The World’s End

Superbad

It’s that time of year. School is mere weeks away from starting up again, the biggest blockbusters have had their bows, and the studio releases are transitioning to the distribution equivalent of tossing an old couch on the curb to make room for the new one. May, June and July (and let’s be honest, now April) bring the big crowd pleasers. The last two weeks of summer herald the arrival of the “Everything Must Go” Sales before fall sends us into Oscar bait prestige pictures. Don’t believe me? The slate for the next two weeks includes Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, a sequel that’s arriving at least five years too late; Are You Here, the directorial debut of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner that garnered early reviews in the exact opposite tone of his acclaimed show; Jessabelle, a release from the Blumhouse factory that’s not getting a plum horror spot, so you know it’s good; and The November Man, an entry in the very neglected genre of CIA agents dragged back into the game because “this time it’s personal!” It’s generally an accepted fact that if a movie is set for the dog days of August, the studio has less confidence in it than Taylor Swift’s latest beau does of being the one guy she dates who doesn’t end up inspiring a song. But every now and then, conventions are made to be broken. Going back through the last fifteen years of releases, I have come up with […]

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Worlds End End

People love a good twist ending. When it’s good, it’s The Sixth Sense. When it’s bad, it’s most of the Shyamalan films that followed. But now twists aren’t just shocking flips of plot that viewers don’t see coming. They’re also those moments where a feature defies one of Hollywood’s many conventions. These days, the courage of conviction rings sweeter than the slickly planned twist. It’s exhilarating to watch filmmakers follow their plan to the end (for good or bad), and it’s promising that they were allowed to do so and not curtailed by a system that wants things just so. (Consider the original plan for Heathers, which would’ve seen everyone die and get a happy ending in Prom Heaven.) Sometimes it’s as simple as fighting the rampant desire for a happy ending and letting characters be miserable or die, and other times it’s daring to not kill anyone at all. Every time I see the trailer for Sex Tape, I find myself hungry for the unexpected. I fear actually seeing the film because in my head, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel spend half the movie trying to stop people from seeing their sex tape, and then they realize they’re actually closet exhibitionists and don’t care. Even if completely random and absurd, that would beat barreling toward a conclusion that’s obvious from the first trailer. In the meantime, I’ll have these films (and one television show) to sate my unexpected hunger. Beware, the ends of films will be discussed and therefore spoiled.

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The Worlds End Movie

For fans who like to recreate movie moments, The World’s End offers a destructively inebriated challenge. One night, twelve pints, twelve pubs. If you’re trying to be authentic, alien robots and a deep sense of foreshadowing are must-haves. In the movie, Gary King (Simon Pegg) forces his friends to take a second stab at the Golden Mile pub crawl with no regard for age, teetotaling or blue goo-filled beings trying to remove their personalities. When they were kids, they missed the finish line by three pubs, and even though their middle-aged attempt is marred by the fate of the entire planet, King valiantly soldiers on. That got me thinking: what would it take to survive a real-life Golden Mile?

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Hot Fuzz

For years, whenever I’ve found myself in conversations about the single funniest moment in moviedom, my answer has always been the “Where the white women at?” scene in Blazing Saddles, and I don’t see it being dethroned in my mind any time soon. There are dozens of elements at work making it funny, from Cleavon Little’s line delivery to the absurd environment surrounding it. Here are two actors playing character who aren’t actors who have to act in order to fool two KKK members with “Have a Nice Day” smiley faces on the back of their cloaks. The result is so stagey that it wouldn’t fool anyone, and part of why it hits the laugh button (it’s an implant) so hard is the way that Bart enters the frame, pulled like a rag doll by The Kid and flinging his line like a wooden dummy. We see the full set up, we even see Bart walk behind the rock, but his re-emergence is a small surprise punctuated by a perfect use of stereotype and hyperbole. For its minor inventiveness, I’d assume that Tony Zhou — the mind behind this fantastic video essay on Edgar Wright‘s visual style — would appreciate the playful way that Bart enters the scene. After all, this video is more than an exploration of one filmmaker’s sensibilities, it’s a much-needed prod toward modern comedies who have forgotten that movies can be more than stages for their hilarious, probably improvised dialogue. Watch and learn:

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2013review_critics

Before Midnight! Gravity! The Wolf of Wall Street! Fruitvale Station! The Great Beauty! Philomena! Frances Ha! Blue Jasmine! Spring Breakers! Nebraska! Dallas Buyers Club! The Wind Rises! Saving Mr. Banks! None of the thirteen critically acclaimed films above are on my list of the thirteen best films of 2013 below. Make of that what you will, but of the whopping 241 new releases I watched this year these are the thirteen that have stuck with me the strongest. That said, I did make a conscious effort to focus on U.S. releases for the list since I have a separate Top 13 for Best Foreign Language films. It’s been a fantastic year in cinema all around, and I could just as easily offered a list twice as long. Keep reading to see what I feel are the thirteen best movies of 2013.

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2013review_comedies

If there’s one movie that speaks most to the sad state of comedy in 2013, it’s The Hangover Part III. It managed to copy the chemistry that made the Wolfpack a household name while evolving into a different animal altogether. The gags were angrier, more aggressive, and they shifted the tone from absurdity to despair. It’s a comedy that isn’t funny (much like The Comedy, which isn’t funny) and it offers some insight into the frustrations offered by modern movie humor. In our obligatory year-end retrospective, we’ve covered horror, documentaries, sci-fi/fantasy, and other categories, but even thinking of 13 movies meant for laughter (let alone the best baker’s dozen) is a difficult task this year because a general pall of mediocrity fogs the genre. The cinema is dominated by comedies that aren’t funny. There were studio efforts (Grown Ups 2, We’re The Millers, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) that fell completely flat, indie standouts (Frances Ha, Computer Chess) that were funny without busting guts, and experimental tinkering (Movie 43) that was just plain terrible. That’s not to say that there were no triumphs, but the amount of whiffs was truly disheartening, and one formula is causing the lion’s share of the problems.

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2013review_scifi

This year promised a number of great original science fiction movies from Hollywood, and then it turned out most of them weren’t even good let alone great — the sort that left us with way too many unanswered questions regarding their plot holes. Meanwhile, in the fantasy genre, we continued to see the studios churning out one YA adaptation after another in the hopes of it being the next Hunger Games (or still the next Harry Potter or Twilight or even Star Wars in the case of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) and ironically having no clue how to find the *magic* in the appeal of these kinds of stories. And of course there’s the ever-growing subgenre of superhero movies, which really only disappointed this year because they arrived in the wake of 2012’s The Avengers, not simply because most of the output was sequels (Iron Man 3; Thor: The Dark World; The Wolverine) that were merely okay rather than totally awesome. As I’ve noted in the past, I don’t consider Gravity to be sci-fi (even after learning that some tech in the film doesn’t exist yet), but I’ll let it be known that if I were to qualify the outer space thriller, I’d put it in the number 6 slot on account of its gripping visual storytelling and little else. As for another popular choice (one that made a few FSR staffer’s best of lists, as well as our democratically voted top 10), Pacific Rim might have made this […]

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2013review_action

I’ve always been far more partial to action accomplished via choreography than with CGI shenanigans. There’s a place for both, obviously, but I’m more impressed by the agile movement of bodies than I am by the placement of pixels. Unfortunately, fight scenes unassisted by CGI or wire-work are becoming a bit of a rarity these days. That said, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with action scenes, big or small, that are created with the aid of technology or that eschew fisticuffs all together for exciting gunplay or vehicular hijinks. This year’s best action films are a mix of all of the above and include both domestic and international movies. What’s not included? Movies featuring superheroes. It wasn’t an intentional slight, believe me, but when it came time to rank which films offered up the most legitimately exciting and visceral thrills the thirteen below beat out the likes of Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, and others. Remember, this isn’t a ranking of movies but of the action in the movies, meaning while these aren’t all necessarily great films they do represent the best action to have hit screens this year. To that end, keep reading for a look at our choices for the Best Action Movies of 2013.

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Barton Fink

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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cc the worlds end

The Cornetto Trilogy is the comedic equivalent of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy for at least two reasons. First, all three films are pretty goddamn fantastic, and second, they’re not even really a trilogy. There’s no actual storyline or characters that repeat across the films, but some common themes (along with the presence of Cornetto ice cream) have turned the trio into an unofficial collective. The World’s End is the latest and last (after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), and there’s a very good chance it’s the best of the three. Edgar Wright directs and co-writes (again) with star Simon Pegg to deliver a smart, very funny, and truly engaging piece of entertainment, and as has continually been the case, they’ve filled it with a brilliant cast. Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan join Pegg as five friends attempting to revisit their youth who find an unexpected surprise instead. All of Wright’s films come loaded with gags and references, but this one beats them all in the sheer detailed genius of its structure and execution. Multiple viewings are required to catch them all, but the Wright and Pegg do a good job of highlighting several moments of foreshadowing and hints at what’s to come on their commentary track.

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discs the worlds end

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The World’s End Twenty years ago five friends attempted an epic pub crawl, but their effort fell apart before reaching the final bar, The World’s End. Now the group is reluctantly back together again to try and rewrite history, but the past is an ever-growing obstacle thanks in large part to how much remains unchanged in their old stomping grounds of New Haven. Things get worse though when they realize why exactly that is. Edgar Wright‘s final entry in his thematic Cornetto trilogy found a divisive reception from fans of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, but in many ways it’s the best of the three. It’s incredibly funny, highly energetic, and perfectly cast (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Pierce Brosnan, and Rosamund Pike to name a few), but it stands out for two other reasons too. First, the film’s structure and execution are incredibly deep and detailed to the point that multiple viewings continue to reveal new connections. Second, and most surprisingly, it has the best fight scene of any film this year. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, storyboard, trivia, featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes]

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IntroOvernight

Everyone has had one of those insane nights that you couldn’t have possibly planned for in a million years. It usually ends with you walking home barefooted or, at the worst, discreetly burying a camelback trunk filled with human remains. Point is, it’s harder to appreciate when this happens in film, so now I present to you 14 surprise movie nights that – for better or for worse – definitely had to suck for the characters involved.

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Gravity

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Marquee

As if the summer box office wasn’t already glutted with more than enough blockbusters to last us right into fall, Paramount Pictures has now announced that they’re bringing back two of their most plagued productions for a special studio-specific double feature to end the summer with a bang (or, potentially, a whimper). Paramount is bringing both Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z back to select theaters for a one-week engagement (August 30th through September 5th) that will, thoughtfully enough, cost moviegoers just the price of one ticket. Both films were troublesome for Paramount in different ways – STID had to live through director J.J. Abrams’ persistent insistence that his film was not a new spin on the classic Khan storyline, only for fans to discover that, well, it was. The Brad Pitt-starring World War Z had its own cross to bear – months and months of reshoots and rewrites that typically spell doom for any film. Neither film has been a true box office bust – STID pulled in nearly $460m worldwide (more than its predecessor), with WWZ making just over $526m worldwide – but is that enough for Paramount? Apparently not. But with Paramount putting together its own double feature to grab the last dollars available from an exhausted (and exhausting) summer, we couldn’t help but wonder what other studios could put together their own second-run double features and, if they did, what we’d actually like to see from them.

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worldsend08

It’s pretty clear that Edgar Wright and his sometime co-writer/star Simon Pegg are movie junkies. Their series Spaced was all about allusions to their TV and film favorites, while the first two installments of the “Cornetto trilogy,” Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, were tributes to zombie and action flicks, respectively. With The World’s End, the homage and referencing continues. Even though the message of the movie is to move forward not backward, and even though it’s apparently a veiled criticism of Hollywood’s own nostalgic impulses, it’s okay for a movie this clever to have its influences and predecessors as long as the acknowledgment is through nods to the past works rather than a recycling or cloning of them. One key difference between what Wright does and what the remake/reboot machine does is he provides a gateway to older movies and the machine creates a substitution, a replacement. As a true movie lover, Wright is known for hosting programs of beloved classics and cult classics, usually in hopes of introducing his fans to stuff they’ve never seen. He also likes to name other films that have informed his work and are worth checking out either prior to or after seeing his movies. The following list is not all selections that he has credited nor that he would necessarily endorse. It’s a combination of some of his picks (found mentioned elsewhere) and some of my own, some obvious and some not, some great and some just worth a look for […]

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The Movies of August 23

We aren’t the only ones beating this particular drum. It very well could be the best weekend for movie releases all year. From indie darlings to the final event movies of the summer, in every genre, this weekend features some of the most interesting, engaging, thrilling and downright entertaining releases we’ve seen in all of 2013. To further explore this point, allow us to run you down the list of releases (in varying degrees of wide and limited engagements) with some comments to help fuel the fire.

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Worlds End Aliens

“Starbucking,” as it’s used in Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, is the process by which something unique – in this case, a small town British pub – is removed of all its character. In the “Village Voice,” Simon Pegg elaborated that nostalgia’s “all about comfort and familiarity and Starbucks creates … a nostalgia in the present, a benign sense of comfort by making everything look the same.” What’s striking about that sentence is if you substitute “Starbucks” for “Hollywood,” you get a pretty apt description of the studio system’s problematic gluttony for movie sequels, reboots and remakes. Which isn’t as arbitrary a substitution to make as it seems, given Wright has acknowledged that The World’s End was designed in part to be a play on cinematic “Starbucking” and how a “lot of movies [today] are about nostalgia, about recreating things from childhood… [and how big] studio films are either remakes of films from 20 years ago, or adaptation of toys or inspired by things from your childhood.” With that as a guiding nudge, other substitutions become possible. Ones that turn The World’s End – a film critical of a man-child’s inability to abandon the past – into a film representative and critical of those Hollywood nostalgic impulses which forego or replace movies with character and originality with safer, uninspired rehashes of past properties. That criticism resides foremost in Gary King (Simon Pegg) who is addicted to the world he knew when he was younger. King is desperate to reassemble a […]

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Edgar Wright

For most of us, our perfect Sunday includes a quiet read of the paper, a piping cup of our favorite tea leaf or coffee bean-based beverage and a hundredth screening of one of Edgar Wright‘s movies. With Shaun of the Dead and everything beyond, he’s been able to blend intimate character arcs (right down to the music) with genre tropes in a way that pretty much no one else has managed. He’s lovingly subverted genres while delivering us new fence-hopping heroes and a honed sense of comedy. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man famous for his work on Going Live!.

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review the worlds end

It’s not easy to sum up life-defining moments in words. However, for five young trouble-making friends, that moment could be summed up in three: The Golden Mile. In their youth, Gary (Simon Pegg), Andrew (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Peter (Eddie Marsan) attempted an epic pub crawl encompassing twelve bars and requiring of the consumption of twelve pints of beer. Not only did they come up short in this exercise in sensational debauchery, but the attempt caused a rift within the quintet that continued to widen in the subsequent decades. Now, the group’s most developmentally-arrested member Gary, is seeking to reunite the boys for a second go at it. Unfortunately, their hometown has since changed…dramatically. Anticipation can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, filmmakers certainly want audiences to harbor anticipation for their latest projects; entire marketing teams are in fact assembled precisely to cultivate that anticipation. However, there is a point of critical mass wherein anticipation begins to foster expectations within audiences. These expectations can sometimes serve as major critical detriments; the movie we want versus the movie we think we want, et cetera. A large contingent of those movie-goers paying their two bits for a ticket for Edgar Wright‘s The World’s End are coming with an ample amount of anticipation, and yet one of the best things about the movie is that is defies all expectations predicated upon its predecessors.

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Worlds End

The World’s End closes out The Cornetto Trilogy with a bang. With Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and this apocalyptic bar crawl comedy, director Edgar Wright and co-writer Simon Pegg have finished a trio of films about the ups and downs of growing up and moving forward. As an ender, The World’s End isn’t all that upbeat. Wright hasn’t made a 180-turn putting out a self-serious downer, but this story of a few friends attempting to symbolically go back in time and finish an epic bar crawl ends the series on a bittersweet note. It’s fitting for the tonal shifts the other Cornetto films made, but audiences will leave The World’s End wondering what to make of the ending. For Wright, he wanted that ending to be a definitive (and happy) statement. As it turns out, in order to threaten the world with destruction, you have to fight it out in the schoolyard.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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