DID YOU READ

“Warm Bodies” director Jonathan Levine explains why Seth Rogen was the film’s “safety net”

warm-bodies-interview

Posted by on

When you listen to the voiceover in the new zombie comedy “Warm Bodies,” think of Seth Rogen. Director Jonathan Levine, who worked with the comedian on his cancer comedy “50/50,” showed him the film at around the same time as Rogen was finishing up his apocalypse comedy “This Is The End,” and the two directors gave each other a screening of their respective films and swapped notes. For “Warm Bodies,” Levine had been struggling with how to help his zombie lead R (played by Nicholas Hoult) to articulate himself, given that he’s mostly prone to grunts at first.

“Seth was like, ‘You either have to make the voiceover funnier, or lose the voiceover entirely,'” Levine told IFC. “I was like, ‘I want to make it funnier,’ so he said, ‘Okay, here are some ideas.’ So I stole his ideas. I do whatever he says.”

Levine, who said he’s been a fan of Rogen’s since “Freaks and Geeks,” called him his “safety net.” “He helped with the voiceover, helped with the pacing, and then I came in and kind of maybe helped him with his movie. His movie is in great shape. I’m giving it two enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s going to be a monster.”

And Levine knows his monsters. He put actors such as Hoult and Rob Corddry through “zombie training school,” a class led by Jean-Jacques Pillet from Cirque de Soleil, who taught them how to move like corpses, “a lot of really weird shit.” (Though the director has a cameo, he didn’t play a zombie himself, just a guy teaching a zombie how to catch a ball. “I have a cameo in every movie,” he admitted. “In ’50/50,’ I’m in the back of the bus. In ‘The Wackness,’ I’m the first person walking down W. 4th Street getting the middle finger.”)

When not in zombie training school, actors on set bonded over watching viral videos. John Malkovich, in particular, became quite adept at imitating them. “It was the funniest shit ever,” Levine said. “He was talking whatever video was the top thing of the week, party boy, girl on a toilet, and re-enacting it verbatim, in character, perfectly. And he’s John Malkovich, so you can imagine. There was one where he was like, ‘I want some waffle fries for free!’ I remember that one: ‘I want some fucking waffle fries.'”

“Warm Bodies” is based on the book by Isaac Marion, and the author is already working on a sequel, which both intrigues and scares Levine. “I always find it really weird to talk about sequels when we have no idea if anyone’s going to go see the movie or not and like it — which I really hope they do!” he laughed. “So if that happens, then, yeah, I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to revisit these characters.” Just don’t ask to him to try to survive an actual zombie apocalypse, because that scares him even more. “I’d be fucked,” he said. “I’d be totally fucked. I’d be horrible. I would just curl up in a fetal position and weep copiously, and I would do that maybe even before there was a zombie apocalypse. I’m a bad person to have in the trenches.”

Will you be checking out “Warm Bodies” this weekend? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Carol Cate Blanchett

Spirit Guide

Check Out the Spirit Awards Nominees for Best Male and Female Leads

Catch the 2016 Spirit Awards live Feb. 27th at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Wilson Webb/©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

From Jason Segel’s somber character study of author David Foster Wallace, to Brie Larson’s devastating portrayal of a mother in captivity, the 2016 Spirit Awards nominees for Best Male and Female Leads represent the finest in the year of film acting. Take a look at the Best Male and Female Leads in action, presented by Jaguar.

Best Male Lead 

Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Watch more Male Lead nominee videos here.

Best Female Lead 

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Watch more Female Lead nominee videos here.

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

warm bodies

Posted by on

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.

DVR Alert: Freaks and Geeks enters The Automat

Freaks-and-Geeks-freaks-and-geeks-708313_1024_768

Posted by on

Before Judd Apatow knew what “This is 40″ felt like, before James Franco cut off his arm in “127 Hours,” before Paul Feig directed “Bridesmaids,” before Seth Rogen was a massive movie star and Jason Segel hung out with the Muppets and Busy Phillips moved to Cougartown, before all of these things, there was “Freaks and Geeks.” As you well know, “Freaks and Geeks” is one of the greatest TV shows ever, though it only lasted a single hilarious, heartbreaking, almost perfect season. That season is now airing on IFC’s The Automat a.k.a. the DVR-friendly part of the day.

While we all hold our breath and cross our fingers in the hopes of a “Freaks and Geeks” movie, set your DVR to record the show when it airs at 5 am ET/4am CT a.k.a. The Automat.

Watch a few clips to help you remember why you love “Freaks and Geeks” so darn much:

Now go set your DVR!

Want the latest news from IFC? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @ifctv.

Powered by ZergNet