Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies - 98 min – PG13

I am a zombie fan so this ZomRomCom (Zombie Romantic Comedy) already has my attention. It’s a really a well put together film. They have a good mix of zombie lore with all of the angst of a young romance. Being a young woman in a zombie apocalypse is hard, especially when the man who is looking for your affections is dead, and he who ate your boyfriend. The story shambles along in a very formulaic way but it has some good funny parts to keep it lighter than your normal zombie face-eating movie. I think it is the lightest apocalypse movie I have ever seen. I was originally thinking yellow light but as I think about it I am leaning more toward green.

R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie who feels empty and trapped by his existence. He is looking for something more out of life. He and his friend M (Rob Corddry) head into town to scare up something to eat. They stumble upon Julie, Nora and Perry (Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton and Dave Franco), a group of human scavengers. R is bitten by cupid and falls for Julie, but not before eating her boyfriend Perry. Hey, at least R feels bad about it. R has an idea that he can save Julie so he covers for her and gets her to shamble back to his airplane lair for safety. He keeps her safe for a few days then they make their way back to the human settlement. The change in R seems to be catchy and other zombies are having a change of heart. There is another more deadly brand of zombie that the zombies call “boneys” that are not affected by the love bug. Apparently they are too far gone to be saved. Julie pleads with her father, Grigio (John Malkovich), that the zombies are changing but he is very set in his ways.

This is the first zombie movie that brings us the zombie’s point of view. I wonder if this is more of a commentary of the increase in non-interactive media that people are engaging in. There is a quick scene at the beginning where R laments the loss of being human and interacting with other people and everyone in the scene is looking at an electronic device. I guess you could continue the thought here saying that love will awaken the human in all of us electronic addicted non-human engaging modern zombies. We can break down the walls like in the movies through mutual understanding and tolerance for different people. Or it could just be a cute romantic comedy with a different twist on the whole zombie craze.

Jonathan Levine brought together a great cast and did a good job of delivering this heavy setting in a light-hearted way. His body of work is on the lean side but he has some really good stuff under his belt. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next. Nicholas Hoult’s performance in this really makes the movie. It’s seeing his transformation from rotten to human that sells the story.

This movie was good but is nowhere near the awesomeness that Shawn of the dead was. That is still the gold standard of ZomRomCom.

I did notice that in the trailer they had mixed elements from the film but not in the right order. I did a few articles (Coming soon… Part One, Coming Soon… Part two) on trailers misrepresenting films. I don’t think I talked about movies that use elements that are in the movie in different scenes. I might have to look at this again. Another trailer takes all of the best parts and uses them. I hate it when they do that.

Warning Spoilers!!!!!! Only people with a pulse beyond this point!!!!!!!

Ok I am not sure I completely buy the whole “love saves the day and makes zombies into humans again” idea, but I have to rein myself in. I am talking about what can and can’t affect a mythical creature called a zombie, so I am not going to look at that too closely.

The using the brains to steal memories from the living was a bit gross and somewhat creepy that he was living vicariously through the memories from her boyfriend to get more information about her. But as she may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome and a mild case of necrophilia I guess it all works out.

Analeigh Tipton is showing more of a stronger presence on screen. I really liked how she was holding the gun to Grigio’s head and told him “Oh I would so shoot you” Strong, tough, funny role for her.

What movie genre should be zombified next?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad – 113min – R

This movie feels like it was made directly from a true crime magazine. Fans of the game L.A. Noir will enjoy the film because of their overwhelming attention to detail to the time period. The performers fit into the character types and everyone performed well. However the only reason for this film is to have over an hour of rough and tough gunshots and explosions. The mighty hero fights for what is right even if he breaks the rules.

The original release date was changed because its opening weekend was schedule after the Aurora movie theater shooting. The gun violence is your typical Hollywood action fair. It was the scene with a machine gun massacre taking place in a movie theater that had to be removed from the film. This movie is nothing more than a red light film. Well acted but nothing really there. If you are interested in this time period, play L.A. Noir. You will get more out of it.

Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is the big cheese in the Los Angeles crime syndicate. He rules the town with a hard cold demeanor. Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) is a hard boiled ex-marine who takes his role as police officer seriously but treats it like he was on the battlefield. The Chief (Nick Nolte) likes the brutality of Sgt. O’Mara and recruits him on a covert mission to hit the gangsters hard and off the books. O’Mara’s wife, Connie (Mireille Enos) *obviously the brains of the outfit*, hand picks the men her husband is to recruit. The guerrilla-war dream team consists of:

Officer Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie) the only black officer who stands alone in his fight against heroin in the slums.

Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) the good looking ex-marine who has a heart of gold but a spine of ice.

Officer Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) the fast shooting, deadly accurate, six gun wearing officer and his Mexican sidekick/disciple Officer Navidad Ramirez(Michael Peña) .

Officer Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) is the smart tactician and moral compass of the group.

They fight a lot and beat up the bad guy but they lose a few people along the way. Oh and no one gets any recognition for the work they did. But at least O’Mara gets fired for his troubles.

Emma Stone plays Grace Faraday, a moll and police informant. I thought this role was beneath her. Anyone with a pretty face could have done this job because anyone can be set dressing. Although she and Gosling do look good together and they have on-screen chemistry.

Ruben Fleischer made Zombieland a surprisingly great film so my expectations for him are kind of high. I do have to give him credit for re-editing the film to accommodate the sensitivity of the times. It was the right thing to do.

I fear this movie is going to be used in the gun control debate. If it’s used as debate ammunition it should have been a better film. The pro gun people are going to point to this and say it is the reason that there is violence in our society. Even though at the heart of this story are good guys with guns taking down bad guys with guns. The anti gun side of the argument might fall into that same category saying if we did not see violence then we would not have more of it in real life.

There is no quick and easy fix for this problem. Is there a problem? Obviously. Can we just take away all of the pictures of guns and the guns themselves to make everything better? No. Our solution is going to take a lot of work from everyone to set their own personal biases aside and really look at the solutions to the problems. I am just a movie blogger but it seems that everyone is blamestorming instead of finding real solutions. Ok stepping of my soap box now.

Warning Spoilers!!!! Only Officers not on the take allowed beyond this point!!!!!!

I have none, I have tried to think of something that goes into the spoiler section but there’s really is nothing to this movie that makes me want to talk about it anymore than I have to. It was not a horrible film it was really just a nothing film.

Sorry for getting your hopes up and not actually having anything in this section.

I am going to start working on Film Fix Fridays, what movie do you want me to take a look at to see if I can fix what is wrong with it. Yes, I know, I am arm chair quarterbacking but hey, that kind of thing can be fun.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Les Misérables

Les Misérables – 158min – PG-13

I have been putting off writing about this movie. It was such a good movie that I feel unworthy to write about it. The best way to describe it was like going to see the musical from right on stage with the performers. This movie is the musical recorded live as the performers acted on set. All of the performance were outstanding. I now have a new appreciation for this story. I have seen the other movie and enjoyed it but to truly get the scope and majesty of this story you need to see the musical. Obviously this deserves nothing less than a green light.

Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is a man who is jailed for stealing food for his starving nephew. His jailor, Javert (Russell Crowe) tells him that he is free but will always be a criminal. Jean Valjean then goes out into the world to rebuild his life. He has to face the fact that he is a criminal and that he needs to separate himself from the system that has made him into a criminal and rebuild himself completely. He breaks his parole and starts a new life. He becomes a respected member of the community but inadvertently causes Fantine (Anne Hathaway) to lose her job and forces her to sell her body, figurative and literally, on the street to get money together to send to the people watching her child. He finds Fantine and saves her from going to prison and promises to save her daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen). Fantine dies with the knowledge that her daughter will be safe. Javert catches up to Jean Valjean but he escapes with Cosette to Paris. We flash forward, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) is a young woman and they are living during the time of the revolution. She falls in love with a young man by the name of Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who is in danger of dying in the revolution; Jean Valjean saves him so that Cosette can have a happy life. As Jean Valjean has worked so hard for the redemption of his crimes he final dies with the blessings he has created through his good work. He dies redeemed.

I have given you the full over arching story but there are so many sub plots to this story you will still see lots that is new. Because each performance is given with all of the heart and soul from each performer it’s like having a wonderful full course meal for your eyes and ears. The wicked innkeeper and his wife were plated by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. They were marvelous in their roles and brought a level of vile oiliness to the parts that made you feel slimy afterwards.

The Director (Tom Hooper) is probably best known for his work on The King's Speech. He can bring out the spirit of a character through the work he does with his performers. One thing I have liked about both of his films is his dedication to the emotional connection he can build with the audience.

There was one performance that stood out to me more than any other and that was Samantha Barks and her Portrayal of Éponine was so engaging. You will need to keep an eye out for her future career because she has a very small résumé but an immense talent.

Warning Spoilers!!!! Only those who fight for the people can click on this link!!!!!

This movie was exactly what I needed, I cried my head off at the end of this movie and it all started with Anne Hathaway and lead to Samantha Barks right on the heals is Daniel Huttlestone and then finish off with Hugh Jackman. If you need a good emotional release go see his spectacular rendition of this story that is beyond compare.

I did not cry when Javert took his own life but it did shock me, I knew what we was going to do but the performance was so well done it took me by surprise.

Sacha Baron Cohen is a puzzle for me. He is an excellent performer and really enjoyed his role and his performance, but his other work really just rubs me the wrong way. I think that if he would focus on more performances like this and leave his asshattery alone he would reach a much wider audience. He is his own worst enemy.

What was the last movie that moved you to the point of tears? Why?

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Lincoln – 150min – PG-13

Some movies are made in such a way that the only appropriate description is "epic". This is one of those films. This movie takes a look at a specific point in President Lincoln’s life toward the end of the war and the beginning of a new way of life for all of us. Lincoln’s impact on our history can’t be disputed. This movie takes you through that pivotal turning point for our country. It really speaks volumes to the filmmaker who can take a historical event and make it engaging and suspenseful. The performances were outstanding and I was completely entertained through the entire film. This movie gets a green light from me. I am also pleased to say that not one vampire was seen in this movie.

President Lincoln,(Daniel Day-Lewis) is trying to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which would formally abolish all slavery in the country. He is trying to use the war as a selling point to the population. His Secretary of State, William Seward,(David Strathairn) warns that if the war ends, this legislation will not pass because the people are not behind it. They decide to use help from some vote hunters. They employ Robert Latham, Richard Shell and W.N. Bilbo (John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson and James Spader). They must use any means short of bribery to get the votes needed to pass this through Congress. Politics is not the only battle that the President has to deal with; he also has to manage his family. His son, Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), wants to serve his country and join the Army. The President has to balance his son’s desire to grow up and be a man with the fears of his wife (Sally Field) at losing another child. They really added a depth to this historical figure by showing us the wonderful relationship he had with his youngest son (Gulliver McGrath).

Historical movies have their own spoilers written into every American history book. Unless you are going to play fast and loose with the facts you are never going to surprise someone about the outcome of your movie. Steven Spielberg is a master storyteller in as much as he made the vote a nerve-wracking event. I had a moment when I was unsure if they would get the votes needed. Even though I knew the outcome when I went into the theater, they made me fidget because it was a close vote. Well done sir, well done.

Some other really noteworthy performances are Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, the Republican who was outspoken about his anti-Slavery beliefs. His performance of a man who “would say anything” to get his legislation passed is exceptional.

This movie does make me think of where the Republican Party went astray, I was surprised at how much of a contrast in views the Republican Party of this time is with today’s version of itself. I am not going to get deep into politics here, but I am looking at a party that fought hard for the belief in equality of all men before their creator. Where are they now?

Warning Spoilers!!!!!! Only if you Vote YEA to this movie click on this link!!!!!!!!

I really only have one spoiler that I wanted to talk about. In the previous Lincoln movie, I really wanted the President to go to the theater. I was hoping that the theater was the next thing we would see, but this version I really was dreading the inevitable. I did not want to see this President die. Spielberg is marvelous at manipulating the emotions of the viewer. We do not see the assassination. We see the announcement and the reaction from his youngest son. That scene was way more heartbreaking than having to watch the event itself. Again, well done sir, well done.

The other point that was made by Rich, my brother in-law, is that they could have ended the movie with The President walking away and fade to black and it would have still been just as powerful an ending. I agree, the rest of the ending could have been skipped. It was well done but not needed. We all know what happened.

What historical event should Mr. Spielberg bring to life next?