Tag Archives: nostalgia

The World’s End

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Film review of ‘The World’s End’, the final installment in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’.

I often find that films inspire me in bizarre ways: Pirates of the Caribbean gives me a sudden leaning towards nauticalism and criminality; The Avengers makes me want to become a superhero, or at the very least a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist. The World’s End had less of an aspirational effect on me: I came away from it simply with a serious desire to get pissed. As someone who should’ve been ID checked to even get into the film, this is perhaps not a cogent advertisement for it; but the fact that it is truly bloody brilliant certainly is.

When a sci-fi film still would’ve been good without the sci-fi, you know it’s a damn good film. With a dazzling cast playing a fantastic array of characters, the plot wouldn’t have even needed to be very good for the film to be enjoyable – although it certainly didn’t hurt that it was in fact excellent. The norm for alien invasion sci-fi films is for the supernatural aspect to be introduced very early on, and for us to meet the characters as they battle hoards of aliens. The World’s End takes a very different approach, seeming for the first half hour or so as though this might simply be a comedy about some old schoolmates reliving the pub crawl of their youth; and the brilliant thing is that it’s still good just as that …And then Simon Pegg starts wrestling with a teenaged robot with Lego limbs and ink for blood, and you realise that actually you didn’t misunderstand the description on the cinema’s website after all. The two genres seem to wrestle and intertwine throughout the course of the film, to effect of great (and utterly ludicrous) hilarity.

Pegg plays the tragic yet riotous Gary King, a boy who never grew up, suffering from a hell of a lot more than a midlife crisis. His character is actually very moving as we learn more about his past, and yet, despite discovering just how troubled and unhappy he is, he simply doesn’t allow us to feel more than fleetingly sorry for him, for, bizarrely, it is here that he is in his element. The adventure, the excitement, the drunken reversion to teenaged immaturity; this is what he has wasted his whole life dreaming of. Stephen Fry once said that British humour favours the loser as opposed to the hero, and I think that this is perfectly embodied here. From asserting that no one was ever quite sure how many Musketeers there historically were, to smashing his head against a pillar to prove his humanity, and quoting the lyric, ‘we wanna be free to do what we wanna do, and we wanna get loaded,’ from a 90s rock song whilst negotiating the future of the human race with a bunch of politically correct aliens, Gary King is the ultimate hilarious idiot. Yes, he’s a seriously unhappy man, a liar, and manipulative; but he’s also mental, ridiculous, insane, and just good fun. As his best mate from school, played by Nick Frost, poetically says: ‘Gary may be a cock. But he’s my cock!’

One of the most incredible (both literally and in the colloquial sense) aspects of the film is the way in which the pub crawl continues, with unheralded Blitz spirit, despite the pesky intrusion of alien-controlled robots – Gary isn’t about to let the invasion of Earth obstruct his alcoholic escapades. Through a mix of inebriated logic and ironic coincidences, the men continue along the so-called ‘Golden Mile,’ Gary downing pints amidst constant threat of robot attacks, actual robot attacks, and witnessing his friend stave off a robot attack whilst he – first things first – finishes his lager.

This film seems to do everything at once. It is utterly outrageous. It is just scary enough to make everything funnier, keeping you in a state of heightened nervous tension and disbelieving laughter. It effectively combines both teenhood nostalgia and an alien invasion. It presents tap water as a heroic choice of in-pub beverage. It is, in parts (few parts, but still, they’re there) utterly heartbreaking. And it made a whole cinema of cynical Brits laugh and clap at a one-liner.

I couldn’t help thinking; watching a truly plastered middle-aged man in a black trench coat yell “Get back in your rocket and fuck off back you Legoland, you cunts!” at a hyper intelligent alien invasion force; Doctor Who could do with more of this.

[film poster from www.edgarwrighthere.com]

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Leaving

A creative piece in which a girl reflects on her emotions upon leaving secondary school at the end of sixth form.

The early evening sun plays across leaves and tarmac, and she stands alone, feeling curiously cut off from the chatter of the people around her. She glances back at the school, at the place where she’s lived out the last seven years of her life, where, she supposes, between that first day and now she has been changed a great deal. Somehow she still feels the same, though, torn between excited, fractious anticipation and a sense of both worry and loss, wanting to curl up into a ball and simply stay, here with what she knows, what she understands and can navigate.

Seven years filled with laughter and chatter and fiercely concealed tears. Friendships built brick by brick only to crumble, dreams fought for only to lose their appeal. Inspiring lessons followed by hours in which each second felt an age, where flies pelting themselves, uneducable, at panes of glass were a welcome distraction. The talk of real life beginning, of stepping out into the real world, of becoming her own person, all seems bizarre. What could have been more real than her time at this school? Emotions sharpened by hormones: euphoria, devastation, lust, despair, lethargy, hope. This has been her world, formed the greater part of the universe created in her mind.

She gives the school one final glance, trying to take it all in, craning past the hoards of bustling people. This moment should feel significant. This is the moment of change after years of the same bus, the same door that didn’t quite close itself properly, the same lunch hall, same corridors, same people.  Somehow both an ending and a beginning, but in truth all it is is a moment in time, a snapshot of her life. She can’t quite take it in. It doesn’t feel like an ending; it feels like she’ll be here on Monday once again, or at least by the end of the summer. She can’t imagine it, the so commonly discussed Future. This, now, is simply her life.

An eleven-year-old pushes past her, excited for the summer, knocking her with his book-bag and flinging a carefree “Sorry!” over his shoulder.

She smiles slightly, and then turns back from the school, glancing up at the transiently eternal blue sky.

Then, slowly, she walks away.

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