Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thought I Would Bring it to Your Attention

I haven't really offered reviews on comics, movies, books, or the like.  This may be a fluke, or it could be the beginning of something I do regularly.  Time will tell.  I am always amazed with the zeal and enthusiasm some go to trash things in their reviews.  It seems the community at large is more inclined to razz something they hate rather than praise something they love.  I suppose you could say it extends well beyond things like reviews.  Hell, if George Clooney gave a girl a college scholarship, it would a blip on the news radar.  But if he gave that same girl Chlamydia, the story would last for weeks if not months.  But I digress.  This story is not about Chlamydia or even George Clooney for that matter, although he was dynamite in The Descendents.  I like it when Clooney plays some regular guy struggling through life and not the suave stud with all the answers.  I think that's why I was also such a fan of Michael Clayton.  Anyway, those aren't the movies I wanted to mention.
Today, I wanted to say just a few words about HUGO and THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY. Both films fall into a category that I don't use often when describing films.  Enchanting.  

Starting with HUGO - it's the story of a boy living alone in a train station, as he seeks unlock the mystery left behind by his father.  Oh, but the film is about so much more than that.  It's about wonder and dreams, and our need to keep both alive.  Initially, I was surprised when I saw that Martin Scorsese was directing this type of film.  I knew of the book but hadn't read it, and was thus unaware of the connection.  I won't spoil it, but in watching the film, it becomes crystal clear exactly why he chose this project.  The film is touching, emotional, moving, and just altogether brilliant.  I didn't even see it in 3D, which I was told is utterly amazing  (I am not the biggest 3D fan in the world).  If you haven't seen HUGO, and like movies at all - I cannot recommend it highly enough.  It's one of those rare movies that really is for all ages, having plenty to love for both kids and adults. 
THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY is also a family film from the acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki, who made of the very best I've ever seen - SPIRITED AWAY.  If you haven't seen that one, stop reading this now.  Go watch it.  I'll wait.

 See?  Told you it was amazing.  THE SECRET WOLRD OF ARRIETTY is cut from the same cloth.  On paper, it seems like a simple film - a group of little people called Borrowers live under a house, surviving off the odds and ends they "borrow" from the gigantic human beings (Or as they call them - "beans").  It's a smart story about family, growing up, friendship, and facing one's fears.  Now, a story about little people living under our noses isn't groundbreaking.  We've seen this before.  I can still hear the theme song for the cartoon THE LITTLES bouncing around inside my head.  But, THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY manages to make the experience fresh and exciting.  The way the world of the humans is presented during Arrietty's first trip with her father is breathtaking.  You really feel the epic scope of what she is seeing.  As Arrietty gazes out across the kitchen for the first time, you can feel her sense of wonder and awe - like you may have when looking upon the Grand Canyon for the first time. 
Both films go for substance over style, but they have both.   And, they don't talk down to kids or go at the funny bone with tired bodily function jokes that seem all the rage in other films.  HUGO and THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY are both perfect examples of what the magic of movies is all about.

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