Saturday, January 31, 2009

A theory in comedy – Hot Fuzz [2007]

Hollywood likes to believe that there are simple formulas for creating a good movie. If you splash something up on the screen featuring X, Y and Z – you’ll have a box office success. Sometimes it works – usually I find those movies are the kind that I tend to roll my eyes at. Like the current box office champion Paul Blart: Mall Cop – it doesn’t look like it’d be very good – but for whatever reason it is a big successes at the box office and Hollywood believes that we want more of that particular kind of film.

And I believe the formula for this kind of film to be: Funny character + Funny situation

The jokes should write themselves, right? What can’t you do with someone who takes his boring job too seriously – and uses little kitty band-aids to bandage the little nick on his arm?

The only problem is – this film will not gain any following after it has left the theaters. People will have heard of it by the big marketing campaigns – and make snap judgments on it from the initial trailers. The people who will want to see it – will have seen it – and the people who want to buy it will buy it – but no gains. And I argue the studio will be selling the DVD at a hefty discount by Christmas time.

The actual formula for making a lasting comedic film I believe is: Serious character + Serious situation

Hot Fuzz – another film where the main character takes his boring job too seriously – but this time – the boring job is a serious job. Nicholas Angel is trapped in a serious situation in the small town of Sanford where the murder rate is so low but the “accident” rate is so high. Of course the situation he’s stuck in becomes more absurd – but the premise never is.

Nicholas Angel is also the straight man in the film to the eccentric townsfolk who are the comedic foils. He nary cracks a joke that wouldn’t be found in a serious or respected action film – and that’s giving him too much credit. The funny thing about Hot Fuzz is the situation becomes more absurd as the characters around him become more serious – and that creates even more comedy.

Hot Fuzz is the kind of film that people will point out in the movie store proudly and say – “hey, have you seen that one?” – because it’s overlooked. There’s no big marketing campaign behind it – and it didn’t become a blockbuster (at least not in the States). And outside of Timothy Dalton - someone who doesn’t follow movies will wonder where they’ve seen certain actors from Hot Fuzz before. It’s sneaky that way.

Hot Fuzz is the kind of film that picks up more fans as it hits DVD – and potentially becomes the bigger moneymaker. Okay, now I’m probably in my own little dream world with that statement – but that’s how I think it should be.

Am I off my rocker about this one – or did I mess up my whole theory? If anyone is reading this – what do you think about the: serious character + serious situation = lasting comedy theory?

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Wrestler [2008]

Mickey Rourke plays an old broken down ex-superstar wrestler – Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson - who plays small venues for small dollars. He collapses in the locker room after a particularly brutal match – and he’s told he can’t perform anymore. He then tries to put his life onto a different track – but it’s easier said than done.

It’s a good movie – and maybe after watching it again – I’d call it great. I just don’t feel like it comes together for me and gels into a future masterpiece. I really liked the handheld camera work – it makes this intimate portrait really work outside of the story and on a filmmaking level. I thought the story was very tight – but like some have said – it’s really nothing we haven’t seen before in an aging hero film. Marissa Tomei was very good in her role as the aging stripper Cassidy (and she looks quite good for her age).

I wondered while I watched Rourke’s award winning performance – is he playing the part or is the part playing him? Could Stallone play the part with equal vigor? If Arnold wasn’t busy governing – could he put the tights on in Mickey’s stead? Maybe.

The one thing I recognized – was Mickey was built for the role. His physical appearance reminded me a lot of the wrestlers of the 80’s. And there’s no doubt his life story shares similar hills and valleys of the title character – which would probably make him perfect for the role over Sly or Arnold – but still does he play the role – or does the role play him? Meaning – does his life story make him too perfect for the role – so perfect that acting isn’t what we’re witnessing?

What I really enjoyed thinking about after the film was – the film follows a bell curve – but it depends on who you are and how you look at the story if the bell curve is swinging up – or swinging down. I like to think that the bell was swinging up – but if I sat down with The Ram and talked about his life – he’d tell me it was going down. I think this is the most interesting part of the film.

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I haven’t decided if I’m going to put stars up along with my reviews – but I like the format where I write up a short synopsis – and a longer analysis. I figure you can read what the movie is about almost anywhere – if you are checking out blogs you are probably more interested in other people’s takes.

Thank goodness - a brand new movie blog!

Why in the world does the interwebs need another movie blog? What am I bringing to the table that is worth reading? With all these other blogs with actual movie news and professional reviews – another aspiring whatever doesn’t stand a chance in the fast paced hustle bustle world of movie blogging! Just stop get out now before you embarrass yourself!

You bring up some good points. (Or I guess I do)

Well, I guess I’m not bringing anything BIG to the table – I’m no insider or anything. It’s just movies make me happy – and talking about them is fun. So, I’m going to talk movies. Not just new movies – any movie that catches my eye. People’s fascination with celebrities is pretty funny – so I’ll probably poke fun at them. I’ll post trailers and other fun stuff. I’m also hoping I could get a couple friends to put up a few entries – which could act as a counterpoint or something simply different.

And there’s one other reason why I’ve decided to start my own movie blog…

There’s a certain professional movie blog I’ve gone to over the years – and it’s considered really good – nominated for web awards and such. Well, this particular site has become a fanboy site – always with the news about certain big budget Hollywood summer popcorn flicks. Or with pictures of the bloggers hanging with movie people and bragging about their experiences and their opinions have changed regarding certain types of movies due to those grand experiences. To me I’ve lost all interest in their site when their credibility went out the door.

If they can do it – and be considered one of the best – I think I can do it no problem.

Well, I hope you stick around and contribute to the conversation.