Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Mark's Movie Collection

 
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One word: “oooooooof”. This is a doozy. 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, based on the series of Scott Pilgrim graphic novels written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O’Malley, directed by Edgar Wright and screenplay by Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall is a movie that did not find commercial success, initially, but has become a cult classic that is near and dear to so many hearts. I know you’re all here for the veritable cornucopia of links but for that, and more, use a podcatcher that supports rich show notes or check out the podcast page at scummbags.com

Links

I hope you didn’t think these notes were over because they’re just getting started. Consider this part 2 of the podcast. They probably won’t be this long or this involved ever again. The podcast, not the notes. The notes might get longer. Who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Playlist

Ok, so the playlist is a whole vibe. A whole mood. The amount of characters in the description doesn’t count. It doesn’t allow anyone to go into anything. But I’ll start out with the obvious: my playlists and mixes have always been a bit chaotic. Not to me. To me they make perfect sense and are a reflection of what I am trying to listen to, to experience, to feel. But to others they seem a bit nonsensical. I’m released from that responsibility, a little bit, as Spotify makes it difficult to reorder things (or they did last I checked–it’s 160 songs that this point I’m not going in there to try to make sense out of it). Just hit random on it. Accept what comes. Learn to let go a little bit.

There are many aspects of this playlist and, I’ll spoil the ending for you, they will all fall short. The music in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and the Scott Pilgrim books even more so, are the playlist of an actual human being named Bryan Lee O’Malley who has taste and musical experience that I will never, at this stage in my life, experience or fully understand. Whatever I attempt to project or extrapolate from the music present in the movie is just a straight failure of a basic ass dude from somewhere-the-fuck-else that didn’t even know that those bands existed prior to seeing the movie. So just know that it’s a failure of trying to be more of the same. The music selection was totally rad, and I think that Edgar Wright had a part of play in that. He also makes some rad playlists on Spotify.

My musical taste is different, in the broadest strokes, from either of theirs. That’s not to say that I am better (I’m not) or that their taste sucks (it doesn’t) but that on any given day those songs aren’t necessarily what I would want to listen to. That’s changed a bit since some of the songs in the movie really hit with me but I’m speaking in generalities here. I wasn’t an indie kid, I was a metal kid that still listened to rap music and grew into prog, math rock, and post-rock. I started out on punk and grunge like O’Malley but ended up on a totally different path. But “hipsters” of today, of now, of 2020, might be into math rock and post-rock and prog. Maybe it’s just a different slice of the same pie. That’s how I’m going to justify it to myself.

I played Grand Theft Auto 5 for a bit. On the X360 because I didn’t have a next-gen console at the time. NBD I loved the game. I’ve played them all except for GTA3 and GTA:SA but I remember renting GTAs 1 and 2 on the PSX and just being blown away by it. Vice City threw me for a loop because it was Miami. How fucking cool was that? In my house you couldn’t speak while Miami Vice was airing. So I played 4 and it was cool but 5 really got me. GTA5 was probably as much of a toxicly-masculine-wannabe-macho power trip as it was a therapy session and a “fuck you” to the idea of wealth and celebrity from people who were really being dicks with regards to their employees in search of wealth and, maybe, celebrity. But one of the things I liked about Vice City, GTA4, and GTA5 was the radio stations. Yes, the radio stations. The driving physics were awful but the radio was great. Essentially playlists with some commercials and some DJ spots. I listened to a lot of V-Rock in Vice City. I can’t recall what I listened to in GTA4 but in GTA5 I pretty much exclusively listened to Radio Mirror Park.

GTA5 is based on Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and to an extent California in general and Radio Mirror Park factors into that quite a bit. There’s a neighborhood called Echo Park which is clearly the inspiration for Mirror Park and it’s been called a “hip” neighborhood but in the bad way. The radio DJ is snide and sarcastic but he talks about how the station is what rock and roll has evolved into and it’s mostly electronic dance music that I would call, for lack of a better term, casual. But I think it has that nugget of truth in there. Electronic music is somewhat the new DIY punk or rock and roll aesthetic. Music technology has improved by leaps and bounds and having a “garage band” is more like just having Garage Band. I hate myself for saying it but there is some truth to it–yes I know that’s why it’s named that way I acknowledge my failure. There are supremely talented individuals who can basically make an album by their damn selves. There is no record deal necessary. No studio time to book. Your marketing is Facebook and Instagram. These are truly independent creators who may not even be touring but are putting out some really great music. I think I included some of that in the playlist because, really, it just made sense to me.

O’Malley was in a band in the early 00’s where a bedroom studio was pretty rare, even with the digi001 being released, still had a high barrier to entry (see digi001), and really had this fucking garbage gate keeping mentality of old dudes who cut tape and looked down upon everyone who didn’t or couldn’t. That’s changed a lot and you can still find some people like that but you can also find people from that era who have grown and expanded their worldviews to include just new shit in recording. If you think that indie is an acoustic guitar and abstract lyrics that’s fine but that’s not the only indie. So, taking that into consideration, there are some selections like that in there. The books touch upon this, not specifically per se but I guess touches around this with Stephen Stills and Joseph, who has a home studio. I don’t know if O’Malley meant that to signify the changing of the guard, so to speak, about music production as well as other things, thematically, but it certainly was the advent of a new generation. I’m out here like some dumbass making a podcast but I could definitely record demos or a backpack album with what I have and this whole technology-making-content-creation-accessible thing really showed up from 2010 and onward.

I also threw in some video game music. Gotta have some video game music. Young Neil’s DS probably has the Four Swords A Link To The Past GBA game in his DS Lite and he’s rocking it consistently throughout the movie as part of the environmental soundtrack. The movie opens up with the opening of the main screen right after the narration if I recall correctly and it keeps it up from there. We get all types of environmental game sounds so it’s great. So I threw in some VGM and tried to be varied in my selections. The way that the movie uses sound is so fucking great and I just had to throw that into the overly long podcast.

The Party Scene

Remember that I said I made a graphic? I totally did. Here it is:

There’s a lot to look at in this amateurish attempts at a jpeg video essay–and I need to say that I have the utmost respect for video essayists. As a matter of fact I’ll drop some massive links for some right here:

  • Patrick (H) Willems https://www.youtube.com/user/patrickhwillems (there’s a lot of really good ones here)
  • Folding Ideas https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyNtlmLB73-7gtlBz00XOQQ (the cooking show video is so fucking good)
  • Lindsay Ellis https://www.youtube.com/c/LindsayEllisVids/videos (manufacturing authenticity video for fun and profit was eye-opening and dovetails in with the cooking show video from Folding Ideas. They talk to each other)
  • Nerdwriter (duh) https://www.youtube.com/user/Nerdwriter1 (these are somewhat bite-sized in comparison)
  • Adam Neely https://www.youtube.com/user/havic5 (he’s evolved from bass lessons to video essayist on music and wow)
  • Tim Rogers https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjKSoJlPgcK6BmoSqXpj5xQ (An amateur Video Game Liker who turned professional Video Game Writer who ended up creating his own style of criticism in a unique voice that has subsequently, upon becoming independent of Kotaku, turned out two three hour “game reviews” that I think I actually like a lot more than I would like to actually play those games. They’re not just reviews anymore. The content is insightful and the style is so engaging that I’m almost there just for the metagame at this point. You can also see the review for Hyrule Warriors on the Kotaku channel to get a taste of what Tim Rogers might do in about half an hour. That and the story about stepping on a rat in the subway from Vermintide. I can’t tell if he’s serious about Diary of a Tennis Monster or if that’s his riff on Infinite Jest. I also don’t want to be certain–the uncertainty is too good)

Ok so that done I’ll get back to the thing. When Scott and Ramona are standing next to each other that shot gets me every time. Everything is so synced up. If you can zoom in and see the faint lines I drew that’s to signify the balance between objects. He’s wearing a blue shirt with red shirt peeking out and she’s wearing a red shirt with a blue pocket. Holy shit, team. Holy. Shit. He red hair stands out on the drab green wall like the red cup stands out against Scott’s shirt. Come on. This is masterful. And I know that the actors gave Edgar Wright a hard time about blinking and I’m sure he did several retakes when someone blinked because I get it–no one blinks in a comic book or a manga–but they do blink. Just not often at all. Saying that no one blinks on screen is hyperbolic but not without a nugget of truth. Apologies for the bad arrows but I do need to figure out a tablet at some point. I probably would have rage quit trying to do this on my iPad and I don’t have an Apple Pencil so I would have been double pissed. Additionally the video blogs for the movie are on Vimeo and here, specifically, is the video blog on the party scene. Ingrid Haas is legitimately hilarious.

The aspect ratio thing happens a few times and when he dies it goes super-wide. Fun fact: this movie was shot on anamorphic for only parts of it. The fight scenes and when things need to be a little surreal is when it was shot on anamorphic. That’s wild, right? Galaxy Quest also has a really fun aspect ratio change that didn’t really get translated to home video as well because it goes from square–the original TV show–to letterboxed for the con, to then go full 2.3 when he sees space from the ship and the really hot ticket there was that movie theaters would need to actually open the curtains on the sides of the screen to accommodate that image format which must have been wicked to experience. This is a really really good page on aspect ratio changes: https://tadleckman.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/shapeshifiting-films/. Screen Junkies also made a documentary which is available on Amazon Prime called Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This is the exact cover I was thinking of on that last shot: https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/Nick_Fury,_Agent_of_S.H.I.E.L.D._Vol_1_4. Jim Steranko did a run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. that had some wild and badass 60’s paranoia covers.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is also streaming on Amazon currently. I think it’s a fun movie. If you’re an adult in full pandemic-stress-depression then you’ll either really like it or really hate it. Again I was close to the age of the characters in the movie when I saw it so I dug it.

Other Things

My friend Heather is going to be starting her Sunshine Summit from August 9th to the 13th and there are some really cool guests on there. Check it out at https://www.sunshinesummit.live/.

Shout out to my boy Luke from Luke Who’s Talking 😀

Samba Stings by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4008-samba-stings
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

None of the other music used as a stinger or under me talking appears in the movie. All of that stuff is from a sound library that I paid up front for a year for and I just really feel that I need to get my money’s worth. I also really wanted to see if I could get the vibe that the movie has where the music is just around in the world. I don’t think I quite captured it.

I know that it’s just the service that has won the service game but Spotify really does not provide viable compensation to the artists. I realize it’s a difficult market to be in and I believe that other services handle their subscriptions differently but I’m just saying. I’m out here like half protesting Spotify while dropping various links to it. It’s not just them but they’re the biggest one on the block, so to speak.

I had already forgotten that I took the time to write a script to randomize the voices from macOS to say “link in the show notes” because I got tired of hearing myself say “link in the show notes” or, much worse, “link in the description”. I also don’t have terribly original stuff for stingers and bumpers. But I’ve had the experience of working with them and it’s… annoying. I counted 17 links to put in the description and I’m pretty sure I forgot at least one. I made three First Man jokes the same day I recorded this. That’s the space pizza thing. In my head it was “first pizza in space” and that made total sense. I’m sure that joke is landing fucking nowhere.

The way the SNES makes music is so wild. It’s all sample based, right? So you can get like a random synth sample like the SNES LoZ:ALTTP kinda deal which is pretty basic and you can do some really basic digitization, like TMNTIV:Turtles In Time as I mention and demonstrate, but I didn’t talk about the specifics of that. That audio comes straight from the game and what they would do with samples, to save space, was to record them high-pitched and then play them slower to save space. Not every sample but the ones they could get away with, I guess. “Pizza Time” was legit but the “awww, Shellshock” needed to be slowed down and I did that based on memory. I believe that is what it sounded like when played on the hardware. But then it evolves to Donkey Kong Country, as seen in this Nerdwriter video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvIzIAgRWV0 and the music in that game messed me up. I felt like shit just got real. Then you get fucking Tales of Phantasia which what the hell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psahbJJCPuU. Apparently it was thousands of sample files to create this? Fun fact: the SNES is capable of playing “Red Book” audio (fun fact: you know someone is an asshole when they say “Red Book” audio and there isn’t really a technical reason for them to say that other than to try to make you feel stupid for not knowing it just means CD audio) and you can see what that might be like in this article. In my list of systems the SNES is somewhat soundly at the top because it was actually my first video game console and coming up hot on its heels is the PSX/PS2. There was a bit of a dynasty there broken up by the Xbox and that was a fun time.

If I think of anything else I meant to put in here (I promise you I forgot stuff–I’ve had countless thoughts lost to the responsibilities of adult life in the past few weeks. Yes, I can write them down but no, I could not have written them down in that moment.

2020 is a bit of a dumpster fire.

Be nice to people.
Wear a mask.
Black Lives Matter.

And there’s some stuff going on that maybe you should take a look at, while you’re at it. I haven’t been extremely on top of the news because it’s been a lot of bullshit lately but this seems to be getting a lot less press than I would ordinarily expect.

Serious jouranlist/critic/writer: You know, Mark, you’re a bit too attached to the em dash.
Me: e m I?