Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#26 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sat Nov 26, 2011 11:21 pm

I just got back from seeing this, and to me it felt very much like something that could have been a banal Hollywood product, but which was about 85% percent transformed into something very different and superior by Scorsese's love of and connection to the subject matter. There are some parts that feel like standard-Hollywood peeking through- Kingsley's speech at the end, and a lot of Shore's score- but largely it absolutely does convey both the love of cinema and the love of craft in general- books and machines and music and everything that someone has made, that has a little bit of themselves in it.

On the technical side- I thought the opening sequence was one of the best uses of 3d I've seen yet, and in general the movie didn't seem plagued by ghosting and out of focus 3d shots the way a lot of them seem to. I particularly liked the way snow popped up throughout. I don't think it will ruin the film if you don't get to watch it in 3d, but it definitely seems more worth it than most.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#27 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:35 am

I wish Scorsese had forfeited the orphan child sentiment and stuck with
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Georges Méliès. One can only hope that this film will boost sales of the Flicker Alley collection of his work.
In my opinion, the adventure portion of this film was cloying and conventional, while the pace, described by Longworth as "weirdly staid," was the most enchanting element, reminding me of the peculiar languor of Babe: Pig in the City (one of my favorite kids' films).

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#28 Post by broadwayrock » Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:58 am

The stars of Hugo, Chloë Moretz and Asa Butterfield have a feisty interview with The Independent
Moretz: "I beat Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in one day"

Butterfield: "That's because, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is for pussies"

Moretz: "Shhh! You can't say that in interviews. Oh my God, you're so not PC"

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James Mills
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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#29 Post by James Mills » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:40 pm

hearthesilence wrote:I still think The Age of Innocence was Scorsese's last, truly great picture. But everything he's done since has something to recommend - I'll have to check out Hugo again, but until then, I remain skeptical of the film's biggest supporters. Quite a bit of it's wonderful, but it's far from perfect, and I'm not sure if the film's greatest strengths carry a whole lot of weight. At worst, Buttercream may be right and Hugo is to cinema what Field of Dreams is to baseball.
I thought the first act was dreadful, personally. Cliche characters types and backstories (and a protagonist that is too apathetic and flawless), the production design felt very contrived and not Parisian at all, and I didn't care for the overly presentational performances (especially the little girl's). I fell asleep for about fifteen minutes due to sheer disinterest because of all these elements (after going into this as excited as I've been all year for a film), and then got up and left when I woke up so as not to ruin a second viewing.

I'll go see it again, but I really don't want to see it in 3D again, as I thought that made the viewing even more exhausting... then again, everyone is saying that it's almost essential to the viewing, so I might have to?

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#30 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:54 pm

As far as the production design goes, I think it's going very much for a popping storybook look- I mean, everything's obviously far too clean and too pretty, but I don't think the goal is verisimilitude. The protagonist is an observer as much as a participant for a fair amount of the story, so there is a removal to his character, but I don't think he is in any way apathetic- and 'flawless' seems like something of a weird complaint, as child characters are rarely defined by their weaknesses- I mean, is the ten year old supposed to have a tragic flaw?

I do think it's very much a film that becomes more exciting after the point at which you checked out, as the part I really found myself attached to was closely tied to the real legacy of Melies rather than the more standard (though largely well executed) children's movie elements, but I also think the integration of the Melies material into the plot is well worked out, and I don't regret that the movie doesn't make him the primary focus.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#31 Post by knives » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:01 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:I mean, is the ten year old supposed to have a tragic flaw?\
L'enfance nue? Also while not ten Zuko in Avatar. Done playing devil's advocate.

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Jeff
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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#32 Post by Jeff » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:03 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:I don't think he is in any way apathetic- and 'flawless' seems like something of a weird complaint, as child characters are rarely defined by their weaknesses- I mean, is the ten year old supposed to have a tragic flaw?
I don't get the "apathetic" complaint either. The kid's entire life is completely driven by a passion to work out a puzzle that he thinks will bring meaning to his life. That's literally the opposite of apathy. I guess it would have been kind of cool if Hugo was hooked on smack or strangling hookers or something.
matrixschmatrix wrote:I do think it's very much a film that becomes more exciting after the point at which you checked out, as the part I really found myself attached to was closely tied to the real legacy of Melies rather than the more standard (though largely well executed) children's movie elements, but I also think the integration of the Melies material into the plot is well worked out, and I don't regret that the movie doesn't make him the primary focus.
The movie absolutely kicks in to top gear in the second half, though my preternatural fondness for "standard (though largely well executed) children's movie elements" made the whole thing a delight for me.

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James Mills
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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#33 Post by James Mills » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:44 pm

Perhaps apathetic was the wrong word. His character just seemed very weak and "woe is me"ish, especially in his interactions with Kingsley and the little girl. He seems to just follow everyone around and let them do the talking without really sticking up for himself, and these traits aren't the kinds of ones I'd associate with someone fending for themselves on the streets. I think I could understand if he only acted this way when dealing with confrontations, but his entire demeanor seemed to remain like this no matter what he was doing.

And yeah, literally everyone I've talked to has said that the film really gets rolling about midway through the second act, so I really gotta give it another shot methinks (even if not in 3D).

edit: and I don't think it's unreasonable whatsoever to expect protagonist children to have tragic flaws. Think about how selfish kids can be in general, or how naive, or how inconsiderate; these are all aspects that serve as great arcs for kids to grow out of, as it better develops their coming-of-age. In that sense, I almost think their flaws (even if not ostensibly "tragic") are even more interesting for me than an adult's...

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#34 Post by knives » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:51 pm

James Mills wrote: Perhaps apathetic was the wrong word. His character just seemed very weak and "woe is me"ish, especially in his interactions with Kingsley and the little girl. He seems to just follow everyone around and let them do the talking without really sticking up for himself, and these traits aren't the kinds of ones i'd associate with someone fending for themselves on the streets. I think I could understand if he only acted this way when dealing with confrontations, but his entire demeanor seemed to remain like this no matter what he was doing.
You'd be surprised at how often that sort of personality arises in that sort of situation, but instead of giving examples of that I'll just mention that the character (from all I've heard) is intended to basically be Scorsese at that age. From all I've heard Scorsese was a very weak child, barely able to get out of bed with a hefty number of diseases. In that case it makes sense that the Scorsese character would be weak, passive, and internalized.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#35 Post by BWilson » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:10 pm

I really didn't care for it. It's better than the run of pictures he's made over the last 10 years, but it's certainly not his best work.

All the peripheral characters were terrible (the flower girl, the woman with the dog, etc), sketched so thin I felt like their screen time was a complete waste. Sasha Baron Coen's antics were unfunny. Every pursuit of the boy through the station felt interminable and added nothing to the story. And the story is one of those exasperating situations that is only sustained because the characters won't open their god damn mouths and talk to each other for 15 seconds. If they would only talk the whole conflict would be settled in a moment. I always find those scenarios frustrating. Furthermore, if you already know who Milies is then the only bit of suspense the film has is over in the first 20 minutes.

The Melies stuff was amazing and a great tribute to the man, silent film, and film preservation, but by the time it showed I was so disinterested in the film it wasn't enough to save my interest.

The bottom line is I GET the film, I GET that Scorsese loves his father who took him to the movies every weekend, I GET that preserving film history is important, I just don't understand why I should have to sit through an inept and uninteresting melodrama about a boy to get to these conclusions.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#36 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:06 pm

Saw it again, and I think I liked it more the second time around.

I'm still not that crazy about Sacha Baron Cohen's character, but he's not terrible, and while the peripheral characters are one-note characters, that's pretty much par-for-the-course for most children's stories - that's why they're peripheral characters, they're usually vehicles for one particular joke or one small plot thread.

But I think there's a lot of emotional weight here. It's not just a plea for film preservation, it's very heartbreaking to see an artist like Méliès investing their life into their work, only to have neglect and poverty twist their passion into bitterness, and it makes it all the more moving when they find someone who not only remembers but is touched their work in a profound way even as it continues to bring the creator a lot of pain.

Comparing this film to the The Artist, I think this one comes off a lot more raw while The Artist seems all the more empty. When the character in that film tries to burn down his house, as well as his film collection (except for one film can, and a predictable one to boot), it's calculated melodrama. When Scorsese shows Méliès destroying his own work on at least two occasions, I think the full weight of what happened to the man in real-life (not to mention Buster Keaton and many others) is really understood and deeply felt.

Even if you know who Méliès is, it shouldn't kill the movie when you see what's become of him at the start of the film. (Not unless you actually think this is going to be a docudrama, and anticipate the bestowing of a medal by one of the Lumière brothers on Mélès' chest.) I do admit that I thought it was pretty foolish...
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...for the boy to go back for the automaton alone when it's obvious he'd be pursued. It seemed immediately foolish that he didn't bring along one of the adults, at least the film historian. But personally, the chases went by pretty fast, I didn't think they were interminable at all.
Anyway, again, on technical level, the film is definitely breathtaking. I'm not a fan of 3D, but it's wonderfully done here (and I feel like they've upgraded 3D filmmaking quite a bit since I last saw Toy Story 3 - you can even see it in the glasses they passed out). And it works exceptionally well with the layered production design.

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Highly overrated, highly overpraised

#37 Post by MidwestPride » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:34 pm

Hi there.

I saw Hugo last weekend and I must say that I do not understand the universal praise. The 3D is used masterfully and I'm glad that Scorsese embraced it. Ben Kingsley as Georges Méliès is both heartbreaking and joyous. When he triumphs over his bitterness you smile alongside him. But in saying that, I found his story the only exceptional part of the run time. The first 1.5 hrs do little to titillate and I blame this on John Logan's screenplay. Literally nothing happens
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(besides Hugo's father's death)
. The production design is beautiful but I found the film overall lacking substance, relying too much on imagery and not enough on story. By the time Hugo meets Melies his own story takes a back seat;
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Hugo's speech to the station inspector was meant to confess his loneliness, but it did little to achieve that.
Asa Butterfield was at times wooden and Chloe Moretz, although charming, was not convincing as his side-kick. One could tell she was "being directed" to be Hugo's counterpart of sadness and lost hope. Her English accent didn't help the cause either. Sascha Cohen as the train station inspector was serviceable. The rest of the cast was wasted.

Hugo - 6.5/10
In words - "If this didn't have Scorsese's name on it it would've been met with less than stellar reviews."

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#38 Post by GaryC » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:29 am

Is it me, or is it ironic that Scorsese's valentine to pioneering filmmakers is his first film to be digitally-captured rather than shot on film?

(It's also his first dramatic feature in 1.85:1 since Goodfellas. He seems to have lost the ability to bring his films in under two hours, though.)

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Re: Highly overrated, highly overpraised

#39 Post by MichaelB » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:09 am

MidwestPride wrote:I saw Hugo last weekend and I must say that I do not understand the universal praise. The 3D is used masterfully and I'm glad that Scorsese embraced it. Ben Kingsley as Georges Méliès is both heartbreaking and joyous. When he triumphs over his bitterness you smile alongside him. But in saying that, I found his story the only exceptional part of the run time. The first 1.5 hrs do little to titillate and I blame this on John Logan's screenplay. Literally nothing happens.
Interestingly, I read one review that claimed the exact opposite - that the film was exhilarating for the first one-and-a-half hours and then turns into a finger-wagging lecture on film preservation.

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Re: Highly overrated, highly overpraised

#40 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:35 am

MidwestPride wrote: Hugo - 6.5/10
In words - "If this didn't have Scorsese's name on it it would've been met with less than stellar reviews."
If it didn't have Scorsese making it, it would have been a wildly different movie. It's not as though critics are afraid to savage Scorsese's work- I remember Shutter Island (which I really liked) being attacked pretty regularly.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#41 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:59 am

Some people are finding fault with the shift in focus from Hugo to Méliès, but I didn't have any problem with it at all. I didn't think of it as one story taking a backseat to another so much as one story dovetailing into another.

Most of the lengthier stories that I heard or read in elementary school (particularly those that our teacher would read over the course of many days) had this type of narrative flow. For example, one of the first books we read in grade school was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and it starts off with two kids running away from home and hiding out at the Met only to dovetail into a mystery concerning the titular Mrs. Frankweiler.

But in that case as well as Hugo's, the main characters are still driving the plot. With some other books, the main character/protagonist would kick off the narrative and gradually becomes more of an observer (or someone along for the ride) as these other, often larger-than-life personalities take over the story. It's probably common with children's stories because that's pretty much what childhood is like in an adult world - most of the time, you're watching and trying to understand what's going on around you, with a lot of it flowing in unexpected directions.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#42 Post by knives » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:31 pm

That's definitely true of children's literature. Even when the kids are older (i.e. The Pigman) there's a sense of discovering a goal usually in the form of an adult and allowing them to take over the plot if not the point of view. Even in tales where's that's not immediately obvious (i.e. Series of Unfortunate Events and The Bridge to Terabithia) this happens in degrees. Really only the stories that deliberately go out of their way to exclude the adult presence (i.e. Narnia) don't have this happen to some extant as far as I can remember.

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Re: Highly overrated, highly overpraised

#43 Post by MidwestPride » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:11 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:
MidwestPride wrote:Hugo - 6.5/10
In words - "If this didn't have Scorsese's name on it it would've been met with less than stellar reviews."
If it didn't have Scorsese making it, it would have been a wildly different movie. It's not as though critics are afraid to savage Scorsese's work- I remember Shutter Island (which I really liked) being attacked pretty regularly.
Shutter Island was met with mixed reviews, definitely more positive than negative. The way I see it if you hide the directors name and just present the material itself would it be met with the same acclaim? I say no.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#44 Post by MichaelB » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:20 am

I often wish I had more opportunities to see films in complete prior ignorance of the people who made them.

I was lucky enough to see L.A. Confidential in a version that, while substantially complete, lacked any credits - and I therefore watched the film with no idea who some of the actors were (I completely failed to recognise Guy Pearce), and of course no idea at all who the director was. So I had no preconceptions whatever, and could enjoy the film for what it was, rather than what I wanted it to be.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#45 Post by whaleallright » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:09 pm

He seems to have lost the ability to bring his films in under two hours, though.
I have to highlight this. I thought Hugo, like most of Scorsese's films from the last decade or so, was overextended. There was air hanging around every line reading, like he was contractually obligated to pass the 120 minute mark. (I felt like breaking out a stopwatch to clock all the needless pauses between lines.) Major plot points felt like they could have been resolved 20 minutes sooner, like the stuff with Méliès pocketing the protagonist's notebook. We had to sit through seemingly three of four iterations of "I want my notebook!"/"I'll give it to you when..." for reasons I couldn't ascertain (except to allow Hugo to develop a friendship with Méliès's niece, another thing that could have been handled much more quickly).

The subplots were similarly bloated -- I kept feeling that a more deft director could have handled them as background action, instead of veering off from the central plot for one or two minutes for every permutation of the old man's encounter with the lady's dachshund. Scorsese does not have a talent for slapstick.

Much of the stuff with Méliès making films was great fun to watch, but even that was marred by the constant intrusion of lines like "This is where dreams are made"--in case we missed the message (conveyed just as insistently through Howard Shore's uncharacteristically Danny Elfman-esque score). I have a thing about screenplays that constantly state their themes--it's like the authors don't have confidence that those themes will emerge without self-exegesis.

There was probably a very charming 80-minute film buried in there. But between all the pauses, the bloated plot lines, and the air of an illustrated lecture that takes over the final reel, this felt like (to use a controversial expression) elephant art to the max. Something "fun" rather than fun.

But folks I respect a lot seem to have liked it, so there you go.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#46 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:28 am

Well, pencil me in as the one crazy guy who’s going to try to convince you all that Hugo is one of the best films ever made, and the film that will (or should) endure as Scorsese’s masterpiece. He has managed to cast a lovely bunch of actors (Moretz [has there ever been a more talented young actress?], Kingsley, and a warmly bearded Stuhlbarg are standouts here) and use them to tell a story that is near and dear to him, and should be near and dear to anyone who can put their passion for film where their mouth is. It’s a film that’s acceptable for intelligent children, but not made to pander to kids who’d prefer their films to be rollicking pop culture-a-thons. It’s an invitation for critics to whip out that ol’ “There’s a lot here for Mom and Dad!” trope, even though everything here is for Mom and Dad. It’s difficult, in this day and age, for me to try to convince myself that what I’m feeling about a piece of art is what I actually feel, or I actually should feel, but I have not been so enchanted by a timeless tale of passion and mutual generational inspiration since I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for the first time in the second grade – films like Hugo don’t come around very often for me. There was a bit of a tiff on this forum a few days ago over whether or not a critic should judge a film based on an “uplifting factor” – and here I am, faced with an incredibly bleak picture about the end of the world and Hugo at the top of my year-end list. And even though my more sarcastic bones are wrenching and creaking around inside of me, I preferred the uplifting film, by what amounts to a very large margin. Scorsese has not only taken on the challenge of utilizing the most-hated development in film today, he’s singlehandedly made it something worthwhile and given it a place to belong in today’s cinematic landscape. If that isn’t a groundbreaking achievement on the scale of some of the most notable cinematic breakthroughs throughout the history of the medium, I don’t know what is. When a legendary filmmaker can craft a delightful story around themes that are intensely personal to him while referencing the history of cinema from the earliest silent shorts through the work of the man who he personally considers his near-and-dear successor (Wes Anderson, of course), I’m ready to stand and cheer him on, not turn and run to my safe, cold, cynical hole in the wall.

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James Mills
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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#47 Post by James Mills » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:48 am

mfunk9786 wrote:Well, pencil me in as the one crazy guy who’s going to try to convince you all that Hugo is one of the best films ever made, and the film that will (or should) endure as Scorsese’s masterpiece. He has managed to cast a lovely bunch of actors (Moretz [has there ever been a more talented young actress?]
It really is remarkable the extent to which you and I disagree on things. While I only made it through the first forty minutes before snoozing, I would say it was easily my least favorite first act of any of Scorsese's work and that I think Moretz gave the poorest performance of any of his players. Ever. (more obnoxious to me than Cameron Diaz even)

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#48 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:57 am

James Mills wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:Well, pencil me in as the one crazy guy who’s going to try to convince you all that Hugo is one of the best films ever made, and the film that will (or should) endure as Scorsese’s masterpiece. He has managed to cast a lovely bunch of actors (Moretz [has there ever been a more talented young actress?]
It really is remarkable the extent to which you and I disagree on things. While I only made it through the first forty minutes before snoozing, I would say it was easily my least favorite first act of any of Scorsese's work and that I think Moretz gave the poorest performance of any of his players. Ever. (more obnoxious to me than Cameron Diaz even)
I don't care if you're James Mills or fucking Michael Powell's ghost - I'm not interested in the slightest in the opinion of a film from someone who fell asleep during said film. If you haven't attempted to engage yourself with something at its entry-level, why should your opinion be considered of any consequence? It's one thing to fall asleep during a film - but it's another to then throw your opinion about what little of it you saw around like it's anything but rubbish.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#49 Post by knives » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:06 am

I fucked Michael Powell's ghost once. It was a surprisingly pleasant occurrence.

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Re: Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

#50 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:08 am

Was his ghost in glorious technicolor or grainy B&W?

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