Palatable: Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Produced by Ronaldo Vasconcellos, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nira Park, Karen Beever, Natascha Wharton
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Olivia Colman, Kevin Eldon, Stuart Wilson, Edward Woodward, Anne Reid, Adam Buxton, Billie Whitelaw, Rory McCann, Karl Johnson, Eric Mason, Kenneth Cranham, David Threlfall, Lucy Punch, Paul Freeman, Ron Cook, Peter Wight, Julia Deakin, Trevor Nichols, Elizabeth Elvin, Bill Bailey, Tim Barlow, Lorraine Hilton, Patricia Franklin, Ben McKay, Alice Lowe, David Bradley, Maria Charles, Robert Popper, Joe Cornish, Chris Waitt, Stephen Merchant
Wright’s comedies elicit overvaluation from the magnifying pathologies of approving British audiences, but they do meet a demand for nimble humor that Hollywood can no longer produce. Shaun of the Dead hardly met its hype, but this follow-up — an uproarious lampoon of overcooked actioners by the likes of Tony Scott, John Woo, Michael Bay, Guy Ritchie, et al. — merits its repute. From London, an accomplished, finical sergeant (Pegg) is transferred for his inconvenient superiority to a goofily idyllic village in Gloucestershire, where he’s partnered with the oafish son (Frost) of his constabulary’s chief (Broadbent). He chances instanter upon delinquency, deplorable dramatics, an overabundant arsenal, and a spate of murders that befall some of the locality’s notables — mistaken as mischances by his unskilled and complacent colleagues (Considine, Spall, Colman, Eldon, Johnson) — just beneath a provincial veneer nurtured by its hospitable businessmen (Dalton, Wilson, Woodward, Whitelaw, Mason, Cranham, Freeman, Wight, Deakin, Nichols, Elvin). Pegg’s again cast well to type as an authoritative straight man opposite clownish co-stars, funniest among whom are dopey Frost and lupine Dalton, who steals his every scene as a conspicuously sinister supermarketeer. That Welshman’s fellow old hands play up their quaint parts with as much esprit as the director’s usual collaborators; Whitelaw is meted a few droll scenes for her final appearance. Fans of Wright’s circle will also enjoy snappy cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy as the overachieving officer’s injudicious top brass. Most Anglophonic, contemporary cinematic comedies dole hors d’oeuvres for occasional laughs; here, Wright’s and Pegg’s buffet is crammed with frantically cut one-liners, sight gags, prefigurations and adversions intrinsic and extrinsic, many of which rely on the cunning casting of its older players. Featured clichés of the targeted genre include ostentatious rising pans and 360 shots, overzealous foley, digital blood, and dumb catchphrases. Whether they enjoy or abhor tasteless action pictures, this is recommended for whomever can stomach its multiple bloody homicides, especially Britons who need two hours of respite from metropolitan police farcically focused on trifling offenses, if only to divert public attention from their failures to curb violent crime.

Recommended for a double feature paired with Burn After Reading.

Palatable: The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal (1982)
Directed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Written by Jim Henson, David Odell
Produced by Jim Henson, Gary Kurtz, Duncan Kenworthy, Bruce Sharman, David Lazer
Starring Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Brian Muehl / Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, Barry Dennen, Michael Kilgarriff
A solar syzygy of an otherworld’s antiquity wreaked by magnification through the titular crystal’s magic environmental entropy, while bifurcating the race of mages who imprudently fractured it. Over a millennium’s span, these two factions dwindled to a corporeally yoked pair of elderly decades: one consortium of mansuete, lumbering alchemists and a surfeited, vulturine aristocracy of limitless and unabashed cruelty, who exploit the crystal’s perverted power to counteract their encroaching decrepitude. A doyen of the former partnership details to a bipedal, murescent adolescent in his care a mission to retrieve and restore to the crystal its lost shard, so that the furbished artifact may during another imminent conjunction restore balance in prophetic accordance and avert a global cataclysm. Henson’s marriage of performance and puppetry furnished with sumptuous production values is the most original and ambitious of his studio’s offerings, boasting premium practical and animated effects, and sets exuberant with organic and invented vegetation out of doors, and regal and mystic extravagance within. The sheer scale of this production’s almost as impressive as its every department’s craftsmanship evidenced in spectacles: an astronomer-witch’s gargantuan orrery, ruins almost so baroque as the sinful sorcerers’ castle, and a vast menagerie of fabricated creatures populating this bleak fantasy. Neither is it without defect, for exposition during the first two acts is as redundant as vague, and many of the plot’s perils and villains may prove too nightmarish for especially timid children. Posterior to his collaborations with George Lucas, Kurtz’s artistry in the capacities of production and second unit direction is almost as salient as that of puppeteers-directors Henson and Oz, the latter of whom’s since enjoyed a fruitful career helming comedies starring Muppets and humans alike. For both its fantastic grandeur and the obsolescence of puppetry, nothing quite like this has since been produced; Henson’s vision may be as sui generis as the coaction of talent by which it was incarnated.