Ultra Culture vs. Scott Pilgrim

Well that was awesome. I just returned from Ultra Culture Cinema Event Thing #4, a whole evening devoted to Edgar Wright’s newest offering, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and it was OFFICIALLY the greatest (and the first) Ultra Culture Cinema Event Thing I’ve ever been to. I’d been meaning to come to the first few, but due to UC’s anti-non-Londoner racist policies, I was forced to miss Bad Lieutenant, Trash Humpers and Mother. And I think I’m right in writing that this was the first time the film being shown was already out on general release (albeit on that day). So I booked tickets for it waaaaay back when, but then accidentally went to a screening of the film on the 12th August, two weeks before its release. Damn. Even worse, the film didn’t live up to expectations. OBSERVE: http://www.benkirby.net/index.php/reviews/film/scott-pilgrim-vs-the-world Still, I suspected that Ultra Culture would make the evening a good ’un, even if I’d already seen – and been mildly underwhelmed by – the film, so on Wednesday 25 August, I happily trotted along with a friend to the ICA.

I wasn’t disappointed. Aside from being a little put out by the London prices of drink (at least 80p more than my local village pub – an excellent saving if you’re prepared to ignore the mildly racist regulars), ICA was really rather nice, full of very pretentious and arty films/books for sale and extremely nice Ultra Culture people handing out bourbons, which were a lot less tasty than my childhood would have me remember. So we queued to get in and then found our seats, only to be delighted by a miniature package waiting on each one, containing one sweet and one rather over-enthusiastic programme. QUOTE: ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World couldn’t be much more universally enjoyable if they gave everybody on the planet a free ticket and the free ticket came with a free balloon. [That would be awesome though.] As it is, Pilgrim clocks in at just under two hours and wastes precisely zero percent of that runtime, packing every single minute with shit-hot action, cockle-warming romance and numerous Culkin-based ROFLs.’ Watch out, Helen O’Hara. You may yet be beaten in the contest to be Edgar Wright’s most sycophantic reviewer.

It was interesting to be surrounded by people who were clearly expecting the world from this film, and for Scott Pilgrim to fight it. I felt like jumping up and ordering them all to lower their expectations appropriately, and to prepare for Edgar Wright’s third best film. But there was no time for this, as Mr Ultra Culture (I think his name’s Charlie) took to the microphone, and surprised me by a.) being my age, and b.) looking about twelve. It seems I haven’t looked after myself like he has. Time has ravaged my once youthful looks. But Charlie/Ultra seemed very nice and quite funny, and announced that some volunteers would be performing the trailer prior to watching the film. No-one volunteered for Scott, so I shoved my hand into the air and was chosen for the lead. My moment had arrived. I went up onto the stage along with the other lovely volunteers, and we proceeded to act out the trailer in an extremely ramshackle but fun way. I got to fly through a window like MichaelCeraMan, which was fun, and to mime kissing an absolute stranger, which I’m sure looked utterly convincing and made me the envy of the audience. Then everybody cheered for who they thought was best, and the guy playing Lucas Lee won, and I came second. We each got a backpack, a t-shirt, a hat and a rare copy of Plumtree’s LP, ‘Preserving Wildlife’, which has the song ‘Scott Pilgrim’ on.

Then the film started (after a nice message from Edgar Wright and the cast) and it was better than I remembered. Maybe it was just from knowing what to expect this time around, or from lowering my expectations (which had been ridiculously high the first time), or from acting out the trailer to an enthusiastic audience, but I enjoyed it far more. However, it still suffers from an over-abundance of glossy effects and editing at the cost of a coherent or involving story, and it needs to take one or two opportunities just to calm down for five minutes. On the second viewing, I also realised just how much it is a film of two halves, with the second being a whole lot weaker than the first. Still, everyone enjoyed it and clapped at the end, before we were forced to remain in our seats for ten minutes. It was all rather ominous, but we were given a pleasant surprise went none other than EDGAR BLOODY WRIGHT walked into the room and started answering our questions.

He came fresh (or haggard) from finishing off the DVD, and had to go back and carry on with that after chatting to us. I tried to be professional and record it all, but unfortunately it was all inaudible to my phone’s pitiful microphone. Still, Mr Wright did divulge some fun little facts which I very professionally committed to memory, including:

  • The writing of the script and the comic book took place simultaneously, and each influenced the other in certain ways.
  • It took a year and two editors to edit.
  • They finished it just two weeks before Comic-Con.
  • Beck recorded a shitload of songs for the film within about 72 hours, and even wrote the musical highlight of the film, ‘Ramona’.
  • His original, improvised recording of ‘Ramona’ also features in the finished film, when Scott is smacking his head against the telegraph pole.
  • He recognises the Incredible Suit man by face alone.
  • The music stuff was more fun to film than the fight stuff (though the latter was easier to edit).
  • The DVD will have a huge haul of extras, including outtakes, deleted scenes, animatic sequences (which apparently look like the film’s been badly Sweded)
  • He wants his next film to have approximately NO REFERENCES AT ALL, seeing as he’s sick of doing trivia tracks. This might mean that The World’s End will be a lot less hyperactive and be around 34% better as a result.
  • He’d never had Coke Zero until now. And thinks it tastes like Pepsi. SCOOP.

Wonderful. He was nice and friendly, and it capped off an amazing evening rather well. We all hung around in the bar afterwards, where some people played on Rock Band 3 (apparently the first time it’s been played publicly anywhere in Europe), but I had to leave to catch my train back to the rural non-London part of England.

So in summary, it was a bloody great evening, and the film was better the second time around. ULTRA CULTURE, I SALUTE YOU.

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