JUSTIN BIEBER. I can’t pick just one ridiculous thing that’s happened this week concerning him. He drag raced in his residential neighborhood under the influence of pot and pills. Just kidding, no he didn’t. He fled the country when let out on parole. Or did he? There is so much speculation and gossip surrounding the kid that I’m just about over it. I wish the rest of America was, too.
Warm Bodies (2013) can’t really be categorized under our Behind the Bandwagon section, because I’ve already seen it. However, I can attest that it is just as good the second time. Sure, you don’t get as many gasps and jumps, since you know they are coming, but you can further appreciate the allusions to Romeo and Juliet and all the heart that pumps through the film.
The film stars Nicholas Hoult of X-Men and Skins fame as R, a zombie who has not completely lost the ability to feel. He takes no joy from eating people, but does so to survive. He even eats the boyfriend of the human woman he falls in love with, Julie, played by Teresa Palmer. Of course, Julie is terrified by R at first, since he is, after all, a zombie. He wins her over slowly but surely, and the love spark between them proves to be a healing measure for the rest of Zombiedom. But can they convince the rest of the humans in time?
Packed with humor, romance, action, and a few scares, Warm Bodies is an unexpected, and original treasure. Sure, it’s based on a book like half of New Hollywood, but it’s a slightly more unconventional book. A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set after a zombie apocalypse. If you look closely, you can see the caricatures of other R & J characters, such as Mercutio (M, a fellow zombie, in the film) and Paris (Perry, Julie’s murdered bf). The movie has a healthy dose of camp, but I think it’s doing it on purpose, and it works. Best of all? It has John Malkovich! I give it a B+.
American Hustle (2013), the newest film by one of the hottest working filmmakers today, David O. Russell, has been receiving a lot of hype lately. Golden Globe noms abound, which will certainly lead to numerous Oscar nominations. It is a critics’ darling right now, but surprisingly enough the Average Joe American is enamored as well. Based on all of those accreditations, I felt I needed to see it. Besides, with Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Robert DeNiro, and Jennifer Lawrence acting in it, I knew I’d at least fall in love with the acting chops. To no one’s surprise, I fell in love with the entire film.
The movie tells the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), a New Jersey con man, and his partner both in crime and the bedroom, Sidney Prosser (Adams). After a successful string of cons, the Feds catch win and hold both for questioning in 1978. Richie DiMaso (Cooper) cuts a deal with them, promising them no jail time if they assist in the capture of four white collar criminals. DiMaso continues to set his sights higher and higher, as he is ambitious and wants to nab some dirty politicians. They set their sights on Mayor Carmine Polito (Renner), a good natured and well-loved New Jersey Mayor with a large family and even bigger heart. He has always been clean on the books, but faced with the prospect of taking money from a wealthy Sheik to be used for the renewal of Atlantic City’s casinos, he is forced to rethink his clean-only dealings. As the plot thickens and very slimey creatures are added to the mix, Irving and Prosser begin to panic and must con their way out of another situation. They develop the perfect plan, and the only thing that can ruin it is Irving’s crazy wife Rosalyn (Lawrence).
I give this film a rare A+. I honestly could find nothing wrong with it. It is full of intrigue and life, with a touch of action and violence, some politics, a healthy dose of drama, and a surprising amount of subtle humor. It’s a gem. The acting was perfection, and it was refreshing to see all the actors outside of their normal comfort zone (assuming there is anything outside of Christian Bale’s comfort zone…). If you haven’t seen it yet, go!
Wes Anderson’s film about first love, Moonrise Kingdom (2012) is a delight. From the moment you press play, you can tell it is a Wes Anderson piece. The music, the lighting, the costumes, and the quirky characters are all very Andersonian. If you’ve seen any of his other works, you’ll recognize some familiar faces in this one–Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Jason Schwartzman. But the real stars of the film are the young couple in love, Sam and Suzy, played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. The two are misfits, hated and feared by most of their peers in their small New England town, due to their odd and sometimes violent tendencies. The film shows us that they are mostly misunderstood, and not nearly as broken and lost as they seem. After an extended period of writing letters, the two twelve year olds plan to run away together during the summer of 1965, and they would have succeeded had it not been for Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), and the Khaki Scouts. The town is mobilized in a search for the wayward lovers, as time passes and a dreadful storm rushes near. While searching for Sam and Suzy, the town comes together and lessons are learned. Meanwhile, the love birds learn more about themselves and each other as they explore their love in the most innocent and endearing of ways.
I must admit, I am a Wes Anderson fan, so I am a little biased. I enjoy his quirky stories and characters, and delight in his slightly left of center humor. Understandably, this is not a film for everyone. I can see how some people would be bored or turned off. This is my review, however, and I give the film an A-. Film quality-wise, it is perfect. There was just a little something missing from the story, though. I wanted more from the adults. Norton’s character was not fleshed-out as much as he could have been, and Murray, McDormand, and Willis were caracatures in large part. The young actors, though, were all amazing.