Edgar Wright day: Hot Fuzz (2007) – Review

Growing up in a town on the outskirts of a major city, sometimes one could start to feel restless and morose. “Nothing ever happens in this town,” was a typical thought that ran through my head living in a town on the north western outskirts of Bristol. A part of me yearned for an escape to somewhere more exciting than a town with a declining aerospace industry and a large office complex for the Ministry of Defence. I started to feel slightly differently after encountering the second installment of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy Hot Fuzz featuring the ever brilliant duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

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Pegg’s character Nicholas Angel is transferred from the London Met to a police force in sleepy Sandford, a crime-free idyllic town in Gloucestershire. His struggle to deal with a lazy Police force and innocently docile locals is particularly entertaining. Pegg and Wright have brilliantly captured the kind of people one may encounter in a small town in a very tongue in cheek manner without being outright offensive. The characters are all somewhat relatable and despite their quirks, the audience can’t help but root for them and feel awful when any of them were axed off in the shady murder spree. The great writing is aided by a great all-star cast ranging from Olivia Colman, Bill Bailey and Anne Reid to David Bradley, Bill Nighy and Timothy Dalton. They all manage to capture the interest of the audience without completely chewing the scenery at the expense of their co-stars which is more than can be said about the doomed drama group’s production of Romeo and Juliet within the film.

Wright’s direction and writing in Hot Fuzz is meticulous yet somewhat fantastical. His style shines in this homage to buddy cop films. His use of subversion, exploration of genre, use of dramatic camera angles and tightly choreographed action sequences is executed to great comedic effect whilst still creating a suspenseful crime and action film. This is a style not out of place in Hollywood studio block busters yet fits beautifully in the British setting. Previous to Hot Fuzz there hadn’t been much of a tradition for British ‘cop buddy’ films. The genre still hasn’t had the rise that one may imagine Hot Fuzz would give but perhaps the success of Hot Fuzz isn’t merely limited to genre. Wright shows that one doesn’t require a big city in the United States to make a brilliant cop film but does require writing talent, tight direction and intelligence.

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Brilliantly written with tight direction, great acting and overall sublime film-making, Hot Fuzz is a film that you can’t afford to miss and will make scream for more. An entertaining send up to the West Country by two of its natives and greatly appreciated by this West Country writer.


Happy Edgar Wright Day 
Baby Driver is out now! 

Edgar Wright Day: Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Review

Perhaps the most famous masterpiece in Edgar Wright’s repertoire, this 2004 film changed not one, not two but three genres by splicing them together in a hilarious combination. The impact on the world is legendary. Not only does it still appeal to a hoard of fans, but it has been hailed as one of the best British movies of all time, voted second on a poll by Radio One, is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite movies and is quoted by millions worldwide. I am talking of course, about Shaun of the Dead.

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Shaun of the Dead is quite a simple concept really. Shaun is a slacker, a salesman whose life has no real direction. While wasting his time with his man friend Ed, Shaun is losing touch with the people he loves most. His girlfriend dumps him, his flatmate hates him and his parents are concerned. After one argument leads to another, Shaun decides to sort his life out by winning his girl back, patching things up with his parents and gaining some self respect. He also has to survive a zombie apocalypse which has appeared on the streets of London…

Taking three relatively simple concepts, love, comedy and horror, and cooking them together gives Shaun of the Dead this ultimately fresh and unique meal that has yet to be matched. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright work amazingly well as writing partners here to deliver not only a pretty damn funny movie, but also a nod to the great zombie movies of yesteryear. The movie is sliced with tributes as well as some great scenes such as an attack on a zombie cued perfectly to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” There is not one moment that misses the beat. Shaun of the Dead is an incredible example of brilliant British comedy with dry wit, sarcastic jokes and surreal humour. Combine this with an energetic director, who implements fast paced camera shots and a kinetic feel to the film, and Shaun of the Dead is a romantic comedy with zombies and brains.

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But Shaun of the Dead doesn’t forget its heart and the movie is much about the bromance between Simon Pegg’s Shaun and Nick Frosts Ed. The evolving leadership role of Shaun as he finally becomes a man juxtaposed with his man Friday who manages to save the day whilst still being himself is a wonderful character pairing. So it is natural to have two actors such as Pegg and Frost who has as much chemistry on screen as they do off. There are some wickedly emotional moments that are just two friends hanging out during a national crisis.

With all these brains, hearts and courage flying about it isn’t any wonder that Shaun of the Dead is a favourite not only with our nation but worldwide. The first of the Cornetto Trilogy (strawberry flavoured) is filled with utter amazing acting, writing and directing. A combination that started the Wright takeover of the world


Happy Edgar Wright Day 
Baby Driver is out now! 

The Weekend Binge – Spaced

There are few people out there who would question my geek credentials, my knowledge of film, television and video games far exceed that of many of my compatriots, and recently, my party in Dungeons and Dragons managed to exorcise a Glabrezu in one round whilst attempting to foil the plans of a Necromancer (Geek credentials, check! Cool credentials… what were those again?)

Regardless, if there is one thing that sends a small shiver down my spine, it is the perfect use of a film reference in conversation to emphasise a point or add an extra layer of humour to the proceedings. It is this reason why Spaced by director Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jessica Hynes (Nee Stevenson) as a group of twenty-something Generation X-ers as they navigate a strangely surreal life, full of insanity and pop culture galore.

The protagonists of Spaced were Tim Bisley and Daisy Steiner (played by Pegg and Hynes respectively) as two recently homeless strangers who pretend to be a couple in order to rent a flat owned by Landlady Marsha Klein (played by Julia Deakin). A large portion of the show’s jokes in the first couple of episodes revolved around the fake lovers attempting (and failing) to hide their true relationship from the other tenants in the building. After a little while, this aspect of the plot fell to the wayside as more characters were introduced, such as struggling artist Brian Topp (Mark Heap) who pays his rent to Marsha using… other methods, Mike Watt (Nick Frost) who was kicked out of the Territorial Army for trying to invade Paris and fashion obsessive Twist Morgan (Katy Carmichael.) Together with the other three characters, they helped create a cult TV show that is still popular with many to this very day.

A lot of the comedy came from the interactions between the cast, alongside the almost relentless onslaught of pop culture references that surfaced throughout each episode. It was almost guaranteed that if you missed an homage in one scene, you’d pick another one up within the next two shots. The show itself featured several allusions to films and TV series such as The X-Files, The Evil Dead, 2001: A Space Odyssey and so many more that to continue listing them would require several thousand more words than I’m capable of writing.


Alongside the core cast, there are a number of actors that have since gone on to be big names in British film and television, including John Simm, Kevin Eldon, Peter Serafinowicz and Anna Wilson-Jones. Once again, the list of cameos is far too long to write out, but, suffice it to say, it is once again very lengthy.

There is so much going on and so much to discover that to describe much more would completely ruin the joy of watching the series for the first time. So, I say to you, go forth and watch this lovingly crafted, nerdy masterpiece with a pack of Jaffa Cakes to hand. You won’t be disappointed.

Edgar Wright Day: A Fistful of Fingers (1995) – Review

Here at We Make Movies On Weekends, we love Edgar Wright. The passionate Wright, as I mentioned before, kicked off his directorial and writing career very early producing spoof like short films such as the super hero themed Carbolic Soap and Dead Right, a cop thriller inspired short. Keeping with the spoof theme, A Fistful of Fingers comes after Wright graduated from Bournemouth Arts College. Based on a previous short film that caught local attention, Wright was able to raise enough funds for producing the movie. At just the tender age of 20 and with a budget of £15,000, A Fistful of Fingers is surprisingly good for a first feature attempt and the bunch of young’uns excel at bringing some Blazing Saddles genre humour to their film.

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A Fistful of Fingers is “the greatest Western ever made…in Somerset” and the main gist of the joke is that the fields of English double up as New Mexico. Our Clint Eastwood hero is fast shooter No Name who is on a bounty hunting for the moustached villain The Squint. Along with his extremely non PC Indian friend Rushing Sore, they travel the heated depths of the deserts (Dales) in order the fight this arch-nemesis and earn his reward.

A Fistful of Fingers, despite being a first feature and despite Wright being disappointed with the end product, is surprisingly a funny hit. It is a spoof so the jokes come very thick and very fast, and nearly every second is filled with fun. Whether or not that is a good thing is debatable but the level of comedy here reaches the heights of spoofs such as Airplane. It is all rather silly. Most of the time, luckily, they hit the right spot and make you laugh. It is all very “Monty Python-esque” that if you, like me, enjoy rather silly movies than you’d be laughing a lot. Think styrofoam horses, breaking the fourth wall, and slapstick humour then you are heading in the right direction.

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I do have to address the biggest issue with the film. There is a character here which is essentially a white man playing a native American. His brown painted skin is offensive. Whether it is a mockery of classic films who would do the same or simply because they could see no other way of doing it (as nineties students,) it needs to be addressed as a misjudged, misstepped, and mismanaged addition to the film.

Though at times, it does lose itself in its humour as many student works do, it is actually a pretty decent debut for Edgar Wright. It has glimmers of the wickedly smart work Wright would later go on to do and is shot magnificently well on such a minuscule budget. A Fistful of Fingers is a movie for fun and giggles and while it is no great art or comedy, it certainly did its job by gaining Wright attention to set him off on his glorious career.


Happy Edgar Wright Day 
Baby Driver is out in cinemas now! 

Edgar Wright Day: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) – Review

Today, we’re celebrating one of the UK’s most unique and talented directors; Edgar Wright is a man who loves film and it shows in every little thing that he does. Every short, every use of music, every piece of editing – It all stems from a deeply rooted appreciation for this beautiful art. The Cornetto Trilogy was a comedy gold, and Baby Driver looks to be one of the year’s best original films, but nothing stands taller for me than his 2010 masterpiece, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Prior to this, I’d seen Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz in passing. Never knew his name, or what he did. It came out very early on in my film loving life. First impressions are important, and despite it being his third film, he scored very highly with me that day.

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Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) enjoys his little life in Toronto; he plays in band, he’s dating a high schooler, and his gay roommate is always entertaining. But his life is turned upside down when he meets the mysterious Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a quirky stranger in town who’s affection he vies for. There’s just one problem….In order to date her, he has to defeat her seven evil exes in battle, including a lunk headed actor, an emo pirate, two sick DJs and a vegan amongst others.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is near perfect action comedy; it’s impeccably put together, utilising a series of both video game and comic book-esque visual motifs to elevate the humour and excitement. Whilst it feels like an Edgar Wright, he does well to separate it from his previous work. At this point, the third installment of the Cornetto trilogy was yet to be released, so for it to feel too similar to Shaun and Fuzz would’ve ruined the impact of the impending The World’s End, but at the same time, it’s packed to the brim with Wright’s trade marks, such as quick cut editing, kick-ass soundtrack, visuals gags and absurdly brilliant comedic timing. This film is hilarious, largely down to it’s colourful cast of characters. In particular, Scott’s roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) has some of the best jokes in the film. The jokes are funny, but they’re not the kind of that you could explain to someone who hasn’t seen the film. They’re usually so fast paced or hilariously rooted in the context of the film that they need to be seen to be appreciated, and trust me, talk to somebody who loves the film and you’ll find it’s endlessly quotable.

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As far as performances go, there’s not a single misstep; Cera delivers quite easily his best ever performance, playing a character not too dissimilar to ones he’s played before, but far more interesting than those others, with a little more charm attached. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is delightful as ever, and the aforementioned Kieran Culkin truly shines too. It also features Anna Kendrick and a pre-breakout performance from Brie Larson, who delivers amazing vocals that I didn’t know she was capable of. Among the evil exes, the real stand outs are Chris Evans as pretty-good-skateboarder-turned-pretty-good-actor Lucas Lee and Brandon Routh as super powered vegan Todd Ingram. The whole cast is excellent, bringing an already fantastic script to new heights. I couldn’t comment on how faithful the film is to it’s source material, but the story at it’s most basic is one of the most entertaining of the last ten years, before you even get into how cleverly written it is.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a truly wonderful time; a simple but gripping story elevated to extreme levels of excitement through it’s cinematography, editing, sound design, screenplay and performances. It ticks every box possible, and is a shining example of Edgar Wright’s extraordinary talent.


Happy Edgar Wright Day! 
Baby Driver is out now! 

Edgar Wright Day: The World’s End (2013) – Review

It has been over a decade since the zombie rom-com Shaun of the Dead hit our screens and changed the face of British comedy from sickly sweet romantic comedies to, well, movies that actually make us laugh. When its faithful companion Hot Fuzz came out, it solidified our trust in the Wright, Frost and Pegg partnership to bring quality movies. So a whole six years later, after the gang went off to complete separate projects, returning to finish off a delicious and creamy trilogy.

That was the wrong adjective…

Anyway, in 2013, they all came back to produce an alien invasion comedic epic aptly named The World’s End.

The film revolves around Gary (Simon Pegg), a wasted going on forty loser whose life hasn’t gone anywhere since he was a teenager. Stuck in a time of his life where he was happy, Gary is desperate to relive one of the best times of his life; completing an infamous pub crawl in Newton Haven that culminates in the final boozer, The World’s End. However, his friends, Andy (Nick Frost,) Steven (Paddy Considine,) Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan) have all moved on. Reluctantly joining him on the quest, old scores and emotions will be settled. Soon they find that visiting the old town is strange, there is weirdness in the air and the locals are acting odd. Perhaps it’s because people have moved on and everyone but Gary has changed. Or perhaps it’s because an alien invasion has occurred. It is up to Gary and pals to save the day, save the world and save themselves.

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The World’s End starts of very slow with a whole swathe of back story and character building. But that isn’t necessary a bad thing. Although it doesn’t hit fast and quick like Hot Fuzz did, it is more mature and grown up; laying foundations to rely on when the action hits. When the second act kicks in and the alien invasion starts to reveal itself, these layers of comedy come fighting back to punch you straight in the funny bone. It is a very sophisticated, well written comedy that keeps you laughing and just when you think you can laugh no more, it brings another round of hilarity. It is a smart and intelligent film that is unrelenting with the jokes. The climax of the film is simply a slice of fried gold that is sharp, slick, and surprising.

Yet it isn’t the comedy or the big budget fight scenes that are impressive, underneath this all is humanity. There is heart that twists with the turns and surfaces with every new pub that the gang enter. Past differences and conflicts bubble up as they try to save their lives following the long tailed coat of Gary to the bitter end. This incredible pulse beats realism. Though that is partly to do with the genius writing, it is just as much to do with the acting talents of our crew. For years, Pegg and Frost have developed an on-screen comedy chemistry that is unlike any other and here, all those years pay off magnificently with just a little twist on their usual relationship. With Considine, Freeman and Marsan all supporting with great roles, the cast here are impeccable, never missing a beat. Actually, though, it is Pegg that really steals the whole movie. Not only did he ensure epic comedic timing and laughs, but he actually stirs some pretty deep emotional issues.

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Look, Simon Pegg has already established himself as one of the countries best comedic actors but we need to recognise that his emotive acting is just as good, if not better. In The World’s End, as Gary, he packs an almighty punch that has enough clout to stick with you. When Gary has a complete breakdown, revealing that he tried to commit suicide and the real drive behind the haphazard pub crawl, it is commanding, heart-breaking, and utterly phenomenal. Pegg’s working of his character’s are genius and it’s about time he gets given more merit for his performances, more so than his humour and his writing.

The World’s End is often placed on the bottom most rung when quantifying Wright’s filmography but, honestly,  it deserves a lot more praise than it gets. The World’s End is a perfect final piece of the Cornetto Trilogy. It adds to an already near perfect trilogy and is the film that fans need, want and will cherish. It is a change to the formula, a polish of the comedy and a fast paced ride that has all the sentiments of the old familiar.


Happy Edgar Wright Day! 
Baby Driver is out now!