Martin Scorsese’s Hugo

Part Un: Leg

The most controversial and provocative character in Hugo is Inspector Gustav’s leg.  Villains often are marked by a physical deformity – a disfiguring scar or handicap.  Here, Inspector Gustav (Sasha Baron Cohen) is marked by a disability, Leg, giving him an over-the-top limp with markedly loud squeaks.  Leg is not only a mark of evil, its complex character runs through a number of phases.  Slap stick humor is one of them.  Tsk tsk for teaching kids to laugh at Leg, that’s cheap. Then, Leg moves into phase pity.  Look at that poor gimp, half of a man, he is.  Leg is equivalent to a large vagina doused in perfume and wearing pumps.  Inspector Gustav is emasculated to the point of obscurity, the poor chump can’t even talk to the plain flower lady (Emily Mortimer).  As Leg’s final phase, it is transformed into a source of goodness.  Through Leg, Inspector finds the strength of compassion.  Finally, Leg is reborn as a functional limb and Inspector Gustav emerges as a fully whole man.  Happy ending (at the expense of Leg).

Part Deux: Hugo

There are too many bits and pieces I was unhappy with, it’d be too tedious of a list.  So I’ll stick with just one.  I’m willing to give up a lot of standards when I walk into a children’s movie, but above all, I expect an imaginative and entertaining story.  Instead, Hugo has lots of mystery around characters that are weak, bland, and boring.  Makes it difficult for me to get involved in their secret histories if I just don’t care.

The only redeeming quality about this movie is the celebration of early film makers.  I didn’t know anything about Georges Méliès, but watching his footage and other old footage was pretty tight.

Overall, complete lack of charm.

Recommendations from Yolkie:

City of Lost Children
The Secret Garden
Harry Potter

Mary and Max

Currently streaming on Netflix.

I knew in the opening lines that this movie was for me: “Mary Dinkle’s eyes were the color of muddy puddles, her birthmark, the color of poo.”

How come I’ve never heard of this movie?  Mary and Max, written and directed by Adam Elliot (Harvey Krumpet), is a humorous, dark film about the friendship of a lonely Australian girl and a middle-aged New Yorker.  The voice cast includes Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana, and Barry Humphries.  Mary and Max forge a friendship despite the complete and thorough alienation that the world has forced upon them.  Don’t be fooled by the claymation, the story will take some bitter downturns.  It will go there.  But there is plenty of room for laughter.  And I did.  Outloud.  I also cried, at least once.  Maybe three times.

As I sat through, enraptured by the poignant story emerging, I thought – why the hell didn’t this movie get more attention?  Then I remembered that American hearts only have room for shit that smells like roses.  It’s got the quirky, oddball feel of Amelie combined with the cringe-filled pity of Muriel’s Wedding.  Mind you, this is all on top of wonderfully crafted claymation. Add a soundtrack full o’ heart, you got a stew goin’.

I would like for you to see this movie.  Here are three things that I hope will help you watch:

1) The trailer.
2) It is streaming on Netflix.
3) If you won’t take my word, check out Rotten Tomatoes – 94%.

I have to dedicate my last lines to Philip Seymour Hoffman.  What a voice you have… $11

Recommendations from Yolkie:
Triplets of Belleville

Muriel’s Wedding

Other Reviews:
Life With Aspergers
Animation for Adults
More Than Expected

Valhalla Rising

Currently streaming on Netflix.

I’ve never seen a man so disfigured, give me the biggest chubby I’ve never known.  Nicolas Winding Refn doesn’t seem to know how to write women (Valhalla Rising would miserably fail the Bechdel Test); but, Refn knows how to write the most sexually electrifying  male leads to ever see the big screen.  See Drive.

To say Valhalla Rising is slow-paced, is a sure under-statement.  The first spoken words come as a surprise, because so much time has passed without language.  That is not to say it is silent.  Refn selects jarring, intense music that sets a perfect Purgatorial mood.  Normally, I give up easily on slow-paced movies.  I am often impatient and bored.  I was neither during this one.  The moments of stillness added to the suspense.  The gorgeous landscapes (filmed in Scotland) interspersed with shocking red clairvoyant impressions were enough to keep me at the edge of my seat.

The protagonist, a Norse warrior, begins as a slave with unrivaled fighting skills.  Refn’s movies are like the bashed-in heads he loves so much.  Rough, bloody, and raw, but soft on the inside.  The Norse warrior is 100% hero.  A noble savage that meets his match when he meets nobler savages, also known as Injuns.

Valhalla Rising did have a fatal flaw – a disappointing ending that I won’t spoil for you.  Even still, the movie is entirely worth watching.  I wholeheartedly recommend it… $11

As a side note, the picturesque landscapes of this movie reminded me of one my all-time favorite music videos.  Though entirely different in tone, it shares gray skies and rolling hills. See here.

Yolkie’s Recommendations:

The Hidden Blade
Let the Right One In

Other Reviews:
Vahalla Rising Review
The Speculative Scotsman
Between the Seats

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