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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Hot Fuzz (2007)

This was my least favorite of the Cornetto Trilogy for the longest time. Then, around the time I started doing theater professionally (and had my own issues "switching off"), something clicked. It's my favorite now. I think it's the strongest one and if Scott Pilgrim Vs The World didn't exist, it would be Edgar Wright's best film by several miles. Shortly after Ben and I moved in together, I bought us a peace lilly and named it Sgt. Nicholas Angel, and it's still kicking.


It is a mind-blowingly tight script and beautifully shot. Not a frame wasted. I taught that everything you see/hear in theater is deliberate (even if it's the result of sloppy work) and I think that's doubly true in film and Hot Fuzz could be used to teach a seminar on that very principal. Every single visual cue buttresses some part of the story and/or is used for a callback. Every character feels real because every choice about them is so considered. It's magic. And I'm thrilled I could finally return to this, one of my comfort films, after not watching it for years. You could set a watch to the pacing it's so bang on.


And while Simon Pegg is terrific as Sgt. Nicholas Angel (always mentally said like Tina the store clerk says it), it's not his movie. Nick Frost has almost never been more charming than he is here (god I cannot wait for Cuban Fury to come up on The List). His enthusiasm and vulnerability are so effective, to the point that I get exasperated with Nicholas for asking him if he's listened at all (Danny is such a good listener). His little sad faces break my heart. I'm still a little startled every time I watch when he does the ketchup trick in the pub. Nick Frost is on my short list of celebrities I'd quite like to hug because he is so stinking lovable.


Hot Fuzz was my first exposure to one Ms. Olivia Colman and an incredible reminder to the general populace that she got her start in improv comedy. (Go and YouTube "numberwang." I'll wait. You're welcome.) Her dramatic work is of course incredible but her comedy. My god. Every single line she delivers in Hot Fuzz is a masterclass in efficiency of humor. I cannot help but do her "obnoxious" laugh with her every time she does it. I love her. (once again, Cuban Fury WHEN??) She's also on the hug list. (The only other human on there is Stephen Fry. I like unassuming Brits.) I have a YouTube playlist of her award acceptance speeches for when I'm having a hard day. She's magic.



I do struggle the tiniest bit with this film because, while it is a loving send up of buddy cop movies, it does fall pretty firmly into "copaganda" territory, and I am someone who longs for the abolishment of American law enforcement as it currently stands. However, this is British copaganda and that's a whole other kettle of fish as British cops largely do not shoot people...until the third act of this film, of course. Ben and I once gifted my parents a copy of this DVD once because we love it so much and thought that perhaps we could use it to bond with my former cop father but alas, they were horrified and confused by it. Ah well.


Paints on glass.


Takeaways:

-I had a reeeeeeeaaaaaaalllllly hard time coming up with something for this movie. For one, I always struggle with the movies I like most. I just do. I get it in my noggin that I have to live up to the movie somehow and then I get blocked because that's a lot of (unnecessary) pressure. This one, I also had the disdain for all things cop. I didn't want to do any sort of gun violence or really even depict law enforcement and that makes it tough because that is all central to this movie. The movie makes them funny, but in a vacuum, I don't want to make art that depicts that sort of thing. I toyed with doing a pub sign (for a pub called The Greater Good) but there are so many singular images of this movie (the swan, the peace lily, the monkey, the gateau, etc etc), I couldn't make it gel. Then I had a random thought about Guinness (honestly I also entertained making a Black Forest cake with Guinness because yum), thought of the art I've always loved and bang! Idea!

-I had the hardest time with this which I'm trying very hard not to beat myself up over. I've done all of these techniques before and to reasonable success so it never occurred to me that I would struggle so much on this combination. But I did. From the composition to glass breaking to paint never setting and smearing to gilding going absolutely pearshaped... oof. This is on my list of pieces I'd like to redo some day and just do it painted on paper (rather than reverse painted on glass) because I'm so disappointed in the end result. A+ idea, B- execution. Part of me wonders if I'm just in a weird section of The Gap as described by Ira Glass, because Waiting for Guffman is giving me hell, too. Ah well. At least I'm making art and I have ideas. I almost wrote "it's worse when I have no ideas" but having ideas and not being able to execute them is its own kind of hell. But I'm making art. I'm grateful for that.

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