Hugo was just one of those films where I sat down and had no idea what I was about to watch. Aside from what a few underwhelming previews offered, I had virtually no expectations for this film. I knew the film had Sacha Baron Cohen in what seemed like some type of antagonistic role, it had Ben Kingsley, it seemed that it was a family film starring a young boy and the story had something to do with a train station. I didn’t know much, but I knew I had to see the film for one reason.
Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest film makers to have ever lived and I would never miss the chance to see one of his films. Scorsese’s latest film, Hugo, follows a seemingly derivative children’s story about a young loner and his adventures in a train station. Very early on the film feels as though it will become redundant and disappointing by the end, but past a certain point Scorsese establishes that Hugo is no ordinary family film, but instead a fascinating tale that serves as a parable about innocence and why we love going to the movies.
In a perfectly adequate performance, Asa Butterfield plays Hugo a young boy whom on the eve of the loss of his father attempts to fix a broken mechanical man that he and his father had been working on before his father’s untimely death. The intelligent boy considers it his duty to fix the clocks in the train station he calls home all while stealing different trinkets to fix his mechanical man. He runs from the station inspector when necessary and eventually befriends the daughter of a cranky old Toy Shop Owner who’s harboring a mysterious secret.
I’ve already said too much though and this celebration of film in general is one worth attending for yourself. I will say that I was not fully gripped or entertained by every aspect of Hugo, but the passion that went behind the making of this film can not be ignored. When I first heard about Hugo I wondered; why would Scorsese make a children’s film? He certainly answered my question and while this isn’t a masterpiece like so many other Martin Scorsese movies, it is a very powerful film and one that needed to be made.
There are those rare films every once in a while that are more than just entertaining or beautiful pieces of the art. These uncommon films offer you an experience like no other in which you feel strongly for the characters portrayed. Instead of just wondering where the films story will go you find yourself caring wholeheartedly about the events and characters put on screen no matter what happens. The motion picture Shame is just that kind of experience.
Shame is almost majestic in the way that no matter how heart breaking or tragic the film can be, you never feel detached or uninterested. Only a film as profoundly brilliant as Shame can make you feel so much. I mean is that not the point of a piece of art? To make you feel something. There are only a handful of cinematic pieces of art created annually and Shame is certainly one of them.
Shame is an exercise in the ideas of addiction and family established through a character study of Brandon Sullivan. The film opens and we are immediately introduced to Brandon, a man with the inability to make human connection based on his sexual addiction. His dark private life hits a speed bump when his irresponsible, yet seemingly loving younger sister Sissy comes to stay at his apartment.
Brandon isn’t just a sex addict. This is a character that is defined by his sexual addiction and his inability to change. Michael Fassbender portrays the incredibly demanding part to literal perfection. He caught my attention first in Inglourious Basterds but in this he gives one of the greatest male performances I’ve seen in a long time. Carey Mulligan as Sissy Sullivan was great and I’m coming to the belief that I can expect nothing less from her.
What Steve McQueen has crafted in Shame is a no-holds-barred emotionally draining drama that is simply unforgettable. McQueen creates a story around this uncomfortable subject matter and yet somehow finds a way to comfort you in the way that the film is so relentlessly beautiful both in its themes and the way it’s made. Shame is a true a achievement and a film that deserves enduring praise.