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Recent Movies Have Reminded Us Why We Love Movies

December 5, 2011

By John C.

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) and Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) are in love with the world of movies in Hugo

The last few weeks have brought us several movies that remind us why we fell in love with movies in the first place.  Great ones always have the potential to do that and we’ve gotten several of those, but I’m specifically talking about the recent films that take place in the world of cinema and have characters who love going to the movies.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo shows us two kids who help an older man rediscover his true purpose in the world.  My Week with Marilyn is the story of a young man falling for one of the biggest icons of his generation.  Super 8 is about the thrill of making your own movie.  And opening this coming Friday, The Artist is about a silent film star becoming painfully aware of his fading place in the world of the talkies.

Georges Méliès was one of the pioneers of cinema driven by special effects, and Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time.  Both of these elements are perfectly paired up in Hugo, the story of two kids who help Méliès (brilliantly played by Ben Kingsley) rediscover his lasting legacy.  No less than the birth of cinema is shown over several beautifully done montages.  At a time when many are fearing the rise of digital technology over good old fashioned celluloid, what’s special is the way that Scorsese uses the cutting edge technology of 3D to show us the undeniable importance of old movies.  This is a modern classic that won’t soon be forgotten.

There are so many wonderful moments in Hugo, but one that sticks out in my mind is when the main character looks out over the city and says “I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine.  Machines never come with any extra parts, you know.  They always come with the exact amount they need.  So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part.  I had to be here for some reason.”  This same ideology could also be used when thinking about a film set.  The director guides everyone and brings them together to create a film that could potentially be seen by millions of people all around the world.  More so than any other art form, the movies are a shared experience.

These themes of trying to find your place in an always changing world also bring us right into the next film in question.  In the late 1920’s, cinema would forever change with the invention of movies with sound as Hollywood entered into the era of the talkies.  The Artist looks at what it would have been like to be a silent film star living through this time, and does so by beautifully paying homage to black and white silent films in the process.  The year is 1927 and George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is one of the biggest silent stars of his generation, along with his beloved little dog.  Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) is a young dancer set for a big break.  We watch as their stories brilliantly connect, and the experience of seeing a silent movie in this day and age is nothing short of mesmerizing.

I was mesmerized in a different way by the brilliant performance of Michelle Williams as movie icon Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn.  I also loved the story about a young man, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who takes solace in the world of movies and gets a job on a film set where he starts to fall for his favourite actress.  Coupled with this summer’s wonderfully nostalgic Super 8 which showed us a group of kids setting out to make their own movie, these are all films that remind us of the importance of cinema both as an art form and as a means of escapism.  If done right, there is something magical about seeing a movie where the characters themselves are in love with the world of film.

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