Saturday, April 07, 2007

I Saw Hot Fuzz and Bullitt

On April 2nd, S.P. and I were able to get into the Varsity Theater in the U-District to catch a double feature of Hot Fuzz and Bullitt. Not necessarily in that order. And before I go any further, yes go see it and no don't watch any of the trailers or they're ruin some of the best jokes. True of any trailer, but this being only the second major motion movie (to my knowledge) from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, you serve yourself well by waiting until you can enjoy the entire thing.

The Proto-Mitchell
Bullitt was actually the warm-up picture, as one might imagine. Now I know this movie's a classic, but as someone who'd only seen the rightfully famous car chase scene before (and I may have had it confused with something from The Thomas Crown Affair) I'm here to tell you (whether it's blasphemy or not) that the pacing of action films has come a long way in the three-plus decades since this movie was released. When stuff is happening, it's engrossing. McQueen is fascinating to watch when he's just standing there, but golly does he stand there a lot. Which brings me to the unsung brilliance of Bullitt: The Telecopier scene. Or maybe it's sung, and I just never heard of it. But man alive, is that some gripping filmmaking. For what seems like hours, but is probably closer to days, Steve McQueen and company stare at a late 60's fax machine, which slowly, slowly, ever-so-dear-god-hurry-up slowly receives...a fax.

Fortunately for you, no one on YouTube has posted the Telecopier scene, or if they have I couldn't find it. Just imagine a half-dozen guys standing around staring at an object that oddly resembled Bender's dismembered and decapitated torso.

Post-Game Show
Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright, who is the coolest hobbit on Earth (dude's just tiny, and I'm only 5'5" myself, understand) introduced Bullitt, but for the main event he brought out Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to welcome the audience in a strangely MST-like silhouette (house lights didn't come up until the movie was finished). They'd just been to a Mariners game--Opening Day, actually--and the Mariners had won. The audience reaction was strangely muted, but probably because many of us had been in line for much of the afternoon. And we'd believed a Steve McQueen could fax. Perhaps sensing the Mariners line of attack was not tracking with the proudly nerd-tacular audience (present company very much included, of course) they introduced the film without further ado (that I remember).

I suppose the following is very mild spoilers, but nothing really specific.

In Which Your Host Bloviates and Opinionates
Hot Fuzz is a brilliant, multi-level parody that scores direct hits 95% of the time, and even the rare weak gags provide foundations for better material later in the film. The primary target is the kick-ass cop action movie--which is exactly the type of movie Edgar Wright is born to direct. As in SotD it all seems to come from deep love of the movies that inspired this one, from Supercop to Bad Boys II to, well, Shaun of the Dead in an hilarious little bit that's been spoiled, unfortunately, since the first trailer. But just as SotD was a great zombie movie, so is this a great action movie, even as it makes with the really damned funny.

A second level of parody might be entirely my imagination, but I don't think I'm too far off the mark. The small village setting is a dead ringer for Midsomer Murders, a long-running BBC series based on the Inspector Barnaby novels. It's kind of like Law & Order crossed with Murder, She Wrote by way of Agatha Christie, and seems to be on a course to run at least as long as both of those series. The village murder mystery is not new, and Wright is, for all I know, drawing on everything from Poirot to Sherlock Holmes, but the locations in Hot Fuzz have also appeared as Badger's Drift, or I'm Nico Bentley.

Unfortunately, I got brain freeze during the after-show Q&A, so I didn't get a chance to ask.

So here's the thing--I'm not going to say much more about it specifics-wise, except to urge you to avoid watching any movie trailers for Hot Fuzz. Just wait, and go see it on opening day. Make it the biggest moneymaker of the year, because it deserves it and its hilarious and wonderful and everything movies should be. This movie, more than any I've seen in a long time, demands to be viewed sight-unseen for maximum impact.

And oh yes, it is violent. A lot more violent than you'd expect, until you remember the whole thing with the zombies and the cricket bats and the flesh-eating and so forth in their last movie. Gloriously over-the-toply violent--and that's just the murders. (I'm not really giving anything away to say there's murders, plural. Really.)

A last note from the Q&A: Someone asked when Spaced would be appearing on DVD in the States, and unfortunately it's tied up due to music copyright issues, Wright said. He couldn't say when they'd appear. And that is why true fanboys purchase, rent, or make good friends with owners of region-free DVD players. Which, now that I look at it, have gotten irritatingly affordable. Thanks a lot, Scarecrow.

Since I'm morally opposed to showing you any trailers for Hot Fuzz on the grounds it may lessen your enjoyment of its brilliance, I humbly offer two more videos: One, another take on the Bullitt car chase...

And the other, a collage of gripping (and perhaps not entirely safe for work if you have noisy speakers) scenes from a remake of another film that I place here on the thin justification that Edward Woodward was in both Hot Fuzz and the original Wicker Man.

Please note that this establishment does not necessarily endorse remakes, bees, armed bicycle theft, or Nicolas Cage beating up on the ladies. We do most certainly endorse actually going in to an asteroid field.

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