Film Review: THE DEAD DON’T DIE (USA 2019) ***

The Dead Don't Die Poster

Trailer

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch

Jim Jarmusch the king of independent American cinema re-invents the zombie movie with THE DEAD DON’T DIE as he did the vampire genre with ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE.  THE DEAD DON’T DIE, however, is more of a comedy, the type Jarmusch is better known for, as demonstrated in his earliest works, STRANGER THAN PARADISE and DOWN BY LAW.  There are two directors best known for deadpan comedy – Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki and Jim Jarmsuch.  The film is arguably Jarmusch’s most ambitious to date, featuring an all-star cast and the film chosen to open the Cannes Film Festival this year in May.

It all starts to happen when the earth tilts out of its axis.  “Something weird is going on,” says Centreville Police Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) to his partner, Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) after a hilarious encounter with Hermit Bob (Tom Waits).  Ronnie predicts that things do not look good to the very end, a line that the film comes back to several times at different points in the film.  That night in Centreville, 2 zombies (Sara Driver and Iggy Pop) suddenly rise from their graves to kill the workers at the local diner.  The reason for the earth’s off kilter is attributed, according to news lady Rosie Perez on TV, to fracking by the oil companies.  More zombies rise from their graves the following night eating up many of the town’s residents as well as three teens (including Selena Gomez) who meet their death.  Director Jarmusch does not skimp on the gory graphics, the corpses with their innards pulled out from their bodies left by the zombies, enough to make anyone throw up including the third police officer, Mindy (Chloe Sevigny).  “This will not end well,” repeats Officer Ronnie.  “How do you know?” Asks Chief Cliff to which comes perhaps the film’s most unexpected reply.

The film benefits from a  superb cast, many of which are Jarmusch’s past collaborators.  Adam Driver was in his last film PATERSON, arguably Jarmsuch’s best movie, Tom Waits in DOWN BY LAW and Tilda Swinton who steals the show as a sword yielding mortician of the town, speaking with her strong native Scottish accent.  Drive demonstrates his talent for deadpan comedy here, Jarmsuch giving him the best lines.  Other well known stars in the cast include Steve Buscemi as Farmer Miller, Danny Glover, RZA, Caleb Landry Jones and Carol Kane.

The film drags a bit running close to a n hour and three quarters.  But it is Jarmusch style to let his film play along with long lazy takes that he made famous in STRANGER THAN PARADISE.  Nothing much seems to happen except the zombies but that is the pleasure of a Jarmsuch film.

Do not expect THE DEAD DON’T DIE to be a masterpiece.  After all, it is a zombie movie – the best thing it can achieve is cult status, as in George Romero’s zombie flicks.  But the film is totally amusing aided by solid performances from his all-star cast and some hilarious writing coupled with a bit of parody.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs5ZOcU6Bnw

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Happy Birthday: Bill Murray

billmurrayBill Murray

Born: September 21, 1950 in Wilmette, Illinois, USA

Married to: Jennifer Butler (4 July 1997 – 13 June 2008) (divorced) (4 children)
Mickey Kelley (25 January 1981 – 29 January 1994) (divorced) (2 children)

You are always away from home, as a film actor. Look at me now. You can be stuck in a hotel, several thousand miles away in a whole different time zone, and it is never glamorous. You can’t sleep, you put on the television in the middle of the night when you can’t understand a word, and you make phone calls back home which don’t really give you the comfort they should.

CaddyshackCaddyshack
1980
dir. Ramis
starring
Bill Murray
Chevy Chase
Rodney Dangerfield
CaddyshackStripes
1981
dir. Ivan Reitman
starring
Bill Murray
Harold Ramis
TOOTSIETootsie
1982
dir. Sydney Pollack
Starring
Dustin Hoffman
Jessica Lange
 moviesSCROOGED
1988
dir. Richard Donner
Starring:
Bill Murray
Karen Allen
Ghost Busters
1984
dir. Reitman
Starring
Bill Murray
Dan Aykroyd
Sigourney Weaver
GHOSTBUSTERS IIGhostbusters II
1989
dir. Reitman
starring
Bill Murray
Dan Aykroyd
Sigourney Weaver
Groundhog DayGroundhog Day
1993
dir. Ramis
starring
Murray
Andie McDowell
Ed WoodEd Wood
1994
dir. Burton
starring
Johnny Depp
Martin Landau
MOVIE POSTERA GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III
2013
dir. Roman Coppola
MOVIE POSTERHYDE PARK ON HUDSON
dir. Roger Michell
Stars:
Bill Murray
Laura Linney
RushmoreRushmore
1998
dir. Anderson
starring
Jason Schwartzman
Murray
The Royal TenenbaumsThe Royal Tenenbaums
2001
dir. Anderson
starring
Gene Hackman
Ben Stiller
Gwyneth Paltrow
FANTASTIC MR. FOX Movie PosterFantastic Mr. Fox
dir. Wes Anderson
Stars:
George Clooney
Meryl Streep
Bill Murray
COFFEE AND CIGARETTESCoffee and Cigarettes
2003
dir. Jim Jarmusch
Starring
Roberto Benigni
Cate Blanchett
The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
2004
dir. Anderson
starring
Murray
Kate Blanchett
LOST IN TRANSLATIONLost in Translation
2003
dir. Sofia Coppola
starring
Bill Murray
Scarlett Johansson
Broken Flowers
2005
dir. Jim Jarmusch
Starring
Bill Murray
Julie Delpy
THE DARJEELING LIMITEDThe Darjeeling Limited
2007
dir. Anderson
starring
Owen Wilson
Adrien Brody
Jason Schwartzman
City of EmberCity of Ember
2008
dir. Gil Kenan
Starring
Tim Robbins
Murray
ZOMBIELAND Movie PosterZombieland
2009
dir. Ruben Fleischer
Starring
Jesse Eisenberg
Emma Stone
Woody Harrelson
MOVIE POSTERMOONRISE KINGDOM
dir. Wes Anderson
Cast:
Bill Murray
Bruce Willis
MOVIE POSTERPASSION PLAY
2010
dir. Mitch Glazer
Stars:
Mickey Rourke
Bill Murray
MOVIE POSTERST. VINCENT DE VAN NUYS
2014
dir. Theodore Melfi
Stars:
Melissa McCarthy
Bill Murray
MOVIE POSTERTHE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
2014
dir. Wes Anderson
Stars:
Saoirse Ronan
Lea Seydoux

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Movie Review: THE JUNGLE BOOK. Directed by Jon Favreau

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the_jungle_bookTHE JUNGLE BOOK (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling

Review by Gilbert Seah

Favreau has proven himself a talented director of films as diverse as the action flicks IRONMAN and IRONMAN 2, comedy dramas as MADE and the drama CHEF. Tackling Disney animation is a totally different ball game with Favreau succeeding within limits. But he follows formulaic conventions occasionally going back to what works in the original animated JUNGLE BOOK like the familiar songs re-used in this version.

The 1969 animated version is the most loved of all the Kipling adaptations. Who can forget the cute bear Baloo (Phil Harris) dancing and singing “The Bare Necessities” with Mowgli? Or Sebastian Cabot’s voice of the Panther? So Favreau has tough shoes to follow.

The film opens with Mowgli (Neel Sethi) running with a pack of wolves. It appears he is running from them, but the audience can likely guess that he is running with them. Mowgli, abandoned as a baby and found by a panther (Ben Kingsley) is raised by wolves. But Shere Khan, the tiger (Idris Elba) wants the boy killed as the tiger is afraid of the destruction of man. The panther takes Mowgli on a journey to find the man camp where Mowgli can live away from fear of the tiger. Mowgli meets an assortment of different characters like King Louie, a giant oranghutan (Christopher Walken), Baloo the bear (Bill Murray) and Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) a python before confronting Khan.

THE JUNGLE BOOK has quite the few violent scenes that will give the littler ones nightmares. These include buffalos toppling off a cliff from a mudslide and a fierce battle between a tiger and bear.

CGI has come a long way. One cannot tell the difference between real animals and computer generated animals. To Favreau’s credit, his film looks fantastic and his hard work of filming just one actor, Sethi against a giant green blank screen pays off. The film uses the Simulcam technology (also used in James Cameron’s AVATAR) that allows Favreau to look into a monitor and in real time, see Sethi interacting with the CGI animals.

The question finally arises as to whether this new 3D live-action animation of THE JUGLE BOOK is necessary. The film ends with the real life figures of Mowgli and Baloo morphing into caricatures in the Rudyard Kipling’s book. This only serves to enforce the fact that the animated version is the best type of adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling’s classic story.

Walt Disney passed away during the production of 1969’s JUNGLE BOOK. The original writer and songwriter were replaced as the film was thought initially too serious for the family. What resulted are songs by the famous Sherman Brothers (MARY POPPINS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG) and the the totally delightful animated version everyone is familiar with. Favreau’s version is, in comparison all over the place, at times cutesy, then too serious and violent and then adventurous. The Disneyworld documentaries have so far done so-so at the box-office. And Disney’s recent THE GOOD DINOSAUR with a similar theme involving animals and a journey was a disappointing flop. THE JUNGLE BOOK might just follow suit, doing either so-so business or flopping at the box-office.

 

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