For every evening of the Wright Stuff II we arrived between one to two hours ahead of time and each night we were lucky enough to sit in the seats we wanted to. Being somewhat of a regular at the Bev I've become very accustom to sitting in my favorite spot. A spot I'm not going to disclose because I don't want any competition for its awesome locale but if you're smart enough you should be able to figure it out by some of the photos I will share in this post.
Every night of programming included trailers for features that were similar to the main features. During the triple feature we got plenty of great spots, but the stuff that played ahead of 'Hot Fuzz' was so damn good. We saw trailers for "48 hours," "Fuzz," "Newman's Law," "Nighthawks," "The Super Cops" and "Kill Point." Each trailer is great and was flawlessly matched, but for me these trailers just set the tone fabulously. Some of the trailers we'd see were better than the movies they were previewing, but nonetheless they heightened the atmosphere of the revival theater. More than anything the trailers that were shown either reminded me of great movies I'd seen and/or forgot about or gave me some awesome new films to discover for myself like "Zabriskie Point" or "Candy."
"Hot Fuzz" is a film that I've been sorta lukewarm about. I like it and it is funny, but for some reason it never hit the same chord that 'Shaun' did for me. Easy money would say its because I'm a huge fan of horror, but honestly I'm just as big of a fan of the action genre. I mean, I love all the movies that influenced 'Fuzz' so there is no reason I shouldn't be just has head over heels for 'Hot Fuzz' as I am 'Shaun.' After seeing 'Fuzz' theatrically, I'm changing my tune. "Hot Fuzz" is a riot. Pegg and Frost play perfectly off each other. There is so much to love in this movie and I think it took seeing theatrically to finally see it that way. I'm generally not one for a crowd persuading my opinion of a film, but damn it, the sold out crowd over-sold all of the laughs and made seeing "Hot Fuzz" at the Bev a memory for the history books. I've gotta say, seeing the first two "Blood and Ice Cream" films back-to-back also got me itching for Wright to finish the trilogy again.
Seeing "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" for a fifth time in less than a year might seem a tad overboard for some, but it was worth it. I love the movie for a number of reasons. One, Wright out did himself by creating coming of age love story that is chalk full of pop-culture references I grew up with. The film is like a cornucopia of video game, comic and geeky references. Two, Wright surrounded himself with a loads of talent and let them do their thing. Whether it is cinematographer Bill Pope's eye for action or Nigel Godrich's immaculate score or the talented cast of actors 'Scott Pilgrim' fires on all cylinders. What makes it such a testament is even after seeing the film numerous times theatrically, I still found new things to boggle at.
The trailers shown before "Brazil" were friggin' epic. Wright picked 6 trailers that all kept the crowd very amped and full of cheer. We saw, "Time Bandits," "Zardoz," "Slaughterhouse 5," "Blade Runner," (my personal favorite) "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" and "Strange Days." While Zardoz is the one odd ball amongst the other powerful films, all of these trailers were so much fun to see. 'Buckaroo Banzai' was tits though because I got to hear that amazing bit of score written by Bones Howe and Michael Boddicker. Seriously one of the most iconic pieces of movie music in my childhood through adult life.
"Delicatessen" is director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 1991 breakthrough film. A post-apocalyptic tale that is set in a single location, an apartment complex. Like every other Jeunet film, 'Delicatessen' is filled with odd characters that end up becoming almost family. In each of Jeunet's films I tend to develop a bond with his characters and here Dominique Pinon playing Louison shows you why Jeunet has continued to use him in further films. Its not my favorite Jeunet film by any means but a very worthwhile film in every regard. It puts satire into a famine plagued post-apocalyptical world. The film is very dark yet remains entire whimsical which is a testament of Jeunet's inspired filmmaking. The film is quirky and addicting and I am so glad I was able to catch it at the Bev. Should also briefly mention the awesome trailers shown ahead of 'Delicatessen,' we saw "The Cars That Ate People," The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover," Hudsucker Proxy" and "Being John Malkovich." The only film I had not seen amongst these trailers was "The Cars That Ate People" and let's just say that movie is now on my must see list. Looks like a great WTF factor film.
Before moving on to Landis's 'Animal House' I'd thought I'd mention the trailers we were treated to in front of 'Graffiti' and 'Animal House.' In front of "American Graffiti" we saw "The Wanderers" (which was also scheduled apart of Wright's month long programming), "Diner," "Stand by Me" and "Dazed and Confused." Ahead of "Animal House" was "Caddyshack," "Porky's," "Bachelor Party," "Up the Creek" and "The Sure Thing." Out of the trailers that played in front of 'Graffiti' "Diner," "Dazed and Confused" and "Stand by Me" deserve lots of praise. They are each fantastic films. Seeing the trailer for 'Dazed' instantly took me back to High School when I saw Linklater's classic for the first time. Such a epic day-in-the-life flick that almost trumps 'Graffiti' but just almost. "Stand by Me" is another fabulous day-in-the-life movie, but this one is all about friendship's made. I can't watch that movie and not be instantly reminded of my childhood and the shenanigans I would get into with my friends. Of the trailers that played ahead of 'Animal House' while all of them are funny movies "Caddyshack" is the only one that truly remains in my memory. Mainly because it is the only slapstick comedy in my adult life I can still appreciate. "Porky's" is a cheap rip-off of "Animal House" and "Bachelor Party" now is just all nostalgia.
Once again the trailers were perfectly matched the film the ran ahead of. Before "The Driver" we were treated to a stockpile of other Walter Hill films including "The Warriors," "Extreme Prejudice," "Johnny Handsome" and "Wild Bill." All films I've seen multiple times and re-watching the trailers reminded me how much of a great filmmaker Hill is. In front of "Duel" we were treated to other maniac car movies including "The Car," "Christine," "Maximum Overdrive" and "The Ambulance." 'Overdrive' got the most attention by the Bev crowd. A film that played there recently as well apart of their midnight programming. I've never seen "The Ambulance" but after watching the trailer I'm keeping my eyes peeled for any chance I can to do so.
"Duel" is Steven Spielberg's first feature length movie. It was originally released only for television here in the U.S. but did receive a theatrical release in Europe. The cut we would see at the Bev was a European cut and was 15 minutes longer than the television version released in 1971. Before starting the film Edgar Wright read us a email from none other than Steven Spielberg himself. The email revealed that Spielberg made the film in 11 days. Yup, only 11 days. That's crazy talk! "Duel" itself is a very basic idea. A man traveling for business is tormented by a unidentified trucker driver in a eighteen wheeler. The film has its issues. While there are moments of torment and terror the film suffers from too many lulls in said terror. For instance we spend a good 10 to 15 minutes in a diner while David Mann played by Dennis Weaver tries to outsmart the illusive yet menacing truck driver. The sequence tries to create tension but just misses the mark for me. All the tension gained while the two men shared the road is all thrown out the window within the diner sequence. These gripes with tension throughout "Duel" ends up as fodder because it is such a seminal film. It is one of the original dueling car movies that spends nearly the entire film focused on the road. Spielberg was able to utilize long stretches of highway that come across entirely desolate. Most of the film we only see the forty ton truck and David Mann's simple automobile racing the quiet roads of Central California and there's no denying you get the sense of fear that was intended.
While I wasn't able to attend all of The Wright Stuff II what I did attend was a exactly what I hoped for. Awesome movies with awesome special guests and a awesome New Beverly crowd. It was a bit crazy at the usually quiet theater for the events, but it was so worth it. The four nights of programming I attended will remain apart of memory for a very long time.
Checkout Edgar Wright's blog for further details on The Wright Stuff II and if you live in Los Angeles area do yourself a favor and make a point to visit the New Beverly Cinema.