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This one’s on me, you guys.

I watched this at the tail-end of a long day while on a trip to Louisville, and kept nodding off and having to fight to remain awake. I remember thinking, “I need to watch this when I’m not so tired, because I’m pretty sure this is good. Is that Harry Dean Stanton? Okay, I DEFINITELY need to watch this later when I’m fully awake. But I have not yet done so. I’m sorry, movie. I’m putting you here, with no review at all, to shame/remind myself to watch you again later, when I can devote all my attention to you.

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What really needs to be said here? Or rather, what hasn’t been said already? Amelie is a fun, charming film, and I watched it because I wanted something light and cheerful at the moment.

I have noticed a couple of things about this film over the years: One, this film is practically omnipresent when it comes to ladies’ DVD shelves. Even those who only six movies, own this one; which I confess is my goal in writing this new romantic comedy I’m working on right now. Also, when I ask someone if they like French cinema, the most common answer is “I like Amelie.” So apparently Amelie is such a delightful film, even those who don’t value it all that highly or seek it out on their own accord, consider it an essential film. Which I think says more about it than anything I might write about my reaction to its plot and characters and aesthetic.

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I watched this movie because of two men: Peter Sellers, and my Dad.

I was watching Dr. Strangelove one night and Dad asked if I’d ever seen this one. I said no, nor had I ever heard of it. He said if I liked Dr. Strangelove, I’d probably like it. Which makes sense, as The Mouse That Roared seems almost like the little brother to Dr. Strangelove’s more accomplished big brother. It’s as if the movie knows that people want it to be a political satire, but in its heart just wants to be a silly romp.

The story concerns a tiny duchy called Grand Fenwick, whose pinot-based economy is threatened by the pinot being made in California. As they near bankruptcy, the country decides its only remaining option is to declare war on America, which goes much better than they expected. Peter Sellers plays several characters, which goes better than it should simply because Peter Sellers was a genius.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this to someone who isn’t a huge Sellers fan, though I do think it could make for an interesting remake.

Apparently there was a sequel, directed by Richard Lester. I like him, too. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll watch it.

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I watched this movie primarily because of two people: Paul Thomas Anderson, and my buddy Nick. PTA has said on several occasions that the commentary on Bad Day at Black Rock was practically his film school. So I borrowed it from a friend, but it ended up being the version without the commentary in question.

Nick had talked about an idea for remaking it, which I won’t go into here because he might still want to do that.

The movie looks great. There’s a shot of a bunch of guys just standing by railroad track talking, and it’s an epic fucking shot. Other than that, this movie didn’t make much of an impression. This is one of the movies I watched a while back and am just now getting around to writing up, so I’m sure it deserves than what I am giving it. And really, I’m not saying it’s bad, it just didn’t carve out a place of its own within me. Which I’m learning is what I want in a movie. 

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I’m not sure how much I really have to say about this movie. It’s dogshit. I love Danny Boyle, but this is horrible. Maybe someday I’ll be sitting on the couch, grounded by a weekend lethargy, and it’ll come on a cable station and I’ll watch it again and I won’t be bothered by it. Maybe someday it’ll be inoffensive. But not now. Now it is a collection of insanely talented people making something so far below their abilities that it makes me sad and angry, but mostly just disappointed. Rosario Dawson goes Full Monty in this movie. Knowing how difficult this is for many actresses, I wish this movie deserved her commitment.

Well, the damn blog is called Something So Quixotic. Makes sense I’d bite off more than I could chew.

There’s really no way I will make the Movie A Day pace for 2013. I started this when I had absolutely no prospects and no idea how this year would play out. Now, we’re starting October and I’m nowhere near 200 movies. I still aim to hit 250, but that’s well short of the 365 needed to be AMAD material. Ah well…

I’m still going to try to stick the landing on writing up everything I see. Right now, I am 70 movies behind, so not all will be long entries. But then, not every movie needs a long entry. So yeah, we’ll just do a post for each movie and let that stand as a system. See you on the other side.

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The first time I saw Hugo, I was in a theater in Florence, KY, and I bawled my eyes out. See, my Dad worked his way through college as a projectionist at the Chevy Chase Theater in Lexington, KY. He has told me several times that the film he has seen most in his life is 2001: A Space Odyssey because it played for so damn long at his theater. In 2010, Turner Classic Movies did their first film festival, and one of the films shown was 2001: A Space Odyssey. I covered it, recorded the Q&A with Douglas Trumbull, and then raced outside to call Dad and I’d just watched the 70mm roadshow print that he had projected so many times in his youth. In that moment, it felt like time had folded ever so slightly, allowing Dad and me to share a moment as young men humbled by the scope of genius. So yes, when Hugo sees the movie his Dad told him about, and for a moment his Dad is alive with him once again…I did not keep my composure.

I think the thing that strikes me most odd about Hugo is its place in the oeuvre of Martin Scorsese. Scorsese’s entire filmography shows a man looking forward. It is obvious that Scorsese is a film historian, evidence can be found in every film that he’s made. Yet, it was always an aspect of the film, the foundation from which art builds onward and upward. Just as Kurt Cobain used his incredible familiarity with the structure of pop music to create something loud and brash and undeniable, Scorsese used the iconography of the past to push towards some understanding and articulation of what he saw in the people around him. In Hugo, however, it seems he has made a film where looking back is the point.

Hugo Cabret is an orphan, though he wasn’t always this way. Even here, we see the film wanting to have it both ways. As a storytelling conceit, orphans are usually symbolic of someone with no past, thus nothing tying them to acting in a particular, socially-accepted manner. They are wild and free. And yet they are also alone. Even when they find a community of fellow orphans, it is almost constant that betrayal will seep into the group, and our principle orphan will be thrust once more into the concrete jungle. Perhaps this is because we associate family with love and acceptance, though I would argue that I know as many people who learned acceptance through their family as I know who learned acceptance in spite of their family. Still, in storytelling, and particularly cinematic storytelling, every word must represent three words. And so is built the contract between filmmaker and audience: Someone without a family must always search for a family. If the film is to have a happy ending, they are to find that family. If the film is more interested in punishing them, they are to find and ultimately lose that family. And so it goes.

For at least some of its running time, Hugo is about the community we find at the cinema. Granted, these are not people with whom we talk often, but that is only because we share something much deeper with them. Movies are our collective dreams. To share that with someone is intimate, magical, and far more profound than many will ever realize. Most of the best friendships I have were born out of a shared love for the movies. To some, those 100 minutes spent in a darkened room may be trivial, but they have defined me in both my sense of the world and myself.

But Hugo is also about a little boy finding a family in the non-metaphorical sense. This is a beautiful film, and Scorsese’s love for cinema past is evident in every frame. And yet, it is also missing something. It is missing that forward momentum that carries you onward and upward, into cinema future; that thing that says “Yes, the past is filled with awesome things. But you know what else is filled with awesomeness? Our future.” Hugo is a very good movie. It would be the best film in so many other filmographies. Just not in this one.