Tag Archives: Movie

“R” you in love with Warm Bodies? A book and movie review

8 Feb

“I am dead, but it’s not so bad. I’ve learned to live with it.”

And I was hooked. This is the first line of Isaac Marion’s novel, Warm Bodies, and right away I felt that I had connected with his main character–who just so happens to be a mildly clear-thinking, witty, brain-eating zombie. If I had to sum up this story: it’s a romance–with zombies. Marion’s novel stuck with me as he narrates a story above life, love and survival from the eyes of someone who is already dead. (well…sort of. )

The lead character, who goes by only the letter R as he has forgotten the rest of his name, is a zombie. He explains right away that the living dead can’t remember their names, their past lives or what it was like to be alive anymore–they only keep going, unable to communicate, trapped within rotting bodies.

This brilliant novel struck a chord with me–and it is obvious from the movie that it struck the filmmakers in the same way–in regard to the lack of human interaction and communication in the present. R poses questions to himself and to the reader as he faces his inner self in various conflicts–like eating people, for example. Although R knows that he has to eat people to survive, he doesn’t like to hurt people. He has inner conflict about it. I suppose that is partly why he was susceptible in the first place to falling for one of the living.

After eating the brain of a boy named, Perry, R finds himself hopelessly enamored with a girl named, Julie. The only problem is that she is alive. Torn between his nature and his newly discovered feelings, R seeks to protect the terrified Julie, and after camouflaging her scent in his dead blood so the other zombies won’t smell her, he takes her back to his home in the airport. Julie is understandably terrified at first, but soon R shows that he is becoming something bigger than he once once. Speech begins to return to him in blurbs at first, hunger for flesh and brains ebbs and his attachment to Julie grows.

I have always been a fan of the unusual point of view narrations–but so far, Warm Bodies takes the cake as one of my favorites. R’s narrative is an exciting combination of poetry, philosophy and gore. I quickly grew attached to the lead character and found myself rooting for him as he fights to change and as Julie rallies with him to find a “cure” to the zombie “plague”. All the while they each face their own version of zombies, both actual and physical as the actual humans within the story begin losing what made them such and emotionally slowly decays.

The film Warm Bodies, does a pretty fair job of picking up on R’s sense of humor–though I would have liked if it retained more of his inner narrative than was given. However, it was impressive how much emotion I felt came across from the actor who played R, Nicholas Holt,despite his lack of much facial expression or vocal cues.

Perhaps it was because I read the book that I felt that the actress who played Julie, Teresa Palmer, seemed to show less emotion than Holt, who was the actual zombie. She didn’t seem nearly as charismatic or lively as she is depicted in the novel: however, the film’s version of Julie has a grittier, older feel–and for a moment or two it feels like the movie version of The Hunger Games. (Which perhaps was the point?)

What I applaud the film most for is the horrific visual of the Boneys, skeleton-like zombies who within the novel are the leaders of the Zombie “hives”. They were truly grotesque in movements and presentations. They even made me jump.

Though, I wish that the film has stuck with the ending given to Julie’s father, General Grigio. It better reflected the comparison between current humanity and zombies, and though grim, I felt was more suitable. But alas, Hollywood loves their happy endings!

I rate the novel a 7 out of 10 on the restless writer scale, and the movie a four out of five cupcakes.

All and all, both the film and novel are worthwhile time-passers for this winter. And for those who love romance and also zombies–these are to die for. (Or perhaps to live!)

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Les Miserables will make you miserable! (But in a feel-good kind of way)

15 Jan

I wasn’t exactly sure of the plot of Les Miserables, but I understood what the title meant: “The Miserables.” So, one thing was certain; I wasn’t signing myself up for a family comedy.

Even so, I was convinced that I had to see it. After all, it’s a musical, and I haven’t yet met a musical that I haven’t liked.And I had always wanted to see the play. So, as the lights dimmed and the music drummed up, along with a surge of sea-sounds and booming baritone voices, I felt a thrilled chill dance along my vertebrae.That chill was only the start of what felt like an enveloping experience at the movie theaters.

If one has never seen Les Miserables, it is a mildly difficult thing to try to explain in mere words the emotional force that the music seems to contain. (But I will do what I can!) Les Miserables is a musical emotional force. It starts and ends with a heavy orchestral hand that leaves you slightly a-gape. Les Miserables is more like an opera than a musical, as there is little to no spoken dialogue and nearly all of the major plot is in song, which could have been a huge drawback if the singing wasn’t generally well done. (With an exception of Russell Crowe, who plays the chaotic good cop, Javert, who comes to an end that I believe should come to all poor singers.)

Each scene is loaded with a raw humanity: a prisoner who has hardened his heart, a priest who opens it again, a mother who does anything she can to support her child alone, a child abandoned and found again, a man rebuilt, learning to love, be loved and let go, a young man finding his place in the world and learning loss. Saying that this movie is heavy, hardly covers the plunge into problems that Les Miserables rockets its audience through. This film is not for the faint of heart. (I recommend stocking up on extra napkins at the concession stand if you don’t have tissues on hand.)

Les Miseables opens with the main character, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), working as a slave in a shipyard. The prisoners are waist deep in seawater as they struggle to bring a wounded ship to port. Manacled at the neck and hands, they sing a powerful baritone rendition of, “Look down”. Here the audience is also introduced to the main villain, Jevert (Russell Crowe) who seems to particularly loves to break Valjean. Valjean, having filled his prison sentence, is handed his papers to be free, but they mark his as a “dangerous man”. Once free of the prison, Valjean is still treated like a criminal and finds himself unable to find a job or shelter. Instead, he finds himself sleeping on a doorstep. Luckily, a kindly priest discovers him there and takes him in for the night. Desparate, Valjean steals away the Church’s silver in the night and runs off before they wake–but is immediately caught and brought back before the priest by the police. But the priest proclaims Valjean innocent and the police are forced to let him free. Valjean then makes a point to turn his life around and the movie follows his story.

There are of course multiple branches, time frames and points of views throughout the film. The character Fontaine (Ann Hathaway) is introduced next as a factory worker who is separate to support her child, and ends up selling her teeth, her hair and her body to male strangers. Her story is a tragic one, but her daughter Cosette(Amanda Seyfried) is more fortunate as Valjean takes her in as his own daughter and raises her under his new alias.

Yet, Javert soon discovers him and realizes that he is the former thief who skipped parole and seeks to recapture him. The story leads the audience through the brutal French revolution, introducing yet another character, Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who falls for the lovely Cosette.

Though the story is full of absolute misery, death, and despair–it has such a powerful beauty that though you might be a little boogery by the end you feel a sense of revitalization. Small flecks of humor lighten the otherwise heavy atmosphere throughout the film, and the tiny glimmers of love throughout the otherwise dark film seem large and luminous in comparison.

All and all, I would see this film again and found myself humming “I dream a dream” all the way out of the theater. Les Miserables brings humanity back to film and I give it four cupcakes out of five.

Les Miserables

Disney Doesn’t “Wreck-it” with Wreck-It Ralph

10 Nov

After the more recent disappointments of The Borrower Arrietty and Brave, I was somewhat wary to see Disney’s most recent animated film, Wreck-it Ralph.

The advertisements looked promising, giving me a small hope that this would be the film that once more redeemed Disney’s animated films in my eyes, but I reminded myself that the ads for Brave and Arrietty had looked gorgeous too. So when my boyfriend and I finally made it down to the theater this week, I held my breath as the lights dimmed.

To my great relief, Disney had pulled it off. (Possible Spoiler alert!)

Wreck-it Ralph opens with a pixilated Steam-boat Willie, and then the lead character, Ralph begins to narrate over a close up of what appears to be an old arcade game, complete with 8-bit music, where we see Ralph living his day-to-day.

Ralph is the bad guy–but as all the ads point out (and  out of Street Fighter Zangeef’s mouth)–he isn’t a bad guy. It’s easy to feel badly for Ralph, a character who is programmed to be the villain of his game, wrecking an apartment for the hero, Felix, to fix; however, even after the arcade closes and the characters are allowed to be themselves, Ralph is still rejected by his fellow game characters and lives a lonely life in the dump.

The story takes place on the 30th anniversary of Wreck-it Ralph’s game, Fix-it Felix JR, with Ralph attending what appears to be an Alcoholic’s Anonymous style meeting of game villains where he admits that he wishes he knew what it felt like to be the hero. Here Disney playfully injects bad guys from games as familiar as Bowser from Super Mario, Zangeef from Street Fighter, A Pac man Ghost, and Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog along with characters the younger generation may recognize. (I couldn’t figure them out myself.) Ralph also admits that he doesn’t want to be the bad guy any more–but the group of baddies laugh it off and encourage him to take it, “one game at a time.” and not to “go turbo”.

After returning from his meeting, Ralph realizes that the other characters in his game are celebrating their 30 year anniversary with a party and, a little hurt his invitation never arrived, promptly makes an appearance there. The hero in his game, Felix, is a sweet and utterly loveable little man with a magic hammer is urged by his fellow characters to “get rid” of Ralph. Too nice to tell Ralph to hit the bricks, Felix invites Ralph in for cake instead, where Ralph is egged on by some of the other characters and ultimately he ruins the party. Ralph insists to the disbelieving group that he could earn metals just as easily as the hero, Felix, and is challenged by another character that if he gets a metal he live with them in the apartment instead of in the dump.

Urged on by the idea of living with the other game characters, Ralph embarks on a journey to obtain his own hero metal.

The audience travels with Ralph on his journey to be a hero and to be treated fairly through various games as Ralph “game jumps” to a very Halo-esq game called, Hero’s Duty, a one person shooter where he is faced with massive Bug-monsters that become whatever they eat. With absolutely no finesse, Ralph manages to steal a metal, but in doing so, also launches himself (literally) into another game as he struggles with a Bug that has clung to him in a stolen escape pod. They crash land in a game called, Sugar Rush, which is sort of like a candy-land racing game, where the Bug sinks and disappears in frosting. Here Ralph encounters a little girl called, Vanelope Schweet, who promptly steals his hero metal, thinking it’s a coin.

It turns out that Vanelope is in her own string of trouble,  and like Ralph, facing  isolation from her fellow game characters. The other characters claim Vanelope is a glitch that can’t be allowed to race with the other characters (or compete in the reindeer games!) and feeling badly for the girl, Ralph promises to help her.

Meanwhile, In Ralph’s game, the Arcade is open for business again and Ralph is a no show. Gamers who play notice the missing villain and bring it to the manager’s attention thinking the game is broken. Felix and the other characters finally realize that Ralph is missing and Felix promises to “fix-it” and sets off to find Ralph before the plug on their game is pulled. Felix and the female captain from Hero’s Duty team up, Felix searching for Ralph and the captain seeking out the Bug that escaped her game with Ralph.

Wreck-it Ralph is a movie about not making judgements–but even the villain of this film may surprise you. I think it may have been a first for me since I was young that I didn’t immediately know who the villain was and I loved the surprise. (I won’t spoil it for you.) The film is full of jokes that all ages can enjoy between the obvious “duty” jokes to the more adult themed (over the kids heads) jokes, this film is one I would consider seeing in theaters again.  Disney managed to pull it out of the bag for me on this one. The graphics are smooth and gorgeous and even the music is helplessly catchy. It gets a five our of five cupcakes from the Restless Writer scale.

 

Brave movie review and JulNoWriMo

2 Jul

So, I know I had mentioned wanted to review Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter the movie–but I haven’t gotten around to see it yet. Instead, my boyfriend was patient enough to sit through Pixar’s latest movie, Brave, with me.

Mainly, I think he was attracted to the fact that it was a Pixar film, because generally, they do not disappoint: but in this case I probably should have waited for it to come out on dvd.

Brave focuses on the Highland princess, Merida, and her thirst for the freedom to be who she is. Little does she know it, but her mother the queen is grooming her for her betrothal to one of the three clans eldest boys who then show up to try and “win” her hand with an archery tournament. Merida, determined to change her mother’s mind, seeks out a witch in the forest who gives her “a spell to change her fate” and “change her mother.” so she doesn’t want to force Merida to marry anymore. However, this crazy witch’s spell backfires, and literally changes her mother into a Bear.

Now, when I saw the trailers for this movie–I had no idea this was the direction this movie would take. And I’m rather disappointed. Though I loved the movie, and it’s message of mother-daughter bond rekindled, I was upset by how generally not creative this concept all was. I mean, all I could think of was another Disney movie called, Brother Bear. Made in 2003, Brother bear focused on the Native American folklore of “Spirit Animals” and involved a boy who kills a mother bear in vengence of his bother, who is then himself transformed into a bear in order to care for the slain mother bear’s son, Koda. The boys bond in bear form, much in the way that Merida bonds with her mother while her mother is in the form of a large black bear.

Overall, the film Brave is  beautifully animated, the details especially on the animals are amazing–but the plot itself leaves something to be desired.

To address that odd title of JulNoWriMo, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this: it stands for July Novel Writing Month, and I will be participating. The goal: 50.000 words by month’s end. I will be using the plot for the novel I’ve been planning. I’m rather excited, but also already tired. Wish me luck–and sorry if due to the novel I do not post as much here.

Dinner and a Who-vie

21 Jan

Work this week was filled with the usual monotony and the occasional marijuana-filled rants of Rainbow Dash in his cubicle behind me. After a trip to Jamaica on his honey moon several years ago, he and his wife have been returning there every year. As someone who never spent time killing my brain cells that way–it can get a little uncomfortable. Yet somehow, it always manages to make me laugh. I mean, he’s old enough to be my father and still talks about his involvement in two separate rock bands, and having the munchies. He’s the king in his own mind. Good for him–I suppose I can’t help but admire that sort of self confidence. (Though not necessarily the way in which he earns it. haha)

 

I had intended to write yesterday, but it turned out to be a much more adventure packed evening than I had origionally anticipated. My boyfriend and I had already planned yesterday to be a outing for the two of us, and then we were both invited to a group of old friend’s house in Ashmont. There are three of them living there together and it seems like a fairly nice place. Nicely sized, clean and open. It is a place packed with possibilities. It makes me jealous in some ways. Anyway, we could only stay for about an hour as we didn’t want to miss the show we planned to see that night. We played Pictionary, chatted and caught up, and agreed to meet again next weekend before trekking back to the train.

The plan we had laid out for last night had included a trip to a place called Charlie’s Kitchen in Cambridge; but the thing about plans is–they never really go off as they were supposed to. Due to bitterly cold weather, and a general lack of knowledge of the Harvard Square area, we ended up eating in your standard Bertucchi’s instead. As this is a chain restaurant, and all of them are exactly the same–I didn’t find my inspiration in their food. (Although, I must admit their Chocolate Budino, was heavenly. A creamy, rich chocolate mousse in a tiny v-shaped cup. ) Though I was disappointed that we didn’t reach the restaurant I had hoped for–I was not disappointed for long.

The key to our evening last night, and the highlight, ended up being what I thought I would enjoy the least. My boyfriend has been a huge fan of a British Television show called, Dr Who, ever since he was small. As of recently, this show has become increasingly popular here in America among children and adults of all ages. I personally, am not very into the show. The premise: A man from outerspace (a humanoid alien called a TimeLord) traveling with a companion (usually a human woman, or I am told a useless robotic dog) in a spaceship that is called the Tardis. The Tardis looks like a british policebox on the outside, but the inside is apparently in a different dimension (just go with it) and is easily the size of a house. This police box apparently can hop through time with the alien or as he calls himself,
“The Doctor”, where he fixes or sometimes messes with time and ultimately saves the day.  And oh yes, the most important part–if The Doctor finds himself in trouble and dies–he doesn’t actually die. Instead something that is known as “regeneration” occurs, in which The Doctor becomes a completely different person.

 

Last night, as he and I stood in the cold outside of the Brattle theater, I was made distinctly aware of the extent of the love Dr Who fans have for the series. Shivering and chatting excitably, clumps of adults and kids alike bore various signs of the love for the show. I saw kids in red Fez hats and bow ties(who mimics the 11th Doctor. I couldn’t believe there had been that many!), a woman in a long coat, a tie, men’s pants and converse sneakers (Who I am told resembles the 10th Doctor. ) and multiple people bearing the same ultra long, multi-colored scarf of the 4th Doctor. The reason they were all braving the cold dark night in January? Dr Who. I am told that yesterday was the birthday of the actor who played the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker. (Which ultimately explained why the theater aired three of his old episodes last night.)

The Brattle Theater is located n 40 Brattle Street in Cambridge. If you aren’t looking for it–you probably won’t find it. Attached to Brattle Hall and a restaurant called Casablanca; The Brattle Theater is tiny and a line full of Who Fans stretched from the crowded lobby all the way to the steps that lead you down to the entrance past Brattle Hall. According to their website, the Brattle theater is also, fairly old. Origionally bought by the CSU in 1889 for a free reading room and other social activities, the Brattle Theater didn’t become a movie theater until 1953. For years it housed drama clubs, speakers and stage performances and has a rich cultural history behind it. Even before reading up on the history, you feel very much aware of it upon entering.

The lobby of the Brattle Theater is as I had said, tiny; not being much larger than your standard walk in closet these days.You pay for your tickets the same way people in the 50’s would have–outside of the theater. (And only $7 a person!)  Upon entering to your left you are greeting by the staff and the smell of freshly popped popcorn. Not only does the Brattle boast its own freshly popped non-greasy popcorn, but also the ability to sell alcohol to its patrons. (Which I felt was an added bonus.) To the left are the stairs which lead you up and around the corner to the seating. The stairs are narrow and carpeted, and upon reaching the top, a staff member is waiting to tear your ticket stub and welcome you. I did not expect to be in an old playhouse upon arrival. It is dusty and painted a drab grey-blue color that I don’t have a particular name for. Old stage lights hang coated with a layer of grime from years of disuse, but still point to the small, high ceiling stage in the front and center of the room. Where the lobby lacked space–the theater did not. The room is wide (though not necessarily up to par of todays’ standards for a playhouse) with metal and fabric, standard movie theater seats in three sections across the floor. Above, there is more, similar seating on the balcony. (Which the younger patrons immediately claimed and began unwinding their long Doctor scarves to touch the patrons below.) The floors show proof of having once been beautiful, a sheen of polished wood glows from the less traveled parts of the floor, but is muddy and scuffed beyond repair where past visitors have over and over again trod their feet.  The stage itself is set back, and now boasts a projector screen, rather than what we are used to in a movie theater, that makes no attempt to fill the entire stage space. The arch around the stage is painted with a bold clean-looking stripe of red that seems oddly new and out of place among the somewhat unloved-looking walls. To the left of the stage, a large 50’s diner style clock, lit softly in neon purple from within shows the time. The effect of the theater all together might have some cringing and displeased–but not me. This theater charmed me with its quiet stoic pride of age, and its old-fashioned arrangement. There is a certain sense of stubbornness that the building gives off that I appreciate. A building that withstood multiple owners and re-purposing along with time, it is the sort of place I wish we had more of.Even the bathrooms made me smile. Instead of wallpaper, the walls are layered with old movie posters which have peeled off in some places, adding to the charm. (The restrooms by the way, are inside the theater  to the far right, rather than  in the lobby. Which was a relief after not finding them downstairs.)

I must warn you though–the Brattle Theater is not for just any movie lover. Do not go to the Brattle theater expecting any newer movies to be showing, because they only show old movies. That’s right–old–just like the building. (Hence the cheaper prices) The Brattle shows old movies, foreign films and even helps local students premier their films. If you’re looking for a very Vintage night out in Cambridge, head to the Brattle Theater and maybe catch a classic creature double feature for only $12 a person. Personally, I am considering returning to the Brattle Theater again soon. According to their film schedule, The Princess Bride airs next month, along with a classic Bugs Bunny Cartoon marathon.  Not only is it cheap and pleasant, but any money paid to this place helps to keep it running as they are a non-profit organization.

Help support the Brattle Theater by checking out their old flicks! And check out their website to find out what they’ll be playing next.

http://brattlefilm.org/