I suffer through an annual end of the year meltdown. As we get closer and closer to the close of the year, I get more and more concerned that I won’t have enough films to fill out my top ten. Now how sad would that be? Fortunately, this is merely a bad habit I’ve gotten myself into and not only did I come up with a nice selection after running through everything I’ve seen in 2011, but I had a pretty tough time narrowing the list down to just ten.
Per usual, my goal as a critic is to find the happy medium between my growing film studies background and simply being able to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Over the past year, being enrolled in Columbia University’s Film MFA program has undoubtedly affected my reviews, but focusing on a film’s entertainment value is still a top priority with filmmaking quality a close second and that’s as evident as ever in my list of the top ten films of 2011.
Click here to check out the list.
What better way to spend the most magical time of year than by seeing a particularly magical and inspiring movie? No, this isn’t a review – that you can find right here – but there’s really no way to talk about Hugo without being swept right back up by that incredible adventure.
Based on Brian Selznick’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo tells the tale of a young orphan named Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who keeps the clocks running in a 1930s Paris train station by day and tries to finish his deceased father’s work by night, restoring an old automaton. In attempt to find the pieces to fix the elaborate machine, Hugo targets Georges Méliès’ (Sir Ben Kingsley) train station toy stand. And yes, that’s Georges Méliès as in the iconic filmmaker of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Méliès catches Hugo in the act and after finding some stolen goods and Hugo’s notebook of automaton instructions, rather than merely reprimand him, Méliès is so distressed by his findings he takes and threatens to burn Hugo’s notebook. However, with the help of Méliès’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), Hugo not only comes closer to fixing the automaton, but fixing Méliès, too.
In honor of Hugo’s November 23rd release, a large portion of the gang assembled for a press conference. Producer Graham King, screenwriter John Logan, the station inspector Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisette the flower shop owner Emily Mortimer, Moretz, Butterfield, Kingsley and novelist Brian Selznick all came out to talk about working with Scorsese, dabbling in film history while making a film and so much more. Check out some of the highlights in the transcription below.
Click here to read the interview.
Part of the beauty of filmmaking, is the ability to transport viewers to another reality. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, filmmaker Georges Méliès seized the opportunity to put stop tricks and painted film cells to use, combining his skills as a magician and filmmaker to, quite literally, bring dreams to life. Ultimately, we’re still doing the very same thing today, but with the wildly advanced technology and more thorough understanding of storytelling, director Martin Scorsese has created one of the most successful attempts at bringing an audience into the movie with Hugo.
It’s the 1930s in Paris, France. After losing his father (Jude Law) in a terrible fire, young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is forced to live with his only relative, his uncle, Claude (Ray Winstone). A far from responsible drunk, Claude pulls Hugo out of school and shows him the ropes at work, teaching Hugo to keep the clocks running at a Paris train station. And it’s a good thing, too, because when Claude leaves Hugo to his lonesome, it’s up to Hugo to keep things timely.
When he isn’t tending to his train station duties, Hugo is hard at work at the one thing his father left behind, an automaton. Hugo regularly snatches up food and milk from the train station vendors and also frequents grumpy old Georges Méliès’ (Ben Kingsley) toy stand, a place prime for automaton part collecting. When Méliès catches Hugo in the act, he demands the boy empty his pockets. Amidst the usual mess of rogue toy parts is a notebook with automaton drawings and instructions that oddly rub Méliès the wrong way. When Méliès takes Hugo’s precious notebook, Hugo turns to Méliès’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), for help and the two discover they have a lot to offer one another, Isabelle helping Hugo get his automaton up and running and Hugo giving Isabelle a taste of adventure.
Click here to read more.
Halloween is just days away, but it was basically impossible to make this edition of Best/Worst Movie Promos holiday appropriate because it was the most family-friendly material that trumped the competition. But, before we get to the best of the best, here’s a rundown of the pieces that just missed the cut.
Action Heavy Featurettes
It’s always fun to get a peek at what it took to make a movie, but behind-the-scenes featurettes are particularly enjoyable when they’re for action-heavy thrillers and, even more so when they focus on A-list actors doing their own stunts. According to this behind-the-scenes look at Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise really does handle the action and adventure himself as this piece shows Cruise dangling from, climbing up and running on the outside of a high rise building.
We’ve also got three new featurettes from Tarsem Singh’s Immortals. Sure, Kellan Lutz is nice to look at, but I’d advise skipping that one and heading straight for the pieces that highlight the Montreal stunt team and Eiko Ishioka’s costume designs. It’s rather interesting to see the earlier stages of the film’s battle sequences and what the fights look like sans costumes. However, the wardrobe for this one does deserve a great deal of attention, as it comes from the mind of a designer with quite the number of accolades including an Academy Award.
Click here to read more.
No superhero vs. superhero battles on the big screen – not yet, at least – but Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America got the chance to duke it out in promo land this week and the outcome was rather surprising.
In general, there was a pretty tough fight for those promotion spots. We got a ton of new material, most of which is worthy of a mention. There’s the very first trailer for The Thing, which presents the film as a remake of the John Carpenter production rather than a prequel, but still manages to raise intrigue. Based on the first trailer for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, come November 23rd, we could get something that’s kid friendly, but still packing appeal to adults, too. Similarly, the first trailer for the 3D stop-motion The Pirates! Band of Misfitsarrived and while the material is quite juvenile, the animation is mesmerizing.
Glee: The 3D Concert Movie recovered from last week’s demotion disaster with a trailer that gets right to the good stuff, the music and behind-the-scenes time with the stars. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy takes a step in the right direction as well with a new poster that artfully hints at the intricacy of the plot.
Click here to read more.