My god this was stale. Surprisingly the ”wonder of the movies”-element wasn’t as moving as I’d thought. The montages of clips from the actual films were great, but then the actors wouldn’t mirror any of that wonder, except in the most generic way possible. And after building up a slight sense of wonder, it would knock it down when the actors delivered their lines completely straight forward (especially right after the first screening of Voyage to the Moon). This could’ve used a touch of old Spielberg in the actors faces. The kid who played Hugo wasn’t very good.
The scenes we’re mostly shot in a pretty pedestrian way too. There was so many moments just shouting for some cinematic Scorsese dynamism, that just went flat in shot reverse shot dullness. All the flair was either saved for moneyshots or the big set-pieces, while the bulk of the film was just bleh. For a film trying to convey the wonder of film, it fails pretty miserably to be wonderful.
I also found the overly saturated, intensely lit look pretty ugly.
But there were some good points:
The automaton looked fantastic and weird and had I seen that in a film as a child it would have made an impression.
Mortez’s face is weird and interiesting and sometimes she walks funny.
The always great Michael Sthulbarg almost-but-not-quite channeling Scorsese.
I did get chills from something, but I’ve forgotten what it was.