<i>Hugo</i>: The Cast and Crew Discuss The Making of Martin Scorsese’s 3D Kiddie Picture

You wouldn't normally expect to see Martin Scorsese listed as the director of an adaptation of a popular children's book. But that's one of the many delightfully strange things about Hugo, a lavish adaptation of Brian Selznick's best-selling period novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, in which a young orphan living in a Parisian train station unwitting befriends the pioneering silent filmmaker, George Méliès. The cast and crew of Hugo appeared at a press conference in New York recently to talk about their involvement in bringing Scorsese's vision for the film to life.

Why You Should Spend Thanksgiving With <I>Hugo</i> Instead of <i>The Muppets</i>

Like every other kid that grew up watching The Muppets in their '70s and '80s prime, I've been eagerly awaiting the release of Kermit and the gang's big-screen reboot, The Muppets. It's no secret that Jim Henson's gaggle of colorful puppets lost their way somewhat in the wake of their creator's death, as classic features like The Muppet Movie giving way to embarrassments like Muppets From Space. Certainly, the creative team behind The Muppets -- which includes screenwriter and star Jason Segel, his co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin (making his feature film debut after co-creating HBO's terrific Flight of the Conchords series) -- have been saying all the right things about their intentions with this movie, namely bringing back the same playful spirit and toe-tapping score that defined the first three Muppet features, The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and, my personal favorite, The Muppets Take Manhattan. As an added bonus, it was exciting to think that my own kid's first big-screen encounter with the Muppets (he's already been introduced to the earlier films on DVD) would be a good movie in its own right and not a disappointing reminder of the characters' past glories.

Cloud Atlas: Time Enough For Love

by Ethan Alter October 26, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Cloud Atlas</i>: Time Enough For Love

Too many cinematic adaptations of popular novels make the mistake of trying to replicate the book almost word-for-word onscreen, either due to a failure of imagination on behalf of the filmmakers or out of fear that story's fans will reject even the slightest change. (A fear that's not entirely off-base, by the way; for example, a sizeable chunk of Harry Potter fans still haven't forgiven Alfonso Cuarón for the liberties he took in the film version of The Prisoner of Azkaban.) But you can't accuse the formidable filmmaking trio of Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski of playing it safe with their adaptation of David Mitchell's gem of a novel, Cloud Atlas. While the movie is recognizably the book that Mitchell wrote, the writer/directors have shaped and molded the text in a way that reflects their own specific interests and sensibilities. Both the film's greatest strength -- as well as, ultimately, one of its weaknesses -- is that it's a true act of interpretation, not simply recitation.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

by Ethan Alter February 28, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hangin' With Mr. Scorsese.

Oscars 2012: Our Gut Reactions to the Academy Award Nominations

by Ethan Alter January 24, 2012 10:13 am
Oscars 2012: Our Gut Reactions to the Academy Award Nominations

Why is this man smiling?

The Top Ten Movies of 2011

by Ethan Alter December 28, 2011 5:50 pm
The Top Ten Movies of 2011

For me at least, the year in film started with a bang in the form of Gregg Araki's crazysexycool apocalyptic collegiate comedy Kaboom and ended with the whimper that was Stephen Daldry's flat, feeble 9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. In between those two bookends, 2011 proved a pretty great year for movies, particularly if you thought outside the Hollywood box. After lumbering through a mostly fallow winter, spring and summer, the big movie studios rebounded with a strong fall slate of releases that included the bold new works from veteran filmmakers (Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh among them), star vehicles that actually emphasized brains over brawn (Moneyball, The Descendants) and even a few above-average franchise entries (Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, Paranormal Activity 3). And when Hollywood faltered, the independent and international film industries picked up the slack. If you lived nearby an art house or had access to a video-on-demand service, every month brought a steady stream of terrific titles that ran the gamut of genres, from ultraviolent samurai tales (Takeshi Miike's 13 Assassins) to moody Westerns (Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff) to stories of young love in bloom (Andrew Haigh's Weekend). Some years, I struggle to decide which films absolutely deserve a place on my Top Ten list. This year, I struggled to decide which ones I could leave off without too much regret. (That explains, by the way, why my list of Honorable Mentions includes another twenty-odd movies I couldn't bear not to single out.) So without further ado, in one of the best years for movies in some time, here are the best of the best.

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