Friday, August 27, 2010

The Master's Voice (reflections on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)

Every so often I find myself in a movie theatre thinking, "what would Alfred Hitchcock think?" 
It's my own benchmark query and --I admit-- something of a judgment call. I can't answer the question; I only can imagine what the Master would have thought, say, of the latest Hollywood special FX blockbuster. So there I am in the theatre, watching another crappy CGI explosion while simultaneously, in my mind's eye, is Alfred, shaking his head, jowls quivering piteously over the current state of Hollywood cinema. 
For me, it can be that bad, which is why I generally spare myself this time-wasting agony (and thus, sparing myself the necessity of asking myself the question in the first place). Film as Hollywood CGI thrill-ride typically is not my cup of tea; there are just too many other movies to see (and, of course, too little time). 
But what about film as video game? What would Hitch have thought of that?
Last night I wandered over to the Princess Twin to check out Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Enough positive word-of-mouth had been generated to make me curious what the buzz was about. I have to say, I don't think I've ever seen a movie quite like it. 
Seamlessly, British director Edgar Wright (Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) has melded the media of cinema, gaming and comics and --no pun intended-- it's a marvel. Some people have spoken of seeing this movie multiple times. I can see why: the cinematic image is so laden in this film --with pop-up balloons, graphic novel aesthetics, gaming iconography and clever cultural references-- that one probably needs to see it (if so inclined) at least twice to take it all in. I particularly loved how Wright layered images to create mise-en-scene and edited scenes by dissolving backgrounds from foregrounds. Very smooth. 
So what would Hitch have thought? I think he would have approved (I can see the jowls jiggling up and down as Hitch nods his head.) I have two predictions, though: Scott Pilgrim has not yet "found" its audience. It will happen, but it's going to be what they call a "sleeper" hit (kind of like Donnie Darko, but hopefully it won't take that long.) Once its cult success is confirmed, I predict that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will be re-released in 3D. You heard it here first!
My next prediction is a no-brainer: wait for the copy-cat Scott Pilgrim knock-off movies. Like Reservoir Dogs, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Napoleon Dynamite before it, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the standard-bearer for a new hybrid, a film that defines a unique moment in time. The cool thing is, this one's part-Canadian and proud of it, too. 
See you at the movies! 

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