By Adam Donato
The Cornetto Trilogy, affectionately titled, is the baby of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. After making Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Wright went on to make an adaptation of the popular graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The film’s lead is Michael Cera, star of comedies such as Superbad and Arrested Development, and is supported by what is now an all-star lineup. After completely bombing at the box office despite its critical acclaim, the film has persisted in the hearts of fans as a cult classic to be remembered.
Edgar Wright can’t make a bad movie. There are arguments to be made, but all five of Wright’s directorial features are great in their own way. Ranking them has to come down to a personal preference of genre as each installment in his filmography is near flawless. Go ahead, say this is over-hyping Wright and his movies. Jordan Peele makes two great movies and he is the next Hitchcock. Shyamalan was heralded the next Spielberg after three great movies. Wright is at five great movies and only Baby Driver grossed over $100 million. What’s the problem? He’s worked with notable stars and received plenty of critical praise. None of his movies is more criminally underappreciated as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
How good is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? 2010 was a big year for movies and Scott Pilgrim belongs up there with the greats: Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and The King’s Speech. If that is your top five for the year, you’re not wrong. There aren’t many movies quite like Scott Pilgrim. It feels like a video game movie had a baby with a comic book movie. The action is over the top and usually borrows the look of a combat video game. The comedy is fast paced and utilizes on-screen speech/thought bubbles to get inside the head of Scott Pilgrim. Obviously the film is an adaptation of a comic, and therefore not classified as a video game movie. This means that Scott Pilgrim is in the same club as Wreck-It Ralph, the best video game movies not based on a video game. Utilizing the strengths of a genre with untapped potential? Well played, Wright.
Writing a piece detailing the outstanding quality of Scott Pilgrim is complicated. To the active film fan, this is a film that is regularly heralded as underrated due to the low initial audience viewership. If you love movies, you know how good Scott Pilgrim is. The problem is that there are too many people who have never even heard of it. So yes, here is another declaration of love for Scott Pilgrim. Maybe one day the rest of the world will join us.
Arguably, the best part of the movie, besides Wright’s stylized fight scenes and quick-cut comedy, is the characters and the cast who embodies them. Back when this movie was being cast, a lot of these actors hadn’t become household names yet. Honestly, the only actor not to peak after this movie was Brandon Routh (Superman Returns was not his fault!). Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Evans all dominate in this movie and most of them went on to be superheroes. Other established talents like Alison Pill, Jason Schwartzman, and Kieran Culkin all stand out in a movie full of memorable names. Everyone has a distinct style and personality. All of the seven evil exes are unique in their fighting styles. Even the names that are not known still kill it with Mark Webber, Ellen Wong, and Johnny Simmons making their mark.
Let’s talk about the love triangle. Scott starts out the movie with Knives who is, in fact a high-schooler (which is weird). So when he ends up with Ramona, it is a relief. That being said, the alternate ending where Scott ends up with Knives over Ramona doesn’t seem wrong. That way, the film would start and end in the same place, except Scott is now proud of his earned relationship. He loses Ramona who he should lose due to his overt jerkiness. Then again he cheated on Knives more than he cheated on Ramona. Honestly, Scott shouldn’t end up with anyone. He earned the power of self-respect, but there are consequences to playing games with the feelings of the people you hold closest. That’s the closest thing to a flaw in this movie. Of course, Scott is a human being and him getting a second chance with the girl of his dreams isn’t completely wrong.
Michael Cera is perfect for this movie. His soft-spokenness and general “Charlie Brown energy” make his portrayal of the title character generally likable. Apparently Cera already knew how to play the bass guitar and is very good, which is impressive. Also, the fact that someone who looks like Michael Cera can lead an action movie full of fistfights featuring himself is quite impressive. It’s sad to say, but it’s arguable that Cera just isn’t a marketable name in Hollywood. Maybe Jonah Hill is what really sold Superbad. A decade later, what has Cera starred in since? Not much. It’s a shame.
The best thing about this movie, it’s good to see Edgar Wright can thrive all on his own. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is fast-paced and fun. The jokes are funny and memorable. The action stands out in a day and age full of big-budget, CGI action sequences. The romance is easily bought as the viewer is whisked away through open doors to the song “Ramona”. Scott's arc is poignant and does a good job of standing out in what is primarily a love story. How can you support someone else if you can’t support yourself? His reward for discovering self-respect, he gets the girl he fought seven evil exes and himself for. If you love this movie, buy it on DVD again to show support. If you haven't seen this movie, please, do yourself a favor: it's the best video game movie that's not a video game movie. Sorry, Ralph, but at least you got a sequel...
By Sean Boelman
One of the world’s premier genre film festivals, this year’s Fantasia Film Festival is happening later than usual and in an unprecedented way with an all-online presentation. With a blend of offerings available on demand and being shown via livestream, this year’s selection is packed with some amazing and exciting offerings for genre cinephiles in Canada.
Unfortunately, due to rights restrictions, these screenings have to be geo-blocked to Canadian audiences only (with the exception of the new Troma film #ShakespearesShistorm, which I personally can’t wait to see), but disappointment media is still covering many of the films in the lineup because many will make their way to international audiences sooner or later. That said, for our Canadian friends, here are five films that you absolutely will not want to miss in this year’s festival.
Screening: August 20 @ 9:45 ET
Japanese filmmaker Shinichiro Ueda made his way to American audiences in a big way with his ambitious genre-bending zombie movie One Cut of the Dead (which also played at Fantasia), and his newest movie Special Actors is somehow even better. Like One Cut, this is best experienced knowing as little about the plot as possible, but know that it’s a quirky comedy that doubles as a satire of the art of acting. With plenty of laughs and some truly unexpected twists, it’s an insanely fun film in more ways than one, but it also packs a surprising amount of emotional heft.
Crazy Samurai Musashi
Screening: On Demand
Speaking of one-takes, the movie that seems most likely to gain a cult following out of Fantasia is Yuji Shimomura’s insanely ambitious action flick Crazy Samurai Musashi. Inspired by a real battle that has become the stuff of legends, the film is one take minus a brief prologue and epilogue. It’s certainly more of a technical feat than a narrative one, and it’s far from perfect, but the things that Shimomura is able to pull off are insanely impressive. Holding it all together is a committed performance from martial artist Tak Sakaguchi, who handles the intense choreography with both grace and intensity.
Screening: On Demand
Noah Hutton’s sci-fi/comedy directorial debut Lapsis was supposed to receive its premiere at this year’s SXSW, but that festival was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic. Luckily, the film was still able to secure U.S. distribution thanks to great buzz, and Canadian audiences get a chance to see it as a part of Fantasia. This wickedly funny satire is set in a not-so-distant future where independent contractors embark on dangerous hikes in order to connect cables for an emerging trading market. Examining the flaws and preaching the fears of the ever-growing gig economy, this film is even more relevant now given a recent unemployment crisis.
Screening: August 22 @ 7:00pm
The other film that just screams timely is the Taiwanese rom-com I WeirDo. Telling the story of two people who suffer from OCD as they find love in each other’s compulsions, it’s eerie how much the character’s feelings of isolation resonate with the current situation. That said, even without that connection, the film would still be great, largely thanks to the wonderful chemistry of its stars Austin Lin and Nikki Hsieh. Also impressive is that the film has some gorgeous iPhone-shot cinematography and ridiculously detailed production design. It’s a charmer made with a lot of care, something that is rare for the genre.
Texas Trip - A Carnival of Ghosts
Screening: On Demand
Steve Balestreri and Maxime Lachaud’s documentary Texas Trip - A Carnival of Ghosts is one of the hardest films in the lineup to sell, and it may have a hard time appealing beyond its niche, but that’s all the more reason to catch it while you can at the festival. Connecting drive-in theaters with alternative music artists, it’s almost as if Joe Bob Briggs and the guy from Frank got together to make a movie about creative expression. It’s weird as hell, but also a mesmerizing and beautiful sensory experience. This is one of those smaller and more out there festival films you just have to take a chance on.
With how massive the lineup is this year, there’s no shortage of films to check out, and there truly is something for everybody. If you live in Canada, even if none of these five films tickles your fancy, you should check out the lineup because I can pretty much guarantee that there will be something that will. Stay tuned to disappointment media for our ongoing coverage of the festival.
Virtual tickets are now on sale for the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival, which runs August 20-September 3, geoblocked to Canada.
By Sean Boelman
After being delayed from its original April dates and being expanded from its usual ten days to a whopping two weeks of great films, this year’s Florida Film Festival kicks off today at the Enzian Theater in Orlando, FL. Following all recommended state and local guidelines and with added safety precautions in place, film lovers from Orlando will gather (socially distanced, of course) to watch the great selections made by the FFF team.
While all eyes will be on the in-person portion of the festival, as the success of the event may be a good indicator of how a reduced capacity festival may work for the rest of the year (and potentially into 2021), it’s important to note that this year’s festival also features a virtual component which will allow cinephiles to check out a majority of the films in the lineup from the safety and comfort of their own home for the low price of $40!
Leading up to the festival, disappointment media has had the opportunity to check out some of the films playing online and at the Enzian via exclusive press screenings or having had seen some of them via different festivals. Below are five of our favorite films that were included in the selection, and hopefully you get the chance to check them and some of the other great selections out!
Section: Spotlight Films
Screening: Virtual ONLY, 12-6pm on August 13
Although the midday screening time of the film may prevent those with a nine-to-five from checking out this film, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss’s documentary Boys State is one NOT to miss if you can work it into your day. Following a group of boys at a summer camp where they form a mock representative government, this is both frequently hilarious and surprisingly horrifying with its commentary on American democracy. Although one may think that a bunch of teenagers may not be the most knowledgeable about the ins and outs of our government, there’s a surprisingly deep level of insight about some of the issues we are going through right now to be found in this film.
Things Happen Because
Section: Animated Shorts
Screening: August 12 @ 6:30pm; Also Available Virtually
Unlike some other festivals, the Enzian crew and Florida Film Festival take great care to feature up-and-coming filmmakers, and the community often comes out in droves to these shorts programs featuring exciting new voices. There isn’t a better example of that this year than Frank Volk’s Things Happen Because, an expressive (and very funny) Hertzfeldt-inspired short. It’s weird, dark, and not particularly family-friendly (leave the kids at home for this block), but it has a lot of charm in its five minutes. And if you still need to be convinced of how great this film is, it earned a spot in the main Animated Shorts competition rather than the more local “Sunshine & Swampland” block.
Some Kind of Heaven
Section: Florida Films
Screening: August 8 @ 12:00pm
Another great thing about the Florida Film Festival is that it always features films that are of significant local interest, and this year’s “Florida Films” feature is a particularly wonderful one: the Darren Aronofsky-produced documentary Some Kind of Heaven. Following some of the residents of the Florida retirement community The Villages, the film is equal parts funny and sad, and its cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. This examination of the facade that is suburban America may not be too flattering to the people who actually live in the area, but those who have visited will be intrigued by the ways in which director Lance Oppenheim calls out the hypocrisy of his subjects.
Fully Realized Humans
Section: Narrative Competition
Screening: August 8 @ 8:45pm
Last year’s Florida Film Festival featured a tribute screening of The Blair Witch Project with a reunion Q&A featuring the film’s cast. This year, one of those cast members, Joshua Leonard, returns to the fest with his new directorial outing Fully Realized Humans, an authentic and riotous look at the anxieties of parenthood. With some of the greatest visual gags in any film so far this year, this will have viewers rolling in their seats with laughters (although it’s not for those who are a bit prudish). And to top it off, the film features the interesting angle of having been shot while Leonard’s co-star Jess Weixler was actually pregnant and about to have her first child!
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President
Section: Spotlight Films
Screening: August 18 @ 3:30pm; Also Available Virtually (Limited to 100 Tickets)
The other thing for which the Florida Film Festival is well-known is programming some excellent flicks for musicophiles, and while this year’s “Music Films” section is exciting, there’s another great music doc snuck into the Spotlight Films section. Mary Wharton’s documentary Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President is not only interesting because it explores the 39th Commander-in-Chief’s affinity for rock-and-roll, but also because its biographical portion is structured similarly to the traditional rock doc. It’s a consistently entertaining film packed with great tunes, some excellent interviews with musicians, and of course the opportunity to get to hear President Carter’s story in his own words. Both music fans and those interested in politics will definitely want to check this one out.
And that’s only a sampling of some of the great films that this year’s festival has to offer! Stay tuned to disappointment media to check out our ongoing coverage of the festival, which runs from August 7 through August 20 at the Enzian Theater. And if you’re in the Orlando area, you may just run into us at a few screenings, but please don’t run into us at home as we watch the virtually-available selections!
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.