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Tuesday: Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz is a ton of fun and deserves much more recognition in America.

Hot Fuzz
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The parody genre used to be a hit at the box office. Titles such as the Scary Movie franchise received quite a bit attention. Even horrible entries to the genre, such as Meet the Spartans, pulled in a good amount of money. However, movies such as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz never obtained such attention from American viewers. From what I can see, both of these films have received a bit more interest from audiences in the United States through Blu-Ray and DVD sales. Different viewers have a different sense of humor. This is why movies such as Hot Fuzz can be extremely hit and miss when it comes to the comedic aspect of the motion picture.

A top London cop is ready to die of boredom when his superiors transfer him to a sleepy English village to work alongside a blundering but well-meaning young constable. The town begins to stir with a series of grisly "accidents." Hot Fuzz is advertised as an action/comedy. Those who don't fully understand British humor will find themselves asking what's so funny. Unfortunately, I didn't find myself laughing throughout. However, I see Hot Fuzz as being an exciting and silly action film. While there are a few moments of the film that drag a bit, this is an overall fast paced motion picture. Once the craziness begins, some better humor is incorporated. The top cop, Nicholas Angel, and the well-meaning partner, PC Dany Butterman, are both interesting characters. They share some lines and action sequences that surely made me laugh. Hot Fuzz is recognized as a parody due to the fact that it takes the clichés of action flicks and constantly makes fun of itself. This makes for a more enjoyable action flick as it doesn't try to be anything more than it is. Hot Fuzz is purposefully an over-the-top action film with plenty of silliness to keep us engrossed.

Audiences should remember the two central characters from Shaun Dead. Simon Pegg performs as Nicholas Angel. He's convincing and certainly delivers the goods. He's great during the dialogue-driven scenes and especially the action sequences. Nick Frost is PC Danny Butterman. He's just as entertaining. These actors feel natural in their characters. I believe a large portion of this is due to the fact that the actors clearly had fun playing these characters. They didn't take the project too seriously, which makes the performances flow smoothly. The remainder of the Hot Fuzz cast is enjoyable.

Once the film goes full throttle, the action is awesome. Every action fan is sure to be absolutely engrossed during these sequences. The violence is just as over-the-top as the overall movie. The gore isn't meant to be taken seriously. However, the visuals during these scenes are great. The audio portion is just as impressive. There isn't a moment where the audience isn't utterly immersed in the soundstage. The entire track is aggressive, yet clear. The dialogue is exceptionally crisp and never difficult to hear. Hot Fuzz booms from start to finish with the subwoofer pounding the entire room with deep and punchy bass. The surround channels are utilized throughout, whether it be with ambiance or gunshots. Prepare to be absolutely engulfed in the track.

Hot Fuzz provides everything an action fan would ever want. Even though it has many clichés to spoof, the movie still brings more to the table than most other entires to the genre. The pacing is decent, although there are a few moments where things could have been moved along a bit quicker. It's not too big of an issue though. The script is definitely well-written, although not all audiences will understand the humor. The performances are fantastic as they feel believable. This cast makes the movie more fun than most actors could have. Hot Fuzz is a ton of fun and deserves much more recognition in America.

My Rating = Four Stars Next movie: Bellflower

Saturday: Bellflower

Despite what one may think walking into Bellflower, it's a powerful film that is sure to get under your skin.

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When a young filmmaker creates a low-budget film revolving around problematic relationships and betrayal, I generally keep my distance. Most of them play out the same way and don't manage to pull me in. However, films like Bellflower are released every once a while. An extremely odd motion picture that somehow manages to keep your eyes glued to the screen from start to finish. Not many relationship involved betrayal-type movies are able to immerse me, whether they are big Hollywood blockbusters or not. Well, congratulations to Bellflower for accomplishing what not many other entries in this genre have.

Two buddies prepare for the impending apocalypse by building a stockpile of high-grade weapons. Fostering dreams of launching a gang called Mother Medusa, the duo's plans are put on hold when they meet a young woman who introduces elements of violence and betrayal into this fraternity of End Times enthusiasts. The method that Bellflower was organized is sure to confuse some viewers. The timeline is quite disorienting as the story is told jumping all over the place. Those who don't pay full attention to the film are sure to be lost. This is not your average screenplay. The dialogue is rather lifelike, which may test the patience of some audiences. The motion picture takes its time to completely immerse its viewers in this unsettling story. Bellflower screws with our heads and asks us quite a few questions that can be interpreted from a variety of perspectives. What begins as a love story soon turns into a world filled with betrayal, violence, and pain. The apocalypse often spoken of by the two central characters often links to the relationships that are formed and broken. While the developmental stage of the characters is a bit predictable, the audience is left to put many of the pieces of the puzzle together. There are a few instances in the final five minutes or so of the movie that simply feel irrelevant and a bit unsatisfying. However, by the time the credits are rolling, it didn't affect my overall opinion of the movie too much.

Writer-director Evan Glodell is more than involved behind the camera. He also performs as the main character, Woodrow. As Bellflower begins, it's difficult to not find Woodrow likable. As the movie continues, it's hard not to find a great deal of sympathy for him. By the end, I still felt for him. Woodrow undergoes multiple developments that shows how much depth his character has. Glodell expresses everything from the happiness and excitement to the depression and extreme anger very well. He is clearly the most natural in Bellflower. Jessie Wiseman plays Woodrow's love-interest, Milly. Wiseman delivers better earlier on than towards the end. It seems as if she over-acted more and more as the film continued. Tyler Dawson and Rebekah Brandes are more of supporting characters, playing Woodrow's best friend, Aiden, and Milly's best friend, Courtney. Both of them are suitable and fit the characters. Don't expect ground-breaking performances from this cast of unknown faces, but Glodell certainly shows a great deal of anguish pulsing through Woodrow's veins quite well.

With Bellflower being created on such a small budget, nobody should expect high-definition perfection. The film has a large amount of intentional grain. Some scenes are absolutely dominated with white shining bright. The film features an awesome muscle car that's been specially built to resemble the vehicle driven by Mad Max in The Road Warrior. The visuals especially have 'arthouse film' written allover it. It definitely suits the nature of the film. There shouldn't be any surprises that the audio remains in the front stage for the majority of the motion picture. However, the dialogue is never difficult to hear and there are some nice directional effects that occur between the front and center channels. The presentation shown here certainly works for Bellflower.

Despite what one may think walking into Bellflower, it's a powerful film that is sure to get under your skin. This is a raw piece of filmmaking that feels real. Themes such as love, heartbreak, betrayal, and loss are portrayed quite well. This film proudly stands on its own that doesn't depend on other movies to determine what it is. There are some flaws, but the pros outweigh the cons. This isn't a happy film as it becomes difficult to watch at time. Bellflower deserves an easy recommendation.

My Rating = Four Stars

Next movie: Micmacs

Sunday: Micmacs

I recommend it to those who enjoy this quirky type of filmmaking.

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Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has made quite a name for himself even in America. With his motion picture Amélie, he has shown that he can make great cinema. His style is different from many directors as his films are often quirky. One of the traits of his filmmaking style that I genuinely respect is that he's unpredictable. Micmacs certainly contains more of Jeunet's unique touch, but doesn't quite capture the same magic that enchanted me to Amélie.

Bazil rallies his friends to take down weapons manufacturers responsible for his father's death. He also discovers a dump into an underground haven for cool tools and sculptures crafted from discarded junk. The film from top to bottom is rather strange, although its easy to enjoy. The plot itself is very simple and straight-forward, but there's a lot of fluff added to it. The screenplay often ventures into other territories for a temporary period of time and then jumps back to the story. However, they aren't meaningless as they link to the story line. As the film continues, the quirky traits almost appear cartoonish in the way characters interact. While viewers are introduced to all of Bazil's new friends, none of them are focused on very much. The characters are more one-dimensional than those seen in Jeunet's other movies. Micmacs has its issues, but it deserves props for its unique form of storytelling and never becomes dull.

While I don't know many of the projects this cast has worked on, quite a few of them were involved with Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie. The crucial element that this cast appears to understand is to not take the script too seriously. If these actors were to try too hard in conveying the dialogue, it would show. However, they clearly enjoyed themselves on the set and it certainly reflects in the final presentation. While none of the performances are mind-blowing, they accurately represent what Micmacs is meant to convey. Dany Boon is great as Bazil. Not only does he fit the character physically, but there was never a moment where the character wasn't believable. Jeunet and his cast have brought about a universe that provides good escapism.

For those who don't find the titles of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's films memorable, the cinematography is. He definitely has a unique style not seen in very many other movies. The cinematography is absolutely wonderful. The fluff that I mentioned previously is primarily rooting from the visuals. The editing is strange and makes a couple transitions between live-action and animation. The audio is sure to impress viewers. Each speaker has a clear and crisp sound that is consistent throughout the entire picture.

This is an energetic and unique film, but still didn't contain the magic that was seen in Amélie. This film is sure to have it share of fans, but I didn't find it to live up to the hype. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I was hoping. The screenplay is decent, the acting is good, and the visuals are great. Micmacs is entertaining, but don't expect to be mesmerized. I recommend it to those who enjoy this quirky type of filmmaking.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: 12 Angry Men