Thursday, February 7, 2013

my critic cap

I'm waxing Roger Ebert/Pauline Kael/some other uppity, wordy film critic today.
But FIRST: thank you  for the fun feedback on my first ever birth story in two parts. It was particularly gratifying to get compliments on my infant daughter's appearance in her first hours of life. Way shallow, right? Yes, but let me briefly explain: Sean and I thought Jordan was the most shockingly beautiful baby to ever grace any delivery room anywhere in all of time. Upon retrospective reflection, we were likely suffering from the common newparentitis. Then one of my sisters - she shall remain unnamed(anna) - on her first meet and greet with Jordan in the hospital, hedged "um, she looks kinda scary Jess..." WHAT. This child is insanely gorgeous. No child has ever touched the perfection embodied in this perfect five pound casing of perfection. Anyway, it was nice to have just a little affirmation. I don't expect you to agree with my overall assessment, but you'd just be wrong and I can't fault you for that. Nobody's perfect. Except Infant Jordan.

Alright, now what I'm here to talk to you about this handsome Thursday:
It's been a long-standing tradition of mine to gift my two youngest sisters with "sister dates" on their birthdays. We have dinner together and view a movie of their choice in theaters. It only took my second-to-the-youngest sister, Liv (15 years old), nearly five months to choose, but last week I got this in my email inbox:

Okay Jessie, I have finally figured out what I want to see for my birthday! It's a movie called "warm bodies." It's rated PG-13 for violence and language. It's supposed to be actiony, comedy, and romantic! So I would love to see it with you! when ever you are free, we should see it! 

Look at her, doing her research. No sexual content - what a pro. I remembered somewhere in the nearly abandoned recesses of my mind that I had seen a preview for this one...oh shoot. Another zombie movie. Man, those are on trend. Sigh. But this is what she wants to see, so of course there shall be no complaints from this end.

Here's the deal: it was actually pretty good! I was very pleasantly surprised. And remember this kid?

yeah, he looks like this now:

Well alright, probably not usually, but in zombie makeup he does. Anyway, the About a Boy theme song was running through my head nearly the whole movie. 

The briefest of synopses for you so you can halfway understand the obnoxious psychoanalysis that follows (I'm sorry, this is what I do. I'm completely overly analytical, particularly with all things cinema.): There has been some type of apocalyptic event that has divided the Earth between zombies and humans. The human survivors have holed themselves up behind this massive wall to protect themselves as best they can. Groups are sent out on intelligence detail to gather supplies, as well as intel on the zombies so as to figure out how best they can be defeated. One such detail meets a group of zombies, and hence their fate, with the exception of Julie (Teresa Palmer, who looks juuuhuuuhuust like Kristen Stewart), the human heroine of the story, who is saved by "R", the zombie hero. R forms an immediate attachment to Julie and protects her from the other zombies by smearing blood on her face so as to pass off as one of them. They're kind of dumb, the zombies. As the story progresses and R and Julie form a friendship, R becomes less zombie-esque and increasingly human-like.

I really couldn't tell you if it was intentional on the part of the writers and producers of this movie - especially given that the target audience, I assume, is teenage and young adult girls who are dragging their sorry bf's out on Valentine's Day - but this movie is actually laden with some great intertextuality. The message of the movie is pretty obvious, even just from watching the preview: love makes us "more human"; love makes the world a better place. Cheesy when put like that - but still true.

Then Livy pointed something out and she's right on: "R" and Julie.... Romeo and Juliet. If ever there were star-crossed lovers, it's gotta be the human girl and the zombie dude. There's even a balcony scene wherein Julie is leaning over the edge only to find R gazing up at her in the moonlight. Rest assured though, this is much more a rom-com than a Shakespearean tragedy. But the connection is assuredly there.

Lastly, there was a strong reference, I thought, to the Berlin Wall. The humongous wall in the movie separated the humans from zombies (understandable. safety first.) but it built up prejudice as well, since the Head Honcho zombie killer man guy (John Malkovich - classic) simply would not listen to Julie when she tries to convince him that the zombies are changing for the better - even when she presents R as proof. He is convinced that they could never change, and they all must be destroyed on sight. There's a further Berlin Wall connection but I'll save it in case you ever decide to see the movie.

Oh, and also, this movie had a pretty killer soundtrack. I had all but forgotten about Bob Dylan's gem Shelter from the Storm  (could NOT find a not-cover on YouTube. It doesn't exist.) but it is truly beautiful and I downloaded it to my phone right away. It reminded me that, as quintessential as Bob Dylan was to his own era, he was also ahead of his time. Which, to me, makes him timeless. He's also the most covered artist in history (literally) so...he's obviously got something people want. Anyway, the soundtrack had a great mix of some golden oldies and new stuff. Approve.

So our sister date was a great success, and Livy proclaimed it "top three movies. maybe even top two." Of course having nothing to do with the fact that she leaned over at least four times throughout the movie and whispered "Nicholas Hoult is really attractive." That's right people: my 15 year old sister does not say things like "hot" or "oh-my-gawd-sah-hawt" or "sexy," she says "attractive." Like a lady. But I'm still not ok with her thinking anyone is attractive. I changed this kid's diapers.

 There were never such devoted sisters.

We're pretty. 
(No really, isn't Livy a babe? The first pic is a better reference for that question, as we're making our stupid faces in this one...)

So, Warm Bodies: witty, comical, fresh, light - but unexpectedly layered. I give it an 85%, that's pretty solid. But just in case you don't trust me: Tomatometer = 77% critics (don't listen to them, they're only looking for Oscar material. Although 77% is still pretty good.) and 83% audience (that's us little people. We know what's up.)

Susan's sister date is up next. She's ten, so I'm thinking something along the lines of Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5.  We're all out of Harry Potters :(


  1. I´ll tell my husband about this movie, he loves zombies :)

    1. Honestly though, you might like it too! I'm squeamish about violence, so the fact that I wasn't totally freaked means they went easy on the zombie gore. And it was kind of a cute story, I thought.

  2. I seriously can't believe Liv is 15...we're getting really old, Jess.