Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Six-Week Film School Goes HUGO on November 1

Back in 2012, I called Hugo, director Martin Scorsese's movie adaptation of a children's book, the best movie of the year. I said then that I didn't consider myself a big Scorsese fan, but Hugo was a departure for him. If Scorsese is known for anything, it has to be gangsters, fisticuffs, and manly men grappling with their inner manliness.

But not Hugo. Instead, it's about the fantasy and sorcery of the movies, with a little mechanical magic thrown in for good measure. It's a beautiful film, one I called "a sweet, nostalgic look at film pioneer Georges Méliès" as it centers on a topic that's important to Scorsese -- film preservation -- "inside a narrative that feels wistful, involving and personally affecting all at once."

Professor William McBride has included Hugo as part of this fall's six-week film school done in conjunction with the Normal Theater. Previous topics have included film noir and the movies of Alfred Hitchcock, but this time he's gone for a sextet of Martin Scorsese movies, starting with Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and moving through Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ and Gangs of New York before getting to Hugo tomorrow night. The last film in the series, Silence, will be screened next week on November 8.

Much as I stereotyped him in my opening paragraph, you can see from that list just how expansive Scorsese's oeuvre is. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, from 1974, centered on a widow, played by Ellen Burstyn in an Oscar-winning performance, trying to create a new life for herself, including a romance with Kris Kristofferson and his beard. And, yes, it spawned the Alice TV show. That look at the ordinary life of an ordinary woman couldn't be more different from the scary, big-city violence escalating in Taxi Driver, from 1976, or the The Last Temptation of Christ, Scorsese's controversial 1988 religious epic, or Gangs of New York, a 2002 look at the bloodshed that ran in the streets of Manhattan's Five Points district in the mid-19th century. In contrast to each of the above, Hugo is set in Paris in the 1930s, with an orphan who lives in a railway station as its protagonist. And Silence, released just last year, goes back to the 1600s, once again focusing on religion and morality, but sending its Jesuit priests from Portugal to Japan in a clash of cultures.

I've picked Hugo week to spotlight, even though the six-week film school is well underway, because its beauty and magic speak to me and my movie-loving heart, but one thing that should be most interesting about McBride's talk is just how this sweet little Parisian trifle fits into Scorsese's career. Does it fit? Cinematically, thematically, any way whatsoever? I'm sure McBride will lots to say on that subject.

All of the movies and the post-show discussions are free in McBride's six-week film school, with a short introduction at 7 pm, just before the show starts.

No comments:

Post a Comment