Consider the Source

Monday, July 18, 2011

Consider the Source: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 3:53 PM

  • Scholastic Press
Martin Scorsese is one of those directors whose every project invites close cultural scrutiny, even his half-successes. November 23 sees the release of Scorsese’s first family film, Hugo, based on the 2007 book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. As revealed in the film’s new trailer, Hugo depicts the eponymous orphan who lives in the walls of a Parisian train station, where he tries to stay ahead of the guard and unravel a mystery involving a mechanical man, a quirky girl and some enigmatic inventors.

The material might sound like a stretch for Scorsese, but the book reveals deeper ties to film history than the trailer and a superficial description indicates. It’s written and illustrated by Brian Selznick, a relative of legendary film producer David O. Selznick. The senior Selznick’s credits include Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, Spellbound and Duel in the Sun — the latter of which just happens to be the first film that Scorsese ever saw.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Consider the Source: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 7:31 PM


The title Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a little misleading. True, rising middle-schooler Greg Heffley is unathletic and small for his age, but Jeff Kinney's bestselling book spends relatively little time focusing on his wimp factor. Even "Diary" part isn't ideal, since Greg declares, on the first page, that the word "diary" is for sissies and that he's recording his activities in a journal. Given Greg's self-centered behavior, perhaps Chronicles of a Lazy Kid or Annals of a Sneaky Kid could would be more appropriate.

Friday's release of the film adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (from the director of -- uh-oh -- Hotel for Dogs) inspired me to read Kinney's "novel in cartoons," which originated on the educational web site FunBrain. Written on lined noteb00k-style paper with illustrations on nearly every page, Diary of a Wimpy Kid straddled the line between picture book and graphic novel. Kinney's simplistic cartooning - a notch or two above stick figures - provides a whimsical counterpoint to Greg's grumpy, deadpan candor. Currently I'm reading the third book in the hilarious series, although the humor does not lie where one might expect to find it.

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