By yesterday afternoon, word was out that the New York Film Festival's surprise film later that evening would be Hugo, introduced by Martin Scorsese himself. Of course, it's a work-in-progress, with color correction, a proper score and evidently much more still on the to-do list. "Scorsese and his Aviator screenwriter John Logan have adapted Brian Selznick's acclaimed novel-comic hybrid The Invention of Hugo Cabret as a pure tribute to not only cinema, but also the endangered legacies of its earliest practitioners," writes Movieline's ST VanAirsdale before laying out an array of first impressions: "Surprises are fun, but the jury is out." IFC's Matt Singer: "The film's schmaltzy trailer may have left some die-hard Marty fans scratching their heads why Mr Mean Streets would make a heartwarming family film, but Hugo is actually the Scorsesiest Scorsese movie in years." The Playlist finds Hugo to be "one of his most deeply personal films." Nathaniel Rogers half-expected "a noisy disaster but the completed — excuse me, nearly completed — movie is actually fairly gentle and lovely despite flirting with manic slapstick on a few occasions." More from Anne Thompson.
"Two early films from the British-Ghanian documentarian John Akomfrah are on view at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem, one eyeing black history, the other the future," writes Andy Webster in the New York Times. "Both are thought-provoking, and they coincide with the premiere of this director's latest work, The Nine Muses, at the Museum of Modern Art." First on the double bill is Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993); here's curator Livia Bloom on The Last Angel of History (1996): "An examination of the relationships between Pan-African culture, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and computer technology, this Afrofuturist cinematic essay posits science fiction — from alien abduction to genetic engineering — as a metaphor for the Pan-African experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation, and otherness." Through Sunday.
"Taking its cue from a subject who's always been able to sell sizzle sans steak, Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project is a bit of bait and switch," writes John Anderson in the NYT. "While its title implies a tawdry tell-all, this documentary actually delivers a virtual tribute to Mr Weinstein, who co-founded Miramax Films, helped revolutionize American independent cinema and cultivated a reputation as a dyspeptic bull in the china shop of art-house sensibilities. Mr Weinstein may not have authorized the director and producer Barry Avrich's rather pedestrian film. But he won't be throwing any telephones."
Variety reports that cinematographer Andrew Laszlo, who shot William Friedkin's The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968), three films for Walter Hill — The Warriors (1979), Southern Comfort (1981) and Streets of Fire (1984) — as well as First Blood (1982) and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), has died at the age of 85. Movie City News points us to an interview Jon Fauer conducted with Laszlo for Film and Digital Times in 2007.