|Hot Fuzztival (03.31.06 - 03.31.06, 5 movies)|
|03.31.07||Electra Glide in Blue||James William Guercio||Starting at noon today the Alamo threw a cop movie marathon ending in a sneak peak at Hot Fuzz with director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in attendance. Amazing event, tons of fun, both because of the good movies (mostly) and everyone that showed up. It's really great to walk in and see like a dozen friends, some of which have come in from out of town that you haven't seen in a while, scattered throughout the theater. Add to that the now palpable vibe of appreciation and impending sadness at the closing of this venue and you have a whole day of aazing experience.|
As such, the Alamo staff decided to go balls out with the trailers today. I think Tim said they'd have 6 or 7 trailers before each one of the movies. This may sound like a lot at first but, thanks to Zack who hand-picked and ordered them, they were like a little themed mini-trailerthon to get us amped up for each movie. I mean, let's face it. A lot of cop movies (especially from the 80s)... we may like talking about them and remembering them but we don't REALLY need to watch them all the way through again. Steele Justice, Stone Cold, Tango & Cash... they make great trailers but... let's just leave it at that. So getting to watch little bits of all these were great. Before this one they showed a series of 70s-typical cop films (alas i didn't feel like studiously noting each one so now I really don't remember any of them).
It started with this movie, which is about a really short Robert Blake motorcycle cop patrolling Monument Valley and trying to become a homocide dick. It's all VERY 70s with beautiful Conrad Hall photography, a loose sense of narrative that meanders to and from the plot, and an ending that fits the moment perfectly... and it's also sort of the antithesis of Easy Rider.
The trailer for this kind of makes it look like it's a comedy about Blake being really small and trying to do a big man's job so there was an initial re-adjustment that I had to take when the movie started and it became obvious that this was more of adeliberately-paced meditation on ambition and surroundings. but as it went on I got to like it more and more even though it made for a very contemplative start to a festival that I seemed to think would be pretty high-energy. It was really good though. I'm really glad it played first; I think it made a great opening film.
Edgar was there to introduce the film for us, saying he'd be popping in and out throughout the day because they had to do press as well but they re-arranged the schedule because he really wanted to see Sudden Impact and Freebie and the Bean with an audience, so after getting this one going (and telling us all to sit through the end credits because the last shot was so incredible), he whisked away on his British wit and charm, returning at the end to talk to fans and Harry.
|03.31.07||Police Story 2||Jackie Chan||In between screenings, Tim announced that, in order to empathise with the cops as much as possible, they were handing out free donuts to everyone. yay!|
Next up was this Jackie Chan movie. Edgar appeared again to give his personal take on Jackie Chan movies ("they're a lot like porn: once you know where the good parts are, you never have to watch them all the way through again"), but he said this particular title played like a money shot compilation. He listed off all the scenes like "fight scene in a playground where they fight around the monkeybars: check. Fight in a firecracker factory where they throw little bombs at one another: check," etc. He actually made the movie sound pretty good.
Too bad it's not.
Anyway, before that they played trailers for the more zany aspects of the cop movie genre. Honestly there were so many it became more of a sensory experience than remembering them individually.
So... the movie had subtitles and, in a bit of karmic retribution perhaps, a guy just as tall as me with longer hair than me was sitting right in front of me so the middle of each sentence was hidden unless I went from side to side or stretched up to see over his dome (thus killing poor Marcus who had to sit behind me), so plot comprehension was frustrating from the get-go. Luckily, the action scenes don't really employ much talking so when the movie was good I didn't feel I was missing anything. It's just all the boring-ass crap in between the action scenes that I had trouble following.
I did like how the movie started with a re-cap of all the aazing stunts done in the first Police Story. I kind of wish that's all this movie was... like fifteen minutes of excised fight scenes played back to back. I certainly would've had more fun. Not being the biggest kung-fu fan, Jackie Chan fan, or guessing-the-missing-word-in-each-sentence-that-makes-it-make-sense fan, the cards were kinda stacked against me on this one, but I can't pretend it was any sort of pleasant surprise for me. I liked the stuff I knew I would like, and I sat through the rest waiting for it to end.
By about the 60% mark I just gave up on trying to read the titles and quickly decided that the acting and direction weren't enough to convey whatever was going on. So that made it even more boring for me. oh well.
|03.31.07||Sudden Impact||Clint Eastwood||Next up was this, the fourth Dirty Harry Movie. I'd never seen this or The Enforcer. Edgar said that it was his second favorite Dirty Harry movie after the first ("that's the best one but this is the party favorite"). That made me wonder if he had movie parties or if whatever kinds of parties that he throws ends up with someone saying "let's put on a movie!" and the party somehow still rocking ahead two hours later. In my experience, putting on a movie either puts people into couch-stupors or drives people out of the movie-room to drink elsewhere. Anyway, I sort of see what he means. Edgar also mentioned that Albert Popwell appeared in all three previous Dirty Harry movies as different black stereotypes and appears again in this movie as Harry's partner. but Harry's other partner, a British Bulldog named Meathead, was the real star of the movie.|
But first, a third round of excellent cop trailers, this time of the vigilante justice category (yes, Cobra made an appearance). Great stuff. I think it's the trailers that are really gluing this day together. It's so fun to cheer for childhood favorites and hear everyone else laugh with you, sometimes also hearing people who'd never heard of something (like me and Micah with Partners, what an amazing-looking movie!) saying stuff like "what the fuck!?" or "i HAVE to see that!"
The movie. It's funny how blatant the progression of a franchise is with this movie. I don't even remember if Harry said "make my day" in the original film (i know he said "do you feel lucky, punk" and he probably did say it) but by this time it's a total catch phrase and you can see Clint's disinterest on his face whenever he has to say it. Watching it with a crowd also makes this apparent. People cheer whenever the fabled .44 Magnum makes an appearance, they cheer for the "make my day" line, they cheer whenever Harry Calahan shoots down thugs with merciless pitiless cold-hearted calm.
What's more, because it's the fourth one it's really not even about Harry anymore. Instead, it's basically a rape revenge movie starring Sondra Locke that Dirty Harry just happens to be in.
So... I have to confess... while I DID enjoy this movie as a very steroid-driven-twisted-monstrosity-of-something-that-was-once-subtle-and-good kind of way, it did feel long for me and my lids heavy'd a little bit. Maybe it was the early-evening nap calling or sitting in a dark room all day or the lack of sleep from the night before or whatever... but at a couple points during this movie my eyes were blinking independantly and making agreements with my brain like "just let the left one close for like a minute, then it'll take over and the right will get some time off." Luckily, it picked up after a while and I got my second wind right when it ended because up next was Freedibe and The Bean!!!
|03.31.07||Freebie and the Bean||Richard Rush||A couple friends asked me earlier in the day what I'd seen and what I was most looking forward to. Well, no offense to the Hot Fuzz guys but, Freebie, the only movie of the day that i'd seen before, was by far the movie I was most looking forward to seeing. When I saw it for the first time, it was on an old pan&scan VHS copy and, although I liked the movie, I could tell how cropped the full-frame version was. Now I get a chance to watch the film in widescreen at my favorite theater with a packed house full of cop movie lovers??? Well shit.|
So it was with great excitement that I sat down for the fourth feature of the day and Edgar introduced (his intros were actually really great. Through his references and his movies, you can tell he's a real movie geek (much like Tarantino without the stand-up comic mannerisms), but he's also got that damn British accent and wit which makes everything sound smart and funny and smartly funny. Not nearly as digressive as QT's, Edgar's intros were mostly short and to the point but also informative and energizing. Especially in the case of Freebie, I got a real sense of how psyched he was to see this with us, which is really great. I think the whole theater picked up on it because this movie got one hell of a reception.
The trailers this time around focused on the buddy and group cop movies. Really Great stuff. Really tied the room together.
So... I don't know if I mentioned this in my previous note but in the commentary track on the In-Laws DVD, Arkin mentioned that that movie came about because the studio wanted to make a sequel to Freebie and the Bean, and since he didn't particularly even want to do the first Freebie, he maneuvered things around so he could eventually make In-Laws instead of another one. Well, regardless of why he didn't want to do it, I really wish and hope he somehow hears of how great a movie it is and how well it holds up today. That movie really plays, and on the big screen it screams. Although i could see the stunt guys a little better on the big screen, it didn't even matter because they stunts they were doing were so amazing. And it seemed like every shot included some pedestrian coming an inch away from getting run over or churned up in motorcycle axle. And when the screen's not filled with "fuck-off car chase scenes" (as Edgar put it), it's undeniably hilarious. The chemistry between Alan Arkin and Jimmy Caan is fluid and comfortable and a little bit destructive. You completely buy that these guys have been working together for a long time, not to mention seeing glimpses of my other favorite partner/ensemble dynamics in their performance (like The Dude/Walter/Donny in The Big Lebowski).
I guess I am rambling now. It's just a pinnacle buddy cop movie. Can't do much better.
Side Note: Someone should REALLY make a movie with three main roles where they constantly talk and bicker and have fun and cast Jimmy Caan, Alan Arkin, and Peter Faulk. Kinda like a Grumpy Old Men thing but make it R-Rated and not so goofball and basically get all of them in a room together and let them go. It'd be so amazing to see those guys re-unite now that they're all old.
|03.31.07||Hot Fuzz||Edgar Wright||And lo it was time to see Hot Fuzz. There were clearly some people in the audience that had sat through the four previous movies just to make it to this point. When the boys walked out in their Texas cowboy shirts the crowd went apeshit crazy. Austin is definitely a fan to these guys. They were funny and British and nice and excited as well which was cool.|
Crazy trailers this time, ending with the unbelievable Thunder Cops trailer. Although that movie's been tainted for me now that I've seen it, I can't deny that it's still one of the best trailers I've ever seen.
So... Hot Fuzz... It was good. I liked it. Almost everyone seemed to like it. At first I was a little jarred by the style of the film (very abrasive and cutty). It's understandable since they're going for a very cop-movie, Tony Scott/Guy Ritchie style but when the subject matter's about very mundane things it took me a while to adjust. Of course, when the things that were happening started getting bigger, the style made complete sense and they sort of fit into each other like a glove, but it's a pretty weird transition to go from having the style be a comment on movies they're kind of sending up to having the style be genuinely what they're aiming for.
Overall, I think I liked it on par with Shaun of the Dead. Parts of it really made me laugh and I can't say I didn't have a good time watching it, but there similar aspects of both movies that cause problems for me. I don't completely get and follow how the movie can be really self-aware and sort of be about packing references and commenting on a genre and then falling into the same traps that it kind of makes fun of earlier on. Kind of like how in this year's Oscar broadcast they had a joke where Al Gore was about to announce his running for President but the orchestra cuts him off... but then later on in the same show the orchestra cuts off numerous people trying to say something in their moment of glory. It's kind of a "well if you know about it, why do you keep doing it!?" thing for me...
I hesitate to say either of Wright's movie make fun of the genre they're in though. I get a sense from both that he loves them and these are really more homage pieces than any sort of satire, but he does pack in the references which ends up splitting my enjoyment a little. It's hard for me to appreciate it as a straight story knowing there's all these winks and nods in there but it also ends up hard for me to not groan when the story takes over and introduces familiar cliches.
This movie seemed much more on the level of tongue-in-cheek fun though. I think there's more lines and gags and overt references and call-backs in this than Shaun, and I don't really mind cop-movie cliches like buildings blowing up and bullet proof vests and whatnot as much as I hate the "i can't shoot that zombie, she's my mum!" stuff.
However, this movie also takes a few turns I didn't expect. It picks up a really heavy Ira Levin vibe (I'm purposely leaving that a little vague. don't look him up if you don't want potential plot spoilers) at one point and becomes... not very cop-ish at all, but ultimately returns to form for a hilariously great climax.
I really don't want to give off any indication that I didn't like the movie. But, as someone who didn't love Shaun of the Dead as much as others, I suspect I'll fall in the same camp with this one. Liked it, not loved it.
So that's the fuzztival! Afterward, the boys were kind enough to hang out and sign crap for everyone that wanted it while large circles of friends gathered around in the lobby talking about the day. The general consensus around my circle seemed to point to Freebie as the highlight of the day, but it was fun all around (unless you count the slow parts of Police Story). Slowly but surely, we all started heading out to clash with the harsh reality of downtown Austin at 2am on a Saturday night. After 13 hours in the Drafthouse, walking out to the drunken cacophony of 4th street was pretty sucky. And it's just gonna be worse once they move to 6th. sigh.
But never fear! Next weekend there's the Grindhouse all-nighter!!!