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“Edgar Wright Saves the World” at the L.A. Film Festival

“Edgar Wright Saves the World” at the L.A. Film Festival (photo)

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“I hope you guys aren’t frustrated that it’s J.J. interviewing me and not me interviewing J.J.,” joked Edgar Wright, sitting across from J.J. Abrams at the Los Angeles Film Festival for a two-hour plus conversation about his career. “And that at the end, you won’t get to ask him questions like ‘When the fuck is ‘Star Trek 2’ is coming out?'”

“We’re here for you, Edgar,” replied Abrams, without missing a beat. “It’s an intervention.”

Funny thing is it was the people in the audience who were the addicts, eager to see what proved to be nine minutes of footage from Wright’s latest “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” and a thorough career retrospective for a director who is only 36. Wright’s already earned a legion of fans with his comedies, which include the TV show “Spaced,” “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.”

Count Abrams among them, as the “Alias”/”Star Trek” mastermind barely referenced his own experiences in the industry, instead firing off one burning question after another to Wright with a boyish, geeky enthusiasm. (One of the highlights of the night was Abrams interrupting the answer to an unrelated question just to ask Wright which was his favorite scene in “Evil Dead 2.” Answer: The 20-minute sequence of Bruce Campbell alone.)

While there were plenty of amusing stories and insights during the evening, from Wright’s dismay at a wrap party for “Spaced” where his cameraman told him “I don’t think there’s a single bit of this I’d put on my showreel” to the elation of having George Romero love “Shaun of the Dead” — (“He watched it on his own with a bodyguard from Universal. I love the idea that George Romero would pirate the film himself. He’s quite entitled to have the residuals from it.”), what follows is a recreation of some of the best bits in Wright’s own words for those who couldn’t make it to the sold out discussion, including thoughts on “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.”

“Dead Right” (1993)

Wright won a video camera on the British TV show “Comic Relief” when he was 16 and “made a superhero film, a western, a video version of the film I then made on 16mm (‘Fistful of Fingers’) and then this, the last one, which might look familiar if you’re a ‘Hot Fuzz’ fan,” since it was shot using many of the same locations in Wright’s hometown of Somerset. While the full clip Wright showed isn’t online, here’s a taste of his first foray into the world of hard-boiled cops and criminals and an anecdote about shooting a violent film in public.

Wright: That playground you could only get in from 6:30 to 9 before the kids turned up and then like 6:30 till 9 after the kids are gone. And it was not dissimilar to shooting ‘Hot Fuzz,’ where we didn’t really have all the streets locked down, so three 18-year-olds with guns and fake blood and knives weren’t really supposed to be in a children’s playground. (laughs) I remember one shot where the cop is standing there with blood all over him and a gun. This old man came up to him, not seeing me or the camera, and he said, “you can’t play with guns in a children’s park!” [Wright and his actor explained,] “No, we’re making a film. No, it’s not real. It’s fake blood, it’s a fake gun. This is a water pistol.” [They pleaded with the man, explaining to him that it’s fake, before the man snorted,] “Well, grow up then.” And stormed off.

06222010_FistfulofFingers.jpg“Fistful of Fingers” (1995)

Wright was just three weeks out of art college when he decided to shoot his first proper feature on £11,000 and a 21-day schedule, inspired by the low-budget DIY style of Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” and Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi.” Though one of his professors warned, “don’t do a spoof as your first film; do something original,” Wright made this Western send-up that was a remake of one of his earlier shorts shot on video. He realized during editing, “There was a lot of nice stuff in it, it wasn’t as funny as the Video 8 one and trying to reshoot the same gags with the same people in the same locations, just the spirit of it was lost along the way.” He didn’t bring a clip of the film to show, but he did speak about its critical reaction.

Wright: I guess it got released in a cinema, not in cinemas. The weird thing was it came out the same weekend as “GoldenEye.” Even though it was on one screen, as happens in the UK, it got reviewed everywhere and some people gave it a good review, like the Evening Standard and the Telegraph, but then Empire magazine, which I collected since issue one, gave it one star. Being a 21-year-old and reading that was just crushing — I thought ohhhhh noooo. Even being at the shop, looking at all the magazines and reading that, I still had to buy it. I threw out all my Empires except for that one. That’s my picture of Dorian Gray; I had to keep the one with the review of “Fistful of Fingers.”

I think if it ever got released on DVD, I’d like to do a lot of supplementary material as some kind of cautionary tale. I probably make too much of a meal of it being bad, as well as the one-star review… and this is the thing with the “GoldenEye” thing, you will be judged against other films. I kind of thought ‘well, “GoldenEye” cost like $100 million. You can’t be reviewed against that.’ No, that doesn’t happen.

There was a good review in a listings magazine. I was completely broke at the time and unemployed. After reading the Empire one seeing a good review is like finding the golden ticket inside the Wonka Bar. I found the magazine, I had no money and I stole the magazine.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…