Tag Archives: Michael Stuhlbarg


The book – The Invention of Hugo Cabret – was better than the film Hugo. But only because it’s an extraordinary book, both as a story and for its wonderful pencil drawings that fill this very thick volume. And I can’t help but think that despite being a bit of a mouthful, the original title would make the film sound more intriguing. I’m hoping the lack of audience today was due to time of day and location. This film deserves huge audiences.

Christopher Lee and Asa Butterfield in Hugo

The timing is odd. I’d expected it to be a Christmas film, but a release date in early December might well mean it doesn’t last that long. I would have saved it another two or three weeks, but was afraid of missing it altogether by doing so.

I chose to watch Hugo in 2D. Maybe I missed out, but I don’t think so. I’m also of the opinion that less use of CGI would have been preferable, but perhaps it would have been too big a job to find the right locations without it. Just a slightly plasticky feel to the townscapes and the railway station, which would have been nice to lose.

Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley in Hugo

This is the story of orphan Hugo who lives in the walls of a Paris railway station looking after its clocks. He makes friends with Isabelle, whose guardian Papa Georges is an angry old man who can’t stand Hugo. The story slowly moves from their antagonism in the station, to the old man’s past and the childhood of movies. This is a work of fiction, so naturally the two stories meet, and everything ends happily.

That’s not a spoiler. Saying much more would be, so for anyone not familiar with the book, this is as much as you get. The end is big hanky time.

Pleasant change to have Ben Kingsley as someone nice. I’m used to him being one of the bad guys. Lots of great cameos by all sorts of people, and I especially enjoyed Frances de la Tour and Richard Griffiths. Christopher Lee is a charming bookshop owner, and even Sacha Baron Cohen wasn’t too dreadful in the end.

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz in Hugo

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz as Hugo and Isabelle were perfect, and Chloë’s English accent passed muster with me. But then, what do I know?

A Serious Man

‘No Jews were harmed in the making of this motion picture’ it says on the penultimate page of the 38 page press release. Are they quite sure? There was an awful lot of quietly dreadful stuff happening in A Serious Man, the latest film by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Apart from the ‘quietly dreadful’ it’s a rather sweet and lovely film, albeit somewhat weird. Although neither Jewish nor American, I felt strangely at home anyway. I feel 38 pages of information about a film is slightly on the long side, but it did help explain how they came by a residential area looking as new as it should have done in 1967, when the film is set. Storm damage, apparently. I’d been worried they’d cut down all the mature trees.

A Serious Man 2

The setting is almost too perfect and ‘authentic’, says I who have never set foot in the US. That’s the thing, really, with period pieces. They are too clean and too period. And it had better not have been the CCR Cosmo’s Factory they referred to.

What’s refreshing is using actors who are more or less unknown. We may feel we know them, but we don’t, really. It goes to show that we don’t need to be constantly forcefed Hollywood stars.

So, it’s about this poor middle aged man, who thinks life is fine and normal, and suddenly it’s anything but. Physics professor Larry Gopnik has a wife who wants to divorce him – as long as it’s a ‘gett’ kind of divorce – and a brother who’s a nuisance, a pot-smoking son just pre-Bar Mitzvah, and a daughter who washes her hair rather frequently. There is also his superior who will decide on giving Larry tenure. Or not. A blackmailing student, who gets the Physics, but not the Maths. Television aerials.

A Serious Man 1

More rabbis than you can shake a stick at, and who can’t advise poor Larry very well, and a surprisingly kind divorce lawyer. One sexy neighbour and one gun wielding one, who mows the lawn in a worrying manner. And, a beginning to the film which makes almost no sense whatsoever, except it’s quite fun and enjoyable. Let that be a warning.

On at Cornerhouse from Friday.

(Photos © Focus Features)