Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Best: Director 2010

Edgar Wright – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
pic by Gage Skidmore

While this year's best picture winner was about dreams, I left the theater after watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World feeling as though I had just been through a dream. This, I think, is the best way to understand what Edgar Wright does, with audacious vibrancy, in this unique film about a young loser, Scott (Michael Cera) who has to defeat the 7 evil exes (not ex-boyfriends) of the girl of his dreams, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). It is true that the movie plays like a comic book, with the sound effects lettering and super villain costumes. It is also true that it plays like a video game, with the familiar pvp graphics and music. In and of itself, this makes for an thoroughly enjoyable movie experience for any geek. But Wright understands that these elements are not ends in themselves, but tools to tell the story. In this case, all of the funny, jarring, downright strange visuals are used for great effect. And the effect is this: you are in a dream. I don't mean that Scott is dreaming the story, but that Scott's story contains the logic of a dream. The jarring non-sequiter jump cuts, the strange changes in setting and costume, and the superpowers that come out of nowhere that nobody questions are all part of Wright's style. To everyone in the movie, when the Vegan Police break through the wall or when Knives Chow (Ellen Wong) gets the highlights in her hair punch out... all of it is perfectly normal, just like in a dream. Not only is it normal, but it makes a kind of logical sense in the same way that the insanity of a dream makes sense to you as you dream it. This is not an easy thing to do. Either everything is too strange so that you can't connect or it is too normal and loses its ethereal quality. Edgar Wright balances the two to create a unique and dazzling movie.


Christopher Nolan – Inception
David Yates – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1
Lee Unkrich - Toy Story 3
Martin Scorsese – Shutter Island

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