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A Fantastic Fear Of Everything

Jack tries to clean his clothes in the oven to be presentable for his meeting with Humphries, only to find that he has super-glued a carving knife to his hand. After trying to remove the knife, he discovers that his clothes are ruined. Jack realises that he has to go to the laundrette. Since he is terrified of the prospect, he calls Professor Friedkin, an old friend, and asks for help. After listening to Jack's traumatic memories of the launderette, Friedkin convinces Jack that he must confront his fears and go there.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

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Several months later, we see a well-groomed Jack reading his book about Harold and Brian to a group of children. Sangeet and Professor Friedkin are there. Clair finally introduces Jack to Humphries, causing Jack to become briefly fearful. Sangeet reminds Jack that they are going to dinner, and so they leave the event and catch a taxi as the credits roll over the frame.

Jack (Simon Pegg) is a writer. Or, he was. He wrote a popular children's book about a sensitive hedgehog named Harold. He blames that book for ruining his marriage. When "A Fantastic Fear of Everything" opens, Jack is currently working on a project called "Decades of Death", a study of Victorian-era serial killers, the "Golden Age of murder". He cannot leave his flat in Hackney. He sleeps clutching a knife. Jack is afraid of everything, of being murdered, of launderettes, of eyeballs, of Christmas carolers, of the telephone ringing, and every other casual thing that comes up in life."A Fantastic Fear of Everything", directed by Crispian Mills (with animation sequences directed by Chris Hopewell), is a fascinating and uneven horror-comedy, strange and ambitious, anchored by a tour de force performance by Simon Pegg. Pegg, obviously, is well-known to fans of Edgar Wright's films, as well as his appearances in blockbuster franchises like "Mission: Impossible" and "Star Trek", but here, he is basically given a one-man show. He is in every scene, clad in filthy underpants and an open silk robe. He is a phenomenal physical actor. Watching him work is the primary pleasure of "A Fantastic Fear of Everything." Similar to "Barton Fink," another hallucinogenic story of a writer haunted by his own unfinished projects and lost opportunities, "A Fantastic Fear of Everything" examines the creative process as seen through the eyes of a writer gone completely mad.Jack is a wreck when the film opens, and his condition deteriorates from there. Fleeing from shadows in his own gloomy flat, it is hard to believe that Jack was ever together enough to have had any success as a writer, let alone be someone's husband. "A Fantastic Fear" is best when it explores what it is like inside a paranoid mind, a man so bewildered by the simple tasks of life ("I've never bought a toilet roll!" he cries in a panic to his agent) that he cannot leave his house.The first half of the film features Jack gearing up for a lunch with his agent (deliciously played by Clare Higgins), and then the fallout from that meeting, where she tells him a producer from Hollywood is interested in his "Decades of Death" project. All he needs to do, the only thing, is put on a suit and meet the guy for dinner. But once he is back in his flat, the hallucinations take over again, and he becomes convinced that the Hollywood guy is somehow related to one of the grisly Victorian murderers on his wall. At any rate, the situation goes south, and his panic is exacerbated by the fact that he does not own a suit, his socks are filthy, and he is afraid of going to the laundromat. Mills and the production design team pull out all the stops in the first half, filming Pegg in a distorted and fantastical way, so that never once are we outside his delusional viewpoint. Shadows loom around Jack and cloaked figures seem to float at the end of the dark hallway. Six innocent Christmas carolers on the stoop are filmed as though they are portents of evil doom. As awful as the situation is for Jack, Pegg is so funny and so committed to the performance that the psychotic break becomes hugely entertaining."A Fantastic Fear of Everything" goes off the rails in its second half, when Jack ventures out to wash his socks, shirt, and underpants at a laundromat. He is so frightened that the fellow customers at the laundromat stare at him with what seems to be hostile intent. The situation, which starts out humorously (made even more so by the fact that Jack has accidentally Super-glued his huge knife to his hand), drags on so long it becomes actually interminable. It is as though once Jack leaves his flat, so rich with psychodrama horror-movie potential, "A Fantastic Fear of Everything" doesn't know what film it wants to be anymore. There are still some very funny moments, and the script is often hilarious. Only Simon Pegg could make the screamed comment "This is a CELLAR" funnier with every repetition.As the film galumphs awkwardly towards its ending, with flashes of visual brilliance like intermittent lightning, events start to dovetail, and there are scenes with a Freudian psychiatrist (wearing an eyepatch and a pirate's hat), and a pretty girl who shows up at the laundromat (Amara Karan, well-known for her performance as Rita, or "Sweet Lime", in Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited"), as well as an actual serial killer on the loose who just wants to be loved because he was abandoned as a child. The film is too cynical to play any of this sentimentally: the "wounded inner child" sub-plot is obviously supposed to be snarky and ironic, and it is. But the film is haunted by its superior first half."A Fantastic Fear of Everything" is not, actually, fantastic, but it was inventive enough to hold my interest, weird enough to be intriguing, and bold in some of its visual experiments. At the center of it all is Simon Pegg; terrified and manic, talking to himself, racing around in stained Fruit of the Looms, kitchen knife glued to his hand. It is a compelling and comedic portrait of creativity, obsession, and psychosis.

In fact that's the problem with A Fantastic Fear of Everything: It does seem to contain the everything of the title. The film's tone veers wildly between its comedic and horrific instincts, with broadly funny pratfalls coming just on the heels of chill-inducing dream sequences. But the gags are never as funny as they need to be, and only serve to deaden the impact of the scares.

Jack is a children's author turned crime novelist whose detailed research into the lives of Victorian serial killers has turned him into a paranoid wreck, persecuted by the irrational fear of being murdered. When Jack is thrown a life-line by his long-suffering agent and a mysterious Hollywood executive takes a sudden and inexplicable interest in his script, what should be his big break rapidly turns into his big breakdown, as Jack is forced to confront his worst demons; among them his love life, his laundry and the origin of all fear.

It follows Jack, a writer who has developed a crippling fear of being murdered while trying to write Decades of Death, a television serial about Victorian Era serial killers. After being invited to meet Harvey Humphries, a BBC head of scripts interested in his teleplays, Jack must face the world and another crippling fear of his, the laundrette.

  • Loser Protagonist: Jack is a coward who's afraid of everything.

  • Love at First Sight: Jack falls in love with Sangeet as soon as she walks into the laundrette.

  • Missing Mom: Jack was abandoned by his mother as young boy, in a laundrette, which explains his irrational fear of them. In fact, it turns out to be the very launderette that he has to visit in the present day.

  • Nervous Wreck: Jack begins as one of these, and gradually overcomes his fears over the course of the film.

  • The Paranoiac: Jack's paranoia reaches such a point that he's afraid to answer the phone or open the front door.

  • Serial Killer: Jack spends his time studying these people.

  • Talking to Themself: Jack does this often, either trying to reassure himself, or convincing himself that he is indeed about to be murdered.

  • Troubled Fetal Position: When he calls his shrink, Dr Friedkin, about having to face the laundrette, Jack is in this postion.

  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Jack considers going to the laundrette to be a very last resort, but when he finds he has no clean clothes for his meeting with Harvey Humphries, it becomes his only option.

This year Simon Pegg saw some big action in both Star Trek Into Darkness and the conclusion of The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy in The World's End. Now he's toning it down a bit in a lower profile comedy called A Fantastic Fear of Everything. The film has already seen release in the United Kingdom, and now it's headed to the United States. Kula Shaker frontman Crispian Mills directs this film about a children's author-turned-crime-novelist whose deep research into gruesome Victorian era murders has made him an insomniac, fearful mess who finds himself on the run from an actual serial killer. Watch now!

A few hours after they were told about the challenges we set off on our 24 hour whistle stop tour of the Arizona crater. We hired a small plane to get us there, something I was not looking forward to - due to my fear of flying. We had to get there before the sun was going down and so time was against us, and being further south meant the sun set a little earlier than we'd all anticipated.

The first time we saw the crater it was breathtaking. It really looked like a giant footstep planted in the middle of nowhere. The measurements had to be done that afternoon, so Kathy had thought up an ingenious way of measuring the whole crater in a few hours. All three of them worked very hard, while we filmed. I felt slightly guilty standing there watching them struggle on as they raced against the clock, but I couldn't help them as I had to get all the shots I needed. It was touch and go as to whether they'd get everything finished before the light went, but they made it. And as the sun set over the Arizona desert, I started to relax a little: they'd got all the measurements they needed, we had the helicopter to look forward to tomorrow and at last we could all have a beer! 041b061a72


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