DID YOU READ

“Warm Bodies” review: A zombie story with heart… and a lot of brains

warm bodies

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Just when you thought the zombie genre had shambled off into the sunset bereft of any fresh ideas, a movie like “Warm Bodies” comes along and makes the undead seem, well… very much alive.

Written and directed by Jonathan Levine (“50/50”) and based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name, “Warm Bodies” unfolds in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse that has made humans the food of choice for hungry zombies and the savage, skeletal “bonies” that some of the undead turn into after a certain point in time. However, unlike the zombies portrayed in most media, some of the undead in this story still show signs of life, stringing together thoughts and even communicating with the occasional grunt or single-syllable word. “R” is one such zombie, and when he falls in love with a human girl that he saves from some of his fellow zombies, their relationship ignites a spark that not only changes him, but also has a cascading effect on both zombies and humans alike.

While it’s easy to dismiss the concept of “Warm Bodies” as just another young-adult supernatural romance that exchanges vampires and werewolves for flesh-hungry zombies, Levine’s film shares more in common with the modern, clever takes on the genre like “Shaun of the Dead” than it shares with the “Twilight” franchise.

British actor Nicholas Hoult (“X-Men: First Class”) carries much of the film on his slumped shoulders as R, complementing a smart, funny inner monologue with physical acting that just might make him the funniest zombie since Tarman in “Return of the Living Dead.” Emoting shouldn’t be easy when your character is a trudging, near-mindless corpse, but Hoult certainly makes it seem so, adding just the right inclination of an eyebrow or tilt of his chin to give R some genuine depth. The subtle exaggeration of these small movements as the story progresses makes R’s evolution even more believable, and provides a nice showcase for Hoult’s talents.

Playing opposite Hoult, Teresa Palmer (“I Am Number Four”) puts in a good, safe performance as Julie, the object of R’s affections and the daughter of General Grigio (John Malkovich), the leader of a nearby, militarized human sanctuary. Although her character never manages to steal the spotlight away from R, this says more about Hoult’s performance and the focus of the film than anything she brings to the role. The same goes for Malkovich, who plays more of a cameo than anything even remotely as memorable as the characters he’s played in the past.

Still, “Hot Tub Time Machine” actor Rob Corddry does manage to stand out as R’s zombie pal “M,” and the pair have a nice chemistry that translates into some of the film’s funniest moments. Like Hoult, Corddry does a lot with every scene he’s in, right down to the smallest twitch of a shoulder or well-timed grunt, and makes a strong case for M as the character most deserving of his own spin-off film.

In fact, that may be the most impressive achievement in Levine’s adaptation of Marion’s novel: the most interesting, compelling characters in the story are zombies.

Even with all of the story’s allusions to “Romeo & Juliet” (from star-crossed lovers R and Julie, to R’s best friend M serving as the Mercutio to R’s Romeo), “Warm Bodies” never feels like a traditional romance dressed up in a post-apocalyptic theme. The reverse feels more appropriate, with the costume of a classic romance disguising a very smart mash-up of horror and comedy that somehow manages to bridge the divide between two very different audiences and — maybe even more importantly — stand out in an increasingly overcrowded genre.

“Warm Bodies” hits theaters Friday, February 1.

Danzig-Portlandia-604-web

Face Melting Cameos

The 10 Most Metal Pop Culture Cameos

Glenn Danzig drops by Portlandia tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Glenn Danzig rocks harder than granite. In his 60 years, he’s mastered punk with The Misfits, slayed metal with the eponymous Danzig, and generally melted faces with the force of his voice. And thanks to Fred and Carrie, he’s now stopping by tonight’s brand new Portlandia so we can finally get to see what “Evil Elvis” is like when he hits the beach. To celebrate his appearance, we put together our favorite metal moments from pop culture, from the sublime to the absurd.

10. Cannibal Corpse meets Ace Ventura

Back in the ’90s,  Cannibal Corpse was just a small time band from Upstate New York, plying their death metal wares wherever they could find a crowd, when a call from Jim Carry transformed their lives. Turns out the actor was a fan, and wanted them for a cameo in his new movie, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The band had a European tour coming up, and were wary of being made fun of, so they turned it down. Thankfully, the rubber-faced In Living Color vet wouldn’t take no for an answer, proving that you don’t need to have a lot of fans, just the right ones.


9. AC/DC in Private Parts

Howard Stern’s autobiographical film, based on his book of the same name, followed his rise in the world of radio and pop culture. For a man surrounded by naked ladies and adoring fans, it’s hard to track the exact moment he made it. But rocking out with AC/DC in the middle of Central Park, as throngs of fans clamor to get a piece of you, seems like it comes pretty close. You can actually see Stern go from hit host to radio god in this clip, as “You Shook Me All Night Long” blasts in the background.


8. Judas Priest meets The Simpsons

When you want to blast a bunch of peace-loving hippies out on their asses, you’re going to need some death metal. At least, that’s what the folks at The Simpsons thought when they set up this cameo from the metal gods. Unfortunately, thanks to a hearty online backlash, the writers of the classic series were soon informed that Judas Priest, while many things, are not in fact “death metal.” This led to the most Simpson-esque apology ever. Rock on, Bartman. Rock on.


7. Anthrax on Married…With Children

What do you get when Married…with Children spoofs My Dinner With Andre, substituting the erudite playwrights for a band so metal they piss rust? Well, for starters, a lot of headbanging, property destruction and blown eardrums. And much like everything else in life, Al seems to have missed the fun.


6. Motorhead rocks out on The Young Ones

The Young Ones didn’t just premiere on BBC2 in 1982 — it kicked the doors down to a new way of doing comedy. A full-on assault on the staid state of sitcoms, the show brought a punk rock vibe to the tired format, and in the process helped jumpstart a comedy revolution. For instance, where an old sitcom would just cut from one scene to the next, The Young Ones choose to have Lemmy and his crew deliver a raw version of “Ace of Spades.” The general attitude seemed to be, you don’t like this? Well, then F— you!


5. Red and Kitty Meet Kiss on That ’70s Show

Carsey-Werner Productions

Carsey-Werner Productions

Long before they were banished to playing arena football games, Kiss was the hottest ticket in rock. The gang from That ’70s Show got to live out every ’70s teen’s dream when they were set loose backstage at a Kiss concert, taking full advantage of groupies, ganja and hard rock.


4. Ronnie James Dio in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (NSFW, people!)

What does a young boy do when he was born to rock, and the world won’t let him? What tight compadre does he pray to for guidance and some sweet licks? If you’re a young Jables, half of “the world’s most awesome band,” you bow your head to Ronnie James Dio, aka the guy who freaking taught the world how to do the “Metal Horns.” Never before has a rock god been so literal than in this clip that turns it up to eleven.


3. Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat

It’s hard to tell if Ozzy was trying his hardest here, or just didn’t give a flying f–k. What is clear is that, either way, it doesn’t really matter. Ozzy’s approach to acting seems to lean more heavily on Jack Daniels than sense memory, and yet seeing the slurry English rocker play a sex-obsessed televangelist is so ridiculous, he gets a free pass. Taking part in the cult horror Trick or Treat, Ozzy proves that he makes things better just by showing up. Because that’s exactly what he did here. Showed up. And it rocks.


2. Glenn Danzig on Portlandia

Danzig seems to be coming out of a self imposed exile these days. He just signed with a record company, and his appearance on Portlandia is reminding everyone how kick ass he truly is. Who else but “The Other Man in Black” could help Portland’s resident goths figure out what to wear to the beach? Carrie Brownstein called Danzig “amazing,” and he called Fred “a genius,” so this was a rare love fest for the progenitor of horror punk.


1. Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World

It’s surprising, sure, but for a scene that contains no music whatsoever, it’s probably the most famous metal moment in the history of film. When Alice Cooper informed Wayne and Garth that Milwaukee is actually pronounced “Milly-way-kay” back in 1992, he created one of the most famous scenes in comedy history. What’s more metal than that? Much like Wayne and Garth, we truly are not worthy.

“Warm Bodies”: first four minutes of zombie romantic comedy online now

WARM BODIES

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Have you still not been convinced by the zombie love story “Warm Bodies”? Well, allow us to convince you. Summit Entertainment has released the first four minutes of the upcoming film, and they look absolutely fantastic.

Since “Jack the Giant Slayer” got bumped back until March 1, “Warm Bodies” will be the first time audiences are really introduced to Nicholas Hoult as a leading man. The jury is still way, way out on “Jack,” but it’s easy to see from these four minutes of the film how Hoult can carry “Warm Bodies.” Add that to the fact it also stars John Malkovich, Teresa Palmer and Rob Cordrry, and you’ve got some magic on your hands.

The best part about “Warm Bodies” is that it’s a twist on the zombie apocalypse we haven’t seen before. Yes, there has been the whole fast-versus-slow zombies debate that’s gone on for years, but we haven’t seen a zombie love story quite like this. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the film will be what saves it, because if “Warm Bodies” were to be entirely earnest, it probably wouldn’t work.

Based on the Isaac Marion novel of the same name, “Warm Bodies” is about “about a zombie who rediscovers his soul through a relationship with a human girl. It’s due out in theaters on February 1.

Are you as excited by these first four minutes of “Warm Bodies” as we are? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Ghostbusters Stay Puft

Movies That Never Sleep

10 Comedies That Perfectly Capture New York City

Catch Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Mary Evans/Columbia Pictures/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. And since the early days of cinema, The Big Apple has seen all sorts of dreamers and schemers depicted on the big screen. Before you catch Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II this month on IFC, here are ten of the best comedy films that show what it’s like to live in the city so nice, you don’t even mind being mugged leaving the packed subway train each morning.

10. The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975)

Melvin Frank’s adaptation of Neil Simon’s play captures the “screw this city” feeling that every New Yorker eventually experiences at some point. Jack Lemmon is the perfect harried Simon protagonist, a middle-aged everyman who feels like the city has conspired against him. A fed-up Lemmon chasing a mugger (a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone) through the streets of Manhattan is just one in a series of classic New York moments depicted in this roller coaster ride of urban agita.


9. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Madonna’s first major film role captures the grit and coolness of New York City’s East Village in the ‘80s. Through the wonders of amnesia, Rosanna Arquette’s Roberta Glass ditches her dull New Jersey life to dance in cool bars with club kids with poofy ’80s hair, wear an awesome pyramid jacket (at the now defunct East Village thrift shop Love Saves the Day ) and, of course, live The Material Girl’s life. We imagine the plot point about the classified section will be updated to Craigslist Missed Connections for the inevitable remake starring Lady Gaga.


8. Night Shift (1982)

A comedy classic for anyone who watched too much HBO back in the ’80s, Night Shift launched the feature film directing career of Ron Howard and unleashed the frantic comic energy of Michael Keaton into the world. Henry Winkler ditches The Fonz to play a bookish nighttime morgue attendant who starts an escort, er, “love broker” service with Keaton’s hyper-energetic “idea man.” With Cheers‘ resident nice gal Shelley Long playing a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, this is a film that could only exist during the good old seedy days of the city that never sleeps.


7. After Hours (1985)

New York City is filled with characters, many of which Martin Scorsese sheds a light on in this cult favorite dark comedy. A bored office drone (Griffin Dunne) heads to the (at the time) bohemian and sketchy neighborhood of Soho to see a girl he met at a coffee shop and encounters a series of oddballs during his late night quest to get back to his apartment. Dunne is kind of like the “Dorothy” of After Hours as he tries all night to make it back home from the whacked out “Oz” known as pre-gentrification downtown Manhattan. Sculpters, bouncers and punk rockers, Oh My!


6. Arthur (1981)

To crib a line from the film’s theme song (performed by falsetto-voiced crooner Christopher Cross): “If you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love.” Although, it has to be easier to meet someone if you have a few hundred million or so in the bank, even if you are a drunken layabout. In this classic comedy, Dudley Moore’s spoiled man child falls in love with Linda (Liza Minnelli), a girl from Queens who he helps get away from a life of shoplifting at high-end department stores. Between the drunken laughs, there are some poignant moments between Arthur and his butler/father figure Hobson (Sir John Gielgud, in an Oscar-winning role). Arthur’s New York doesn’t include taking cabs or the subway, but he does love a nice drive through Central Park.


5. Coming To America (1988)

Where does the prince of Zamunda go when he wants to find a wife? To Queens, of course and that’s where the hilarity begins for Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem and his trusted servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Akeem falls in love with Lisa (Shari Headley) after taking a job at her father’s local fast food restaurant, McDowell’s, home of the “Big Mic.” The barbershop scenes showcase Murphy’s skills for playing multiple characters and add to the film’s vibrant NYC flavor. (Look for Samuel L. Jackson in an early role as the would-be robber who Akeem takes down with his trusty mop.)


4. Quick Change (1990)

Before Bill Murray was crashing random house parties in Williamsburg, he co-directed and starred in this underrated comedy. Donning clown make-up, Bill plays a bank robber trying to escape the city along with Geena Davis and Randy Quaid (hilarious as the dim-witted Loomis). Of course, their only real obstacle to paradise is getting stuck in the everyday quagmire and craziness of New York City and pre-gentrified Brooklyn as they attempt to make it to JFK. Along the way, they encounter a gangster (Stanley Tucci), a confused cab driver (Tony Shalhoub) and a by-the-rules bus driver played by Philip Bosco. Quick Change is a hidden gem in Murray’s filmography, and the perfect film for anyone who has had it with the big city grind.


3. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

The movie that asks and answers the question “Can men and women just be friends?,” When Harry Met Sally is also one of the great New York City romantic comedies. Making use of iconic locations like Washington Square Park and Katz’s Deli (yes, you can actually sit and eat where Meg Ryan had her “I’ll have what she’s having” moment), Rob Reiner’s comedy captures the romance of the Big Apple with its tale of two friends dancing around the inevitable over a series of encounters.


2. Annie Hall (1977)

While Manhattan has the gorgeous shots of New York City landmarks set to Gershwin music, Annie Hall is the Woody Allen classic that captures the city in all its neurotic glory. It’s fitting that the seeds for the film were planted while Allen and co-writer Marshall Brickman were walking around Manhattan — the city is as much a character as Allen’s kvetching and Diane Keaton’s trend-setting neckties. The scenes with Alvy being miserable among the shiny happy West Coast people started the LA vs. NYC debate that still rages on today. Like a lot of New Yorkers, Alvy is bound to the city that he doesn’t just love, he lurves.


1. Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters isn’t just one of the best comedies ever made. It’s also, hands down, one of the best New York City films of all time. From Venkman, Egon and Ray hunting a poltergeist in the New York Public Library, to Rick Moranis’ Louis getting cornered by a hellhound outside of Tavern on the Green, the city comes to life (literally in the sequel) whenever the Ghostbusters are on the job. You don’t get more New York than Annie Potts as Janine answering the phone with, “Ghostbusters. Whaddya want?!” Click here to see all airings of Ghostbusters on IFC.

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