Film Review: ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP (USA 2019) ***

Zombieland: Double Tap Poster
Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.

Director:

Ruben Fleischer

Writers:

Dave Callaham (screenplay), Rhett Reese (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

ZOMBIELAND begins with the Lady Statue of Liberty Sony Pictures Logo coming off her pedestal and whacking off two zombies, reminiscent of the time she drew guns from her cowboy belt way back when in 1965 at the start of the Jane Fonda western comedy hit CAT BALLOU.  Expect the same zaniness.

ZOMBIELAND takes half the film to pick up.  The first half is a little slow, boring and annoying wth little action, silly special effects, unfunny jokes and impromptu nonsense from the actors.  But be a little patient.  The film improves.  It calls for the narrator Columbus to bring the audience up to date with the state of affairs.  The audience is informed that there are three categories of zombies, the very slow, the stealthy and the new almost invincible breed.

ZOMBIELAND picks up, fortunately once a few comedic set ups set in.  It is clear that the single premise of human beings fighting zombies is insufficient material for an entire film.  One setup involves the meeting of Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) with a musician and their quest to find their Utopia, which in this case is Babylon.  The problem with this one is the really annoying musician boyfriend, (Avan Joglia’s Berkeley) who is as unfunny as he is unoriginal.  Babylon is a sort of hippie haven.   Another set-up, the film funniest and best has the two Columbus and Tallahassee meet their doppelgangers.  Each are unaware oftener own doubles, which make the situation even funnier.  Columbus’s double is as dorky as himself with his own rules which he calls commandments.

A little romance is provided.  One is the couple played by Emma Stone (as Wichita) and Jesse Eisenberg which is a little played out and manipulative.  The other between Harrelson and Rosario Dawson (as Madison) is the wilder but funnier one which is more in tone with the movie.

Performances-wise, Harrelson and Eissenberg deliver exactly what audiences would expect of them.  Harrelson overacts the way he normally does, screaming out his lines while jumping all over the place.  Eissenberg does his usual talky dorky bit.  The two opposites make the perfect unlikely buddies.

For a big budget zombie horror comedy, the special effects are excellent as is expected.  There are lots of gore and violence with some good vomit thrown in.  Chopped limbs, severed heads, gushing blood are plentiful whenever there is a zombie attack. 

The film’s climax is the big zombie attack on Babylon after the residents celebrate with fireworks thus attracting the monsters.  Special effects are turned on to the maximum with lots of pyrotechnics and explosions.

There is one last comedic set-up at the end so audiences that leave at the beginning of the closing credits.  Bill Murray plays himself being interviewed at some sort of comic con convention promoting what is his new GARFIELD 3 movie  When trying to churn out a fur ball with his interviewer, the interviewer strut spewing out vomit and while the convention is then attacked by zombies who are fought off by Murray.  

Is ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP better than the original?  Hard to say as many will not remember the original (back in 2009) being quite some time back.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlW9yhUKlkQ

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Film Review: NEVER AGAIN IS NOW (USA 2019) ***1/2

Never Again Is Now Poster

Evelyn Markus is a psychologist.  She is not a filmmaker by profession.  But Evelyn has a story to tell.  This documentary is her story of doing her part to prevent NEVER AGAIN being now.

Markus is a Jew born and raised in the Netherlands where her family history goes back more than 400 years.  She grew up in the 60s and 70s in the world’s most liberal city, Amsterdam, virtually without any antisemitism where she enjoyed life with her long-time partner, Rosa.  But that all suddenly changed in 2000 when a pink Star of David was graffitied on her front door.  With calls for “Jews to the gas!” shouted in soccer stadiums and shocking and violent attacks in the streets…as a child of Holocaust survivors, her world was taken apart.

Markus found a letter detailing her mother’s Holocaust experience.  When approached by producers who were planning to make a documentary about antisemitism in Europe, she decided to take action.  Markus’ personal story therefore packs quite the punch.  

NEVER AGAIN IS NOW succeeds in two main ways.  The first is educating the audience on antisemitism.  Most of the world are aware of the hatred towards Jews during the holocaust of WWII.  But some are unaware of the widespread and deepful hatred still going on today.  Incidents like the Charlie Hebro killings in France and the synagogue killing the U.S. illustrate the point.  The second is how the hate is manifested and spread.  The film emphasizes the need for governments to do more to prevent hate crimes.

The doc reveals the difference between religious tolerance between the U.S. and Europe something that myself and many would not be that aware of.  Markus praises American as the Land of the Free compared than intolerant Europe where incidents like the holocaust, in WWII, and other terrors attacks have occurred.  The film also points out that American is not immune to the attacks.  The film blames not only the right but also the left which has increasing become a problem.  The film contains disturbing scenes of hate speeches delivered by many an Islamic Imam in the name of faith.

Those interviewed in the film include globally renowned experts, Parliamentarians, religious leaders, authors, activists, playwrights and political commentators including Ben Shapiro, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and devout Muslim physician Qanta Ahmed.

While many films and docs display the good of mankind, this one shows the amount of hate and evil present in man particularly the religious leaders of Islam.

The one important message that Markus’s movie wishes to make is: “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.”  The entire films serves to prove and verify the fact.  To remain silent should not be an option.  The time to speak up is now.  Though a bit over preachy, NEVER AGAIN IS NOW gets the message across loud and clear.

The doc also details the three different groups of people that should speak out.  One is the oppressed Jew.  Markus initially left the Netherlands when persecuted but now speaks out.  She speaks out in the form of making this documentary.  The other is the Muslim who speak out against the hated Islamic persecutors of antisemitism hate, spoiling the name of Islam.  The third is everyone else who should do what is right.  The film lists the website where one can speak out.

The film ends appropriately with an epilogue describing the anti-semitism in the U.S.  Back in 1940 human beings could have stopped the evil threat but they didn’t. Now this evil has to be stopped, while human beings still have the chance.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f64VhhRm6Hs

Screenplay of the Day (Watch Reading): OPERATION BABYLIFT by John McCarney

The true story of a Bowie knife toting airline CEO and a Volkswagen van driving hippie who risk their live to save mixed race orphans from being murdered.

CAST LIST:

Jenkins: Christopher Bautista
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Daly : Malcolm Taylor
Cory: Luke Robinson

****

Short Film of the Day (Watch): 01, 7min., Germany, Experimental/Animation

01, 7min., Germany, Experimental/Animation
Directed by Julian Friedrich, Katharina Potratz

Sergam is a little boy. A refugee. His boat’s stranded on the coast. His mother didn’t survive. Instead, a young woman takes care of him and they both set off on their way through a nightmare.

Watch Short Film

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

Film Review: PARASITE (South Korea 2019) ****

Parasite Poster
Trailer

All unemployed, Ki-taek’s family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.

Director:

Bong Joon Ho (as Joon-ho Bong)

Writers:

Jin Won Han (screenplay), Bong Joon Ho (screenplay) (as Bong Joon-ho)

From the director of OKJA and SNOWPIERCER, PARASITE has already garnished praise from critics and filmgoers all over the world.  The Winner o the roestgious  Palme d’Or at thisnyear’s Cannes Film Festival.  PARASITE is already abbot-office success in Korea and the wold over.

PARASITE is also a Netflix original movie.  It has a limited run before being going on to Netflix, which means that the ilm will stream for free for Netflix subscribers.  Netflix has made excellent films such as ROMA last year.  There is a slew of excellent Netlfix films coming soon after PARASITE like THE KING and THE IRISHMAN with THE LAUNDROMAT, DOLEMITE just opening.

Half way through the movie, the effectiveness of a plan is discussed.  If one has no plan, then chaplain cannot go wrong and things will work out.  This weird logic is subtle applied to the story of PARASITE where anything can happen and chaos rules.  The result is a sort of ‘wtf’ foreign art film that is as energetic and it is unpredictable.

PARASITE tells the story of two families, one rich and one poor.  The poor one slowly but surely takes over the rich none just as a parasite, hence the film’s title.  This is a vertical story of class struggle — punctuated by staircase scenes going from mouldy basements to top floors, from darkness to breezy spaces designed by star architects. — Parasite observes and dissects with surgical precision the life of two families of different social backgrounds.

The poor family: Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) is a good-for-nothing, unemployed family man, patriarch of a family of derelicts — his wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin), his clever twenty-something daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam), and his son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) — who live in an overcrowded, sordid basement. 

The rich family: Parks, on the other hand, live in a fabulous house with their teenage daughter Da-hye and terribly spoiled son Da-song, who has suffered a childhood trauma that occasionally causes him seizures and strange behaviour. When, due to an unexpected stroke of luck, Ki-woo is hired by the Parks to be the private English tutor of Da-hye, the destinies of the two families cross.  Ki-woo gets his mother to be employed as the new housekeeper, not letting the Parks know of their mother/son relationship.  Then he gets the father and sister employed as well, again not disclaim the family relationship.  The parasitic family ate over but not with dire consequences.

The film takes a third of tis running  time for the predictable series of events before director Bong pulls a super punch in his film.  The story takes a wild totally unpredictable twist where the class struggle story turns into a wicked farce.  All the events take place amidst a huge flood take wreck the poor family’s dwelling.

The ending is  a little marred by slow preaching but Bong’s film has at this point already accomplished what he had intended in what is supposed to be an ‘unplanned’ film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isOGD_7hNIY

Film Review: GRACE A DIEU (By the Grace of God) (France 2018) ****

By the Grace of God Poster
Trailer

The three men, friends of childhood, will cross, compare their personal experiences and question their life of couple, family and professional.

Director:

François Ozon

French veteran director Francois Ozon has made his name with upbeat comedic drama like SITCOM, LES AMANTS CRIMINELS (The Criminal Lovers), SWIMMING POOL and others.  His mood takes in turn to sombreness in his latest offering GRACE A DIEU (By the Grace of God).  The film is a fictional account inspired by the real life and trials Father Preynat, implicated for acts of pedophilia dating back to 1986.  With a case still then pending before the French courts, the film created an unprecedented controversy and the Father Preynat’s lawyer even asked for the postponement of its release.  At present, French justice has ruled and authorized the film’s release in France in February.  Since then, Father Bernard Preynat has been found guilty of sex abuse of minors and defrocked.

This film tells the moving incredible story.

The film first centres on Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud of Xavier Dolan’s LAURENCE ANYWAYS) living in Lyon with his wife and children. One day he learns by chance that the priest who abused him, Father Preynat when he was in scouts is still working with children.  

The consequences are deeply rooted in Alexandre’s life.  He confronts Preynat who admits the deed but does not ask for forgiveness.  The important moment is examined in the film when Alexandre tells his wife that if Preynat went on bended knee to ask for his forgiveness, he would not know what to do.  The wife replies that if Alexandre forgave him, he would be Preynat’s victim forever.  The film also debates the fact that the church’s aim is forgiveness and redemption at the expense of the victim.  “I don’t want forgiveness,” says Alexandre. “I want Other Preynat sanctioned.  He is a danger to children.”

Alexandre decides to take action and is soon joined by two other victims of the priest, François and Emmanuel. They band together to “lift the burden of silence” surrounding their ordeal. But the repercussions and consequences will leave no one unscathed.  Based on events from the 2019 conviction of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon for concealing the conduct of Father Bernard Preynat, the film  compassionately illustrates the varying effects of trauma on survivors and their families in this urgent portrait of resistance, the power of mobilization, and the mysteries of faith. 

Ozon’s film might not stop child abuse in the Catholic Church forever but his heavy guilt-laden film will almost certainly make the guilty ashamed.

Ozon is known for his twisted sense of humour as evident in his breakthrough film SITCOM or his gay re-telling of the Hansel and Gretel story in LES AMANTS CRIMINELS.  Not much humour can be found in GRACE A DIEU, but he includes one quote of Father Preynat’s victims: “In my life, I have only made love to 3 people – me , my wife and Father Preynat”

The film finally gets a release in Canada on October 18th after official selection at the Halifax, Cinefest Sudbury and Vancouver Film Festival. Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, BY THE GRACE OF GOD is a film, told as it is in all its sensitivity and dead seriousness and should be seen for its subject of pedophilia in the Catholic church to be revealed.

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8095860/videoplayer/vi2285091353?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_1

Screenplay of the Day (Watch Reading): Miracle Cove, by Al Cool (TV PILOT)

SERIES: Set in 1970, this rainforest tale follows a damaged son wanting to save his sisters from their violent father by taking a dangerous logging job. There, he must live with his decision in a world intertwined with a twisted employer, workplace thugs, mentors and an alluring lover — a world he might not survive.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Andrea Irwin

Dad/Johnny: Steven Holmberg
Weylin/Dirk : Logan Forsyth Freeman
Tom: Thomas Fournier
Annaleigh: Katelyn Varadi
Faeona: Delphine Roussel
Herbie/Jim: Jolly Amaoko

Producer/Director: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Festival Moderators: Matthew Toffolo, Rachel Elder

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editors: Kimberly Villarruel, Ryan Haines, John Johnson

Festival Directors: Rachel Elder, Natasha Levy

Camera Operators: Ryan Haines, Temitope Akinterinwa, Efren Zapata, Zack Arch