Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception... for a better now

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pilgri-dendum: The Man Who Forgot to Shoot Liberty Valance

Time: The weekend's most precipitous swan dive was executed by Scott Pilgrim. Based on the first of Bryan Lee O'Malley's popular comix, directed by cult-classic auteur Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and starring Michael Cera, North America's favorite perennial preadolescent, Scott was expected to open in the honorable $15 million range. Those who saw the movie gave it a lustrous A-minus CinemaScore rating. Problem is, few people saw it: the actual first-weekend take was a lame $10.5 million, which put it in fifth place, behind not only the new The Expendables and Eat Pray LoveThe Other Guys and Inception. "Well, this is disappointing," wrote Jordan Rapp of The Film Stage. "In an almost predictable fashion America got the Top 5 completely backwards." - Richard Corliss, 8/15/10 but also two older films, (Read more:,8599,2010830,00.html#ixzz0wmqoj33D)
Since I wrote that crazy Scott Pilgrim Vs. Stallone blog on Friday (see below), I feel guilty even though I'm sure I'm not solely responsible for the bad box office described above (THE EXPENDABLES was #1, PILGRIM below even INCEPTION in its whatevereth week). I expected, based on its hype (and Expendables lack thereof at least in my little sealed-off universe), that Scott Pilgrim would break box office records and Expendables would ride off into the sunset while the Sons of the Pioneers sang "Cactus Rose" and the Michael Cera / Jimmy Stewart / Scott Pilgrim archetype would set up his gaming console in the sheriff's office and our new age of digital combat would begin in earnest.

Man, was I wrong! Like Gore losing to Bush, like the shameful vote to uphold Prop 8, America is always ready to surprise with its penchant for pendulum swings to the right. Imagine a different end to Ford's famous THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962) changed, as word gets out that Stewart's lanky lawyer had a little "help" from John Wayne (or CGI) and thus didn't really shoot Valance (Lee Marvin) and thus the sleazy cattleman rancher running against him in the western territory election had won. Can you imagine!? Our west would look, well, not unlike the way it looks now. (Read my piece on VALANCE at Bright Lights, here)

If you read my savage entry last week and wonder how I can change my tune and defend Scott Pilgrim so fast it's because, well, a) I'm a Pisces and cursed to always understand both sides of an argument and b) my hatred of wussiness has a lot to do with the way you "hate" your little brother, but still would defend him in a fight if he was getting picked on. I thought Pilgrim would win, so I jeered him, but I never kick a kid when he's already down. In fact, I switch sides, bloodying my own nose and jeering as I fall to the curb, like Tyler's mirror double in FIGHT CLUB, bitchez!!

I remember getting all mad at Mathew Broderick for his grandiose dancing and lip syncing to "Twist and Shout" during someone else's parade in FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF back in 1986 when I was still paralyzed by self-consciousness and furiously smoking to the Violent Femmes and wearing combat boots and wondering why the world wasn't at my feet. How dare this little schweinhund Ferris presume he had the right to hog so much attention, to be so randomly adored by all, purely for his ability to lip sync a song he had nothing to do with writing or recording? I was a bass player!! To me that's the height of the icky self-aggrandizement, piggybacking on other people's work: The Beatles were still in Hamburg playing their asses off every night, dodging beer bottles and trying to decipher drunken German song requests ("und sie liebt Dich, ya ya ya") when they recorded that song. You, Ferris, just wake up late, skip school and take all the credit like the schweinhundt du bist. I've written about this in the past (2008- Kill all Jonesers). I should stop kvetching, as it will only result in my falling bloodied to the curb once more. 

So yeah, I perhaps squirm when I see Michael Cera (and Jesse Eisenberg) the way I used to squirm watching my little brother doing... well, almost anything. And as Justin pointed out in his comments to my comments below, it's very easy to attack hipsters and sensitive gamers. And yes, while I would like to see them put down their gaming cubes and fight and drink and live up to their trucker hats and giant belt buckles it's mainly because I want them to be cool. I'm worried for them, for their inability to maintain eye contact and for liking Animal Collective while not on LSD. I know that if I ever got in a fight instead of just rallying for peaceful violence, I'd be smashed up pretty good. I got glasses though --disqualified!! Glasses make you immune because any guy who punches you is liable to break his hand and your nose and maybe blind you so he's got to be ready to really get violent because after doing that to your glasses and you're a man you'll either be in a coma or trying to kill him from that day on. Am I right, Scott? Now go and get your fucking shinebox! 


1 comment:

  1. Erich, I think that poster made a difference. Not only was it as bad as you described it, but it concealed what was potentially the most appealing or attractive aspect of the film: a dude fights people. That poster told me that Scott Pilgrim was a movie about a musician. On that impression alone, no thank you. Then again, I didn't go out to anything last weekend, so who am I to judge?


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