Alright gang, I know it’s almost February of 2020, but I still have a Best of 2019 post or two I want to get out before moving on! I’ve already covered old and new horror films, but I saw a lot of other flicks this year that I at least want to say a few words about. So, I’m going to do exactly that and run down a whole slew of movies and just say a few sentences about what I dug! LET’S. GET. INTO IT!
Between a mix of business and less-than-desirable equipment, I’m bummed to say I haven’t done nearly as much blogging as I wanted to this year. However, as I sit here under my brand new laptop — one with the luxurious benefit of a fully working keyboard — I wanted to get into a trio of movies I’ve seen recently that I really enjoyed!
In addition to continually checking out new or new-to-me movies this year, I’m also trying to make a concerted effort to go through my existing collection. To help narrow the search down — I have a comically large binder that I keep most of my DVDs and Blu-rays in — I asked Alexa to pick a random number between 1 and 26. She chose 8, so I did a little finger-counting and settled on the letter H. Being a well-organized geek, my flicks are in alphabetical order, so when I got to H, Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz practically jumped off the page at me. On one hand, Edgar Wright’s just the best and on the other, I realized I hadn’t watched it in just about a decade!
It’s funny. With a lot of movies, especially big-deal horror movies from the past decade like Shaun Of The Dead, I usually have a solid memory of the first time I saw it. In this case, I’ve got nothing. I was in college in 2004 when the film came out and was probably hearing things about it. I remember watching it at some point and loving the ending and then checking it out on DVD later on with my wife who was into it aside from the ultra gore (which I’d forgotten about for the most part). I do remember that my pal Rickey Purdin passed me the DVD copy I watched last week because he had an extra, but that’s about it.
With Edgar Wright’s latest film The World’s End hitting theaters, I figured it’d be fun to go back and watch Wright’s other movies Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, all of which happen to reside in my DVD collection. You guys, this is such a good movie, I can hardly stand it. It’s so good, I actively disliked myself for about half of it for not watching it more often. Yes, you’ve got the high quality gore effects that tend to get left behind in horror comedies and you’ve got the fantastic comedic elements, but there’s a huge, gigantic beating heart to Shaun that really drew me in this time around.
First off, you’ve got the friendship between Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost). On the surface it seems like any other dude friendship in movies, just two adult children hanging out, drinking and playing video games. But you also get that element of two friends who have been friends for ages that might be growing apart, where the friendship might actually be inhibiting one or both of the parties from evolving as individuals.
Then you’ve also got Shaun’s relationship with his mom Barbara (Penelope Winton). He loves her, but doesn’t love all of the decisions she’s made, specifically when choosing a mate. That’s a deep connection that really tugs at the heart strings when Shaun has that last moment with his stepdad Philip (Bill Nighy). I know I’m a much bigger softie these days now that I’m a parent, but that was a really amazing emotional beat in the middle of zombie movie. So good.
Finally, you’ve got Shaun’s relationship with Liz (Kate Ashfield) which is kind of a synthesis of the ones he has with Ed and his mom. They’ve been together so long that she’s starting to think he might be holding her back while at the same time, there’s a deep, emotional almost assume connection between them. Watching the movie this time around, I got a bit of a Madame Bovary vibe from Shaun. Because he’s seen so many movies and TV shows, he thinks things are going to turn out a certain way, but the real world isn’t fictional (even this one packed with undead monsters). Shaun winds up stepping up and proving that he’s the hero he always imagined himself to be, which winds up solidifying his relationship with Liz.
The beauty of this film is that it balances all of those relationships — plus more, I didn’t even get into all the stuff with Ed and Diane — with all that great humor and gore. It really is just a wonderful movie and I didn’t even talk about how well constructed the movie is. The way Wright shot Shaun’s daily routine at three different stages in the story was so great to watch, I remembered it was coming and got really excited as it unfolded. I’m sure there’s a lot more in that department that I’m missing, but I’m still kind of in a euphoric state after enjoying the film so much.
Pirate Radio, or The Boat That Rocked as it was known in its native UK, is a pretty fantastic movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not surprised I liked it, I’m just really glad it didn’t disappoint me. It’s one of those movies that seems genetically engineered with me in mind. It’s directed by Richard Curtis who did my beloved Love Actually. It’s got an amazing cast, including favorites of mine like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy and Nick Frost. With it’s late 60s mod setting, it’s firmly set in one of the top five all time sexiest times for women’s fashion. Oh, and it’s about rock and roll. But not just rock and roll, British rock and roll. In the 60s. On a BOAT!
The idea is that in the 60s with all this amazing music coming out from bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Who, The Kinks and so on and so forth, there was actually very little played on the radio. Except from pirate radio stations like this one, which was set up on a freighter. Now, the movie isn’t based on one specific occurance of pirate radio, though, this did in fact happen and I want to read a book about it. Does anyone have any suggestions?
The plot follows the new guy who says he’s there to get straightened out but is really SPOILER looking for his father who is on the boat. There’s a lot of growing up in the movie, usually the hard kind, as the kid experiences heart break (and blue balls) and nearly every turn. The performances are fantastic all around and the movie really made me want to not only listen to the awesome music the DJs spun, but also be a DJ. It’s a great, fun rock and roll movie that makes you feel like you can still be a kid even when you’re an adult, which definitely hits home for this 27 year old freelance writer who makes his living by spouting off about toys, comics, movies and TV. Yeah, the end kind of comes out of nowhere, but not in a bad way and it turns out to be a good one probably thanks to all the intensity. Definitely check this one out!