I find it darkly amusing that The World’s End is said by many to be the weakest of the Cornetto trilogy, but it’s the one I can’t get out of my head.
Don’t get me wrong, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were both excellent films. I enjoyed both of them, and I’ve seen them both multiple times, which is uncommon for me (my backlogs are too big!). The thing is, after I saw them, that was it. They were good, and I enjoyed them enough that at one point a second viewing seemed like exactly the right thing to do, but overall they didn’t stick.
Not so with The World’s End. The tale of Gary King is one of the most authentic portrayals of alcoholism I’ve ever seen. It didn’t moralize, it didn’t preach, it didn’t shout – hell, it even reveled in the fun of the pub crawl for a time! Gary King was funny, charming, and frequently heroic, to the point where a friend of mine said he wanted to be just like Gary King during one of the film’s opening scenes…and then they showed the other side. Gary King was also flippant, contemptible, self-defeating, and undeniably broken, and all of this came bursting out in a hauntingly genuine outpouring of emotion in front of that last pint that shocked me back into sobriety. And all of this in a film built not only around his struggles, but around everyone’s battles against their Blanks to form a deep narrative that was still damn funny to watch.
And it’s the worst of the three, apparently. That would be sad, but I don’t take it that way. Yes, it’s sad when something universally lauded like Shin Sekai Yori doesn’t make any money, because it feels like the market has spoken, and it’s saying it doesn’t like great art. But the market often has crappy taste, so sales shouldn’t be taken as a signifier of quality.
No, what it tells me is that you should tell the simple stories first, so people will learn that you can tell a good story, and so that by the time you are skilled enough to tell the difficult ones, enough of them will hang on for the ride.
The World’s End may be considered the worst of the three by many, but it still made money, so apparently the market has spoken. Sometimes it’s the story around the story that matters, this certain actor or director or writer or whatever. That’s what gets people on board, even if the story takes them for twists they never expected.
Though it still helps if it’s damn funny, and you give them an excuse to have a few pints along the way.