Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: Hulk And The Cinema Of Edgar Wright - A History

Hulk takes us through his personal history with the works of Edgar Wright.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: Hulk And The Cinema Of Edgar Wright - A History

 

IT STARTED THE WAY MOST GOOD THINGS DO... WITH SOMEONE'S INSISTENCE.

- FLASHBACK TO THE YEAR 2001 -

SO HULK'S SITTING THERE MINDING HULK'S OWN BUSINESS AND WATCHING A DVD WHEN IN WALK'S HULK'S FRIEND PETER PARKER.

PETER: "Come with me. You have to watch this."

HULK: "GO AWAY. HULK RE-WATCHING SOPRANOS."

PETER: "You do that every day! Trust me. You'll love this."

HULK: "NO. THIS IS THE ONE WHERE-"

[PETER WALKS OVER AND SHUTS OFF TV]

AFTER A FEW MINUTES OF SMASH VS. WEB-SLINGY (GUESS WHO WON?) HULK BEGRUDGINGLY WENT OVER TO PARKER''S ROOM. HE TURNED ON HIS COMPUTER AND THEN TURNED ON KaZaA (REMEMBER KaZaA!?). THEN, A TV SHOW BEGAN PLAYING.

HULK: "SERIOUSLY? YOU ABOUT TO PLAY STOLEN FUCKING TV SHOW FOR HULK? DO YOU EVEN KNOW HULK?! DO YOU!??!?!?!?!"

PETER: "We can't get it here! It's British!"

HULK: "WE WAIT! HULK HAVE REGIONAL DVD PLAYER TOO, SO WE-"

PETER: "Just shut up and I"ll make us popcorn."

HULK: "FINE! HULK LIKE POPCORN!" [HULKS ARE EASILY SATED]

YES FOLKS, IT WAS A PURE CASE OF GIVING UP AND BEING OBLIGED. AND THUS HULK BEGAN TO WATCH THAT SHOW WITH PETER...

... IT WAS THE ART EPISODE OF "SPACED."

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE DESCRIBED THE FIRST TIME HE SAW BLUE VELVET AS THIS KIND OF DUMBFOUNDING CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE. IT WASN'T THAT MOVIE WAS SO COMPLETELY FOREIGN OR CONCEPTUALLY BEYOND ANYTHING THAT CAME BEFORE IT, IT WAS THAT THE MOVIE WAS SO CLEARLY EXPRESSING AN IDEA THAT WAS ON THE TIP-OF-EVERYONE'S TONGUE. WE TOSS AROUND THE WORD "ZEITGEIST" A LOT IN DISCUSSING TREND-SETTING MOVIES AND PRODUCTS, BUT WE DO THIS FOR GOOD REASON. THAT ETHEREAL-SEEMING CONCEPT IS SO DAMN RELEVANT TO OUR CULTURAL RESPONSES. WE EMBRACE NEW FILM STYLES AND ACTORS COLLECTIVELY. WE GET SICK OF THOSE SAME THINGS COLLECTIVELY. WE SUBCONSCIOUSLY CALL FOR CRITICISMS, DELIGHTS, AND INDULGENCE EN MASSE. BUT MOST OF ALL WE CAN COLLECTIVELY RECOGNIZE THE ARRIVAL OF "THE NEW"... IT MAY NOT BE ACTUALLY NEW OF COURSE. IT IS USUALLY SOMETHING TIMELESS THAT REMINDS US OF THE THINGS WE MISS ABOUT OLDER MOVIES, LONG-TIME FRIENDS, AND OUR MOST EMPATHETIC SELVES. THEY ARE QUITE SIMPLY THINGS WE IDENTIFY WITH AT OUR CORE.

FOR WALLACE, BLUE VELVET TAPPED INTO THAT COMMUNAL ZEITGEIST IN A PERFECT SORT OF WAY. IT WAS HIS KURTZIAN DIAMOND BULLET TO THE BRAIN AND SUCH THE "RIGHT" MOVIE FOR THAT TIME AND PLACE. THAT TIME AND PLACE BEING THE REAGAN ERA 80'S WHERE AN THE UNDERBELLY OF EXCESS, CRIME AND URBAN DECAY CONTRASTED DIRECTLY WITH THE 50'S PICTURESQUE IMAGE THAT THE COUNTRY WAS PROJECTING. AND LYNCH TRANSLATED THAT DICHOTOMY BEAUTIFULLY INTO A THIS WONDERFULLY STRANGE LITTLE CINEMATIC WORLD. THE AUDIENCE SEEMED TO SLAP THEIR FOREHEADS: "OF COURSE!"

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE ZEITGEIST IS CAPTURED. AND THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED TO HULK WHILE WATCHING SPACED.

IT MAY BE HARD TO BELIEVE NOW OR TO REMEMBER, BUT JUST 10 YEARS AGO THE POPULAR TREATMENT OF "NERD CULTURE" WAS STILL IN REVENGE OF THE NERDS MODE. THEY DID NOT DOMINATE THE LANDSCAPE.  AND THERE CERTAINLY WASN'T ANY PLACATING OF NERDS EITHER. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, THERE WAS NO REAL UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THESE SORTS OF NERDY INTERESTS ACTUALLY MEANT TO PEOPLE. HULK NEVER FELT LIKE A NERD. HULK FELT LIKE A GUY WHO LIKED CERTAIN THINGS THAT WERE LARGELY IGNORED BY TRADITIONAL MEDIA. THAT'S ABOUT IT. SURE, THINGS WERE KINDA CHANGING ON THE INTERNET AND SPIDER-MAN'S HUGE RELEASE WAS THE HARBINGER OF THINGS TO COME, BUT FOR THE MOST PART THE VERY CONCEPT OF NERD CULTURE WAS STILL SUBCULTURAL... AND IT WAS CERTAINLY STILL A "LESS THAN" IN THE EYES OF MANY.

BUT SPACED SO IMPLICITLY UNDERSTOOD.

DO NOT MISTAKE THE SHOW FOR SOME INDULGENT, NERD-REFERENCE-Y BRAIN CANDY, FOR IT DID NOT PANDER IN THE SLIGHTEST. IT SIMPLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT IT MEANT TO BE BOTH A CERTAIN AGE AND CERTAIN KIND OF HUMAN BEING. WHILE THE PRESENTATION MIGHT HAVE BEEN A LITANY OF LAYERED STYLISTIC REFERENCES, THOSE THINGS WERE SIMPLY A LANGUAGE. THE CONTENT OF THE SHOW ITSELF WAS, QUITE SIMPLY, ABOUT REALITY. A CROSS-CULTURAL, CROSS-ARTISTIC SLICE OF LIFE FOR LATE 20 SOMETHINGS WHO WERE LOOKING (OR NOT LOOKING) FOR THAT INEFFABLE THING ALL HUMANS LOOK FOR. SURE, THEY MIGHT REFERENCE RESIDENT EVIL, BUT IT WASN'T A "HEY WE THINK THIS IS COOL TOO! AREN'T WE AWESOME?!" NO, IT UNDERSTOOD GAMING CONTEXTS IN A WORLD THAT WAS ALSO ABOUT FILM, MODERN ART, CLUB CULTURE, TELEVISION, AND SLACKER-DOM. AGAIN, IT WAS SIMPLY A LANGUAGE. A SHORT-HAND MAYBE. BUT THE WAS MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WERE THE SAME BASIC THINGS THAT MAKE US ALL PUNY HUMANS.

IT UNDERSTOOD, AND EVEN SOUGHT TO PROVE, THAT INTERESTS CONNECT PEOPLE BUT NEVER DEFINE THEM.

WHAT IS SORT OF HILARIOUS IS SPACED HANDLED THESE THINGS IN A WAY OUR CURRENT NERD-PANDERING POP CULTURE STILL HASN'T COMPLETELY FIGURED OUT. WE STILL GET SHOWS LIKE THE BIG BANG THEORY, WHICH TOSS THE SAME REFERENCES AROUND, BUT THEY ARE APROPOS OF NOTHING. THEY ARE REFERENCES FOR RECOGNITION ITSELF. WHY HULK KNOWS THE THINGS THEY SPEAK OF, BUT HULK DOES NOT KNOW THOSE PEOPLE... AND THAT IS PERHAPS BEST, FOR THEY ARE DESIGNED TO BE LAUGHED AT, NOT LAUGHED WITH.

CASE IN POINT, THIS CLIP. [CAUTION: UNEMBEDDABLE! SORRY BUT THIS BEST CLIP TO USE AS EXAMPLE!]

BUT WITH SPACED, HULK DIDN'T JUST KNOW THAT WORLD AND THOSE PEOPLE, HULK LIVED IN THAT WORLD. HULK, LIKE MOST PEOPLE, KNEW OR EVEN WAS TIM BEASLY. WHAT A RARE AND WONDERFUL THING TO HAVE THAT KIND OF IDENTIFICATION.

THE SHOW JUST WASN'T AHEAD OF ITS TIME, IT'S STILL AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, ONCE THAT FIRST EPISODE HAD ENDED, HULK AND PETER PARKER WENT BACK AND DEVOURED ALL THE EPISODES IN ORDER... TWICE. SOMEHOW THIS SHOW WITH A WONDERFUL, UNDERSTANDING DISPOSITION WAS SO PERFECTLY FORMED FROM THE GET GO. IT IS A SINGLE, COMPLETE UNIT OF STORYTELLING THAT SHOULD (AND EVEN COULD) STAND THE TEST OF TIME.

... HULK AND PETER STILL TALK ABOUT TODAY.

THINK ABOUT VIDEO ABOVE AND NOW COMPARE IT TO THIS AND TELL HULK WHICH ONE FEELS MORE VITAL, INTERESTING, AND EVEN REAL. [CAUTION: ALSO UNEMBEDDABLE! SORRY BUT THIS OTHER BEST CLIP TO USE AS EXAMPLE!]

- JUMP FORWARD TO SPRING 2004 -

HULK WORKING AT CAMERA HOUSE WITH JUGGERNAUT.

JUGGERNAUT: "So I saw this movie at this festival and it was really amazing."

HULK: [HALF-LISTENING] "YEAH?"

JUGGERNAUT: "Yeah it was like a zombie comedy. I hope it gets bought over here."

HULK: "YEAH?" [MILDLY DISINTERESTED AS HULK TRYING TO GET A GRAIN OF SAND OUT OF FILTER SLOT FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME]

JUGGERNAUT: "Yeah it was, like, British and I didn't know any of the people in it. But it was funny [GOES ON TO DESCRIBE SEVERAL SCENES IN THE MOVIE, KIND OF RUINING THEM] but anyways I really like these guys now. Apparently they did some funny TV show in England that was kinda the same sort of stuff."

HULK: "WAIT... [GETS SUDDEN SENSATION]."

JUGGERNAUT: "Yeah it's called Spaces or sumpthin?"

[HULK DROPS PLASTIC CAMERA CAP IN KOBAYASHI-LIKE SLOW MOTION]

HULK: "SPACED! YOU MEAN SPACED? HULK LOVE SPACED! THOSE GUYS MADE A MOVIE? HOW HULK NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? HOW?! ANSWER HULK!!!!!!!!!!!"

[BRAWL ENSUES... WE LOST 9 ARRI ULTRA PRIME LENSES AND ONE INTERN THAT DAY]

-JUMP FORWARD TO EARLY FALL 2004 -

THE MOVIE WAS, OF COURSE, SHAUN OF THE DEAD. AND YOU PROBABLY KNOW IT WELL. THE ZOM-ROM-COM IS NOW A BONA FIDE CLASSIC, BUT IT STRANGE TO THINK OF HOW IT EXISTED THEN, WITH PRETEXT OF PEOPLE WHO EITHER SAW THE TRAILER AND THOUGHT IT LOOKED FUNNY OR WERE JUST INTO THE ZOMBIE THING. EITHER WAY, THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE ABOUT TO BEHOLD. ONLY A SUBSET OFSPACED FANS COULD PERHAPS DREAM OF WHAT THE MOVIE ACTUALLY CONTAINED... AND EVEN THEN, PROBABLY NOT.

IT WAS ALSO THE POINT IN WHICH "EDGAR WRIGHT" BECAME A CLEAR CONCEPT TO HULK. YOU SEE, TELEVISION IS STRANGE IN THAT YOU ARE LESS SENSITIVE TO THE IDEA OF THE AUTEUR BEHIND IT ALL, ESPECIALLY WITHOUT THE "CREATOR" CONCEPT THAT ACCOMPANIES SO MUCH AMERICAN TV. BUT IF THERE IS ANY SHOW THAT A DIRECTOR DESERVED INTEREST FOR IT IS WAS SPACED AND THE DEAR MR. WRIGHT... BUT AGAIN, IT WASN'T UNTIL THIS MOVIE THAT IT ALL OF SUDDEN "CLICKED."

PEOPLE USE THE TERM "HIGH OCTANE FILMMAKING" ALL THE TIME AND HULK THING IT SORT OF MEAN TO IMPLY A NON-STOP A-B-C ENERGY AND PROPULSION. BUT SO OFTEN THESE KINDS OF GO-GO-GO MOVIES LACK A CERTAIN KIND OF STEADY NARRATIVE CONTROL OR CAPACITY FOR INVERSION. THEY ARE OFTEN THE BIG, BOMBASTIC SUMMER FILMS WE FLOCK TO IN THE NAME OF SPECTACLE. BUT THOSE RATHER-LACKING FILMS ARE LIKE SHARKS, THEY CAN'T STOP SWIMMING FOR A SECOND BECAUSE IF YOU GIVE THE AUDIENCE THE SECOND TO BREATHE, REFLECT, AND BE AWARE, THEN IT CAN COLLAPSE INTO DEATH. THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF ALLOWING THE AUDIENCE TO BE BORED, IT IS BECAUSE IF THESE FILMS STOP THE OUTRAGEOUS PACE THEN THEY GIVE THE AUDIENCE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE THAT THE HIGH-OCTANE FILMMAKING IS NOTHING BUT A SHELL HIDING A CORE OF NOTHINGNESS.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? BECAUSE EDGAR WRIGHT IS A HIGH OCTANE FILMMAKER, BUT THAT IS FILMS ARE NEVER AFRAID TO PEEL BACK THE SHELL.SHAUN LOOKS INWARD CONSTANTLY AND BY DOING SO IT ONLY REVEALS SOMETHING WONDERFUL.

THE DYNAMIC OF WHAT MAKES SHAUN SO GOOD IS REALLY THE SAME THING THAT MADE SPACED GOOD. IT TAKES ITS BIG CONCEPT "AAH! ZOMBIES!" AND INJECTS IT STRAIGHT INTO OUR A KIND OF CULTURE AND HUMANITY THAT WE ACTUALLY RECOGNIZE. SO GONE ARE THE FREQUENT TARGETS OF MONSTER IRE, THE SEXED CRAZED TEENS OR HATE-ABLE ASSHOLES THAT YOU CAN'T WAIT TO BE KILLED, AND INSTEAD WE ARE TREATED TO SHAUN, ED, AND LIZ, WHO ARE THE NICE AND FUNNY REFLECTIONS OF OURSELVES, OUR LIVES, OUR PROBLEMS.

BUT THIS REALITY COMES WITH A DIFFERENT OUTLOOK. WE DON'T ENJOY THE ZOMBIES WINNING. WHY WHEN PEOPLE DIE THERE IS A KIND OF PROFOUND SADNESS WITH THE EXTINGUISHING OF SOMETHING SO SWEET. EVEN WITH THE MOVIE'S HYPER-STYLIZATION, THE JOKING ON DISPLAY IS LARGELY JUST A MODE OF COPING WITH A WORLD GONE BAT SHIT INSANE (AND THERE'S NO VEHICLE FOR PROFUNDITY LIKE HUMOR). THUS, THE LOSS IS AS REAL AS ANYTHING ELSE. IT'S CERTAINLY AS REAL AS THE BREAK-UP AND ENSUING LOSS THAT SHAUN FEELS DEEP IN HIS BONES. SO WHEN WE FINALLY COME TO SHAUN AND LIZ TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE BASIC LOGISTICS FOR THEIR TANDEM SUICIDE... IT PLAYS AS IT SHOULD... AND IT IS FUCKING BRUTAL.

YES, THIS ROM-ZOM-COM IS ABOUT 1000 TIMES MORE AFFECTING THAN ANY SUPER-DUPER SERIOUS ZOMBIE MOVIE. HOW CAN THIS BE?

BECAUSE FOR ALL ITS JOKING, IT HAS NO INTEREST IN DETACHMENT OR EVEN IRONY REALLY.

THESE ARE FILMS OF EMPATHY.

EDGAR WRIGHT LOOKED AT THE LANDSCAPE OF MOVIES, ZOMBIES, GEEK CULTURE, AND IMPLICITLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT WE ALL REALLY NEEDED.

- JUMP BACK TO A FEW MONTHS EARLIER-

HULK GETS AN EMAIL FROM DEADPOOL (WHO ALSO HULK'S COMEDY WRITING PARTNER) BACK IN 2004. HERE IS THE EXACT EMAIL HULK STILL HAD SAVED:

"look fuckface

expect another email tonight.  more ideas, etc. you ever heard of this cartoonist Brian Lee O'Malley who draws Scott Pilgrim manga comics?  You can read em here: [NOW DEFUNCT WEBSITE]. apparently the gist is that he's a wannabe rockstar who falls in love with some girl named Ramona Flowers, and then he has to do battle with her 7 evil ex-boyfriends.

I've only read the first one but it's FUCKING. AWESOME. gonna read more.

keep it peace!"

ALL OF DEADPOOLS EMAILS START "look fuckface" ... IT GROWS ON YOU.

NEEDLESS TO SAY HULK READ SCOTT PILGRIM. HULK HAD ANOTHER DIAMOND-BULLET-TO-THE-BRAIN REVELATION. BRYAN LEE O'MALLEY'S BOOK WAS ALSO CROSS-CULTURAL-MEDIUM AMALGAMATION OF SEEMINGLY EVERYTHING THAT COULD EVER BE RELEVANT, BUT FOR SOME REASON (THAT MAY SEEM INSANE NOW), HULK NEVER LINKED IT BACK TO THE TONAL SIMILARITIES OFSPACED. WHILE THE COMPARISON IS JUST SO FUCKING OBVIOUS NOW, THEN IT WAS MERELY TWO SEPARATE THINGS THAT HULK THOUGHT TOTALLY RULED.

AND IT WOULD ALL COME TO FRUITION LATER.

- JUMP FORWARD TO 2007 -

HULK NOW LIVING IN L.A. DOING HULK'S HUSTLE. HULK FULLY AWARE OF THE IMPENDING RELEASE OF HOT FUZZ, THE SECOND FEATURE FROM WRIGHT AND A RE-TEAMING WITH PEGG AND FROST. SINCE L.A. IS SECRETLY-AWESOME-AND-NO-ONE-FROM-THE-EAST COAST-ADMITS-IT, HULK GETS TO GO TO ONE OF THOSE FUN ADVANCED SCREENING THINGS THAT HAPPEN WHERE EDGAR AND SIMON DO A Q + A AFTERWARD.

THE WHOLE THING IS, OBVIOUSLY, AWESOME.

AND TO THIS DAY, HOT FUZZ MIGHT BE HULK'S FAVORITE FILM BY EDGAR WRIGHT. EVERYTHING HE'S TOUCHED IS WONDERFUL, BUT IT JUST MIGHT BE SPECIFIC TO HULK'S BORDERLINE-ARCHIVAL KNOWLEDGE OF ACTION FILMS. AND WHAT MAKES IT WORK IS WORK IS LARGELY THE SAME TACTICS OF EMPATHY THAT MAKES THE FIRST FILM WORK.

BUT IN TERMS OF FORM THE FILM IS DOUBLY AMBITIOUS. THE CINEMATIC LANGUAGE SHIFTS CONSTANTLY. ACTION, HORROR, MYSTERY,COUNTRYSIDE ROMANCE. ALL TO THE PURPOSES OF THIS HIGHER, YET GROUNDED REALITY. HOW DOES ONE BALANCE THIS INCREDIBLE TONAL RANGE? IT'S A SHEER HIGH-WIRE ACT BEING ABLE TO NEGOTIATE THAT KIND OF JUMPING AROUND. MOST MOVIES DO NOT SURVIVE IT.

IT WAS AT THAT POINT THAT HULK REALIZED EXACTLY HOW "THE CINEMA OF EDGAR WRIGHT" ACTUALLY WORKS.

FIRST OFF, WHEN WE THINK OF REFERENCES WITHIN GENRE MOVIES, THE LAZIEST FORM TENDS TO BE "A SEND UP." IT'S A SPOOF ON INDIANA JONES! OR STAR WARS! LET'S JUST REFERENCE THOSE THINGS AND DO WHAT THEY DO, ONLY IN OUR WORLD OR SOMETHING! AND ADD FART JOKES! NO, WAIT COCK JOKES! NO, EDGAR DOES NOT SEND UP THESE WORLDS. THE DIALOGUE REFERENCES ARE ALWAYS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF CONVERSATION AND RESPONSE ("JAR JAR BINKS MAKES THE EWOKS LOOK LIKE FUCKING SHAFT!"). AGAIN, IT'S ABOUT THE LANGUAGE PEOPLE USE AS TOUCHSTONES AND NOT THE REFERENCES THEMSELVES. BUT THE REAL GENIUS COMES IN THE STYLIZATION. WRIGHT WILL SUDDENLY CHANGE THE TONE AND GENRE OF THE MOVIE FOR ANY GIVEN SITUATION AT A MOMENTS NOTICE. A SHOT WILL USE HORROR SOUND CUES, OR SUDDENLY IT'S A SPECIFIC IMAGE FROM A MOVIE TO CAPTURE A SIMILAR EMOTIONAL MOMENT .

THE KEY THING TO REALIZE IS HE IS NOT CREATING WORLDS OF POP CULTURE AMALGAMATION (THAT'S SORT OF WHAT TARANTINO DOES) WHERE IT'S ALL SORT OF ONE BIG "ANYTHING GOES" ARENA OF REALITY, INSTEAD EDGAR WRIGHT BALANCES THIS WILD TONES OF DIFFERING FILM STYLES BY SOLELY USING THEM TO REFLECT HOW THE CHARACTER IS FEELING AT THE GIVEN MOMENT.

ISN'T THAT SORT OF AMAZING? CHARACTERS FEELING BADASS? SUDDENLY THE CAMERAS SWIRLING AS THEY SPIT BACK TOUGH-GUY ONE LINERS. CHARACTERS ARE FEELING BAD? SAD MUSIC CUE IN THE RAIN OF THE GUY HOLDING A TEDDY BEAR. CHARACTER FEELING SCARED? DARKNESS, HORROR BEATS AND MALEVOLENT MUSIC CUES. CHARACTER FEELING PHILOSOPHICALLY UNSURE? CUE WOODY ALLEN-ESQUE MANHATTAN MONTAGE.

HE'S NOT CHANGING UP THE STORY, HE'S MERELY REFLECTING HOW THE CHARACTER (AND THUS THE AUDIENCE) IS FEELING AT A GIVEN MOMENT. WHICH MEANS IT'S NOT GENRE JUMPING, BUT JUST AMPLIFICATION OF WHAT IS ALREADY THERE. BETTER YET, IT'S ALL IN THE CONTEXT OF THE STORY.

THAT'S WHY HIS MOVIES ARE "HIGH OCTANE FILMMAKING" BUT NEVER, EVER FEEL OUT OF CONTROL. IF ANYTHING HE'S DOING WHAT MOST FILMMAKERS DO JUST TO A HIGHLY LITERATE DEGREE.

THERE'S A SHIT MORE TO SAY ON THE TOPIC BUT HULK WILL COME BACK TO IT AT THE END. BUT FOR NOW JUST THINK ON THIS, HOW MANY OTHER LIVE ACTION MOVIES ACTUALLY DO THIS TOO?

...

HULK CAN'T THINK OF ANY.

(NOTE: THERE WAS ONLY ONE OTHER EXAMPLE HULK COULD THINK OF... AND IT WAS ON TV. DAN HARMON'S COMMUNITY, WHICH POPULARLY USES SIMILAR GENRE STYLIZATIONS TO AMPLIFY THE BASIC DYNAMICS OF THEIR SHOW, OFTEN WITH "THEME" EPISODES.)

- JUMP FORWARD TO 2010 -

SOME PEOPLE, USUALLY MORE EXCLUSIVE ZOMBIE / ACTION FANS, DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHY EDGAR WRIGHT WAS MAKING SCOTT PILGRIM. MOST OF THEM HULK GUESS HAD NEVER ACTUALLY READ THE COMIC OR EVEN SEEN SPACED. BECAUSE REALLY IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE IN THE SAME EXACT WAY THE FIRST TWO FILMS DO.

HULK OF COURSE SAW THE OPENING NIGHT MIDNIGHT SCREENING.

WHATEVER SHAUN IS TO ZOMBIE FILMS AND HOT FUZZ IS TO ACTION FILMS, THEN SCOTT PILGRIM IS TO MUSIC AND VIDEO GAMES... OR SOMETHING. HONESTLY HULK NOT REALLY INTERESTED IN THE RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER RIGHT THIS SECOND. THE POINT IS HE DESCENDS INTO THOSE WORLDS TO EXPLORE THE BASIC HUMAN CONSTRUCTS AT THE HEART OF ALL HIS WORK.

BUT THE REAL COUP OF SCOTT PILGRIM IS AGAIN ANOTHER FORMAL REVELATION. THE EDITING IN THIS FILM MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST INVENTIVE IN HISTORY. THAT MAY SOUND LIKE HYPERBOLE, BUT... OH FINE IT PROBABLY IS... BUT HULK REALLY BELIEVE IT. THE ART OF THE TRANSITION IS SUCH AN INTERESTING THING. WHAT PROPELS US FROM SCENE TO SCENE TO SCENE TO SCENE? WHAT ACTUALLY MATTERS?

IT IS OF COURSE THE CHARACTER'S JOURNEY, BUT WRIGHT RECOGNIZES YET ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO DO SOMETHING MORE FUN WITH IT. MANY OF THE TRANSITIONS COME STRAIGHT FROM THE COMIC (WHICH ALSO TRYING TO DO THE SAME THING TO THAT MEDIUM) BUT WHAT THEY BOTH ARE ESSENTIALLY DOING IS MAKING THE TRANSITIONS BETWEEN SCENES SELF-AWARE. FULL ON TEXT BASED WHIP PANS THAT SAY "AND THEN SHE LEFT!" AND SUCH. IT IS MERE TRADITIONAL CINEMATICS AMPLIFIED.

AND IT IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE FUNNIEST MOVIES IN RECENT YEARS, IT IS ONE OF THE FUNNIEST PRESENTATIONS OF A MOVIE IN RECENT YEARS.

BUT BECAUSE THE WORLD IS A STRANGE PLACE, THE RECEPTION OF THIS FILM WAS KIND OF STRANGE. IT GOT BURIED UNDER SOME BULLSHIT DESIGNATION OF HIPSTERDOM, WHICH IS FUNNY BECAUSE THE MOVIE IS LITERALLY ABOUT BEATING UP EVIL HIPSTERS (AND NEVER MIND THE NONSENSE LOGIC OF "HATING HIPSTERS" WHEN THE WORD DOESN'T ACTUALLY MEAN ANYTHING, BUT THAT'S AN ESSAY FOR ANOTHER DAY). BUT WHATEVER. LIKE ALL GOOD THINGS, EVEN THIS SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME HAS BEEN RATHER KIND TO THE FILM. IT IS A POPULAR MIDNIGHT MOVIE. IT KILLS ON ENDLESS REPEATS ON HBO. IT AN ENDLESSLY RE-WATCHABLE PIECE OF MEDIA HAS EMERGED REVEALING WHAT IT ALWAYS WAS:

A GREAT FILM.

- JUMP FORWARD TO SUMMER 2011 -

HULK IS HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH DR. STRANGE AND HULK IS BEGRUDGINGLY REFERRED TO AS AN "EDGAR WRIGHT APOLOGIST."

FIRST OF ALL, THERE IS NOTHING TO FUCKING APOLOGIZE OVER.

SECOND OF ALL, HULK DOESN'T REALLY FIND THAT TERM ALL THAT INTERESTING FOR ANYONE.

THIRD OF ALL, HULK THINK IT SPEAKS TO THIS MISGUIDED NOTION THAT SOMEONE IN THE CRITICAL VEIN CAN NOT ADORE A FILMMAKER.

... AND WITH THAT ACCUSATION, HULK BEGINS TO THINK ABOUT THIS MATTER CONSTANTLY.

CRITICAL ADORATION CAN BE AN OKAY THING. A GOOD THING EVEN. PAULINE KAEL FAMOUSLY ADORED ALTMAN, AS HAVE MOST CRITICS. AND THAT IS BECAUSE THERE IS ALWAYS A FILMMAKER THAT INTRINSICALLY TAPS INTO SOMETHING THAT YOU VALUE. YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF MOVIES AND APPROACH. WE GET SO CAUGHT UP IN THIS WEIRD MATTER OF "EVALUATION" AND "FAIRNESS" BUT IT MISSES THE POINT THAT A CRITIC CAN USE A FILMMAKER TO TALK ABOUT WHY MOVIES MATTER. SO WHY THEN IS ADORATION SO TABOO IN CRITICISM? HULK UNDERSTAND THAT IT CAN BE PERCEIVED THAT IT PUTS THE BLINDERS ON AND ROBS THE REVIEWER OF OBJECTIVITY... BUT THAT JUST FEELS LIKE THE WRONG KIND OF EVALUATION OF PEOPLE WHO SEE MOVIES FOR A LIVING. BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THEY SEE PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING. BUT MORE IT ROBS THE CRITIC OF THE RIGHT TO HOLD UP EXAMPLES AND SAY "THIS! THIS IS SOMETHING TRULY GREAT!"

SO YES. HULK LIKES WHAT CERTAIN FILMMAKERS ARE BRINGING TO THE TABLE IN TODAY'S MOVIE CLIMATE: EDGAR WRIGHT. ALFONSO CUARON. DAVID GORDON GREEN. MIRANDA JULY. GUILLERMO DEL TORO. LUKAS MOODYSON. LYNNE RAMSAY. JOE CORNISH. CHAN WOOK PARK. NICOLAS WINDING REFN. DEBRA GRANICK. JOON HO BONG. STEVE MCQUEEN. PLUS THE SCORES OF OTHER FILMMAKERS WE ALREADY KNOW WHO HAVE BEEN CHURNING OUT SUPERIOR WORK FOR DECADES.

WHAT IS SO IMPLICITLY WRONG ABOUT THE ADORATION OF THESE PEOPLE? DOES ADORATION IMPLICITLY HAVE TO MEAN "IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND FAULT WITH"? OF COURSE NOT.

LIKE, HEY! HERE'S TWO VALID CRITICISMS OF SCOTT PILGRIM. IN AN EFFORT TO ZERO IN ON THE SCOTT / RAMONA RELATIONSHIP AS THE FOCAL POINT OF THE MOVIE, IT LOSES TWO HUGELY IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THE BOOKS. THE FIRST DEALS WITH SCOTT'S MATURATION BY EARNING THE POWER OF SELF-RESPECT. IN THE MOVIE IT COMES AT THE END OF WHAT SEEMS TO BE A MISSING PERSONAL JOURNEY, BECAUSE WE LOST THE MOMENTS WHERE HE EMBRACES BASIC CONCEPTS LIKE WORK ("SO IT'S LIKE A JOB SYSTEM?") AND OTHER SOCIETAL CONTEXTS SEPARATE FROM HIS RAMONA DEVOTION. IN THE BOOK THESE ARE A HUGE PART OF HOW HE FINDS THE SELF-RESPECT TO ACTUAL DATE HER AND NOT JUST SORTA MOOCH. AND THEN THERE'S THE MATTER OF RAMONA BEING EXPLORED EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH THE MALE GAZE. IN THE COMIC BOOK'S PORTRAYAL, WHERE HER COOLNESS AND ALLURE IS CERTAINLY PRESENT, THE COMIC MAKES IT SO CLEAR THAT SHE IS PRETTY NORMAL ALL THINGS CONSIDERED AND SCOTT IS HEAPING HIS "GIRL OF MY DREAMS" MANTRA ON HER. IN THE MOVIE SHE STILL FEELS VERY MUCH LIKE HER OWN FULLY-REALIZED, AWESOMELY CHARACTERIZED PERSON, BUT IT STILL SEEMS TO BE SOLELY EXPLORED THROUGH THE FILTER OF SCOTT. SO, WHILE THE FILM REALLY DOES UNDERSTAND THE CORE OF WHAT SCOTT PILGRIM IS ABOUT, IT OF NATURALLY LOSES SOME OF ITS MOST INTERESTING ELEMENTS (THAT WOULD HAVE TOTALLY BEEN CATHARTIC FOR THE MOVIE) IN ORDER TO FOCUS ON FINISHING A MASSIVE NARRATIVE UNDERTAKING (7 EXES IS A LOT). NOW ARE THESE UNDERSTANDABLE CHOICES? OF COURSE! BUT THAT'S HOW CRITICISM WORKS. THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY DRUTHERS, WELL-EXPLAINED OR POSSIBLY EVEN JUSTIFIED. WE JUST HOPE THEY ARE EXPLAINED IN AS HUMANE AND UNDERSTANDABLE A WAY AS POSSIBLE.

AND SOMETIMES IT IS THE ADORATION THAT IS MOST HONEST.

... ALSO, STRANGE'S CRITICISM OF WRIGHT WAS KIND OF STUPID.

- PRESENT DAY -

SO.

AS CRITICS WE ARE SUPPOSED TO PRETEND THESE SORTS OF PERSONAL HISTORIES WITH FILMMAKERS DON'T MATTER... OF COURSE THEY MATTER.

NOW, NOW THIS DOES NOT MEAN CRITICS ARE ABSENT OF RESPONSIBILITY. HULK ARGUE WE CRITICS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE QUALIFIED. EDUCATED. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. TO STRIVE FOR FAIRNESS. INGEST AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AND EXERCISE CAUTION. WE ARE NOT MEANT TO EVER INTERNALIZE MOVIES, BUT PROCESS AND EXPLAIN AS BEST WE CAN.

BUT THERE HAS TO BE ROOM FOR PERSONAL HISTORY IN THIS CRITICAL WORLD AS LONG AS WE TRY TO EXPLAIN THAT TOO. THIS COLUMN COULD HAVE EASILY BEEN "WHY EDGAR WRIGHT IS AWESOME!" BUT HULK INSTEAD CHOSE TO APPROACH IT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF HISTORY. TO UNDERSTAND WHY HAS RESPECTED THE WORK OF A PERSON FOR OVER A DECADE. WE HAVE RELATIONSHIPS TO ART AND THE PEOPLE WHO CREATE IT. AND IT WOULD A BE A LIE TO PRETEND ANYTHING ELSE.

FOR INSTANCE, HULK WOULD BE REMISS IF HULK DID NOT MENTION THAT EDGAR WRIGHT HAS DONE HULK A FEW PROFOUND KINDNESSES RECENTLY. ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO HULK DECIDED TO COME OUT AS HULK-SELF AND WRITE STUFFS FOR Y'ALL ON THE INTERWEBS. THIS WAS THE BEST DECISION HULK HAS EVER MADE. AND OVER THE COURSE OF THAT TIME EDGAR HAS HONORED HULK BY LINKING TO A FEW PIECES AND SAYING A FEW KIND THINGS. WHILE THIS MAY SEEM SMALL GESTURE, SOMETHING THAT IS SURELY A FRACTION OF A FRACTION OF A FRACTION OF THE FOCUS OF HIS LIFE... IT IS WHOLLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ABOUT 1/3 OF HULK'S READERS... SUCH IS THE POWER OF A FILMMAKER WHO CONNECTS WITH PEOPLE. AND YES, HULK IS INDEBTED TO THIS PERSON IN THE MOST BASIC SENSE OF CIVILITY.

BUT AGAIN, WHATEVER STATEMENTS YOU MIGHT MAKE ABOUT HOW THESE BASIC NICETIES THEREFORE ROB HULK OF "OBJECTIVITY" OR SOMETHING, STOP FOR A SECOND AND LOOK AT THE OUTLINED HISTORY IN THIS COLUMN. AT THE WAYS THIS PERSONAL, YET ONGOING CINEMATIC STORY HAS REFLECTED IN AND OUT OF HULK'S LIFE. BECAUSE THAT'S HOW WE UNDERSTAND WHERE PEOPLE COME FROM IN THEIR WRITING AND PERSPECTIVE.

HONESTY, PATIENCE, AND HISTORY.

SO HULK IS GOING TO LEAVE YOU WITH THIS: TO HULK, THE CINEMA OF EDGAR WRIGHT IS ABOUT THIS MODERN CATHARSIS. WE ARE PUNY BEINGS AND WE LIVE IN THE AGE OF THE GREAT POP-CULTURE AMALGAMATION. THESE REFERENCES ARE SHORT HAND FOR SURE, BUT THERE IS NO DENYING THEY HAVE BECOME A TACTILE PART OF OUR PSYCHE. BARELY A SENTENCE CAN BE SAID THAT DOESN'T MAKE HULK THINK OF SOMETHING FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE SIMPSONS. THESE REFERENCES ARE A PART OF US.

BUT THEY ARE NOT US.

THEY ARE SIMPLY EXTENSIONS. WHICH MEANS THESE NOT FILMS ABOUT ZOMBIES, OR ACTION HEROES, OR VIDEO GAMES. THEY'RE MOVIES ABOUT PEOPLE WE KNOW, LOVE, ARE, OR HOPE TO BE. BUT LIKE THE BEST OF THOSE GENRES EDGAR WRIGHT'S MOVIES EXAMINE THE SAME ARENAS OF THOUGHT: ZOMBIES ARE POPULARLY USED AS RIFFS ON SOCIAL SATIRE, BUT ALSO THE NATURE OF LOSS AND MORTALITY. THIS IS TRUE OF SHAUN, ALBEIT WITH A BEATING HEART OF EMPATHY INSTEAD OF COLD SATIRE. ACTION MOVIES ARE RIFFS ON VENGEANCE, INDULGENCE, AND VOYEURISTIC GRATIFICATION, BUT HOT FUZZ TAKES A MOMENT TO EXAMINE IF WE REALLY NEED THOSE THINGS IN A WAY THAT A "REAL" ACTION FILM NEVER COULD. VIDEO GAMES ARE LARGELY ABOUT THE NATURE OF OBJECTIVES, GOALS, AND PROGRESS AND SCOTT PILGRIM ONCE AGAIN TAKES A LOOK AT THE WAY THESE KIND OF RIGID STRUCTURES DO NOT APPLY TO A MESSY REAL LIFE FILLED WITH ENNUI AND SELF-REFLECTION.

THUS, THESE FILMS ARE SEAMLESS CREATIONS, FUNDAMENTALLY CONCERNED WITH BASIC HUMAN TRUTHS, BUT ALSO SERVING AS EVOLUTIONS AND COMMENTARIES UPON THEIR RESPECTIVE GENRES... AND THEY PULL IT OFF NO MATTER HOW MUCH RANGE THOSE GENRES MAY HAVE.

AGAIN, HULK CAN'T REALLY THINK OF ANOTHER FILMMAKER WHO REALLY DOES THIS.

THAT FACT ALONE IS EXTRAORDINARY.

OUR HISTORIES MATTER. OUR PERSPECTIVES OF THOSE HISTORIES MATTER EVEN MORE. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU HAVE FILMMAKERS THAT YOU HAVE THESE ONGOING RELATIONSHIPS WITH IN TERMS OF THEIR ART. WHOSE FILMS HIT YOU AT CERTAIN TIMES IN CERTAIN PLACES IN CERTAIN WAYS AND CHANGE YOU IRREVOCABLY.

WE'D ALL LOVE TO BE A PART OF SOME COLLECTIVE HIVE MIND, BUT THE SECRET AND SOMEWHAT TERRIFYING TRUTH IS THAT UNDERNEATH ALL THE AUSPICES OF OBJECTIVITY, WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN PERSONAL ZEITGEIST.

HERE'S TO THE DIAMOND BULLETS TO THE BRAIN.

<3 HULK

NOTE: IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO LIVE IN L.A. CATCH EDGAR WRIGHT'S "THE WRIGHT STUFF III" FILM FESTIVAL AT THE NEW BEVERLY. THE LIST OF FILMS ARE AWESOME. HULK'LL SEE YOU THERE.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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