A few years ago the owner of my local comic book shop recommended a book to me by Robert Kirkman called "The Walking Dead". I got home and found i could not put it down. I went back a week later and bought another book. Then another. A few months ago i heard they were going to make it into a series for AMC and my curiosity was piqued. How were they going to pull it off, i thought. It was such a rich story about survival and the human condition during the zombie apocalypse. The show premiered on AMC Halloween night. Sadly, i don't have cable, but AMC.com posted the pilot for all to see and i am glad they did. The show is so well done. The lead character, Sheriff Frank Grimes wakes up in the hospital after being shot in a stand off only to find he's the only one alive in town. Groggy and confused, he heads home looking for his wife and son and encounters "walkers" along the way. Luckily for him, a man and his son rescue Frank and take him in for a short while until Frank heads to Atlanta to find his wife and son.
Andrew Lincoln plays Grimes exactly as i remembered him from the books. Tough, yet logical and with that sense of fairness and dignity you want to believe all cops observe. Through Frank's eyes we meet other survivors, and hordes of zombies or walkers as the living call them. Directed by Frank Darabont, The Walking Dead is well written, well acted, and has just enough gore to satisfy the most bloodthirsty horror fan.
AMC.com was wise to only post the first episode. It was like a free taste of drugs. Try it. Get hooked. I found myself for the first time ever buying a season pass on itunes because i HAD to see the next episode of the show. Only 3 episodes into the season, i will already say this is the best show on TV. Best $15.99 i have ever spent.
This weekend i saw two foreign films, Le Affaire Farewell and Animal Kingdom. Both i encourage anyone and everyone to see. Le Affaire Farewell is the story of a KGB agent who gives information to French Intelligence at the height of the Cold War. This information is then passed to the U.S. and the mighty Eastern Bloc begins to crumble. While this film isn't packed with action, it is a suspenseful look at what was going down on the other side. An international cast working from a suspenseful script makes this a must see.
Animal Kingdom is a whole other ball of wax. Or whacks as the case may be. This Australian indie is about a Melbourne crime family that is falling apart. When 18 year old Jay's mother dies, he is taken in by his grandma and lives with his uncles, one of which is a drug dealer, and the others are wanted for armed robbery. Jay knows right from wrong, but gets caught up in the mix nonetheless. When one of his uncles is killed by the Armed Robbery Police Squad (who are apparently just killing criminals high and low), Jay's uncle Pope and his brothers take revenge and that's when things begin to spiral out of control. This movie is all about the food chain, and every time you think you know who is at the top of it, you find out you were wrong. Dead wrong.
A local reviewer wrote that he had a hard time understanding the accents in Animal Kingdom. My friend and i had no problem with it, but i thought i'd make a mention of that. Don't be afraid of foreign films, dear readers. You never know when you'll see something you end up loving.
I was reluctant to see the american version of what i consider to be one of my favorite films of all time, Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in). But, i was also curious. The trailer made it look as though it would be less a re-imagining for the American audience who detests subtitles and needs non-stop action and more a true compliment to the original.
And that is exactly what it is. Let Me In tells the story of Owen, a lonely pre-teen living with his mom in cold and snowy Los Alamos, NM. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is tormented by bullies at his school and fantasizes about getting revenge. Then one night, Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her father into his building under the cover of night, covering their windows. The window is covered of course, because Abby is a vampire. When Owen meets her in he courtyard for the first time, she tells him they can't be friends. They do, however, become friends.
Smit-McPhee plays Owen with a good balance of doe-eyed innocence and cleverness while Moretz's Abby is excellent as the centuries old, androgynous Abby who doesn't look a day over 12 who comes into Owen's life just when he needs a friend the most. Character actors Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas add some more depth to the film, and Dylan Minnette is outstanding as Owen's nemesis Kenny, who torments him mercilessly throughout the film. Every time i saw his face come on screen i couldn't wait for him to get his in the end. Hey, I've seen the original.
Matt Reeve's version is actually darker that the original, but only slightly. The gore is all there. The plot is very much the same, although some of the characters have been juggled around. It's also a bit more artistic. In one scene a car crash is shot from inside the vehicle as it's rolling over and over. To be honest, i could go on and on about how good this version was, but i will stop there and leave you with this, dear readers: while some might think this is just a vampire movie, it's so much more. It's about the importance of friendship and acceptance. And that's what life is all about.
On Sunday i decided i wanted to go see a movie. Agora was playing. I'm Still Here was playing. While both of these appealed to me, i chose instead to see Cairo Time, a romantic movie about a woman who visits her husband, a U.N. big wig. and falls in love with his assistant while he is away at the Gaza Strip defusing an uprising.
When i decided on this movie, i thought it was based solely on my love for Patricia Clarkson who plays Juliette, a magazine editor whose children have grown and moved on. A woman who has never been to the "Middle East" as she refers to Cairo to her Husband's assistant Tareq, played by the wonderful Alexander Siddiq. But now i know better.
Earlier in the day, i broke up with my grilfriend. Most people probably wouldn't pick a romance to go see. Maybe comedy, or a horror movie. Heck, they might have gone right back to bed. But not me. I was feeling sad, and needed to see something beautiful to make me feel better. I got what i needed. The setting and cinematography for this film was more beautiful than i can describe. The relationship between Juliette and Tareq is played out with restraint perfectly by the leads, and parallels Juliettes love for the city itself. All of this marked by a beautiful score that pulls at ones heartstrings at just the right moments, especially the ending which is not what one expects.
I was all set to go see The Big Lebowski on Thursday, hell, I'd been waiting all month for it. Last month i saw The Dark Crystal at Cinemapolis as part of the local favorites and was impressed by the talk the presenter gave before the film. This was his favorite film and he let the crowd know it as he gushed about it.
Now, as The Big Lebowski approached, my excitement was barely containable. I kept reading the presenters little spiel about why he loved the film. Every time i read it, i found myself getting a little more incensed. Unlike the previous presenter, i didn't see the passion over the film. He didn't gush over it, but sounded more like a high school sophomore talking about a film he really, really liked. And the more i read this, the less i wanted to be in that theater with this guy, even if Lebowski is in my top ten.
Now, this guy is a big local musician, so i think that's why the folks at Cinemapolis approached him. This leads me to sigh a big sigh. A person should be passionate about their favorite film. They should be able to say more than "i really like the characters." or "i love wacky comedies". Sigh. Because i didn't want to be disappointed, i chose to head to Regal and see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and i was very glad i did.
Scott Pilgrim is based on a graphic novel about a indie rock boy (played by Michael Cera) who falls for pink haired, mysterious cool girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). They fall for one another and Pilgrim finds out he has to fight Ramona's 7 evil exes to the death.
I had been looking forward to seeing this ever since i found out Edgar Wright would be directing. I was curious to see what he would do with a film not involving Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I don't say this often, but it was unlike anything i had ever seen. It was a crazy action-fantasy filled with video game graphics and smart dialogue by a fantastic young cast. Cera and Winstead are great as the lead couple, but the evil exes and Kieran Culkin who plays Wallace Wells, Pilgrim's gay roommate and reluctant advisor who steals the film. I must mention the soundtrack, which fits the film like a glove, and boasts everything from the Pixies to Plumtree and some other treats in between.
Most people just want to get the girl, i just want to see a good movie.
I'll be as brief as i can. The Expendables was an action buff's wet dream. Big explosions, lots of weaponry, and fight scenes galore. That said, let me add that it would have been a much better film if there had been no dialogue. The script seemed as though it was written by a high school junior who had seen Commando one time too many. Schwarzenegger looked as though he was in pain during his cameo, and UFC and WWE guys should stay in the ring where they don't have to speak.
Worst of all, the ending left me with the terrifying feeling there's going to be a sequel. Ah, another Saturday well spent seeing a film that was actually worse than i had feared it would be.
A Student of World History and Film, I mostly write about films i have seen, but i am also known to write about my zany adventures with the many fine folks i call friends, and i am also known to go on the occasional rant.