Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fistful of Fingers (UK. 1994)

Best known for his work on the pop cultured fueled TV show SPACED and his films SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and HOT FUZZ, Edgar Wright directed his first feature film FISTFUL OF FINGERS at the wee age of 20. The filmed version was a remake of a project Wright had previously shot on S-VHS: A spaghetti western spoof starring his friend Graham Grow (Who cameos as the Living Statue in HOT FUZZ) and co-stars pretty much everyone in Wright's hometown of Wells, Sommerset.

Wright adopts the 'anything goes' tne of the Zucker/Abraham comedies (Airplane, Top Secret), but fails when it comes to delivering the joke. For something that barely hits the 70 minute mark, it it's noticeably lags. Jokes appear at casual a casual pace, and when they do, they usually miss.. It doesn't help that all the actors have the charisma of toothless drunken cowboy. At best, it's the kind of amusing 'Hey, that is...well...funny...I guess' picture. The energy Wright is famous for: Whip pans, bracing sound effects and energetic camera direction, is missing completely from FINGERS. It's probably the result of having to play it safe because he was shooting on film. If you watch his hour long film that was shot a few years before - DEAD RIGHT (Included on the HOT FUZZ special edition) it includes a lot of the quirks that became his stock of trade – yet they're nowhere to be seen FISTFUL. You can tell Wright was struggling with the feature film format: Scenes drag on forever, shots are recycled, and there's an entire ten minute bit played out in complete darkness.

Wright has said in interviews that the original S-VHS version worked much better: “Re-creating the scenes on film sucked the life out of them.”

Still, no matter what I think of FISTFUL, it got Wright his first job in television, which led him to the work he's doing today. Sometimes you don't need a classic right off the bat, all you need is something that shows you can do it.

Keep an eye peeled during a flashback (It only lasts 10 frames) for Dan Palmer, Writer/Star of the underrated zero budget comedy horror film FREAK OUT. He's one of the bullies.

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