It was the fifteenth anniversary of the first airing of “Welcome to the Hellmouth”, so I rewatched that & “The Harvest”. Always a pleasure to watch the reintroductions of the characters I love! And then I picked up on my season 1 rewatch in progress, with “I Robot, You Jane”. This is a terrible episode with one massive redeeming quality: the Giles-Jenny bickering. They meet cute, friends, and their initial encounter ends with that marvelous capital-R Romantic speech by Giles about knowledge should be smelly. I ship it. (It's canon. I ship it. And then I ship other things as well, because Giles had to move on afterward.)
Even though I think seasons 2 & 3 are the show’s best (by far), season 1 is my most rewatched. It’s so charming. The characters are so young and adorable and unstained by the trauma that is to come. I do not yet loathe Willow for resurrecting Buffy, for instance. In season 1 I can simply love her and growl at anybody who menaces her.
Later in the evening Mr Pedia & I watched Hugo. This was the best movie of 2011? It must have been a bad year for movies.
It looks gorgeous. Truly gorgeous in the HDX on Vudu. I bet it also made people gasp a lot in the 3D version, just as it shows us early movie audiences gasping at the train pulling into the station. The trailers and the first 15 minutes or so lead us to believe it’s about this Dickensian orphan boy Hugo. The title makes us think it might be about Hugo, even! But it’s not about him.
The movie turns out about midway through to be all about The Movies and the magical adventures that one might have in them. This introduction is achieved late. Very late. The movie might have been about clockwork, or automatons and humanity. I initially thought it was about time, given the showoffy camera sweep in on a clockwork Paris followed by a time-progression shot through the train station. But no, all of these are red herrings, spectacular imagery thrown out by the director in a show-off mode. (WTF Scorcese.) This movie is really about how awesome movies are. And unlike the great movies that tell us how awesome movies are (Singin’ in the Rain example #1), this one is sloppy about it. It fails my parsimony test. It is wasteful.
For example: The deepest moment of human emotion we get is when Méliès, the toy/film maker, tells Hugo he has burned his notebook. Hugo then resolves to get it back– a classic Macguffin setup. But the notebook is forgotten by the script. We don’t get it back. It doesn’t feature into Hugo’s rebuild-the-automata montage. It doesn’t matter.
Hugo is shown longing, very briefly, for a book in a shop owned by a bit-part Christopher Lee. Later he is given the book by the shop owner, accompanied by some portentious dialog. It turns out not to matter. Does Hugo ever read it? We don’t know. He tells us later that his father read it with him. It would have been nice to know that straight off, thus making his quest for the book more meaningful. The contents of the book? Irrelevant. Especially when we later learn, to our surprise, that it’s the movies he loves best. His father, he tells us, took him to them. Oh, that’s interesting. Maybe it would have been nice to learn that way earlier, maybe when we were learning about his father and that tragic museum fire? Back when the movie had a chance to make us care about it?
But no. Hugo doesn't matter. The movie is secretly about this angsty-traumatic-past movie-maker from the very early era of films, before they invented stuff like plots. Hollywood has recently come full circle by deciding that it doesn’t need story writing and plots after all, so I guess this homage was intentional.
I blame the screenwriter. And the director, who should have known better but let himself get seduced by all those tricky tracking shots through clockwork. I think “The Puppet Show” was more competent screenwriting.
My S1 rewatch concludes today with “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” and the awesome “Prophecy Girl”.