Happy birthday to meeee.
A “Harry Potter” review is still stewing in my brain for a bit; expect it to precipitate sometime in the next day or two, after I have recovered from tonight’s, erm, antics.
Uhhhhh…did someone swap Martin Scorsese’s brain with Chris Weitz’s? I can’t even wrap my head around this. Scorsese, who, may I remind you, made a career out of directing films like “Goodfellas,” “Taxi Driver” and “The Departed,” has apparently decided to join the trend of pedestrian family-friendly fantasy films that has glutted the market since “Harry Potter” got going 10 years ago. And in 3D, no less. I’m not quite sure what to believe in anymore.
OK, let me ignore the incongruity of this project’s existence and make some observations. First, all joking aside, the design elements of this film do look fantastic, and you can go ahead and slot it in for at least Art Direction and Costume Design nominations at the Oscars right now. Second, 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Kings and Queens” is officially the most overused trailer music in the world (replacing “Lux Aeterna”), and must be done away with immediately. Last, I am actually much more intrigued by this film than my preceding comments might make it seem. The novel on which “Hugo” was based (the more Frenchy-titled “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”) was inspired by the true story of filmmaker Georges Mélies, cinema’s first magician.
Mélies is generally credited with the invention of special effects, employing dissolves, time-lapse photography, multiple exposures and more to challenge the assertion of contemporaries like the Lumiére Brothers and Thomas Edison that the primary purpose of film is to document reality. After being driven bankrupt by the major American and French movie studios, Mélies opened a small toy shop in a Parisian train station, and was rumored to own a large collection of automatons. So clearly, the Ben Kinglsey character here is intended to be Mélies; strange as it may seem for Martin Scorsese to make a children’s adventure tale, it should be interesting to see one master of the medium pay tribute to another, oft-forgotten genius. Can Scorsese summon the wonder of Mélies films like “A Trip to the Moon” and “The Impossible Voyage?”
After futzing around with passion projects like “The Girlfriend Experience” and the massive “Che,” Steven Soderbergh returns to his star-studded, Hollywood-glazed ensemble ways. Which is not meant to downplay the fact that “Contagion” looks quite thrilling and suspenseful. I’m a fan of just about all the actors involved (except perhaps Gwyneth, and well, looks like that won’t be too much of a problem), and the material seems to be relevantly following in the footsteps of “Melancholia” and “Take Shelter” in playing on our fears of impending worldwide doom. Is it this whole 2012 Mayan prophecy thing that has visions of apocalypse dancing in our heads?
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Guy Ritchie has apparently decided that people might like clever Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law banter, but they really really like things blowing up. My enthusiasm for the fresh take this series provided on the Holmes character has waned considerably after watching the BBC’s “Sherlock” mini-series, which did the whole “modern update on a classic” thing about 1000 times better, and besides actually bothered to place the whole thing in contemporary times, avoiding the anachronism issue. Still, I’m sure my love Downey Jr. and the general dearth of genuinely entertaining entertainment will get me to the theaters for this one come December.