I just got back from seeing Hugo, which I found absolutely magnificent – the best movie I’ve seen all year (as well as the best use of 3D – that lately much-overused medium – that I’ve ever seen in a movie). I wish Georges Méliès could have seen it.

Asa Butterfield

I was particularly pleased to see how good Asa Butterfield is, given that he’s been cast as the lead in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.

Speaking of Card, he has posted what struck me as a somewhat tone-deaf review of Hugo. Here’s an excerpt:

In Hugo, Sacha Baron Cohen plays a crippled policeman. It is obvious – oh so obvious – that the movie wants us to think his attempts to chase Hugo through a train station are funny.

We are supposed to be amused when his leg brace jams and he has to manually free up the hinge.

But my reaction was initially to be appalled: What, are cripples supposed to be funny again? Will Scorsese next bring on a retarded person for us to laugh at?

Soon, though, I left “appalled” behind and was merely bored. Yeah, yeah, funny funny, we’re all so amused, move on with the story.

I thought this response by “Aros” is almost absolutely right (“almost” because “no comedy (at all)” goes too far):

[Card sees] the scenes with Sacha Baron Cohen chasing Hugo through the station …. as failed attempts at comedy. I am astonished. Not only did I see no comedy (at all) in the film, but I thought these scenes were WONDERFUL. First, they gave a believable excuse for fantastic cinematography. Second, they showed the character’s devotion to his duty, to his job, and to his world-view. Yes, he is crippled, and it causes him physical pain to chase the children. Furthermore, by following his duty he is flagrantly (and regrettably) telegraphing his weakness, of which he is very ashamed, to the woman he loves. Far from being humorous, I felt that the scenes were both very endearing character portraits (from Cohen’s perspective) and very lively 3D set pieces (from Hugo and the audience’s). I felt tension, wondering if Hugo would escape. The scenes hit every note correctly – I cannot conceive how one would believe that they were meant to be humorous.

I would add that Cohen’s character is pretty clearly a reference to Inspector Javert; after all, Jean Valjean even gets name-checked at one point.

3 Responses to Fixer/Xenocide

  1. Mr Civil Libertarian December 15, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Spoiler in this comment, albeit not a major one (and this is a movie where you really don’t want spoilers)

    My issue with his character was not the disability, but rather how in the last third or so, he manages to turn into a much more mellow character after finally being able to talk to the flower seller, then then suddenly turns into a grouch again, just in time to chase Hugo through the station. Then, conveniently changes back to the nice cop afterwards. I’ve seen this critique made elsewhere, so surely it can’t just be me…

    • Roderick December 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      I didn’t take his mellowing to be an indication that he’d already given up his mission.

  2. Bob Kaercher December 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Glad to see such positive feedback on this movie. This is what we’ll be taking our 6-year-old son to see on Christmas Eve. He recently read the book with his mother and is quite excited about seeing it.

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