On “Hugo” in 3-D and “A Separation”

There’s nothing at all in common between these two films, other than that I saw them on the same day on my recent New York binge.  They are both superb, and worthy of hunting down or renting.

Hugo in 3-D is utterly exhilarating and wonderful.  For some reason, it had already left, Charlottesville, and I especially wanted to see it in the 3-D that its director, Martin Scorcese, is raving about as the wave of the future.  The man best known for his gritty and often violent black and white films now says he wants to shoot everything in 3-D.   I won’t get into details here, because everybody else has, but it’s a gem of a family tale, and ultimately a tribute to the history of movie-making, which the reviews don’t often mention.  It deserves every award I hope it’s about to get.

I made a special trip up to the Lincoln Plaza, my favorite New York movie house, to see an award-winning Iranian film called A Separation.  Given all the current saber-rattling and political hype, it was especially nice to see a small human-interest story about ordinary Iranians, caught up in the life challenges common to us all.  This one happens to be about a man and wife in the process of separating.  There are no villains here, only conflicting needs.  She wants to emigrate to a country where she can get better work, in a better place to raise their daughter.  He wants to remain in Iran to care for his aging father, who has Alzheimers.  Complications develop which must be worked through, but the dilemma of being human remains.  Director Asghar Farhadi rejects any notion of cliché and pat endings.  He’s also working with a stellar cast, including Leila Hatami as the wife.  It’s a terrific reminder that Iran’s very healthy film industry has a long and widely-recognized history of making superb films.

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