Old School Is New Again: Hugo and The Artist

11/23/2011 08:03 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2012

In Martin Scorsese's homage to cinema history, Hugo, there's a delicious moment, one of many in this stunning 3D epic, when two children, Hugo and Isabelle, attend a black and white silent Harold Lloyd movie and the actor dangles from the hands of a giant clock. Of course, this image prefigures a scene when Hugo (Asa Butterfield, the accomplished star of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) who works the clocks at Paris' Gare Montparnasse ends up in a similar posture hanging on a snowy ledge, hiding from the station's inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). But the delight of this old movie for the children, the happiness in their faces, is truly what Scorsese is going for and achieves so masterfully in Hugo, arriving in time for the holidays and an assured "Best Picture" contender this season. "Hugo is a family movie," introduced Scorsese at Monday night's Ziegfeld premiere, and it took a beat to realize precisely what kind of family he had in mind.

The after party at the Metropolitan Club on Monday had an epic quality of its own, overshadowing even Lady Gaga's presence at Barney's down the street. Tony Bennett and Sylvia Miles commanded their own tables in the bar room as Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola and their 8-year-old filed into the larger dining room, soon crowded: cast members Sir Ben Kingsley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Michael Stuhlbarg, writers Brian Selznick, the author of the magical book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret on which the movie is based, John Logan, the screenwriter, and many others: Patricia Clarkson, Vera Farmiga, Steve Buscemi, Bob Balaban, Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova, Paul Haggis, Courtney Love, Albert Maysles, Tony Danza, Montego Glover, Amir Bar-Lev, all congratulated "Marty" as he took honors with editor Thelma Schoonmaker by his side.

By happy circumstance, The Artist is a black and white silent film, and the very few parts that are not play brilliantly with the classics of that era. Many are now asking, is The Artist a masterpiece? At last week's premiere party at 44 at the Royalton, sponsored by Hugo Boss and HP, the stars Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo and her husband, director Michel Hazanavicius chatted with well-wishers, some struggling with their French. Producer Thomas Langmann spoke about the luscious elegance of the black and white, achieved by dipping color out. In one serendipitous moment observed in the ladies' room, Parker Posey broke into a dance duet with Penelope Ann Miller. You've got to love a movie that brings such bonhomie.

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