Martin Scorsese throws a nod towards Steam Punk.
I find myself in a weird spot reviewing this movie. I mean, who am I to review the work of a true movie making genius like Martin Scorsese? He is responsible for so many of my favorite films, including Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Shutter Island, and The Aviator. Of course, he has done a lot of stuff no one has ever heard of, including a ton of documentaries. However, for a movie amateur like myself to offer criticism feels like I am hanging around giving advice to a brain surgeon.
But then I remember that I have an obligation to deliver my unbiased and honest opinion to you, my beloved reader. Fortunately, Hugo is a decently fun movie, and even if I didn’t know Scorsese had directed it I would have enjoyed it. It was fun, well acted, extremely well directed, and overall a quality movie experience. Like pretty much 100% of the movies I nit pick apart it has a few items I can take issue with, but overall pretty cool. I think one of the things that really works for me on this film is it is so different from any of Martin Scorsese’s other films. It’s great to see a director head into something new.
It is the story of young Hugo (Asa Butterfield-the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the Return of Nanny MacPhee), the son of a clockmaker who has been orphaned and now lives in a Paris train station, winding and maintaining the clocks. His only legacy of his father is a mysterious steam punk automaton that was rescued from a museum store room and is in need of repair (steam punk Sonic image courtesy of the Video Game T Shirts). He gets caught trying to steal parts from a grumpy toy shop owner named Papa George (the great Ben Kingsley-Sexy Beast, Ghandi, Shutter Island, Schindler’s List), who confiscates Hugo’s fathers notebook. He gets Hugo to work for him repairing windup toys to make up for the stolen goods. Meanwhile Hugo befriends George’s goddaughter Isabelle (played most excellently by Chloe Grace Moretz, the Hitgirl from Kick Ass. She was also the vampire from Let Me In. What a talented young actress. I am sure we will see some amazing things from her in the future), who is something of a bookworm and looking for adventure. She sees the potential with Hugo and together they work on the mystery of the mechanical man.
I don’t want to get too much into the story, as I don’t want to hand out any spoilers. Hugo is beset by the station inspector (Sasha Baron Cohen-Borat, Sweeney Todd, Bruno, Ali G) who adds an element of danger to the story. Papa George has a mysterious past that he wants to keep secret. Clocks get wound. Mysteries are solved.
The stars. All around quality film. Direction, story, and overall experience excellent. Two stars. The acting was awesome, although how could you expect any less from Ben Kingsley? Chloe was decent too, although occasionally she and Asa seemed to have forced the scenes. Two stars. The camera work and visual were really, really good. Two stars. The story overall was very immersive. You really felt like you were in the Montparnasse train station in the 30’s. One star. Steam punk-ish. One star. Based in part on a true story. One star. Total: nine stars.
Now, though it galls me to do this, I have to award the black holes. The biggest one is going to have to be the fact that 3D sucks. It really did nothing to in any way enhance this film, and it is obvious Martin Scorsese, being new to the 3D art form, was looking for and writing in extra visuals to better display the 3D effects. Unfortunately this really did nothing but aggravate the next two black holes I am about to give. One black hole. The movie, perhaps due to the extra visuals, seemed to really drag at points. The fun of watching Hugo wind his was through the massive gears and cogs of all the clocks in the station kind of loses it’s magic when we have to watch it a second and third time. Plot progression seemed really slow. One black hole. The movie, supposedly for kids, runs a whopping 127 minutes. I saw more than one family have to leave early after the kids got bored of watching gears spin, and even I had to take a bathroom break about 3/4 of the way through (the ocean tanker sized Diet Coke did not help). One black hole. Finally, while Sasha Baron Cohen was probably the best actor in the film, his role as the menacing station inspector was significantly compromised by his comedic bearing and delivery. It literally felt like Hugo was being chased by Inspector Clouseau, and it is tough to feel concern for anyone in that situation. The rest of the movie is actually really poignant and serious with whimsical element, but every time Sasha got on screen the slapstick-o-meter dipped deeply into the red. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
So a grand total of five stars. Not bad, but not awesome. Hugo is a fun, quality movie. But it in no way compares to Shutter Island or Goodfellas. Worth seeing? Yes. Worth seeing in a theater? Yes. Worth seeing twice in a theater? Probably not, unless you are into the 3D art form or the movie history portrayed. Good date movie? Sure, as long as your date is a visual person. Not my first choice.
Thanks for reading, and don’t hate me for not gushing all over this film. I really am a Scorsese fan. Just not his best film. Perhaps he was so distracted by the details of 3D he couldn’t apply as much focus as usual on the other aspects of the film. Short review, but that’s what usually happens when I enjoy the film. I will write up the Descendants tomorrow, and hopefully see something else then for Monday. Maybe Arthur Christmas. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Talk to you soon.
More careers. I think there is something going on here where I feel good about myself by making fun of all the boring and/or better jobs out there than I have. More fodder for my future therapist, I guess. Of course, I really love my job, but it would be nice to make the kind of money all the overpaid morons out there are making. I’m going to get into some more esoteric things today, as well as some weird sub categories.
Day Trader. This person really wants you to think he is like a successful stockbroker, but the truth is much uglier. It is (usually) a guy who is unemployed but had $6-10,000 in the bank when he was laid off or fired. He spends all day in front of his computer losing about $100 a day on average basically playing Farmville online with real money. All they are really doing is giving the brokerages money for each transaction. The bad part is they always have some story about how they were up $1.8 million at one point, but somehow are mysteriously back down to $7254 again. The good part is if you are not sucked in when you see that they live in their parents basement you should (<–hopefully) be able to tell what kind of loser they really are.
Life coach. I don’t know if you see these in other parts of the country, but somehow I seem to run into one of these every six months or so. These are motivational speakers and people who tell other losers how to get their life in order. I always picture them sitting with their client and saying something like “OK, try breathing.” I haven’t dated any, as I have a hard time taking them seriously, but they are a bit of a conundrum to me. I can’t figure out how they actually make money, but somehow they always have enough for a nice dinner out and a decent car, but never enough for a house. They tend to be pretty positive, so if you want someone who can make you feel better about yourself both by giving you positive affirmations and by being slightly more pathetic than you or any of your friends, go for it. On the other hand, it seems their constant advice giving would wear on you after a while.
Midwife. This is a weird sub category of the medical field. These women (if you meet a male midwife call the police) are either failed nurses or uber New Age chicks who think giving birth in agony with no drugs in a bathtub is good for the kid. They are rarely seen in public outside of the local organic food collective (aka Trader Joes) or Lillith Fair, so online dating is often a resource they fall on to. They are usually about as hippy dippy as you can get, don’t drink but are very cool with pot, and if they don’t have kids themselves are painfully bitter about it and driven to have one before they have to resort to actual medical science to be able to procreate. Also, they are chock full of advice for any parents around them, so if you happen to be a single parent you can expect an extra special level of hell.
Business Annalist. This is the male Republican version of the midwife (I am sure there are female business annalists out there, but have yet to meet one). Their job is to coach companies into giving birth to younger, better versions of themselves that now need to be diapered every day. They tend to be extremely opinionated about pretty much everything, and feel no one likes them because they spend all day telling people they suck at their jobs. There are two types, really. The first is the guy who uses words like “synergy” all the time and tries to make the company use new technology and processes to be more efficient. He is kind of a bastard. The second is the guy who uses words like “cost/benefit analysis” and “headcount” and basically is brought in to fire as many people as possible without causing the company to collapse under the weight of unoccupied cubicles. He tends to be a complete and utter bastard. Either way they can be tough to date and are also subject to feast-or-famine personal finances as a reflection of whether they currently have a contract or not.
Receptionist. Sorry, the PC terms are Executive Assistant or Administrative Assistant. However, as the title evolves the job and personality does not. These people typically are surrounded by dozens of people with way more money and power than they have and are usually pretty bitter about it. Males in this job can really only do it for a few years before either finding something better or killing themselves. They tend to be a little ego bruised and skittish, like an abused chiwawa. Women can do it for the entirety of their lives. If young they tend to be pretty hot and are (generally) hoping to marry someone with serious coin, so if you are not rolling in dough don’t waste your time. The real problem with this girl for nerds is it is terribly easy to fall into the trap of hanging out at her desk all day “flirting” with her. This will either get you into trouble at work with your supervisor or turn into you being her slave as she has you replace the water cooler bottle, get her coffee, and run stuff down to the mail room. If they are middle aged or older they tend to be bitter but shockingly efficient. They often revel in the minor power that comes with being the gatekeeper to the boss, and the reception area is their kingdom. As for dating them, if they are young and you qualify financially they tend to be a lot of fun and often have very pleasant voices. If not then they can be OK to date, but you can expect her boss to be her real boyfriend and you will hear a lot of stories about how everyone else in the company is an idiot.
That’s it for today. More of the same tomorrow. I have some really good ones lined up.
As for yesterdays question, Steampunk Abe Lincoln versus Steampunk Palin, there is no question in my mind that Lincoln would prevail. Not only does he have a built in mini gun but he actually had a brain. He successfully ran for President. He would also attack her with the North. (Steampunk Abe image courtesy of the political t shirts category)
The next question seems obvious until you think about it for a while; who would win in a fight between a ninja and a football team worth of zombies?
So you’ve managed to meet up with your date, either by picking her up or meeting her somewhere, without stepping on any dating landmines. How, then, to comport yourself while on your date?
I’ll take a second here to remind you that all the dressing and grooming rules I gave you when I first started this opus are still in full effect. Make sure you are showered, well dress, well groomed, and generally good smelling (<–important).
Anyway, I would recommend that you act like a gentleman. It is true there are independent women out there may find this offensive, but honestly those are in the minority (also, they tend to be a huge pain in the ass to date. Better to offend them politely then find out two months down the road) and the vast majority of women will appreciate it. In fact, if the last couple guys they dated were jerks you will only look that much better.
Here is a (short) list of gentlemanly behavior:
Gentlemen open doors for ladies-this specifically included car doors. In other words, walk to the passenger side of the car, unlock the door, and open it for her. While walking around open all doors for her. This can sometimes be a little awkward, especially if you aren’t used to it. Practice on your mom or something until you make it smooth.
Gentlemen walk on the outside of the street-again, try to not make it look like awkward. This tradition started back in the days of horse travel. The gentleman was attempting to protect her from splattered horse dung being splashed up from the street. By the way, while you should try to stay on the outside, if you see up ahead a crazy looking homeless man panhandling the gentleman will interpose himself between his date and the insane lunatic. This act will most likely gain you a lot of points with your girl.
Gentlemen do not put their hands in their pockets. Furthermore, if you need to guide her or attract her attention for whatever reason the gentleman will touch her gently on the shoulder, NO WHERE ELSE.
When entering a room or narrow corridor the gentleman allows the lady to proceed him slightly. If you are on a staircase the gentleman gives the lady the side closest to the wall.
These are kind of the basics. There are more detailed rules you can find here, but a lot of those will also make you look kind of old fashioned. You have to read your date and figure out at what point she stops being impressed and starts being annoyed. Error on the side of too gentlemanly rather than not enough.
Steam punk Abe Lincoln was most certainly a gentleman (image courtesy of the steam punk t shirt category).
Next post we’ll talk about talking.
OK. You have successfully obtained the real phone number and/or email address of a human female and want to contact her. The first question you need to ask is when to actually do it.
Current dating wisdom states that you should not call the next day. Personally I feel this sort of thing really depends on the circumstances in which I met the girl and/or how the opening conversation went. If we met while doing something fun and semi organized (hiking, vampire LARP, charity rugby match, etc) or perhaps the conversation flowed particularly well you might consider calling the next day (late afternoon). However, odds are if you are in need of this blog you probably don’t have a great barometer for measuring this sort of thing, so perhaps you should stay away. It is easy to let your eagerness and/or insecurity let you fool yourself into thinking the conversation was better than you think it was and call too soon.
Never call the same day you got the number (or send a text. Image courtesy of the funny t shirt category). If you want an example of how badly that can go watch the call scene from Swinger. Painfully funny.
Anyway, I would recommend as a guideline to call or email within 2-3 days of getting the number. More than that and you seriously risk pissing her off or worse, being forgotten.
Sorry I didn’t post anything yesterday. Had a lot going on and trying to get ready for a big show next weekend.
Anyway, let’s talk about jackets. I love jackets, and not just for their thermal properties. They can look cool, and really bring an outfit together. They can also ruin all your efforts in one fell swoop. I will start with things to avoid:
1. Anything from the Marlboro catalog-do you really want to wear an “I am a loser” sign?
2. Any sports team jacket-I am sure you are a rabid fan of your local sporting club or whatever, but unless you are going to a game stay away. Anything that smacks of an obsession with something other than themselves puts women off. This rule goes double for Nascar merchandise.
3. Trench coats-I own a black trench coat, but I only wear it when it is raining. The whole “trench coat mafia” thing has cast these in a bad light. Unfortunately, this is the outerwear that most nerds are drawn too, like a mouse to the peanut butter on the trap. Therefore it has become associated with not only nerds, but nerds of a certain social inadequacy. Stay away.
4. Anything with fringes-the ’70s are done. Get over it.
5. Fur or f aux fur-the first because it is reprehensible, the second because you look like one of those douche bags from a few years ago who kept trying look like a pimp. If you are white and have ever felt the desire to wear something like that and combine it with a huge afro wig, stop reading as I think it is best for humanity that you never have the opportunity to reproduce. I don’t care if it’s Halloween.
6. A Letterman jacket-odds are you lettered in Marching Band, so spare yourself the embarrassment. Also, no one cares what you did in high school.
7. A “punk rock” jacket-unless you are actually a punker (hair, facial piercings, etc) stay away from patches, studs, spikes, and ripped up crap. Most of the punk rock girls I have known are pretty sharp, and will see through it for the phony you are. Only high school girls are fooled by that sort of thing, and if you are going for that I hope you go to jail. If you have a patch on your jacket of a band you have never seen in person or own an album, burn it (the whole jacket).
Those are the obvious traps. Let’s look at what works.
1. If you don’t have any objection to animal products, a good black leather jacket can work well. You will be alienating any Vegan women you might meet, but from my experience they are huge pains in the ass to try to date. You literally can’t walk across a room without offending them somehow.
2. A light canvas jacket in a dark color-nice for mid weather days.
3. A pea coat-this is a nice compromise for guys who feel naked without a trench coat. Mid thigh, some pockets. There is nothing wrong with looking like you just arrived from London.
4. A sports coat-every guy should have one of these. They look great with jeans and a long sleeve (unprinted) t-shirt, or a light turtleneck sweater. You will look kind of yuppie-douchy in my personal opinion, but women love this look.
5. A “militaristic” jacket-not an actual military jackets (yes, I know shopping at the army/navy surplus story is fun. Just don’t wear them in public) but a canvas jacket that has a military look can be good. Extraneous buckles, hooks, and small pockets are kind of cool. Go with black, navy, or olive green.
6. North Face-or some kind of similar “outdoorsy” jacket or fleece. I feel a little sick writing this, as I despise this look, but it works. These jackets look sharp and imply that you have a life slightly more active than sitting in front of your computer all day every day. Also, if you get sucked into going for a hike with a girl you will have something to wear.
7. Something classic. Steam punk Abe Lincoln here (image from the funny t shirt section) knows that retro is cool. Don’t go nuts for 70’s garbage, but something that looks like it came from pre WWII can look really sharp. Don’t dive into this idea until you have gained a better idea how to judge these things, but keep it on your radar.
As a rule, when shopping for a jacket fit is kind of critical. If the jacket is too small in the shoulders you will end up looking like an organ grinder’s monkey. If the sleeves are too short you will look like a kid who grew out of it. Unless you are from Seattle your shirt should never be seen from the bottom of your jacket. This is one area where it is better to error on the side of too much rather than too little. An jacket that is over sized can still look cool, although in general try to get one that fits.
If you are of plus sized, jackets are even more important, as they can really help hide some bulk. However, most big guys go straight to the windbreaker because they can get it in all kinds of sizes. Like I said with shirts, if you really want to look good save up your pennies an get a custom jacket made. I have particularly broad shoulders and a long torso, so buying jackets has always been a pain, but last year I found a leather shop nearby that did a custom jacket that looks phenomenal. Cost about half again as much as an off the rack jacket but worth every dime IMO.
That’s it. Next post: accessories.
I have been doing a lot of research for my site and keep looking up steam punk. I have always kind of liked steam punk, but since looking at all the great stuff out there. If I ever have the time and money to actually decorate my office I think I am going to go with a steam punk theme.
The reason steam punk rules is it is a vision of the future that isn’t the lame present we live in. Computers have cool valves and actual dials. Somehow cool machines do amazing things thanks to all the extra rings and flanges. It’ is technology presented as an aesthetic, not a function. The closest thing we get these days is some of the Apple stuff, but really even that stuff sucks. Is it really so necessary to make everything as minimalistic as possible? This is an example of one of the great novelty t shirts that I am finding out there and speaks volumes to me.