Quick Netflix review: HUGO (2011)

Starring: Asa Butterfield (THE SPACE BETWEEN US [2017], MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [2016], and THE BOY IN THE STRIPPED PAJAMAS [2008]), Chloë Grace Moretz (NEIGHBORS 2 [2016], CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA [2014], and KICK-ASS [2010]), and Ben Kingsley (COLLIDE [2017], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], and SPECIES [1995]).

In support: Sacha Baron Cohen (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [2016], LES MISÉRABLES [2012], and BORAT [2006]), Helen McCrory (THEIR FINEST [2017], 007 SKYFALL [2012], and HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE [2009]), Emily Mortimer (THE SENSE OF AN ENDING [2017], SHUTTER ISLAND [2010], SCREAM 3 [2000], and the upcoming Disney revival, MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]), Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH [2005], and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH [1990]), and Jude Law (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD [2017], SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW [2004], GATTACA [1997], and upcoming films FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD [2018] and SHERLOCK HOLMES 3, no release date announced).

Director: Martin Scorsese (SILENCE [2016], THE DEPARTED [2006], GOODFELLAS [1990], and the upcoming THE IRISHMAN [2018]). Screenwriter: John Logan (ALIEN: COVENANT [2017], THE LAST SAMURAI [2003], and GLADIATOR [2000]). Composer: Howard Shore (DENIAL [2016], THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING [2001], and SE7EN [1995]). Cinematographer: Robert Richardson (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], A FEW GOOD MEN [1992], and PLATOON [1986])


Set in the 1930s, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan in Paris after his father (Jude Law) tragically perished in a fire. He lives in a local train station’s clockworks, repairs and modifying it to keep himself busy. But his real goal is repairing the broken automaton that his father had found, but never finished, so Hugo runs around the station looking for the necessary gears to fix the machine, all while avoiding the station’s stalwart limp-legged inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). However, after he attempts to steal a piece from the station’s toy store and it’s owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), and Georges steals Hugo’s notebook of necessary tools and parts to repair the automaton. Following the older man home, Hugo eventually meets Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), and the two strike up a friendship as she helps Hugo repair his machine and the two discover a love for films and fate of one of the most celebrated film-makers of a bygone era.


Jumped from one Paris-set film to another. Shocking how it took me this long to see this movie. I guess I was in denial that a borderline kids flick was a product of a director who has made some of the most violent films in cinema. The idea that he was even capable of doing whimsy and innocence, you’d think this was a Spielberg film than Scorsese. But no, it’s a Scorsese film and… honestly, it’s brilliant. Despite the story being about a pair of kids, the movie doesn’t talk down to it’s younger audience. Both characters, Hugo and Isabella, barely resemble kids, but more like young adults and both Butterfield and Moretz carry the film beautifully, making this movie their best roles that I’ve seen them in, and that’s saying something because it’s hard to top Hit-Girl. But everyone’s fantastic: Kingsley, McCrory, and yes, even one of my least favorite actors of all time, Cohen, was really good. Eh, he got a little too goofy in some parts, like when he’s talking to his romantic interest Lisette (Emily Mortimer). But you know what? A little goofy is infinitely more preferable than disgustingly unbearable, like I usually associate him as. If you’re a lover of film like I am, then this movie will leave you sitting, staring wide-eyed like a kid when you see the magic of watching A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) and how those old-time silent films were made. It’s, for a lack of a better word, magical and I say if you haven’t seen this movie, then you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.

My honest rating for HUGO: 5/5



THE HATEFUL EIGHT (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Alrighty, get your fingers ramped up for hate messages because I’m about to speak blasphemy. *le sigh.* I AM NOT A FAN OF TARANTINO!!!

I know, I know, shut it. But let me be clear, I don’t HATE Tarantino. I have seen most of his movies and I have never hated any of them. My reaction to his movies range from a shrug and “it’s good,” to a nod and “it’s pretty good.” What’s my problem with Tarantino? His movies are unnecessarily long. “Seriously, Daniel? You hate his movies because they’re long?” First of all, I don’t hate his movies. Second, I said UNNECESSARILY long. Long movies don’t bother me. But when your scenes DRAG the fuck on and don’t serve a real purpose other than to showcase how good a writer you are, that bothers me and nearly all of his movies are like that. I get from a story-telling standpoint that it’s a good idea to linger on your primary characters for a bit so the audience can identify with them and, essentially, give a shit about them. But traditional movies will do that and move on with the story, putting these characters in a situation that we want or don’t want to see them get out of, depending on the angle you’re going for. Tarantino movies do this obviously… but taking FOR-FUCKING-EVER. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009), for example, were chock-full of this and it kind of annoyed me. So many scenes could have been cut and the movie would have not only been shorter, but far more entertaining with greater incentive to rewatch the movie at a later time. I think the only two movies that I’ve seen before HATEFUL EIGHT that strayed from that Tarantino-tradition was the Kill Bill movies and DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012). Yeah, he would linger on the characters for awhile for us to get to know them, but then he would do away with all the pointless dialog and just progress the damn story. So it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that KILL BILL would be my favorite movie of his. Shorter than usual, identifiable characters, faster pacing, everything I like in a movie.

Now, again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t HATE any of his films. I don’t even dislike them. With the possible exception of DEATH PROOF, I don’t even think his movies are “okay.” They’re all really good, even great, movies. They’re enjoyable, they’re fun, they’re intense, they’re funny, they’ve got a little bit of everything that makes a movie great. But, like I said, when he DRAWS out so many scenes, guess what eventually happens to me? I notice. I am suddenly aware of how long this movie is. I liked DJANGO, but after awhile, I knew this movie was long instead of losing myself to the story. I liked BASTERDS, but I kinda just wanted Christoph Waltz to shut up and get on with it in that first scene. The scenes themselves are enjoyable to watch, he does write interesting and smart dialog, but by the mercy of Jesus, I am not fooled by how he’s trying to make his scenes seem shorter by having his characters talk with that good dialog.

Like most, I will always go and see a Tarantino movie. He’s got some of the maddest talent in Hollywood, but I will never be as excited to see a movie of his as everyone else is. Was HATEFUL EIGHT the exception? No, but my parents bought these tickets, it’s Christmas and I didn’t want to NOT spend time with them. I couldn’t deny there were worse ways to spend this holiday. HATEFUL EIGHT it was.

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [2016], BIG GAME [2015], and upcoming films THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017] and THE INCREDIBLES 2 [2018]), Kurt Russell (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 [2017], DEEPWATER HORIZON [2016], and DEATH PROOF [2007]), Jennifer Jason Leigh (MORGAN [2016], ANOMALISA [2015], THE HUDSUCKER PROXY [1994], and the upcoming AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING [2017]), Walton Goggins (AMERICAN ULTRA [2015], DJANGO UNCHAINED [2012], MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA [2008], and the upcoming TOMB RAIDER [2018]), and Tim Roth (HARDCORE HENRY [2016], THE INCREDIBLE HULK [2008], and TV show LIE TO ME)

Directed and written by: Quentin Tarantino (DJANGO UNCHAINED, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS [2009], and PULP FICTION [1994]). Composed by: Ennio Morricone (MISSION TO MARS [2000], CINEMA PARADISO [1988], and THE THING [1982]), Robert Richardson (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], HUGO [2011], and CASINO [1995]).


It is post-Civil War in Wyoming and two bounty hunters, Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) cross paths. John has a prisoner chained to his wrist, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), whom he is set on seeing hanged for her crimes as a murderer. Marquis hitches a ride with them till they hit the nearby rest-stop, Minnie’s Habidashery. Along the way, they meet Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a racist possible-new-sheriff of the town everyone is heading to, and other colorful characters who may not be who they say they are and may be in league with the murderess Daisy.


Yup, prepare to love Tarantino all over again, fans, because this is about as Tarantino as you’re gonna get. Long dragged out scenes that are interesting to watch and fun ways the characters work off of each other, it hits all the right notes. So, as you can expect, I just think the movie’s good. Not great, not even okay, just… good.

Honestly, I summed up everything I think about Tarantino above and… well, that’s pretty much my review of the movie. Granted, I saw it in 70mm, so I think it’s a longer version than its standard digital cousin, but it’s over three hours long. Even with an intermission I was completely aware of how long this movie was. Yes, the scenes are interesting, yes, Tarantino writes good dialog, but… still not fooled. I still wish these characters would get on with it.

The performances are as usual, stupendous. Jackson is a barrel of fun, of course, Russell is a surprise douche bag in the best of ways, everyone is just so much fun to watch from an acting standpoint. The writing is top-notch, the cinematography is annoyingly fancy… standard Tarantino fare.

You know, I didn’t get into this in great detail above, but I want to talk about WHY that KILL BILL was my favorite movie of Tarantino’s and a movie like HATEFUL EIGHT isn’t something I can get into. KILL BILL is about a woman who is trying to leave her life of murdering people when she becomes pregnant. But this isn’t news supported by her former boss, lover, and father of the child, Bill, who sends people to kill her, her husband, and family on her wedding day. She wakes up from a coma and seeks vengeance on those that partook in the incident. See what we have here? A sympathetic character. Someone to root for. Someone we want to see succeed. It’s a classic revenge story with a likable character. Where is that in HATEFUL EIGHT? Who am I supposed to care about? Why do I not care about anyone? Because EVERYONE is a rotten and unlikable character. There’s no one to invest in, no one to root for. There’s just watching the minute hand until someone gets axed off. And while audiences are cringing from the violence and death, I’m sitting in my seat going, “huh, 140 minutes in to this movie. About fucking time. Next scene, please.” I have no real investment, no real care to see anyone live. Therefore, no reason to really care about the movie.

Except for that score. That score by Ennio Morricone is unbelievably amazing.

It’s by no means a bad movie, if this is your thing. It’s a damn solid film, I just can’t get into it.