Brian Selznick

Culture Warrior

The self-reflexive practices of the meta-film take various forms. On the one hand, there’s the legacy of cinephilic directors from Brian De Palma to P. T. Anderson to Robert Rodriguez who shout out to specific films through their in-crowd referencing, or even go so far as to structure entire narratives through tributes to cinema’s past. Then there’s “the wink,” those film’s, like this weekend’s The Muppets, who exercise cheeky humor by breaking the fourth wall and by constant reference to the fact that they are in a heavily constructed film reality. The third category is less common, but perhaps the most interesting. There has been a recent influx of films that don’t use past films to construct present narratives or engage in Brecht-light humor, but have as their central narrative concern the broad developmental history of the medium itself, from practices of filmgoing to particularities of projection, and anything in between. Bertolucci’s The Dreamers is a good example of this mode of meta-filmmaking, but more high-profile films have begin to make this turn, specifically by directors who formerly operated in the first (and perhaps most common) category, like Tarantino with Inglourious Basterds two years ago. Now Martin Scorsese has followed suit with the 3D love letter to early cinema and film preservation that is Hugo.

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It’s hard to overstate just how amazing it is to consider a big-budget, major studio-produced 3D family adventure centered on Georges Méliès. Before now, the work of the early cinematic innovator, whose movies (most famously 1903’s A Trip to the Moon) revolutionized and advanced special effects, has been relegated to film history texts and brief snippets of televised specials. If there’s one filmmaker to make Méliès matter again, to introduce him to a mass audience, it’s Martin Scorsese. After all, the Oscar-winning legend is not just one of the foremost cinematic masters, as a noted film preservationist, he’s among the chief protectors of the long, glorious and frequently threatened legacy of the motion picture. In Hugo, Scorsese transforms the trappings of a 3D holiday picture into a loving tribute to Méliès and the earliest masters of the cinematic dream factory. From the structure of its narrative, to the details of its plot, and the industrialized nature of its majestic visuals, this is a film infused with the joy and wonder of movies. Set amid the glittering magic of Paris in the early 1930s, the film follows 12-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who secretly lives in a train station. Hugo, who winds the station’s clocks, dwells inside a labyrinthine interior comprised of enormous grinding gears, rising steam currents, and other elaborate metallic concoctions. Among the latter is a non-functioning automaton brought home by Hugo’s late father (Jude Law), which the young man works on incessantly in the hope that he can bring […]

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It’s likely going to be a very happy holiday season for the Butterfield family, as rising star Asa Butterfield is already lining up his next big starring role even before his biggest project hits screens. Butterfield leads Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo this Thanksgiving in the title role, based on Brian Selznick‘s book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” and it looks like the young star is next jumping to another massively anticipated adaptation. With Hugo already pulling in positive reviews (particularly from dyed-in-the-wool cinephiles), it’s no surprise that the young star is already book further heavy-hitting roles. Deadline Bondville reports that Butterfield has been offered yet another titular role in a book-to-film adaptation, that of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin in Gavin Hood‘s upcoming big screen Ender’s Game, his take on Orson Scott Card‘s sci-fi classic. Card’s character first appeared in a short story in 1977, which went on to spawn the 1985 book (which this film is based on), along with a continued series that now consists of eleven books (with at least two more planned). Can we say “sequels”? Ender’s Game already has a March 15, 2013 release date set, so Summit Entertainment is not resting on their laurels with their potential next-big-thing franchise.

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When I thought more and more about it, I realized that Scorsese is one director that doesn’t need 3D to add depth to his visuals.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
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