Hot Fuzz: Shaun of the Dead Remix?

Danny, Nicholas and two cornets

Now that the Cornetto trilogy has come to an end, it is a little saddening to watch the trio of  films. Starting with Shaun of the Dead, moving to Hot Fuzz and ending with The World’s End the latter two can be seen as  remixes of the first yet, despite that lump in the throat, because *sob* it’s all over, all three are funny and clever as hell.

The trio of Nick Frost, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have done their last gig together, and some people do not like Hot Fuzz, or for that matter The World’s End, as much as “Shaun” and will point out the many reasons why the first in the trilogy is the best. But really, it does not matter in the end because all three films bring something to the party.  Shaun of the Dead,  fans say, was not only the first, but it was more than brilliant.

I agree…to an extent. Shaun of the Dead was insanely clever. If one takes the time to watch the commentaries at the end it becomes blazingly obvious that Wright and Pegg were firing on all cylinders for that one.

Pub shot from Hot Fuzz
You got red on you…

But in my humble opinion, Hot Fuzz is much more than a Shaun of the Dead remix. In this second film, Simon is Nicholas Angel “There’s that Sgt. Angel, check out his arse!” a super cop who cannot “shut off” and lives his job 24/7. He is doing such a good job that, as his big boss the MET Chief Inspector says, “you’re making us all look bad…letting the side down.” The answer is an instant promotion to a small sleepy village in the country.

It is here that he meets Nick Frost‘s character PC Danny Butterman, son of local Inspector Frank Butterman. Danny is following in his father’s footsteps after the death of his mother because he doesn’t know what else to do. A fan of cop movies like Point Break and Bad Boys II “You ain’t seen Bad Boys Two??” Danny grows attached to Angle (Don’t rush to correct the spelling, watch the film, you’ll understand.)

Without going into the plot in any further detail, no spoilers here, the film does for cop films what Shaun of the Dead did for zombie flicks. Again, like the first in the trilogy, to really get the genius of Wright and Pegg, “ya gotta watch the special features.” Especially the commentary, that will point out all those references that any film geek, ahem…like me get overly excited about.

Bill Nighy Hot Fuzz Screen Shot
“Of course I can, I’m the Chief Inspector.”

Bill Nighy appears in a brilliant cameo as the Met Chief Inspector and shows just why this man is a British cinematic treasure. *Tip, watch his face at the beginning of the film while he’s talking to Nick Angel, priceless.*

Other familiar faces in this comedic homage to all things “cop” includes the creme de la creme of the English acting world. Edward Woodward, Kenneth Cranham (who I’ve actually worked with once), Billie Whitelaw, Paul Freeman, Timothy Dalton, Rafe Spall, Paddy Considine, Bill Bailey and a great many more of the best that Britain has to offer.

The humour is top notch, “He is not Judge Judy and executioner!” The plot is excellent and the gags non stop. This bromance continues the Shaun and Ed theme from the first film, only this time it’s Danny and Nicholas, “By the power of Greyskull!” The Frost character is not a repeat of Ed, “Can I get any of you c*nt’s a drink?” Danny is more a hapless chap, “Another pint, Mary?”  who doesn’t have a clue until the new sergeant in town shows him the way.

This 2007 film is an excellent fit in the trilogy, “Anything from the shop? Cornetto.” It is also the last time that Edward Woodward appeared in a feature film, although he did television and a TV movie after Hot Fuzz came out.  The exploits of Sergeant Angel are much more than a remix of Shaun of the Dead, although the film does follow the cleverness of the first film with all its action movie references and the real cop nods and winks. “You can’t be the Sheriff of London.”

It is highly recommended that this film be watched on DVD, one that has special features – remember that commentary – and not just streamed on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. Sure the film will be still be as funny, but you’ll miss out on all that good “colour.” As loathe as I am to use a star rating system, in this instance I will. Hot Fuzz is a 5 out of 5 stars film, and to answer the question in the title, no it is not a remix of Shaun of the Dead.

18 February 2015

The Arizona Desert: Old West Revisited…Sort Of

Old Tucson Studios Western Town SetSince heading down to the Arizona desert, it does feel sort of like I’ve revisited the old west. Of course a lot of that feeling is down to the fact that if I’m not bicycling or traveling “shank’s mare” to make the 13 mile round trip (plus) to town and back, I’ve no satellite for television. [Or Internet that works well enough to watch anything else.]

Now before folks start thrusting fingers and shouting at me to stop whining, let me explain.

I’ve spent most of the last year watching television shows and doing recaps/reviews each and every week. There was a long list of shows that I covered. From new ones like” Gotham” and “Scorpion,” to older popular ones like “The Walking Dead,” I covered as many as I could. Since many came on at the same time, I used the DVR and Hulu Plus to the maximum extent possible to catch-all that were available.

Now, I’ve only my DVD collection to watch, and write on occasionally, to keep me amused. I’ve discovered that free WiFi, while not strong enough for the screeners sent by Sony/SyFy for “Helix”, work (just barely) for Hulu and Netflix. I’ve not tried Amazon Prime just yet to see if this works at Carl Jr’s or Burger King.

Oddly enough, I had gotten out of the habit of watching telly while living in England. Oh, I had a few favorites. I spent a pretty exciting and very entertaining time binge watching Breaking Bad after finally discovering what all the fuss was about. The Walking Dead was another instant addiction as was American Horror Story.  But other shows on the box were ignored. My biggest passion was playing video games, doing the odd YouTube video on films and writing for this blog.

I am slowly trying to sort out the Internet situation and getting back on the television teat so I can write about shows I like, or in the case of Gracepoint, dislike…a lot. Funds are low and eating, along with paying off bills and medication are the highpoint of my existence at this moment so the problems with reviewing will have to stay unsolved for the time being.

Desert Mountain

Apart from discovering that walking the desert on the way to town (and WiFi) and back feels like revisiting the old west when one strays from the road and crosses the hardpan, I’ve learned that 56 year-old legs, knees, ankles and the back take a pounding. I’ve even gotten the odd blister… Granted, I do tend to powerwalk where I can, after all I was a Prison Officer for 10 years and passed my fitness test each and every year, but my body, since the very invasive operations in 2012, is complaining.

Loudly.

Aches, cramps and bruising aside, the walks are brilliant. The landscape is breathtaking, inspiring and addictive.  This is during the day of course. After dark is another matter. Dusk is interesting, but hazardous. (Dusk was when I did  my faceplant in the dusty desert floor.) There are animals roaming the desert when the sun goes down; most of which are better equipped than I at survival if we should meet.

Listening this evening to a couple of coyotes yipping, yowling and howling just around the corner from my temporary home, goose-flesh marching up and down my entire body while doing so, reminded me that these pack roaming creatures will attack a singleton wandering across the hardpan.

Then there is the mountain lion that is hanging around the area, I have seen his (or her) prints and the thing is huge. Neither of these would have anything to fear from me. Like any unarmed red-blooded male, I would most likely scream in terror and might just get a couple of steps away before getting nom-nommed for their tea.

Still, in the moments where I am walking the desert floor and the 4X4’s, Quads and motorbikes are nowhere too near, I can hear my footsteps. Crunching through the crusty sand and gravel as well as puffing through the dust.  The birds, one who sounds just like he/she is whistling to get your attention, dart and flitter by to have a quick look at the desert newcomer.

Brief glimpses of jack-rabbits bounding away and, just recently, baby jack-rabbits scurrying clumsily to hide are another delightful occurence. These walks, although pretty damned painful at the moment (not to mention slow) are the preferred  way to cross the desert, rather than riding the bike with the dodgy gears. For one thing, who ever heard of biking through the old west? For another,  this rider cannot power the bike across the hardpan. Too much sand, deep dust and gravel make it difficult to keep pedalling. And of course these is the lack of silence connected with the mechanical means of travel. Ruins the desert aesthetic, doesn’t it.

3 February 2015

23 Minutes to Sunrise (2012): A Old Fashioned Sort of Film

Eric Roberts as Daniel in 23 Minutes to Sunrise This small budget feature uses a lot of local talent to tell its tale, except for the presence of Eric Roberts who plays a sinister, or at least rather nasty, character who shows up at a diner 23 minutes to sunrise. Roberts’ does nothing outside of his normal range, but damn it, what he does is good regardless of how big his role, or just what it entails. Julia Roberts’ sibling is infinitely watchable regardless of what his part is.

In this low/no budget feature film, Roberts’ mysterious man, whom I at first thought was Death, but who turns out to be much more, enters the graveyard shift of an all night diner. The establishment feels like a throwback to those eateries of the 1950s. Like the one featured in the film Diner and the waitress actually pours every customer a cup of coffee, whether they ask for one or not.

Roberts, who plays Daniel, points this out when she fills his empty cup while the waitress explains to his young lady friend that it is the late night menu, so only what is on the back of the list can be ordered.

This is a small ensemble piece that features a middle-aged couple (Bob Zany and Nia Peeples), a young couple (Tom Sandoval and Kristen Doute), Daniel and his lady friend, Hannah (played by Haley Busch) the cook (a vet who has issues), played by Dingani Beza, and a waitress (Jilanne Klaus). There are other characters who appear fleetingly, the waitress’s drunken bully of a husband, a simple minded man who dresses as a superhero and a couple of cops. Each of these other cast members appears, some like the wastrel husband, two or three times, and their presence helps to round out the film.

23 Minutes to Sunrise is about immortality, whether it is a gift or a curse, and how someone would react if offered this chance to “live forever.” In Eddie’s case, the Gulf War veteran turned cook initially refuses point blank, despite being shown that the young lady is not delusional.

The film has an old fashioned feel to it. Almost like a film version of the play about three friends who discover the fountain of youth. A sort of morality tale with a confusing end and yet, it is oddly watchable. The dialogue often misleads the viewer just enough to keep things interesting.

When Daniel comes in with his teenage friend, the two speak in such a way that it seems that the older man has groomed the young lady. The dialogue screams pedophile and victim. However, after listening to the couple for a bit longer, it turns out that she took him up on the offer of immortality, not underage sex.

She has the last 23 minutes of the night, before the sun rises, to convince someone in the room to take over the “gift” of living forever. The eternal 17 year old wants out, as she says earlier, she has no family, friends and no life. The character also has not learned a lot during her 250 years of being a teenager as she cannot convince any of the diner’s customers or staff to take the gift at first.

There are things in the movie that annoy. Apparently the budget was so small on the film that blanks and a working pistol could not be provided. The use of sound, light, and the actor jerking his hand while pulling the trigger did nothing to convince me that he had shot off the weapon.

This one “cheat” did not spoil the film but did let it down considerably. The overall rating of 23 Minutes to Sunrise on IMDb is pretty low with a figure of 4. The one review by a customer is scathing and insulting. The film is interesting and definitely does not deserve the severe pasting received. Perhaps not worth the $3.99 paid at the truck stop, but worth watching if it turns up on Netflix or YouTube.

Considering that 23 Minutes to Sunrise  was made with local actors, with the exception of Roberts and Nia Peeples, the overall feature is pretty impressive. Certainly interesting enough and no worse than many other low/no budget films on offer. Worthy of a look as the film does make the viewer think.

A Million Ways to Die in the West DVD (Review)

A Million Ways to Die in the West DVD (Review)

It has been well over a month since A Million Ways to Die in the West has been released on DVD and perhaps the home entertainment reaction to the film will be a bit better than the welcome that Seth MacFarlane’s version of what could be described as the modern Paleface got on its initial release. The creative genius behind television’s Family Guy and American Dad as well as the big screen Mark Wahlberg comedy Ted, was not overly praised by film critics with his “scatter shot” film, as stated by Rotten Tomatoes, but box office receipts prove that the film was not that bad, making over twice its production costs.

22 Jump Street Seriously Funny Follow Up (DVD Review/Trailer)

22 Jump Street Seriously Funny Follow Up (DVD Review/Trailer)

It almost feels like 2014 is the year of the comedic sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, Horrible Bosses 2 and earlier than both these, 22 Jump Street which is now out on Blu Ray and DVD; the film is a seriously funny follow up to the original. While it is not perfection, the second pairing of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, and Ice Cube stepping in as the head of Jump Street again, works very well overall. This sequel picks up the pace just a little and Peter Stormare has a brilliant cameo as the nostalgic drug lord The Ghost, who misses the good old days.