Hugo

Great. Now I hate Paris.


A watershed film. Really more like pus breaking out from an open sore, so a pus‑shed film. 
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Reported on 1st of January, 2012

Why on earth, as a fan of Mr. John Carpenter’s 1982 version, would I see the teens-ies remake of The Thing? The first answer – I will see anything – is certainly true, it doesn’t actually mean that I see everything, only any. Thing. So why does one wind up at some movies and not others? In the case of The Thing I saw it to wash the taste of Hugo out of my mouth, which it did. Why did I see Hugo? Because there weren’t any good times for the The Thing. Which leaves us with why I would want see The Thing in the first place.

I already said. Because I just saw Hugo. Pay attention.

Hugo

3 December 2011 @ The Brighton Odeon


-$81.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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Hugo, though not the worst film of the worst year in cinema history (come on: it’s competing with Cowboys and Aliens and Green Hornet and (shudder) Elle s’appalait Sarah, which are fucking Hall-of-Famers (oh, crap, forgot about Meek’s Cutoff. 2011, you can go to, I don’t know, an existential desert of indecision, sociopaths and drug-addled improvisation. Ah, 2011 hasn’t actually seen any of those movies. 2011, you can go to Hell), it’s probably only the sixth worst film of the year. I’d make a list, but I don’t want to please you by giving you something to argue with. Instead, I will displease you by being correct about everything), nevertheless represents its nadir. Why? Since Mr. Scorcese’s overpraised abomonation, even in the case of the extremely dull La fille du puistatier (see ‘I will seeanything’ above), I will inevitably write in my notes ‘Still, it’s better than Hugo‘. And it is. Everything is. Even movies that are worse than Hugo are better than Hugo.

It is a watershed film, really more like pus breaking out from an open sore, so a pus-shed film. As such it allows cinema once again to flourish, or whatever cinema can do in a river of pus. Such historical moments manifest great mystical signs in the world, as tacos with burn marks that look like James Van Der Beek, or film cans swimming in pus, and Hugo was no exception, since, filled with rage as I was after, I had forgotten to transfer the Brighton football times to my calendar. Actually, I had transferred them, but neglected to put an alarm that screams ‘Stay off the trains, idiot! For God sakes, stay off the train’.

I must have looked like a communist. Or an Arsenal supporter. Ugh. I can’t believe I actually know what that means. I’ve lived here so long, I’ve turned into a communist.

What’s that now? Well, we have sports here in Britain, more specifically football. In Brighton, we have the Brighton Seagulls, a seemingly inoffensive title in a world gone mad with political correctness. In fact, the Brighton seagull, like the Brighton Seagull, is one evil fucker, who will take a sandwich out of your hand in mid-flight. This is not hyperbole. I’ve seen this happen, which would be bragging if everyone in Brighton hadn’t seen the same thing everyday. They’re Brighton seagulls. They’re almost as bad as Brighton Seagulls. Football, being ‘fun’, seems to merit various rioting and senseless beatings, and so the The Authorities, in an actual case of political correctness gone mad, decided to outlaw the selling of alcohol at football games. This action, needless to say, completely solved the problem of social drinking forever.

No it didn’t. What it did do is ensure that the aforementioned Seagull must get so mind-splittingly drunk before the game that the effects don’t wear off for its entirety, in case, you know, you might become conscious enough to discover that you are, in fact, watching football. Football being ‘fun’. As such, getting on the train before the game is…unwise. Now, I like to type my notes into my laptop right away, as I often write things like: ‘It’s genius!’, or ‘Make it stop. Please, just make it stop.’ with no reference to what ‘it’ may be, and, more often than not, with ‘it’ referring to exactly the same thing. So it helps to get it all down before my brain fills up with useless things, like the name of that guy who was in that thing, or my PhD.

This, needless to say, was in no way acceptable to our erstwhile Brighton Seagulls. Keeping my head down and eye contact non-existent, I still engendered comments like, ‘He just won’t stop typing.’, ‘I bet he’s writing about football.’, ‘What’s he writing?’.

I got the impression they were talking about me.

What I was writing, incidentally, was ‘What’s the matter with them, godammit? I have an unpaid and non-existent job to do!’ But football – being ‘fun’ – meant that they had nothing else to talk about, and my presence on the train was a baffling abomination. I must have looked like a communist. Or an Arsenal supporter. Ugh. I can’t believe I actually know what that means. I’ve lived here so long, I’ve turned into a communist.

But as they piled out at Falmer station, to suffer more than I ever would, I knew it was the end, the crawl out of the trough. The infected grapefruit sized pustule had exploded and it was over. I had seen Hugo, so even if I had made the mistake of actually looking up from my computer, and taken my well-deserved beating, I would have thought, as the rib cracks echoed through the compartment, Still, it’s better than Hugo.

If I'd seen it in 3D, I'd be dead.

If I’d seen it in 3D, I’d be dead.

Why do I hate this shit film, which not incidentally recently won the National Board of Review best picture you might ask? I think because it is basically the same film as Twilight, but with unjustified praise instead of inexplicable popularity. As an exemplar of The New Narrative, things just sort of happen without choice or context, careful not to evoke any emotion that we might have to explain to our kids: PG13 – may contain scenes of slight jeopardy of losing her dolly. Don’t worry she finds it right away. Also sci-fi decapitation.

Sir Ben Kingsley takes away Hugo’s notebook, and thus all hopes of Hugo ever discovering his father’s secret…and then immediately gives it back. Ms. Chloë Moretz is lost in the train station crowd…for a second, and then Hugo finds her, and then inexplicably finds the key to the painstakingly creepy automaton, thus instantly solving the film’s main mystery halfway through. The two characters turn the key, it begins to draw, stops…and then starts again. One more turn of the key, and it picks up a cleaver…and just starts killing.

No, it doesn’t, but if it did, Mr. Scorcese would find a way to make sure no one got hurt or scared. It is an extraordinarily flabby film, the dialog equivalent of:

‘It’s true’

‘Why should I believe you?’

‘Because it’s true!’

which would be an impressive parody indeed if I hadn’t lifted it word for word from the film.

Likewise, the movie’s great mystery is then solved halfway through, leaving us with nothing to do but look at our watches, and write encouraging self-help notes to oneself like, ’45 minutes. You can do it!’ as the massive Gare de Montparnasse tower clock transforms into the achingly slow sweeping hands at the back of the geometry class, where you accidently learn math by calculating that 14 minutes is in fact 840 seconds. 839. 838. 837. Hey! You! Hugo! Stop hanging from the clock! You’re slowing down time!

Now to be truly awful, A Life Less Ordinary or Nine Months awful, a film must also contain a hateful message. Hugo saves this for the end, and I was surprised by this to be honest. Not that it would be despicable, no, that fit. After an hour of moaning why he had given up filmmaking, I just though the film would ignore this potential conflict and Mssr. Méliès would suddenly be happy again. On one hand, I wish that they had. On the other, I’m glad they gave me a reason to really fucking hate it. Hatenfreude.

We learn, very, very, very eventually, that Mssr. Georges Méliès gave up films because after World War I, people were too depressed to see his movies. In a rhetorical idiocy that baffles even the most uncommon decency, it argues that the great tragedy of the event that changed Western civilization forever isn’t the death, the futility of death, or even the reverberations of violence that led directly to another event that changed world civilization forever. It’s that George Méliès was sad. Don’t worry George! We’re going to organize a tribute for you, and we’ll show your films and everyone will applaud. Congratulations, Mssr. Méliès. You are loved! Your career matters! I’m getting teared up just thinking about the importance of film restoration.

But the real congratulations goes to Mr. Scorcese, who was smart enough to praise you in the first place, and by proxy, the critics who praise him. This should explain the film’s popularity among those who see films for a living: a film where the statement: ‘Let’s have an adventure!’ means, and I’m actually not kidding or paraphrasing, going to the cinema. I’m trying to think of something more boring than watching someone watch a film. Ah, got it: watching someone watch a Charlie Chaplin film. Hugo‘s inevitable conclusion is that the real casualty of war is our dreams. And film restoration, of course. And possibly some nameless dead people who don’t make movies. In the interest of democracy, let’s not write them off entirely. I mean, we need an audience to applaud at film tributes, don’t we?

After this, I had to see anything, even if it was a ‘the’. Thing, that is. Article follows.

The Take

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Profits!
There is one thing, which will we call an inverse Lebowski. When all the critics who lavished praise on this steaming turd see it again in five years, and simply pretend they always knew it was a steaming turd, there will exactly this much satisfaction (Editor’s note: it’s now five years on. I didn’t see Hugo making any top 323,382 lists this year. I was wrong. I wasn’t worth a dollar). 
$1.00
Total Profits
$1.00
Losses!
The overpraisedness of the thing. Not The Thing. The thing.
$10.00
Showing Mr. Scorcese’s age:  that the master of space relies on 3D to create the illusion of space.
$20.00
Despite what I said earlier, Hugo remains Hugo and can therefore not be better than Hugo. It can, however, be worse.
$51.00
Total Losses
-$81.00

-$81.00

Thoughts on Hugo

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  1. Richard says:

    If it is any comfort, and I suspect it will be, you have not assimilated so much that you can articulate football rivalries accurately. Brighton and Hove Albion are in a different league (literally) to Arsenal, and hence there is little rivalry. Southampton, whose supporters you probably shared the train with, are a different matter, and they are of course all scum.

  2. Scott Scott King says:

    I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn I am still completely ignorant about football. I would stress that even fans of Brighton should still STAY OFF THE TRAINS!

  3. Nathan says:

    You are wrong on everything you have ever said, based of course on something with which I remotely disagree, which I have now forgotten, now let me see, let’s go back, I know I witnessed A Life Less Ordinary with you and of Nine Months…I think there was Joan Cusak? Point being, Hugo “even movies that are worse than Hugo are better than Hugo” Hugo is a nice little film, and *I* would have used Keitel’s Lieutenant on his knees to prove that point as well. Of course, I would offer that our schism involves your preference for mimesis over mine for diegesis; that’s an insult to both of us, or at least to Abel Ferrara.

    If nothing else, Hugo coined the term “pus-shed” but you despise it because of football. That is called displaced aggression. (Montgomery Clift…as Freud!) Do not conflate your anger with Falmer Station Drunks with Cloying Scorcese Screenwriting…oh, what the hell, go ahead.

    I must say Hugo was “conviently constructed,” yes. But was it saccharine? No. Unlike a certain film we most certainly enjoyed, “Chaplin” (starring our own Sage Guyton), where the “adulation” third act comes on strong, as such does in Hugo. (Wait, what? We enjoyed “Chaplin” because of lots of hot prancing naked ladies? I stand corrected.)

    Also, we have the term Hatenfreude, which I have already used twice today.

    However, if the film is *really* about “World War One is bad because Mssr. Georges Méliès gave up films” then yes, I would concede it is jejune.

    Yet I for one did not see the picture as about Méliès at all, but took it on as a parable about the Damaged Man, whether that something removed is Hugo’s father, Gustav’s leg, Méliès work, and yet all are restored by various forms of Art, of Womanhood. To wit: Moretz, automaton/father, woman (Frances de la Tour, or, more importantly, Jeanne D’Alcy, who famously inspired Méliès). I think it’s a weird film–not Cronenberg weird, but it has a subtext noone has looked at.

    I know you hate it in part because the doggie is an unsympathetic character. Dude, I’m with you on that.

    And you know what? About war? (Cf., above) The real casualty IS our dreams. And film restoration.

    Anyone who says different didn’t know how to tie a knot in it.

  4. Scott Scott King says:

    Ah, just as my opinions being entirely subjective make me right, yours make you wrong.

    Couldn’t they haven’t given Méliès a dead son? Or a broken toenail? It just makes him seem like a jerk. Nevertheless, I concede that they were trying to go for the Damaged Man, and in the other characters, to some extent, succeeded. Except for the fire that killed Jude Law. Where did that come from? Burning films?

    In my defense, I can only say that my belief that diagesis *requires* mimesis clouded my judgement. Even though you’re wrong (see above), you’re a better man than I since enjoying a film is better than not. Which means that even Hugo, not being Hugo, is better than Hugo.

  5. Nathan says:

    I did forget to mention the whole part about it being really, really nice to look at. I mean, you have this whole “thing” against the “three’d-D” and all, but still, it was a luscious wonderland aaaaand cue me being arrested trailing after preteen 3D girls. I don’t know who is worse, you or I, although everyone says I am, despite the protestations of Chloë Grace Moretz. No, really, she’s getting awfully loud about it now, and it’s embarrassing.

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