In preparation for our Wright On! series, we’ve compiled a list of recommended articles on Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy.
Tag: Edgar Wright
Shaun of the Dead – 2004 – dir. Edgar Wright
Now for a more natural apocalypse film. Perhaps the most natural apocalypse film for an apocalypse that most likely isn’t happening but feels like it could. Not a parody of the zombie apocalypse genre but rather an entry that just so happens to be a comedy, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead presents pre- and post-zombie apocalypse life as uncannily similar. Its comically bleak set-up turns into a twisted sort of positivity. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by REM would fit if not for the fact it’s a complete cliche and Wright has much better taste in soundtrack selections than that (the movie owns “Don’t Stop Me Now”, and also makes good use of Prince’s Batman soundtrack… as a weapon).
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World — 2010 — dir. Edgar Wright
Many films set out to teach viewers about different aspects of life, whether it’s facts they don’t know, people they’ve never seen, or situations they haven’t been exposed to. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World instills viewers with life lessons they never thought they’d need to know, and asks important questions such as, “Do you know this one girl with hair like this?” Another handy tip the film offers is something everyone can relate to—how to go about defeating the seven evil exes of the girl you love.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – 2010 – dir. Edgar Wright
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, co-writer and director Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Brian Lee O’Malley’s celebrated comic book series, is an engagingly oddball affair and an almost-instant cult hit: it perhaps was not the massive mainstream success that the studio had hoped for upon its initial theatrical release, but it has a cadre of dedicated fans who embrace its rapid fire pop culture references and cheeky sense of style. One of Wright’s first major projects was Spaced, a sharp-witted British sitcom that slides in and out of pop pastiches without warning (For example: in one minute Spaced’s twentysomething lead is playing Playstation’s quintessential fighting game, Tekken; in the next he is arguing with his roommate while the fight announcer from Tekken comments on the action.), and Scott Pilgrim gives Wright a chance to further demonstrate his mastery of a distinctive kind of pop-saturated, slipstream comedy.
In trying to pinpoint the appeal of the 2007 comedy Hot Fuzz, critics and fans are likely to come up with the phrase “British humor” to encapsulate it, but that catch-all term (like “alternative rock” or “ethnic food”) is so broad as to have hardly any meaning at all. When “British humor” can stretch to accommodate everything from feel-good exports like The Full Monty and Saving Grace to subversive comic firecrackers like Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the terrifying, short-lived TV sketch show Jam, something is probably amiss. So if we can’t cite “British humor” as an endorsement of Hot Fuzz, how can we describe its appeal?
2004’s Shaun of the Dead, the superior British horror-comedy that broke stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in America, is clearly proud to take its cues from George Romero’s hugely influential zombie films. (Its title is an obvious pun on Romero’s 1978 horror touchstone Dawn of the Dead.) Zombies are fast-moving and ferocious in several recent movies, but Wright and Pegg (who also co-wrote Shaun‘s screenplay) choose to mine Romero’s traditionally slow-moving, moaning flesh-eaters for scares and laughs. More importantly, they know that what makes Romero’s zombies timeless is that they are never just zombies; Romero uses his monsters as vehicles for social critique, whether covertly satirizing mindless consumerism (in the original Dawn of the Dead) or class injustice (in the recent Land of the Dead). The same may be said of the shambling undead who populate Shaun, though the concerns of its filmmakers are more intimate than they are sweeping. Pegg has described Shaun as a film about turning thirty; it offers a particularly apocalyptic vision of the end of a prolonged adolescence.
The basic premise behind Grindhouse, the B-movie double feature from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, isn’t really all that novel. Director Stanley Donen’s 1978 effort Movie Movie is a strikingly similar package to Grindhouse, albeit Donen flew solo. That package is this: a pair of separate movies sharing some of the same cast members and glued together by nostalgia and fake trailers (Grindhouse‘s fake trailers are a major drawing card, featuring cameo directorial appearances by Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, and Eli Roth). But while Movie Movie affectionately spoofed the candy-sweetness of Old Hollywood in the midst of the grittier 1970s, Grindhouse longingly harks back to exploitative ’70s cheapies in an era when Hollywood product has grown dishearteningly slick and safe. By marking up their movies with scratches, pops, and intentionally missing reels, Tarantino and Rodriguez’s modus operandi is to transform sanitary suburban multiplexes into grindhouse cinemas that, while undeniably rattier, at least had a kind of dingy individualism intact. The entire enterprise is more about the act of going to see a film than anything else. See it on DVD and you’ve already skipped half the joke.