When New Yorker Martin Scorsese took the stage at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall to unveil a work-in-progress screening of his first 3D film Hugo, the standing ovation showed that the filmmaker was dealing with a home-field advantage. Deadline revealed yesterday that the New York Film Festival’s mystery film by a master filmmaker would be Hugo, and the place was packed last night. NYFF’s Richard Pena started the proceedings by asking journalists not to review the film, or tweet while it was playing. Scorsese added his own caveats. He said that the film was not completely color corrected, that some of the visual effects weren’t quite there yet, and that the 3D and music were also not quite complete. I saw the film’s producer Graham King before the screening, and he said while they couldn’t get the film finished in time to be part of the early fall festival hoopla, they came up with this idea as a way not to miss out completely, and the NYFF agreed to it for the first time since Disney came to them with an unfinished print of Beauty and the Beast.
With the exception of a couple of intricate shots, the film looked like it was rounding into shape quite nicely. I won’t review it, but will say it will be a worthy addition to the upcoming awards season. Scorsese has provided the most intriguing use of 3D since James Cameron did in Avatar; instead of the gimmicky opportunity of using 3D to have objects jump out at audiences, Scorsese employs it to subtly immerse the audience into Hugo Cabret’s world that exists behind the walls of a Paris train station, and the inner workings of the clocks he winds and maintains, that are so integral to the film’s plot. Scorsese has infused the film with his love of cinema history and passion for film restoration. The big question for a pricey family film is how the half-pint set will greet an old fashioned love letter to the formation of cinema. We’ll know soon, as Paramount opens the film November 23. The NYFF crowd certainly seemed pleased.