Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

This is a movie I wish I'd seen earlier. It's one of those things that you wanted to see, but no one else you know saw it and you missed it in the theaters. And then I remember getting the DVD in the mail from Netflix and never watched it and sent it back after two months. And then once it was streamable, it sat in my streaming queue forever and so on until one day I was bored...

There is a set of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley out there that the film was based on, and to be honest, I've never read them, but now I may just have to do that.  I don't know what it is about this flick, but I can watch it over and over--I even bought the soundtrack.

Okay, enough gushing without even providing reasons--and there are many. Based on the poster I wouldn't have given the movie a shot. So:

The poster looked kind of dumb to me and in no way can convey how cool the movie is. A kid with a red sword, a girl with goggles on her head and a bunch of demented freaks overhead. Based on the poster I would have thought this was a movie for kids, something like Spykids and that sort of rot. But this isn't that sort of movie.

Music has as much, if not more to do with the film than the video game angle to be honest. Scott Pilgrim is in a band. His ex-girlfriend is in a band that became popular and she broke Scott's heart. Scott sees a girl he becomes obsessed with and learns he has to defeat all of her evil exes before they can truly be together.

Scott's band, Sex Bob-omb plays a series of battle of the bands shows in order to get a contract. Along the way he fights all of these evil exes. The fights are video game style and over the top ridiculous, but a lot of fun to watch.  Watching Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim) go toe-to-toe with Chris Evans (the guy who plays Captain America) and then Brandon Routh (who played Superman in Superman Returns back in 2006) is amusing.

Scott is a bass player and plays a sweet Sunburst Rickenbacker bass (I own a tuxedo Rickenbacker bass from the 70s), so in the first 5 minutes of the movie I was already liking what I was seeing.  And then the music hit:  I love the music in this movie. There is a good mix of tunes and some that were written for the bands in the movie to play. The music has a mostly retro, overdriven feel to it.  I believe Beck had a hand in writing some of the original music used in the movie. Other songs in the movie are from groups such as:  Metric, The Bluetones, Black Lips, and T. Rex.

The special effects throughout the movie are fun--there are often overlays like when someone is introduced it typically shows their name, age, and what they do next to them.  When a phone or bell rings it shows a ringing sound like:  r-r-r-r-r-r-r-ring.  When music is played sonic waves shoot forth and during fights there are some thuds and whacks reminiscent of the old 60s Batman television program. None of the effects detract or become distracting--they add to the film's charm.

So, if you're into music, video games, action, and comedy, give this movie a chance.

Woody Allen: A Documentary

All right. Yes. Woody Allen. I love Woody Allen films--not all of them, but there is always something in them that I adore.

I know he's been in the press quite a bit and he's a pretty easy target these days (I don't know, maybe he's always been one).

Forget all you think you know about Woody Allen and watch this documentary--it's in two parts, so you're looking at more than 3 hours. People forget this guy started out as a kid writing jokes for a newspaper and then progressed to writing stage shows before being hired to write alongside Mel Brooks for the comic, Sid Caesar.

He became a reluctant standup comic and became a filmmaker after acting in a film he wrote but didn't direct, What's New Pussycat? , which he felt didn't do justice to his script. After that film, he wanted full control of his scripts and basically became a director.

Anyhow, watch the documentary, you'll see there is much more to the man than what you've seen or heard on the news and the internet.

Oh, you can watch it on Amazon Instant video, and it's also on Netflix.

Moving Picture Monday: Kiss Me Deadly

I like to discuss film almost as much as I enjoy watching them. I (big shock) particularly enjoy classic movies, but future post won't be limited to old silent pictures and talkies.  ;) 

This is from Criterion's website:

Kiss Me Deadly

  • 1955
  • 106 minutes
  • Black and White 
  • "In this atomic adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s novel, directed by Robert Aldrich, the good manners of the 1950s are blown to smithereens. Ralph Meeker stars as snarling private dick Mike Hammer, whose decision one dark, lonely night to pick up a hitchhiking woman sends him down some terrifying byways. Brazen and bleak, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema."

    I re-watched Kiss Me Deadly last night. The film was based on the Mickey Spillane novel of the same name, only Spillane's is Kiss Me, Deadly. The comma is an important subtraction as it changes the meaning of the title. While watching an interview with Mickey Spillane, this was something that bothered him quite a bit (as it would any writer who had that comma in there for a reason). I believe that even when he first turned in the book, the comma was taken out by an editor.

    And as mentioned in Criterion's description, the movie (unlike the novel) is more about Cold War paranoia and hysteria. The movie can also be classified as science fiction, based on the addition of a mostly unexplained nuclear device that doubles as a type of Pandora's Box.

    I highly recommend picking up this Criterion release, which also includes some nice extras, including an alternate ending.  Criterion does an outstanding job on the transfers and sound, so I won't even go into that here. 

    Why do I love this movie? Well, I'm a big fan of classic detective and noir films.  This one goes beyond the familiar detective tropes. I particularly enjoy Ralph Meeker's take on Mike Hammer.

    Two scenes in particular I'll point out: 

    Hammer is being followed by a thug. The thug has a switchblade which Hammer hears being flicked open. He spins and disarms the thug and repeatedly pounds the man into a wall. Hammer walks away, but the thug gets up and Hammer tosses him down a long, long flight of stairs. Here is the best part:  Hammer watches the man roll down the steps with great interest and has the beginnings of a smile on his face. I love it. 

    Next:  He goes to a doctor's office looking for information. He pays the doctor, but being greedy, the doctor wants more. As the doctor goes to put an item Hammer wants in his desk drawer, Hammer slams the doctor's hand in the drawer, making him squeal. Hammer grins as he inflicts pain on the greedy doctor.

    There are more examples of this type of behavior, and despite his sadistic tendencies, I love the way Hammer is portrayed in this film. He's a badass in the novels, but in this film, it's another level. 

    It's a very bold movie for 1955. I think it holds up well today and is worth your time if you're at all interested in noir or private investigator films. Also, notice how people dress in this movie. Even though he can be quite the thug himself, Hammer knows how to dress himself.