Friday, August 31, 2012

"Deep In My Heart" - A classical musical film review by Robert Steven Mack

Once Upon A Time, during the mythical era  known as classic Hollywood, it was discovered that one could take the life of a well-known song writer and transform it into a heavily-financed motion picture. Such films would be brimming with popular tunes and ballads, lavish costumes, revered stars and the most talented directors money could transport. Nothing short of a star-filled musical extravaganza which nearly every major studio would try to produce.

Many such pictures were created: Words and Music, based on the team of Rogers and Hart; Night and Day, with Cary Grant as Cole Porter; Danny Thomas played Gus Kahn in I'll See You In My Dreams; Three Little Words based on the team of Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby played by the incomparable Fred Astaire and Red Skelton, respectively, These have been perhaps only a few of the most remembered and revered movies of this era. Indeed, when strolling along the vast road the land of classic films, encounter with these films is probable.

Characteristically, these films come off as sweet, dramatic-not to mention lavish-musical productions and maybe contain a light dose of comedy, if lucky. I recently came across one of those masterpieces in Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory Volume 3. This MGM collection actually contains relatively unknown musical romps and adventures the common audience is unlikely to be familiar with. One of the films is the collection is Deep in my Heart. What would a collection of classic musicals be without such a film?

I must note that these "exaggerated" musical biographies have been decried as cliche in some circles. After seeing just how many in Hollywood were made (No small number either!) I must admit to their disregard for unquestionable facts. Of course, this has never bothered me and I would suggest to anyone who rejects everything but omnipresent reality to read a book. Films are bigger than life  (environmentalists and other documentary-makers in general know this all to well)

"Deep In My Heart" mystically tells of Sigmund Romanoff, the legendary composer of operettas and broadway musicals who composed such works as The Student Prince and Maytime. Jose Ferrer heads the film's cast as Romanoff, narrating part of the story. Best remembered for his 1950 Academy Award winning potrayal of Cyrano de Borgrac, the Puerto Rican actor played the role beautifully as the  stoic, idealistic composer who encounters one trial and romp after another.
Sigmund is a young man, he works in an uneventful little cafĂ©. The film slides along with comfortable ease. The first half of the movie was particularly focused on his early successess on Broadway, and humorously portraying the mis-adventures of a young man who wanted to compose only distinguished works and vies for creative control. Though he himself quits after plenty a show, being utterly disgusted with the vulgar, unsophisticated work he is forced to do by a demanding public and his boss, and despite his dislike for the productions, however, the fame and mouth-wateringly sizable checks alway convince him to do another.

One time he managed to convince his producers to put on an operetta he wrote, Maytime. It turned out to be a tremendous hit with companies playing it all over the US.

His wish for creative control plummeted toward limit and turned down the production of Jazza-Doo with Al Jolson to go on his own to produce his kind of show: dignified, sophisticated, probably even philosophically motivated. Nobody liked it. So the production bombs, leaving him in debt, his idealist values hurt, and marching into his producers office and nobly apologizing and offering his services for Jazza-Doo. The producers rapidly accept.

To work on their new masterpiece, they go skipping to the country-side, and vow never to cease slaving on it. So much for that! Sigmund meets love...and her stiff, snobbish mother who disapproves of Sigmond's unpolished work.

During one of the most memorable moments in the film-my personal favorite-he performs the show all himself while an over-joyed producer and an utterly shocked mother and daughter duo sit frozen watching. It's hilarious and truly one of the most delectable segments I've ever seen in a musical. Jose did a good job pulling it off.

His romance doesn't go as planned and so we drift forward a year where he is still a success, still vies for the same girl...who shows up and takes over his narrative part.

This pivotal moment is an interesting element showing great change and flexibility in Romanoff's own out-look on life. We see an eagerness to go on doing what he has been doing all his life. From hereon, the film takes on a heavy tone and samples the composer's mature, darker works.

The death of a friend, a rumor he is getting out of style, lead the film into deeper territory exploring the physiology of an aging artist, the depth and emotion in his music, and its influences. The film culminates as the aging Romanoff performs a concert at Carnegie Hall. This is reminiscent to the ending in The Benny Goodman Story.

I have concluded that he film was indeed nicely done, as only classic Hollywood could pull it off. In a fitting tribute, it will inspire in the viewer, respect for the man, and a deep, satisfying appreciation for the music!
A capital supporting cast worth mentioning includes Walter Pigeon, Paul Henried (Casablanca), Merle Traubel, and Jim Backus, among others. Out of 22 of the hit tunes and eleven Broadway shows they were borrowed from, MGM gathered some of its greatest stars to share the the tunes Romy penned. Guest stars include no less than Gene & Fred Kelly (his brother-he dances too), James Mitchell, Ann Miller, Vic Damone, Jane Powell, Cyd Charisse, Tony Martin, Rosemary Clooney (Ferrer's wife), and Howard Keel. Holy cow! What stars! Each had a number they could perform with flawless effort.

To rap up, Deep In My Heart is a sweet, funny, ultimately tender musical to be enjoyed by everybody, and I wish it could. It is a true delight!

Copyright 2012, 2014 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Brave - A Pixar Film Review by Robert Steven Mack

Originally titled "The Bear and the Bow," this "Brave" was something unexpected for all of us in the family. "Brave" is Pixar's newest creation and is now in theaters. I remember reading up about the movie three or four years ago, along with another entry that Pixar was planning to produce - "Newt." "Brave", along with its cast, title, etcetera have fully emerged into the form of a powerful film that Pixar can be proud of. Of course, no one knew quite what the film would turn out to be. The story wasn't about some weird civilization unseen by man, nor did it have the wacky anti-heroes, heroes, villains, and heroines. Yet, we've seen this time and time again, brought to us and displayed in the most ingenious ways in the "Toy Story" films," Cars," and its action-packed sequel (different in tone than that of the comedy-drama of the original), "The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," "A Bug's Life," and "Monsters Inc.". A few times Pixar has come up with something a little different - and perhaps cliche-shattering with the futuristic masterpiece "Wall-E" and the adventurous "Up." Similarly to those films, Pixar has created an odd-ball with "Brave." Somehow this one is even more ground-breaking than the latter two I mentioned. Not to get me wrong:  every film produced by Pixar so far, from their first wonderkind, 17 years ago, each and every film has been a treat for the imaginations of billions of fan! Each Pixar film has been unique, witty, creative, and well-rounded. This time, however, Pixar swallowed a huge mouthful (for not the first time either) but truly managed to create something brilliant. So, for the twelfth time in the past three decades, the world would wonder what the quirky and unpredictable master-minds of technology and pure imaginative story telling would concoct.

To begin with, "Brave" is darker and more grinding than the other Pixar movies. It evolves before our eyes on a slightly more mature level; this is clear from start to finish. The animation, a wonder of a rare beauty, displays the rugged Scottish hills and country-side of long ago, capturing the viewers with an essence of true submity. Scotland, a land of mystery that invites you to find your destiny, the 3D (though I was never a particular fan of the 3-dimensional world) breaks the barriers of imagination!

The audience is immediately introduced to a small but spirited red-headed girl (the name of which I will not give away for I do not intend to spoil it for you) who has been told of magical forces leading the seeker to his or her inevitable destiny. Fast-forward. Years later, she is a princess with a fun-loving but one-legged king for a father. One leg was chewed off when fighting a mystic bear.  Add three mischievous triplets for younger brothers and a mother who expects her to behave like a princess. A rift comes between her relationship with her mother when she is expected to marry one of the not-too-desirable princes from neighboring kingdoms. Of course, she takes things into her own hands, leaving her and her mother to fight - and, in the heat of the moment, do things that both would later regret. When out riding, she comes upon a witch's house whose inhabitant grants her help... leading to folly when her mother is turned into a bear, identical enough to the one that took dear old dad's leg!

...And so unfolds an adventure of triumph and adventure. Full of flawed-but-good-natured characters, mythical sidetracks, and enough wit to build up a well-rounded, "Brave" is a rousing motion picture that shimmers in Disney's fairy-tale tradition but aided with Pixar's innovative approach to film-making. Again, it is a fairy-tale with a more mature, darker tone, which is a breath to feel and is obvious to any viewer. Its beautiful, traditional Scottish music and brilliant score accompanying the ride underscores it as a story worth listening to. Curiously, "Brave" is not much of a romantic love story of any kind - quite baffling. Indeed, it felt as if the actors and actresses just changed their minds about that one. It is just a very nice, traditional and occasionally humorous story. Indeed, no "happy ever after" was needed!

As for me, I was so impeccably glad and relieved, "Brave" wasn't one of those pointlessly oppressed-female-rebel shenanigans about some bloody female oppressed by upbringing, who can do nothing but complain in endless cacophony and bash  to show how oppressed she is. Good grief! I've been seeing more and more of that idiotic nonsense that’s supposed to be eye-opening but actually does nothing but dampen the public’s mind, corrupt children into useless rebels (either that or needless goody-two-shoes) but does nothing to contribute to the growing history of cinema or civilization. In reality, it's just a nuisance. Fortunately, my worries with this film were in vain! True, our heroine is a spirited one who is inspired to find her true destiny - but there wasn't anything annoying or stupid in that. "Brave" somewhat resurrects the "Freaky Friday" mother-daughter relationship in a tiffy, putting them on the path to rediscovery and adventure. In sometimes darker, more hair-raising proportions, it will be particularly revealing to mothers and daughters who see the film together for years to come. Yet every character in the film is significant. The three boys with their endless mischief represent the boys of any age - as sneaky as they always will be. The father will represent the sturdy husband, strong, but libel to go off the rocker if his cool and collected queen doesn't step in and set things in order. All in all, this dimension of the story sets the example of how to come together and reach agreements in a civilized way.

As with all the Pixar films I've seen, I was indeed quite pleased with this one. Yet, I was surprised to see  - of all the Pixar films – this film has done worst at the box office. Also, the reaction had been mixed among critics. Both the poster and trailer suggested it would be a different film and that, of course, children under perhaps nine should likely not see it quite yet. It is also fair to assume that more girls will go see the film than boys given that the protagonist is female. Perhaps the historical mystic Scottish setting was too much for most kids 11 and up. Still, the critics’ reaction not being overwhelmingly positive is a different story and perhaps can also be explained. Pixar really dumped something novel on us viewers. Well, one can only hope "Brave" will have more luck at the Oscars. Regardless, "Brave" is a worthy edition to the Disney/Pixar family of comedies and adventures. This film is indeed quite brilliant - I would give it a 97/98 rating on a scale from 1-100!

Copyright 2012 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cole Porter's "Aladdin" (1958) - a review by Robert Steven Mack

Having a four-day weekend is always tough on us hard-working students. We have to know how to spend those days without a schedule: how do we start, and how do we finish it? I was strangely adamant about what I wanted to do, however. It was Friday, and I was glad I didn't have to wake up at the usual hour and endure the usual morning procedure. Not that I don't like it, you understand; for if you were to assume that, it would be entirely incorrect. It's just that I wasn't feeling up to it that day - as I also hadn't the day before that to be sure. It has been particularly trying that day as I would have normally been in school. So you can imagine how relieved I felt to be freely walking down Beverly Drive that day with my mother, at one time fishing through her bag for any one of her daily accessories.

Simply put, I was going to the William S. Paley Center formerly known as The Museum of Broadcasting or the Museum of Television and Radio. It is a place dedicated to preserving and acknowledging a medium of our society which has, since the twentieth century been so culturally significant to us. I like to go there whenever I can to view something extraordinary from its vast collection. Having just completed another Debbie Reynold's auction in December and currently getting ready for a Warner Bros. Television exhibit, the place would hardly fit the definition of busy. Apart from that everything in their television collection is in the process is being digitalized but we could still access what we wanted. Playing the Genie in an Aladdin musical, I wanted something to watch a TV show on that. That's where the fun began. The attendant helping us said they had a Cole Porter television play from 1958 taking place in China. I decided it would be interesting to view and asked for it.

Indeed, the Cole Porter version of Aladdin was a very different version than the well-known Disney film, yet very enjoyable and extremely well told. Between station breaks of the 90 minute musical I saw commercials from DuPont Chemicals -the play was a DuPont-sponsored Show of the Month. It's so refreshing to see the national pride and care people took in presenting television advertisements in those days. I noticed that DuPont did not treat the audience as the public, but as a customer.

The Porter version of the Aladdin musical showed a more mystic genie, an impetuous love-sick Aladdin, an uncle who wasn't his uncle at all but a cunning villain playing purely for power, and a loving mother constantly at worry...along with other fun, well played characters. Being the last musical Cole Porter would work on, the numbers are crisp, catchy, and wonderfully appropriate for the story telling its own version of Aladdin. In the cast is Cyril Ritchard, Dennis King, Basil Rathbone, Anna Maria Alberhetti, Geoffrey Holder (the Genie), Howard Morris, and Sal Mineo as Aladdin -plus the housekeeper from the original Parent Trap film playing Aladdin's mother. It is interesting to note that in those days they would use American and British actors to play most of the Chinese parts. It worked out well so I won't make needless discussions on that topic.

Though performed on stage once in the late fifties and released as an album a few times, this particular Aladdin show has never been released on home video or DVD. Luckily, it is available at the two Paley Media Centers in tourist-attracting cities , both New York City and Beverly Hills, CA. That my friends is a break for society! A final parting word of fact: After the show was finished, an advertisement came up announcing that the next DuPont Show of the Month would be on Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cites , also with distinguished actors and director and that Leave It to Beaver would not be playing that night due to the airing of this special. Now that's television at its best!

Copyright 2012 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Red Pyramid - a book review by Robert Steven Mack

When seeing that Rick Riordan came out with another book after his success with the Percy Jackson series, one might only sigh and mutter flatly to oneself:"Another one?" And indeed, it looks all to much like the kind of book you've seen in the store a thousand times, especially since Harry Potter came out and started the trend in 1997 more than a decade ago: sarcastic "ordinary" boy teams with strong-minded girl, add possible wimp-on-the-outside-but-strong-on-the-inside boy. The three friends go on a big adventure and eventually learn to live with each other. The difference with this book: it was structured a different way. While I'll go further into detail later, I just want to say that the new approach carried the characters, plot and ideas into new and exciting levels.

One might start off with saying that the Kane Chronicles (starting with The Red Pyramid) is simply a reincarnation of Rick Riordan's previous series, Percy Jackson, just this time with Egyptian gods. One could say that, except it's not that simple. Indeed, one can feel the influence of the Percy Jackson series flowing through the book's reins, and a small scent of the Harry Potter trend released now, a surprising 15 years ago. It's even surprising for many of us, I'm sure, that even Percy Jackson is now relatively only a thing of the past and that Rick Riordan has moved on to a sequel series called the Heroes of Olympias and now the Kane Chronicles in which the first book was published in 2010. And indeed, that's the wonderful thing of human creativity; it's always on to the next thing. For the impeccable record, Rick Riordan has displayed that in his book The Red Pyramid with a brilliant beauty.

Not wanting to give the book away and certainly not wanting to spoil the effect it has to offer you, the plot goes something like this. For eight years ever since his mother died for a cause never revealed to him, fourteen year old Carter Kane has been travelling with his eccentric Egyptologist father for six years now, never knowing the sweet content or even the meaning of the word "home". His twelve year old sister ,however, got the other half of the bargain, living with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Faust (no relation), in a London flat and hears constantly about how her father caused the mysterious death of her mother and is an outcast in her own way, seeing her father only two days a year (that includes her brother Carter whom she couldn't care less about). On Christmas Eve one day during their visit to London, Carter and Sadie (did I mention Carter's sister was named Sadie?) tag along with their father Julius to the British Museum where Julius blows up the Rosetta Stone among other priceless Egyptian artifacts (don't ask, just read the bloody book!) Did I mention that Julius in doing this, Julius released several Egyptian gods encased in the Rosetta Stone (which was used to decipher old Egyptian writing, hieroglyphics) some of which make themselves at home in Carter and Sadie's bodies with their father trapped in a sarcophagus by the evil god Set. he's not the kind of guy you'd want to invite to a birthday party! See wikipedia if you want to spoil the fun (no offence to Wikipedia) but truthfully, it'll all make sense in the book. Pretty soon Carter and Sadie find themselves at the heart of Egyptian mythology, scrambling to save the world, literally, from Set's disastrous plan.

Having just studied Ancient Egypt in school, this book was a great review for me as it's simply littered with Egyptian facts and legends as Carter and Sadie struggle to complete their quest. Peculiarly, this book was narrated by Sadie and Carter as they take turns telling the story through a recording. The narration on both sides is witty and well told displaying, as the siblings display their different personalities and as well as strengths and weaknesses the two share throughout the story. A fascinating display of story telling mechanics, having it told from the two different sides of our two heroes, their emotions and development play a key asset in the success in this story. Not many books do that.

I have to admit that in the beginning it was hard to get really into the story. The plot seemed rushed and a little too pretentious. Then after two chapters Sadie took over narration, and I can say that any reader will be charmed by this character's charm and fire-ball wit, in addition to the depth and intelligence suddenly being displayed on the pages in your hands. Then Carter took over again and suddenly he too seemed to be real, as real as can be: intelligent, confused, humorous in a different way. As already mentioned, the two characters bounce off each other and that drives a lot of the book. Although some similarities with Percy Jackson and faint connections with a distant Harry Potter did cross my mind as I was reading the book, the novel relatively stood on its own two feet. Distinct enough to give itself its own unique air and tone and to go places only it could go, I applaud Rick Riordan, who, I believe has topped his fantastic and entertaining Percy Jackson series. Something else though, that I couldn't help noticing is that Carter kept referring to himself as an African-American or black boy or man as if obsessed with his race. I'm not saying this was constant but noticeably frequent. Then again...who cares... its a great book!

I literally devoured this book (516 pages) over the past weekend. At times, this book was so addicting and so vivid I would scream my nervous wits out if someone entered the room. Then again there were numerous times when I laughed so hard that I could barely control myself. And that is an understatement! One can only wonder why the author intends this to be strictly told in three books, he may have a glorious series; I'm sure there is a reason. Topping his previous series and sincerely creating something that is strictly its own, The Red Pyramid is filled with epic battles, vivid and colourful characters as real as yourselves, and fantastic storytelling; the first installment of the Kane series is an amusing epic tale of heroism, choices, benevolence and character.

Copyright 2012 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!!)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" - a classic Disney movie review by Robert Steven Mack

There are, indeed, so many films out there made and ultimately forgotten. Throughout the twentieth century, films were a primary medium that audiences would appreciate time and time again. Going to the movies was a pleasurable past time people would enjoy for whatever reason or occasion with only one motive in mind: to be entertained.

Hollywood was astounding back then, perhaps even more than it is now. A legend of glamour and big names, stars socializing in the nearest cafe, directors shouting furious directions to create their newest masterpiece; producers working hard in their expensive offices, on packaging their newest blockbuster. Parties were being thrown night after night in celebration of completed films, stars returning from vacation and such. Writers busily typing on their type writers surrounded by sheets of paper that would soon become the biggest epic of the year, film noire, western or whatever other classic genres were being produced. Not that any of this had any relation whatsoever with reality. But it's still nice to reminisce...

In the 1940's, Disney was commissioned to make a variety of rather not so extravagantly budgeted "package films." They consisted of several short stories compiled into one 75 minute film. The last of these was a film produced in 1949 and told the stories of Kenneth Graham's "The Wind in the Willows" and Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," narrated by Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby, respectively, and among the voice cast classic character actor Eric Blore to voice Mr. Toad. That film was called "The Legend of Ichabod and Mr. Toad." With Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes) as narrator and a lively, well-portrayed voice cast, this feature beautifully portrays the classic tale of a wealthy and free-spirited Toad whose mischievous acts and carelessness eventually get the best of him, with only his best friends to help him sort out the trouble and chaos he managed to conjure up.

Telling the story with fun, wit and charm, as well as the devises that give it a dash of the rather "large scale picture" as you might call it. The events that occur in the story are placed precisely in a manner that every moment counts, such as when Toad finally feels he has gone too far, and when McBager shows up on Christmas Eve with news that no such crime was ever committed by Toad and that they must take the real law breakers to justice in order to prove Toad's innocence. Dynamically told with all the proper ingredients, it is apparent that this film had the right minds working on it. If there was ever a film to watch based on the "Wind and the Willows," then believe me when I say: this is it!

In classic Disney fashion and ingenuity, the story of Ichabod Crane was brought to viewers in America. It was told and sung purely by Bing Crosby. The animation is timeless, the music is fitting and pure, and Bing Crosby was perfect to tell the story. A story with humour, love, and trickery this film reveals from when Ichabod Crane, a strange but good-natured fellow, first comes to town to when the town bully stories catch up to Ichabod when riding through the woods on an eerie Halloween night and chased by the Headless Horseman. That scene in particular is engagingly told and displays what all lead up to that moment in Ichadbod Crane's life: the foolishness and the superstition in one combined together in a most frightening manner. The infamous chase and the rest of this story is beautifully animated and vividly told.

A film for all ages, but one perhaps a viewer could only fully understand at the right age, yet it still something for the youngens. Moreover, it bridges English stories with American fables and legend having Basil Rathbone telling the Wind in the Willows with all the English dignity and intellect and easy-going Bing Crosby sing and tell The Legend of Sleepy Hollow or Ichabod Crane. It is one of the most dignified, fresh, and ingenuitive films by Disney I have ever seen! A rare treasure among the world of animation, this is some of the best story- telling I have ever come across.

Copyright 2012 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hugo - a contemporary film review by Robert Steven Mack

It is always a pleasure to go to a movie theater and see a movie that brings pleasure to the viewer and therefore not end up bitterly disappointed. And it is of particular pleasure to perhaps both of us to go to such a theater and for the first time see a masterpiece of such magnificent extreme proportion that you are ranting endlessly about it the next day.

You never know quite what to expect when going to your local theater to see a film; at least I don't. And what do you go for? To be entertained. Sometimes your hopes are high for the film you are about to see, for whatever particular reason, and sometimes they may be not that at all. Perhaps, there have been time for you when, throughout the whole popcorn-buying session prior to the films start when you on-goingly think nervously to yourself, "maybe this isn't such a good idea." I do that often!

Some films you know, deep down - by instinct, that they are good; but which is of course counter-acted by the nervousness of experiencing the unknown. And I had plenty of reasons to be worried about when I was about to see Hugo after a long and forbidding wait. First of all, I had never seen a film by the great Martin Scorcease and I hoped dearly that he wasn't another one of those "visionary" directors. Second, I am definitely the type to doubt a lot of good things; and third, I know what modern movies can be like. But to accurately describe what the experience of watching the movie was like, I must translate to you these three words: I was captured!

The film Hugo, is based on a very interesting book by David Selznick he published on January 30, 2007. The book, encompassing the experience of that of both, a silent motion picture-goer, and a fascinated reader using a great story, pictures, and somehow a little something for anyone. The book,taking place in the roaring twenties, is about a boy named Hugo, who secretly lives as an orphan in train station in France taking care of the clocks. In his vast pastime, he steals the mechanic pieces of toys from a nearby toy shop at the station to use to put fix a mysterious Automatrom, the only thing he has of his beloved dead father. An elder toy maker, an adventure hungry girl, and Hugo's beloved Automatrom lead him, and those around him to discover something fantastic about the early twentieth century filmmaker, George Melies.

The film, enjoyable from the start, was faithful and close to the book in most respects and had an absolutely enchanting pace to it. One of the characters was missing - but good riddens 'cause he would have slowed down the film considerably anyways. In addition, there are few other minor things switched and tweaked, but all for the better. Otherwise, the film did a fine poetic job of capturing the essence of the book on screen.

Although I am not familiar with much of the cast of Hugo, they each delivered a meaningful performance and captured their characters to make up the large scale story being told. Asa Butterfield is moving in his role as Hugo, the boy who secretly lives within the walls and clocks of a train station in Paris. Chloe Grace Moretz also did a fine job in playing Issabelle, the girl who befriends him on his journey. Also taking part in this pleasing epic are Sir Ben Kingsley as Georges Melies, the great pioneering filmmaker, Helen McCrory as his wife and actress, Sacha Baron Cohen as the station inspector, Jude Law as his father, as well as Emily Mortimer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ray Winstone, Richard Griffiths, and Christopher Lee. A marvelous British cast that will make the experience so very magical for those who attend.

The music contained about the most charming score I've seen for a movie since that of High Noon and and the illustrious Ben-Hur. A definite sub- cross between the two. The visual effects and cinematography are to die for, but completely unpretentious. They are splendid! Martin Scorsese beautiful poetry on film is probably the most moving and gratifying film experience you can find within recent years. It is perhaps so above the normal mediocre twenty-first century film that it may even be able to stand in the crowd of the past cinematic splendors of yester-year as its own unique film experience. The movie is filled with sub-plots and gives deep character insights not offered in the book. In this way, one may argue that it is similar, cinematically to that of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Hugo clandestinely watches life in the train station from his view within the walls and the sub-plots and nooks and crannies the film offers grow to the point in which it actually becomes a central part of the story.

The dream sequence might be a bit scary (nothing too bad-just a bid startling) and children at younger ages really shouldn't see it; you need to understand it to appreciate the film. Otherwise it's a lovely film. After all,the dream sequence is to add emphasis on certain story elements which one should respect.

If the Oscar Award for Best Picture were up to me I'd award it to this film basically because it, in my mind, deserves it, along with many more Oscars. Martin Scorsese has produced a work that is that of a a modern Hitchcock (forgive the reference) and a true classic; a treasured product of our time.

Martin Scorsese has brought to us an intriguing, visually and emotionally satisfying drama about an adventure inside a train station with an occasional soothing comic flair. A truly powerful movie.

Copyright 2011 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)