Digesting Hugo


These are some preliminary thoughts from a first viewing of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. I’m in the process of writing a chapter on representations of Georges Méliès for a forthcoming book, so this will be one of my primary texts, and I’ll need to watch it again. I thought I would assemble some notes as I go along. As a result, this might read like a string of disjointed observations at times, but hopefully there will be some points of interest for you along the way. I’m happy to discuss the film, too, and I’m aware that it has divided moviegoers in a way that it didn’t necessarily divide the critics. A quick perusal (which is all anyone should usually have to endure) of the IMDB comments page will give evidence of popular objections to the film. It was looking like a weighty flop on its domestic release, but Hugo will probably just about claw back its $170million budget  (the best evidence that this greenlit at a time when it looked like 3D was an infallible cash-cow) when the totals are added up from international markets. So, please leave me a comment if you have an opinion about this film.  Continue reading

The Hugo Trailer


If you’ve been a regular visitor to Spectacular Attractions (don’t worry – I’m not checking), chances are you’ve heard me mention Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Over the past few months the title has contracted, so that it is now going under the title of simply Hugo. It’s due for release in the USA on 23rd November, just a couple of weeks shy of the 150th anniversary of the birth of French film pioneer Georges Méliès, who plays an integral, but mysterious role in the story. At the centre of the tale is Hugo himself, an orphaned boy hiding out in a Paris train station and trying to discover the secrets of a humanoid automaton left to him by his father. Continue reading

Picture of the Week #58: Ben Kingsley as George Méliès in Hugo Cabret


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Spectacular Attractions has been following the progress of Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret since it was announced. It’s based on a beautiful book, has a top-notch cast, promises to re-imagine the possible uses of 3D, and best of all, it’s partly about one of my favourite film-makers, Georges Méliès. I’m hoping there’ll be some dazzling reconstructions of famous moments from his films. The casting for the role also looks to be an excellent choice, if these images of Ben Kingsley as both the young and the elderly Méliès are anything to go by.

Casting Confirmed for The Invention of Hugo Cabret


[See also The Hugo Trailer.]

The development of Scorsese’s adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret continues apace, with the announcement of some pretty solid casting decisions. Spectacular Attractions is unnaturally interested in this film, partly because it comes from a beautiful book, but mainly because it combines two of my favourite things, Georges Melies and automata.

The cast list now includes Hit Girl herself, Chloe Moretz as Isabelle:

Asa Butterfield from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas as Hugo Cabret:

And (Sir!) Ben Kingsley as Georges Melies, a fine selection, and one that hadn’t occurred to me:

Sacha Baron Cohen (just watched his nauseating turn as an Israeli tour guide on The Simpsons – a really misjudged and lazy episode) will most likely be involved as the station inspector. So far so good. But always skeptical…

Scorsese to Direct The Invention of Hugo Cabret


Another “watch this space” announcement for you today.  Spectacular Attractions is still committed to keeping an eye on developments on the two Moby Dicks currently in production, and will update you as soon as there’s something to update (my suspicion is that Timur Bekmambetov’s version will get postponed indefinitely, especially if the forthcoming TV version is a popular success), but maybe it’s time to start getting a little bit excited about the upcoming adaptation of Brian Selznick’s graphic children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Especially now that director Chris Wedge has been replaced by Martin Scorsese, a genuine cinephilic historian who might be able to do something interesting with the Georges Méliès angle. A vision in graphite, Selznick’s book is the tale of a young boy’s meeting with Melies and the automaton that may contain a message from his father. It’s all beautifully drawn, but most enticingly offers a rare opportunity for a blockbuster to tip its hat to Melies’ foundational achievements in film. I blogged about the book a while ago, alongside my own interest in automata and stuff like that.

Now, Variety reports that Martin Scorsese, who has owned the rights to the book since 2007, is signed on to make this his next film, with a script by The Aviator‘s John Logan. This will delay the rest of the stuff on Scorsese’s to-do list, including the Sinatra biopic, the Teddy Roosevelt biopic and the adaptation Shusaku Endo’s Silence, which was sounding pretty interesting with Benicio del Toro in the lead. I’ll be intrigued to find out how they’ll preserve the book’s distinctive aesthetic (without making it look like the Take on Me video), and look forward to the casting sessions for Georges Melies. There can’t be a better choice than Jean Rochefort, surely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they go with Jean Reno, or maybe Christopher Plummer.  And let’s not rule out the possibility that Tom Waits can do a French accent….