Friday, November 25, 2011

Fashion Is Our Middle Name

We went to see Hugo on Wednesday.

For those of you who have not read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, well, what is your problem? It’s a big book, granted, but since most of it consists of atmospheric charcoal drawings it flies right by. And the story it tells, of an orphan living in a train station in 1930s Paris, the automaton he restores, and the tale that unfolds from that point, is a wonder to behold, especially if you know or appreciate early 20th century films. 

When Tabitha and I read through it the first time, she was curious about some of the old cinematic references – the Harold Lloyd scene where he’s hanging off the clock face, for example, and the oldest science fiction film in the world, where the rocket ship lands in the eye of the moon. And you know what? We live in an age of wonders. We went to the computer, fired up Teh Intarweebs, and there on YouTube were both films. It was fun to see her make those connections, and fun to see the movies. All books should come with side adventures like that.

So we were anxious to see the movie version. It’s a very cinematic book, after all.

Wednesday was its opening night and I can’t say I was all that surprised to find out that it was not playing here in Our Little Town, which is more of a Rambo XLIII sort of venue. Eventually we tracked it down to a theater in the Rather Larger City 35 miles south of us and – in a move that I would have found incomprehensible prior to moving to the midwest – we drove all the way down there to see it.

The theater was lavish in a way that I didn’t think movie theaters were anymore, but which fit the subject of the night quite well. And the seats were actually comfortable, with arms that folded up out of the way so you could actually spread out a bit and get cozy. Plus the guy behind me was also an Eagles fan, and we have to stick together these days.

The movie is in 3D, which meant that we all got yet another pair of those BCD-style glasses that they hand out. We’ve amassed quite a collection of them over the last few years, much to my dismay - to be honest if I can see a movie in 2D instead I generally will. But this seemed worth it. Mostly we recycle the glasses in those big blue boxes after these movies, but this time the girls asked if we could hang on to them.

Apparently it is now the style at both Mighty Clever Guy Middle School and Not Bad President Elementary to pop the lenses from these glasses and decorate the frames with glitter, paint and assorted other tinsel, and the girls spent much of our rather quiet Thanksgiving at home turning these utilitarian movie glasses into works of art.

Now they look like a cross between Buddy Holly and Hello Kitty.

Hugo: the gift that keeps on giving.


John the Scientist said...

But was the movie as good as the book? Worth the drive?

David said...

The movie was definitely worth the drive. They changed a few things, as you would expect - they took out the character of Etienne and expanded the role of the Station Master (which had the positive effect of giving Sacha Baron Cohen a lot of room to play - the man can act). But it was a very well told story, both in terms of characters and plot, and visuals.

Scorcese also did a really great job of capturing early 20th century cinema - sometimes with recap scenes (the Lumiere brothers actually appear in the film in a memory scene, and it was just astonishing how he recreated Melies' studio), and sometimes with sly homage.

Highly recommended.