I love SHAUN OF THE DEAD. I just love it. Did I mention that I love SHAUN OF THE DEAD?
Sometimes you just click into some movies. SHAUN manages the near-miraculous tightrope of being perfectly proud of being both a zombie movie and a romantic comedy in equal measures. It also feels very personal, like these are characters that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg know and relate to in their bones. And it's safe to say that there isn't another movie that's come out in the past ten years that I've seen as many times as SHAUN OF THE DEAD.
And now, HOT FUZZ, a movie I've been waiting to see for months. The last few days before its opening it was all I could do to keep myself from muttering "HOT FUZZ, HOT FUZZ..." over and over again. I have no problem with saying that I flat-out loved the movie. Much of it is a strange amalgam of various movies in the action genre with a few other things, most notably the original WICKER MAN, tossed in as well. The main centerpiece of the "horror" section even culminates in an OMEN(again, the original)-type...is it a spoof? Homage? Riff? Something else altogether?
One thing clear in both this movie and SHAUN is that these guys love all these movies and they also love the character actors they've given such juicy supporting parts to: Edward Woodward from the aforementioned WICKER MAN, Billie Whitelaw from the similarly mentioned OMEN, PAUL FREEMAN from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton in the most purely enjoyable post-Bond role I've ever seen him in. As much as I love all sorts of action movies HOT FUZZ weiredly just happens to deify two that I've never even liked: POINT BREAK, because I just never got into the silliness of the thing, and BAD BOYS II, which is directed by Michael Bay and therefore awful.
There are whole chunks of HOT FUZZ where I just found myself sitting there laughing non-stop--there's next to nothing about it that I dislike. But I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I prefer SHAUN to this one. The simple reason why goes back to what I said before: if SHAUN was about characters that they knew and in some senses were, HOT FUZZ is an attempt to do something totally different and be about characters that they didn't know. As a result, the genre riff combined with relatable characters becomes a genre riff. Extremely fun, yes, but the bottom line is that in comparison the film feels somewhat impersonal. And that's where it falls short of SHAUN for me, even if it's possible that the new film is more technically polished. I love SHAUN so much that I'm willing to follow these guys no matter what they do but I guess I hope that the next time around that personal touch is allowed to show up a little more.
Friday night at the Arclight: another reminder why living here is so cool. A post show Q & A introduced by Quentin Tarantino and featuring Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. There wasn't really anything astounding revealed here (although Wright, when asked to name his favorite directors, named Mario Bava as one and they also joked about what a feature-length version of DON'T could be) but I didn't care. It was just a lot of fun to listen to these guys riff on nothing very much for a little while.
Afterwards I spotted Wright as he was heading off to a bar with Tarantino and others (I'm guessing Pegg and Frost were still trapped inside). I went up to him and told him how much I loved SHAUN and this new film. It was quick and he was very gracious. Seemed like a great guy to have a lager with. Maybe someday. I can't wait to see what these guys do next.