Thursday, January 12, 2012

In Matters of Taste - Hugo

The "Special Features" on a DVD is an amazing thing when you think about it.

When they opted to pull back the curtain on the movie-making process and reveal the details regarding making films on the same DVD as the film itself, I'll bet it was a visceral decision, akin to a magician giving us a look-see behind the stage, or a master chef allowing us to snoop in his recipe file. But as it turned out, letting the secrets be known (at least some of them, anyway) has not diminished our love for movies. In my case, in fact, catching a glimpse into the magic box of filmmaking has amped up my appreciation for the art.

If that's true for you, as well, you should see Hugo.  Seems that Martin Scorsese admires film, too, and Hugo is an homage to all that is art in film. The secrets, the skill, the technology, the beauty, the art of the process, from idea to the work to the end product to the audience in the theater--all of it is honored and adored in this film about film makers.

Wrapped in a children's book story of a boy-to-man human whose one goal is to bring the same transition to bear on a wind-up-robot, Scorsese builds his plot on the mystery and joy of invention, labor, and purpose. It's hard to miss the point: can we find the missing piece of life's greatest puzzle? - Where do I fit? How do I find my place? What is my purpose? What happens when I lose it? Can I find it again? The answer to these questions tells the story, and the Story--yours and mine--is the point.
  • The appeal for me is a film that brings the BIG QUESTIONS to the table of our minds in a simple, profound way.
  • The appeal for me is the unmentioned but very bold backdrop of theology: You are here on purpose. There is a Maker and he knows what he's doing. Finding the place where you fit is the magic key for making sense of the world, and that key is out there, waiting, even if you've misplaced it.
  • The appeal for me is the unifying theme, lived out and revealed in each character, even the side-kicks and bumbling clowns serving in support of the story. Even puppies find their place here.
  • The appeal for me is a movie that kids will enjoy and parents will think about.
  • The appeal for me is the breath-taking beauty of a single shot or scene--a flower stand, a Paris landscape at night, a journey through every child's dream-land of hidden places--and Hugo offers a gallery of these sequences.
And that is why, by the way, you should see this film in 3D. Technology and art is the central core of Hugo. It only makes sense that Scorsese would use the latest and greatest in service of the plot, and he does so in elegant form. This is not 3D for the sake of oohs and ahhhs, but in conscription to the artistic heart. This 3D does not leave you saying, "OH! WOW! It was like it was heading for my face!" Instead, it aims at the tender parts of our senses that determine what is true and beautiful. When the busy marketplace of a Parisian train station is brought to life in this way, it's like sitting in front of a van Gogh landscape and smelling the place.

Hugo keeps coming into my mind, weeks after I saw it, without disturbing me in the process. That's enough to say it was good.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

In Matters of Taste

God expresses himself and his truth in stories. The Bible, to be sure. But elsewhere, too. Many of these stories bear themes of redemption, grace, love, and home. I like stories like that. I eat them up.

To find them, I like reading books, watching movies, and viewing TV shows. I don't like everything I taste. I might not care for something that you enjoy. I also don't have time to watch and read everything. But like a recipe that's really good, or a restaurant discovery, it's fun to share what you like. When I find a book, movie, or TV program that I like, I want to talk about it.

Which makes people tire of me quickly.

So to spare the chatter, on Tuesdays I will write about what I like here. I'll attempt to give you a taste of the stuff that flavors truth and puts redemption on a plate. I'll also let you know what I think doesn't live up to the picture on the recipe.

And I encourage your responses and critique. As long as we all understand, De gustibus non disputandum est-- In matters of taste there is no debate.

Next week: the movie, Hugo.