastered on your face.

Watch Hugo in 3D on the big screen, the way it is intended to be seen and you’ll experience the real magic of cinema.

Hats off Monsieur Scorsese!

My Week With Marilyn

She’s Marilyn… She’s Michelle

My Week With Marilyn; Source: Wikipedia

Marilyn Monroe lives through her image… the iconic photographs, the stories around her enigmatic life and death, and of course, her films that released over half a century ago. She is more of a cinematic icon than a person in the minds of the viewers today… However, Simon Curtis’ (director) film ‘My Week with Marilyn’ brings Marilyn the star, Marilyn the manipulator, Marilyn the victim and Marilyn the insecure girl back to life again.  The real credit goes to the actress, who it seems was born to play this role – Michelle Williams.

The film is based on British writer and documentary filmmaker, Colin Clark’s account of his time spent with Marilyn on and off the sets of another film, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) for which she shot in London with actor/filmmaker, Laurence Olivier. Clark worked with Olivier as the third assistant director and forged an unlikely friendship with the world’s biggest star, albeit for a week. His two books, ‘The Prince, The Showgirl and Me’ and ‘My Week with Marilyn’ were adapted beautifully for screen by Adrian Hodges.

In the new film, Laurence Olivier (played by Kenneth Branagh) admires Marilyn’s screen persona and tells his young colleague, Colin (Eddie Redmayne) that he finds himself dull when she’s on-screen with him. That statement holds true of Michelle Williams’ performance in My Week with Marilyn. When she is on screen, you see nobody else and she lives Marilyn Monroe; she flirts, she winks, she laughs and says wicked things… she also appears nervous, vulnerable and someone you’d like to help, despite knowing that she can’t be helped. That’s the situation, Colin finds himself in as he thinks he can protect Marilyn, but from whom, herself?

The film also stars Judi Dench as Sybil Thorndike; Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh; Emma Watson as Lucy, a wardrobe assistant; Zoë Wanamaker as Paula Strasberg, Marilyn’s acting coach; Dominic Cooper as Milton Greene, her business partner, amongst others. A stellar cast like this and you only remember Michelle after the film ends! Of course, the role she plays ensured she gets the most attention, but it was a big responsibility and the final outcome rested on her performance.

Williams has given some fine performances earlier also that earned her Oscar nominations (Supporting Actress for Brokeback Mountain and Leading Actress for Blue Valentine); but this time she shone like never before earning her third Academy Award nomination (Best Actress). Do watch My Week with Marilyn for her. It is a fine film with an interesting story, good cinematography, art direction, great supporting cast, etc, etc. But at the end it is Michelle as Marilyn who is the soul of the film.

– Shrey Khetarpal

Aao Award Award Khelein

Cinematic Excellence vs. Popularity – The Big Debate

Dabangg - 2010's biggest entertainer

Filmfare Awards, Star Screen Awards, Zee Cine Awards, IIFA, Stardust Awards, Apsara Awards, National Awards and many more awards are there to celebrate excellence in Hindi cinema today. However, the big question here is whether these awards actually salute excellence or reflect the popularity of the year’s blockbusters in competition. The credibility of these awards is a different matter altogether; actors and filmmakers have often accused organizers of playing favourites, selling trophies and pleasing the powerful. These days, new categories are introduced to please some stars and sponsors, all in the name of encouraging talent and public voting! Leaving aside the credibility issue, the biggest question any awards ceremony needs to address is what they stand for; are they going to felicitate the biggest hit or a technically superior film that may not have set the box office on fire.

Udaan - 2010's finest Hindi film

One school of thought is purely merit based, where big and small films compete on the same platform and the same judgment parameters apply to all. Public voting system may not work well here as whenever you try to go mass, the stars’ emotional connect and popular appeal may take over. The only possible solution is having a qualified jury based judging process like our National Awards and the Star Screen Awards; though there are always questions on the jury’s decisions. Internationally also the most prestigious awards are jury based, like the Oscars, which have a much more complicated judging process and a much larger jury. These merit based awards help smaller, well-made films gain recognition and some more business. In fact, success at Oscars have helped some small films reach blockbuster status; case in point, Slumdog Millionaire. The flipside to this process is that many popular films are overlooked and the fans are left disappointed. At last year’s Oscars, James Cameron’s magnum opus, Avatar was beaten by a much smaller film, The Hurt Locker for the Best Picture trophy. The masses who had loved Avatar had not even heard of The Hurt Locker and many had complained of it being boring. This year the same thing happened at the Star Screen Awards where the year’s biggest hit, Dabangg did not find a nomination in the Best Film shortlist and a lesser seen but much superior film, Udaan won the big prize.

Click here to read full post that appeared on http://www.nowrunning.com

Declaration: The author of this article has grown up watching film awards and has almost always enjoyed them. He wakes up at odd hours to catch the Oscars and stays up late to watch the star-studded Bolly film awards that come with never ending commercial breaks. In the last few years, he has been disappointed with the state of Hindi film awards but has not lost faith. He is also part of the TwiFi Awards’ Film Buff Jury.

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