F.I.L.M. of the Week (June 22, 2017)

22 06 2017

I’d been a little iffy on Edgar Wright as a brand-name director for years … that is, until I saw his latest film, “Baby Driver,” which was so good that it inspired me to go back and revisit his entire filmography. I’d given “Shaun of the Dead” and “The World’s End” second chances before but never returned to “Hot Fuzz,” his 2007 crime caper. Wow, was I missing out.

A second watch revealed “Hot Fuzz” to be an obvious “F.I.L.M. of the Week.” It’s smart, stylish and subversive – all the things that mark Wright’s best cinema. He can successfully play with genre like few other working directors, and this re-teaming of Wright with comedic muses Simon Pegg and Nick Frost exhibits his most seamless blend.

The adventure starts as a fish-out-of-water comedy when the impressively efficient London Metro Police officer Nicholas Angel (Pegg) gets transferred to the sleepy country town Sandford. He’s used to his presence being necessary to enforce the law in the big city. Here, Angel finds that the police have made themselves largely ornamental. There’s a strong amount of social trust in the community, and the existing police officers take a hands-off approach to handling any misbehaviors and misdemeanors they observe. Not Angel, though, who takes thwarting underage pub drinking as seriously as foiling a terrorist plot.

But lurking under the blissful bucolic facade is a cabal that threatens the townspeople by exploiting their trust and naïveté. They’re certainly lucky to have Angel around for this, although he’s hamstrung by the provincial local police chief (Jim Broadbent) and his aloof son Danny Butterman (Frost) … who just so happens to be Angel’s partner. Danny’s chief preparation for the job, aside from his lineage, is watching lots of ’90s action movies. As it turns out, that proves most helpful for combating the menace facing Sandford.

Wright pulls off the tricky task of paying homage to a series of influential films (“Bad Boys,” “Point Break”) while humorously sending them up and one-upping their antics. His comedy goes far beyond the lazy “Scary Movie” spoof; Wright works in how people interact with film and how it tints their view of the world to hilarious ends. Furthermore, he’s not just cribbing an incident or a feel from the genre and calling it a take on them. He’s mimicking their aesthetic with loud, smashing cuts and big pyrotechnics. Just appropriately adjusted for the real world.

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Random Factoid #444

15 10 2010

Bleh.  I’ve been watching a ton of cult favorites over the past week trying to bulk up my queue for the “F.I.L.M.” series, and I haven’t found ANYTHING.  I’m not dissing any of these movies or saying that they are bad, but they just didn’t meet the high expectations that I had for them.

Let me give you a run-through of what I watched this week with some quick thoughts, because I don’t think they are quite deserving of “F.I.L.M.” status but they don’t deserve “Save Yourself!” status either.

I started with the films of Edgar Wright because so many bloggers love him.  “Shaun of the Dead” was hilarious, but I didn’t really feel like it was any different or better than “Zombieland.”  The satire I had heard so much about was invisible to me.  “Hot Fuzz” was also pretty funny, but it just kind of devolved into madness at the end.  I get that it was kind of the point since it was a send-up of those beautifully corny ’90s action movies, yet I just lost interest in the end.

Then I went onto “Down to the Bone” because I love Vera Farmiga after “Up in the Air.”  Despite the acclaim she received for the role that put her on the map, I couldn’t help but feel a precarious emotional distance from her save a few powerful moments.  Rehab has been much scarier and much more real than it is here.

Then it was onto the movies of Danny Boyle.  First came “Millions,” which had an interesting premise and a great moral conflict at its core, but all the intrigue in the storyline was finished in the first 20 minutes.  Then was “Trainspotting,” which was visually stunning but lacking in plot.

Isn’t it frustrating when you don’t see something in a movie that everyone else sees?  I think it’s more nerve-wracking that just seeing a bad movie.