Roger Ebert gave a highly positive review of “Hugo” recently:
“Hugo” is unlike any other film Martin Scorsese has ever made, and yet possibly the closest to his heart: a big-budget, family epic in 3-D, and in some ways, a mirror of his own life. We feel a great artist has been given command of the tools and resources he needs to make a movie about — movies. That he also makes it a fable that will be fascinating for (some, not all) children is a measure of what feeling went into it.
Scorsese has a cameo, too. Lots of other well-known actors are in the film, too.
When the film started, it was 2D, but the “masking” was wrong; the top and bottom of the film was bleeding off-screen. I noticed the film was digital, not 35mm. It wasn’t focused and I could see artifacts. The opening shot, cityscape of Paris. A guy got up and walked out — then returned; they fixed it. He’d gone to complain.
Ten minutes into the film, the woman next to me checks her cell for messages.
On the way out, the manager hands everyone a coupon for a free movie and apologizes about the film at the start etc.
Cheryl wanted to collect “points” on a club card and we headed back to the lobby; she wasn’t able to get credit for buying tickets when the system was down; cash only. While there, we chatted to the ticket girl, and she told us about a co-worker who’d arrived one night to attend a movie. During the movie, someone used their cell phone — so she slips out of the theater, changes into her Cinema-plex uniform in the staff room, goes back and tells the woman to TURN OFF her phone. Then leaves to change back into her street clothes, and resumes her seat in the theater to watch the rest of the film!
Sadly, we’ve had moviegoing experiences like this before, but happily, not tonight!
The movie is magical; every performance is pitch-perfect. The two young people are breathtakingly good. The secondary characters, denizens of the Montparnasse train station according to the review on IMDB, are all wonderful, quirky, charming, or all of the above. The music is lovely. The camera work is thrilling (the swooping, flying shot through the station that opens the movie deserves 3-D and seats that face the center of the screen straight on as ours did). The embedded story of the history of film, of Cinema with a capital C, is handled sensitively and movingly.
And we didn’t watch it in a grubby multiplex nearest us that’s full of cardboard cutouts of future bad films and raucous packs of adolescents bent on disrupting every screening they wander into.
No, we decided to give something called “iPic” a try, at a shopping center a little farther out that’s located in an area that was empty farmland and meadows a few years ago.
We hadn’t been out that way in a few years – somehow they plopped an upscale “outmall” or two out there not far from the Sears home office area. Now I really hope Sears doesn’t up sticks and move, because all these other businesses and restaurants have located out there.
But I digress.
The iPic near us was… amazing.
We walked in and decided to talk to a staffer at the front desk rather than our usual move of opting for the touch-screen kiosk. Good thing, too; we got a few dollars off for taking a free membership, and we’ll have to remember to either book tickets online with our membership, or buy them at the counter. It was more like making an airline reservation, because after she explained the difference in the seating (there was either premium leather seats, or super-deluxe premium with recliners, pillows, and blankets with concierge meals).
We opted for “regular” premium; they were only showing the 3-D version of “Hugo” so we selected the seats the counter staffer suggested – at pretty much the optimum distance for viewing the screen straight on and centered. David never really likes 3-D, but I found this one movie to be crisply and cleanly rendered, with no fuzzy edges or stray “rainbows.” The depth of field was interesting, and more than one shot was clearly planned with 3-D in mind.
There’s one extreme close-up of Sasha Baron Cohen that looks like his head is about to land in your lap… but it’s a very emotional yet subtly played shot. It had to be, because the medium picks up every eyelash twitch.
Still, some of the effects were both very beautiful and effective with the enhanced depth.
As we watched the movie unfold, I was aware of several things: my seat was VERY comfortable. It was quiet in the theater – there weren’t that many people, but I sensed that people were really wrapped up in the movie. Afterwards, we walked out through the bar (BAR!) past the big fireplace (FIREPLACE) and through the restaurant (RESTAURANT). I stopped off in the ladies’ room, which had slate floors, upscale washbasins, and thought how it would not look amiss in a trendy restaurant. Then we walked out, seeing where Santa had been earlier with a photographer (SANTA WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER) by the second fireplace in the lounge/conversation area (INSERT ALL CAPS SUPERLATIVE HERE).
Yes, it was expensive. We were definitely paying premium, but with this membership thing we saved enough to bring it more in line with what we normally pay.
It’s definitely worth it to never have to deal with the packs of noisy adolescents that infest the closer, cheaper theaters. I don’t think they’re going to be willing to pay the upcharge, and the theater staff will have a vested interest in seeing they don’t disturb other patrons.
There are plenty of nice restaurants in the “outmall” near the theater, too. We’ll be back. For one thing, it was nice seeing a movie, that so clearly is a love letter to cinema, in a modern movie theater that is so beautifully designed.
We’ll definitely be back.