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Victory Hugo & Les Misérables

February 2nd 2012, by Celik Kayalar

The 3-D movie “Hugo” based on a children’s book and directed by one of my idols, Martin Scorsese, is now nominated for 11 Oscars. So, I recently went to see it, of course.

I thought it was a true masterpiece, in terms of its looks (superb lighting, cinematography, use of 3-D and other digital effects). How about its writing, acting, directing, editing? you might ask. Well, I can tell you, its a true masterpiece in terms of its looks!

I’m told that the story has a nice, touching ending, too. Only if I could stay awake to see it. Kids, in the audience? After 20 minutes, they all stumbled out of the theater, yawning and whining; you know how kids can get cranky for no reason.

I recently watched Scorsese deliver his acceptance speech as the “Best Director” for “Hugo” at the Golden Globes. The maestro explained that he made the movie because his wife had said “Why don’t you make a film our (12 year old) daughter can see, for once?”. Well, I guess this is what happens when an artistic genius decides to listen to his sweet and loving family rather than to his own inner-voice, delightfully dark and disturbed, just like we’d come to love and expect it. Now, I’ll be watching, for the umpteenth time, “Mean Streets”, “Raging Bull”, “Taxi Driver” or even “Goodfellas”, to regain my respect for the maestro. It won’t take me too long.

Speaking of dark and disturbed, “Shame” is a cutting-edge, well-made movie, directed by the talented newcomer Steve McQueen from Britain. Michael Fassbender does an excellent job playing the lead, a “sex-addict” living in Manhattan. Its a subtle but very layered and brave performance. Please go see it, yet consider yourself warned, this movie is not for the faint-hearted or Regan-Republicans (though, I suspect, Gingrich & Cain would love it, without admitting to it).

Now, onto the name and some whining of my own:

They named the movie “Shame”, I’m guessing, because its a catchy one-word, while risking the outcome that the audiences would now expect this name to reflect, at least to a degree, how the protagonist/male-lead feels. Yet, throughout his whole performance, Fassbender shows no sign of being ashamed at all  (in full accordance with the script). He portrays boredom and depression, though. The man looks like a Greek God; has a great job in finance; plenty of ladies on the side, and an occasional gentleman, too. No wonder he would be bored and depressed, who wouldn’t?

In addition to having non-stop sex with all sorts of strangers, Mr. Fassbender spanks the monkey so often that, rumor has it, the producers were unable to claim “No animals were hurt during the making of this movie”. Whether unsuspecting audiences are being hurt is another matter.

Fassbender is also very good in “A Dangerous Method“, playing another idol of mine, the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung. No monkey business there, but this time Fassbender spanks Keira Knightley often (literally, as part of her therapy; she’s a patient of his, with severe daddy-problems, you see).

According to John Kerr who’s book the screenplay was based on, Jung’s inappropriate involvement with this particular patient is what put a permanent wedge between him and his mentor Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Who knew? Upon finding out this novel reinterpretation of history, a Freudian psychoanalyst friend of mine burst out:  “John Kerr should be spanked for this!” Apparently, spanking is quite popular among mental-health-care providers, old and new. I did not know that…

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, Fassbender is one up-and-coming actor, no doubt about it. Lets keep watching him as he conquers planet Hollywood soon, what choice do we have? Or him, for that matter.

11 responses to “Victory Hugo & Les Misérables”

  • 1
    Deanna says:

    On Hugo: I enjoyed this movie. I thought the little boy Hugo was interesting to watch and not phony or over the top like so many child actors seem to be these days. He was sincere and seemed to have an authentic range of emotions. Asa Butterfield, that’s his name. I just looked him up on IMdb to find his name, it says he is 15 years old! That is rather shocking, I thought he was maybe 8 years old, difficult to believe he is 15. I felt that Ben Kingsley’s performance was a bit forced, which I didn’t really understand because it seemed to be the perfect role for him, but I didn’t believe him for some reason, there was a disconnect between him and his character. I liked the clock and the automaton and the book store with all the antique books, and the setting in the 1800s; I also loved the information on the history of film making. I have to agree that I would never know this film was by Scorsese unfortunately. It does affect any artist’s style when they work to please someone else instead of following their own creative process. I hope his daughter likes it, that’s really the reason he made it I guess.

  • 2
    Celik Kayalar says:

    Hi Deanna.
    I agree with you on Ben Kingsley’s acting. For me, the most disappointing aspect of this film was its incredibly slow pacing of it in the otherwise very competent hands of Scorsese ( made worse by the strange editing that left so much dead-air in between each line uttered by the characters ). Yes, lets hope Scorsese’s daughter likes it. She would, of course, be well qualified to appreciate many good things about this film including its references to and actual footage from the early days of cinema her father nicely used. Yet, I doubt that there are many other young audiences out there who would. Its just too slow ( and unfortunately boring ) of a film for them to do so.

  • 3
    Elena says:

    Yes, I agree with what you’ve written about the film “Shame” and its lead actor Michael Fassbender. How did you manage to make it so humorous?…laughed out laud reading it! Good to know that at the helm of FABA there is somebody like you who knows a lot about filmmaking and can make great ones ( I’m a big fan of your feature-film “Moonlight Sonata” ), but also is so well-versed in many other disciplines, such as psychoanalysis, as you write about in your blog. Please keep them coming, Celik…we’re enjoying them while learning a lot!

  • 4
    Celik Kayalar says:

    Thanks Elena! As long as people are enjoying, I’ll keep on writing them. Always good to be commented on what you’ve written, regardless of whether they are agreed on or not. A meaningful discussion is what matters most.

  • 5
    jessica spears says:

    I agree, “Hugo” will go down as one of the most hyped but dull movies Scorsese ever made. 11 Oscar nomination!? May be its Hollywood’s way of saying “Sorry, we’re sooo late in appreciating you!” to the great director
    Celik- You are hilarious! LOL! all the way….Your line about the movie “Shame” is bound to be a classic:

    “…producers were unable to claim “No animals were hurt during the making of this movie”.

    You seem to have discovered the secret to get your point across and educate your readers, while being extremely entertaining. Can you please teach me how to do it? Also, how do you know so much? I know you have a PhD. degree, I should look it up in what and write here, again. I’m now a fan!

  • 6
    Kamil A. says:

    SHAME’s director Steve McQueen recently claimed that the reason Michael Fassbender was overlooked in the Oscar nominations was due to America’s uptightness about sex and sexual matters. Do you agree?

  • 7
    Beatrice Kayes says:

    Nobody commented on Kayalar’s take on “A Dangerous Method”. Do you think John Kerr’s version of the breakup between Freud and Jung, as depicted in the film, is totally fictional?

    By the way, whether one agrees on everything Kayalar writes or not, one can not help but spend a significant amount of time rolling on the floor with laughter. Is the movie “Moonlight Sonata” I heard so much about also filled with his special ( wicked?) humor? From the trailer alone, I can’t tell. How can I see the whole movie, I’m very curious.

  • 8
    Cassandra Telmour says:

    Why 11 Oscar nominations for Hugo, don’t get it. It was long, slow and boring. My 11 year old niece fell asleep in the first 15 minutes.
    Shame, I’d like to try. A Dangerous Method, I’ll skip (may be I’ll read the book).

  • 9
    derin says:

    I think you are too harsh to Scorsese. A film that pays homage to the first films and a father that prefers to please his daughter rather than the critics are worth praising. It is unfair to expect from a director to deliver the same tempo in every movie he makes. Last but not least, I have always been fascinated by cog mechanisms.

  • 10
    fitness blog says:

    Just read it and went gosh, I know why I was poor in the debate class. When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees. Abraham Lincoln 1809 1865

  • 11
    Francesco says:

    GREAT trailer! Very acucrately reflects the movie. That piece of score is gorgeous and haunting. I really enjoyed the film @ TIFF, though it offers up a lot of questions never quite answered but that’s exactly why I look forward to seeing it again. The scene with Fassbender and Mulligan on the couch, shot from behind, is one of the best combos of acting and directorial choice i’ve seen all year incredibly potent.

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