The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Fortnight: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 21-January 3

hugo-scorsese

Hugo (2011)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Winter requires silent cinema’s warmth. I suspect Scorsese knows this, too, considering Hugo’s Christmas release. It’s a lovingly crafted confection for multiplexes, a charmed adventure wrapped around a crash-course on film preservation’s rocky history. The lesson’s never dry or forced, but as luminous as the City of Lights itself. Asa Butterfield plays Hugo, another of Scorsese’s bright-eyed street children. He possesses Scorsese’s fervent love for escapism and gadgetry, sneaking into Harold Lloyd movies after secretly running the giant clock in Paris’s bustling Gare Montparnasse train station. With its gears, mini-scenes of convening characters (often performed sans dialogue), and bombastic layout, Montparnasse symbolizes cinema as both venue and medium. It’s where innovators like George Méliès (Ben Kingsley), and I suppose Scorsese, struggle to empower their dreams. Hugo’s self-preservation intertwines with art’s salvation, so much so that he spends much of the film protecting a mysterious robot, a final gift from his late father (Jude Law). Firmly embracing the innovations of now—digital 3-D being well utilized—Hugo seeks to remind today’s audiences how lucky they are at all. Ironically, the film itself becomes more and more forgotten. Max Kyburz (December 24, 2:30pm; December 30, 3pm at the Museum of the Moving Image’s “Martin Scorsese in the 21st Century”)

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