Monday, February 06, 2012

I Went Somewhere Else

It was overcast and cool, but I had been inside my little cottage most of the day. I knew there was a big football game that would engage the whole country, and if you read yesterday's post you know how I feel about that, so I was looking for something else to do.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had ended its run at the local cineplex, replaced by Hugo, a fantasy about the early days of motion pictures. In 3-D, no less. It had earned critical praise and not a few awards and nominations for more. There was a showing at 4:40 which would take me away from my TV set for most of the period absorbed by pre-game and post-game conjecture about who was going to do what to whom and what the other side would have to do then.

No question, I was going to see Hugo. There was little traffic on the highways--all those Super Bowl parties, no doubt--and the movie house was all but empty. I took my sunglasses as they were handed to me at the box office and put them on when instructed.

I was enchanted by Hugo. For the first hour, which did move a bit slowly, I worked on suspending disbelief. It was basically a children's movie and I wished I had my grandsons with me and wished they were about six and nine again. I had to settle for my own inner child, who is about five in today's years. She loved it.

My outer adult questioned whether this flick really demanded 3-D, but had to admit it enhanced the show. I literally felt transported to the inside of a clock in a Paris train terminal of long ago, and I marveled at the clarity of the blue eyes of a boy named Asa Butterfield, and soon I was seeing the world through his eyes. In a charming cameo, Jude Law played his father. Ben Kingsley played a villainous old man. A little too cute for words was Chloe Grace Moretz as the well-read smarty pants who accompanies Hugo in his adventures.

I love movies about movies, at least the way they're doing them these days. (On the other hand, I have to say I enjoyed Singin' in the Rain more than The Artist) but I liked Hugo as much as any older film.

Hugo watches the passing scene through the clock in the terminal, where he lives, as one would watch a movie. He tells that he and his father used to go to movies and that his father told him about a movie he'd seen as a child in which a rocket hit the man in the moon right in the eye "And it was as if he was seeing his own dreams." I've seen that ancient bit of movie footage myself and loved the idea of a child in Paris seeing it for the first time. Hugo takes his new friend to her first movie, which shows Harold Lloyd hanging over the city, suspending himself from the hands of a giant clock. This is not the last time we see a scene of someone hanging from a clock in Hugo. I recently saw Tom Cruise hanging off the side of the building in an adventure flick but missed the Harold Lloyd reference. Hugo brings it home.

The experience of Hugo reminded me of a book I read five years ago and wrote a blog post about. My post was called "Dreaming the Movies" and you can find it if you type those words in the search box above. I won't go into all of it here, but the book described the experience of movies compared to the experience of dreams. Hugo captures the experience of both, telling the audience that that is the way it's supposed to work. In Hugo, it worked like a charm for me.

So I escaped the football game, came home to a disappointing episode of Downton Abbey, and climbed into my dreams for a full and pleasant night.

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