Old School Movie Reviews: Hot Fuzz (2007)

So it was my brother’s birthday recently so we had a bit of a thing tonight to celebrate. We all gathered at the family house, mum made sushi and dumplings, and we all sat down to watch a movie together. Since it was my brother’s birthday he chose the film, and thankfully he has pretty good taste in movies, picking the second in Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright’s so-called ‘Cornetto Trilogy,’ Hot Fuzz.

Let me just come out and say that I fucking love this film, and I think everyone should watch it. It’s a masterpiece of clever ideas that are executed perfectly, and not just by the headliners. Pegg and Frost fit their roles perfectly, but so does everyone else in the cast (Timothy Dalton, in particular, is bloody excellent). Edgar Wright, who directed and co-wrote, does an excellent job at both, providing a clear vision and a brilliantly cohesive narrative out of what is a bit of a convoluted script, but I expect a lot of the credit for that should go to his DoP, Jess Hall, and Film Editor, Chris Dickens. The parallel scenes of Pegg and Frost’s characters bonding over movies while another character is murdered is perfectly cut together.

I think what really impressed me about Hot Fuzz with this most recent viewing was the way it managed to be gruesome without ever being gratuitous. Blood and gore is played for laughs, certainly. There are decapitations, stabbings, and one bloke gets his head crushed by a giant stone spike. But they never spend so long on the gore that it becomes uncomfortable, so the film is able to maintain its humorous tone despite what happens with a bear trap. If you’re making an absurd, violent black comedy, this is the standard you should look towards.

So yeah, watch Hot Fuzz if you haven’t already. Watch it again if you have.

Old school reviews: Young Frankenstein (1974)

Not long before I left Australia the family gathered around and slid our copy of Mel Brook’s 1974 monster movie satire, Young Frankenstein, into the player. Early in the film, Frederick Frankenstein, is giving a lecture to a group of medical students only to have one of them stand up and begin asking questions about the work of his late grandfather, the famous Victor Frankenstein. The scene goes on, poor Mr Hilltop gets kneed in the balls (“give him an extra dollar”) and irritating medical student becomes even more irritating. And then, at some point as he brings up Dr Frunk-en-shteen‘s heritage, my dad points out that “He looks like Kevin Rudd!”

We all watch the scene, and the actor a little closer. “Oh my god,” I think it was my mum then said, “he even talks like Kevin Rudd!” The whole family cracked up laughing. Then cracked up again when Gene Wilder stabbed himself with a scalpel.

There’s no point to this anecdote really, beyond saying that loving this film has always been a family affair. Y’see, this is my dad’s favourite film. It’s not all that hard to make my dad laugh, but when he really loves a bit of comedy, when he’s really enjoying himself, well, let’s just say it’s fucking infectious. As a result Young Frankenstein became something of a family meme. I’ve talked about how my best mates and I are able to talk almost entirely in movie and Simpsons quotes, but amongst my family the go-to was always something from this movie.

Goddamn, especially that scene where he’s dreaming in bed. “DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME!”

I think that a great film, a really great film, always has this communal aspect. That ability to fit the jokes into other situations, or simply cause a chuckle by invoking memories. Group reverence rather than individual reverence.

This is also the mark of a great actor. It’s an amazing thing that even, what, twenty years after he was last in a cinema, Gene Wilder’s death has marked so many people so deeply. He had and still has such a profound influence on the popular consciousness. I mean shit, every actor that plays the role of Willy Wonka from now until forever will be compared to the Gene Wilder version, a role that has become subject to some of the longest running memes I’ve seen on the constantly evolving internet.

A true entertainer and clown, and I say that in the best way possible. Watching him be hilarious seemed like the best tribute I could think of. Watching with my family will be one of the first things I do when I get home.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (15/9/15)

It is Tuesday once again and that means another we get to hear me whine about something that has no real effect on my life or others. This week people who send their drinks back.

“Back to where?” you might be asking, somewhat stupidly. “To wherever they were made!” I am answering, also somewhat stupidly but with much more flourish. In my case it would be the bar, but this could also be the barista, the juice-machine technician or the fitness-conscious neighbour you’re visiting who looks alarmingly good in lycra and really didn’t have to offer to make you a mango-strawberry protein smoothie but did and you accepted anyway so it really would be exceptionally rude for you to complain about it now (besides, don’t you wish you looked that good in lycra? those smoothies must do help). My experience is with drinks being sent back to the bar.

It doesn’t happen all that often. Tends to surprise people I tell that it happens at all, in fact. But it does happen. This beer is too sweet. This whiskey sour isn’t sour enough. This Caesar is too spicy (a Canadian drink that will probably be a later topic). I didn’t know that mojitos had mint in them. Plenty of reasons, few of them good in my humble opinion. But that might be because I hold people to my unreasonable standards, cause I don’t send drinks back. I might bitch and moan about how Budweiser is weak-arse fermented cat piss, but if for whatever reason I find myself in possession of a bottle of it (usually ’cause the person shouting this round DOESN’T KNOW ME AT ALL DAMNIT!) then I am gonna drink the bastard. A few months back I ordered a whiskey sour, hold the bitters. The bartender misheard me (I have a funny accent round these parts) and thought I said “all the bitters”, so she bittered it up. Of course I drank it anyway. Because you don’t waste goddamn alcohol. You get it, you drink it, you order something better next time.

It’s just good manners people.

Not to mention it breaks my Aussie heart to collect unfinished drinks. Don’t break my Aussie heart, you cold-hearted bastard. Finish your bloody beer.