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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Labor of Love
by Betty Jo Tucker

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo marks a complete change in content for this acclaimed director. As we all know, Scorsese usually deals with gritty, violent topics in films like The Departed and Raging Bull. In fact, my husband expressed concern over the “gratuitous NON-violence” in Hugo. And it’s Scorsese’s first 3-D movie, which I thought would make it difficult for me because my eyes don’t adjust very well to this process.

But I have to admit watching Hugo was an amazing experience for me. The incredible production design and remarkable cinematography made me feel I was right beside the young hero, played endearingly by Asa Butterfield, during his 1931 adventures in a Paris train station clock tower. Excitement is the name of the game as we scurry through the station, help ourselves to a delicious croissant, and then hide from the “all business” station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). My nerve ends tingle as we climb the clock tower and look down, down, down below. Warmth overwhelms me when we meet a kind young girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who becomes our friend. Then worry sets in as I wonder how long we can keep winding the station clocks before the authorities discover there’s no adult supervising us.      

My friend and colleague Diana Saenger, editor/creator of Classic Movie Guide, wrote a beautiful review of this unusual motion picture, and I can’t help echoing her comment -- “Thank you, Martin Scorsese, for delivering a film we can finally savor this year.”

I particularly enjoyed the film’s section about one of cinema’s early pioneers, Georges Méliès. Because Scorsese is committed to the cause of film preservation, his concentration on the career of Méliès (played by Sir Ben Kingsley) seems quite appropriate, for most of the movies completed by this creative Frenchman were destroyed. Hugo reveals how devastating this loss can be for everyone who loves motion pictures. It also dramatizes the importance of Scorsese’s Film Foundation, a non-profit group which has been instrumental in helping to preserve hundreds of movies.

As an avid film fan, I’ve been donating my author’s royalties for Confessions of a Movie Addict to The Film Foundation. Scorsese’s Hugo made me even more certain that’s the right decision.

(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “PG” for mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking.)

For more information about Hugo, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

Listen to "Preserving Films & Movie Memories" featuring Margaret Bodde, Executive Director of The Film Foundation, by clicking here.

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