The magic of The Wizard of Oz is indelibly etched in my memory as it must be for all movie lovers who wax nostalgic for childhood. How could one ever forget Dorothy’s quivering hand nudging open the portal to that new and strange colorful world? Or the high-pitched munchkins who fêted her and sent her on her yellow-brick journey? Or the motley band—scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion—of her lovable companions? Alas, fond remembrances of times past cannot expunge the present. I now live with the knowledge that I will never be able to erase the bitter memory of being subjected to Oz, the Great and Powerful.
Pigs are intelligent animals. They may not be quite swift enough to realize that they often wind up as bacon and sausage on the breakfast table, but it’s been suggested that they may be even more trainable than dogs at following commands and performing tricks. The Australian screen-writing team of Chris Noonan (also director) and George Miller certainly convince us of this in their uplifting family film Babe, a tale about a common destiny shared by a laconic but kind-hearted old farmer, Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell), and a spirited orphaned piglet that thinks he’s a sheep-dog.
These days, I think all Scorsese would have to do is cut a loud fart for the Academy and moviegoers alike to shout “Bravo!” After all, they did so over the Irish gangster flick The Departed, which cussed at them ad nauseam and gave them violence galore while saying next to nothing of value. Albeit Hugo reeks of a Disneyish vibe, shamelessly flaunting its 3-D graphical-clockworks extravaganza while getting all warm and cuddly about how wonderful it is that two young waifs are finding purpose in life. But all the more sickening for Marty, who used to be above merely pandering to the brainless mainstream. Seriously, is this cotton-candy-sweet Hugo helmed by the same iconoclast who spearheaded such gritty yet subtle character exposés as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas?