Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mini Review: Life After Beth

Description from IMDB:
A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her.

Notable actors: Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Anna Kendrick, Dan DeHaan, Matthew Gray Gubler, Garry Marshall

It’s a well-known fact that I enjoy zombie movies.  Because I have seen so many, I find myself drawn to films that are a bit different from the norm.  I like seeing a familiar story from a different angle.  This is true of horror movies in general.  FidoColinShaun of the DeadThe Cabin in the WoodsScream. And so on.  If there is a movie with a new way of looking at familiar tropes, chances are good that I’ll enjoy it.  (Not all of them, though.  American Zombie was terrible.)

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I loved this movie.  It made me laugh pretty consistently throughout the entire movie.  It started off quickly (one of the first scenes is Beth’s funeral) and didn’t really hit any lulls.  The cast was terrific.  I wasn’t sold on Dane DeHaan at first, but he grew on me as the movie progressed.  I loved seeing how Plaza played Beth; she started as a sweet and fun amnesiac, and ended up being the flesh-craved zombie we knew she would become.  I loved John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon as her relentlessly na├»ve parents.  Most of all, I loved seeing this weird little story play out on the fringes of a citywide zombie outbreak.

My main complaint is that the music seemed to overtake the dialog from time to time.  I loved the atmosphere of the music (dissonant guitar squawls, courtesy of the great Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), but it had a tendency to be louder than it had any reason to me.  Perhaps that was to contribute to the chaos on screen, but I could have done with it being a little lower in the mix.  (Look at me, complaining about music being too loud.  I’m officially old now.)

That’s a minor complaint, though.  It’s not a perfect movie, but I had a lot of fun with this.  I’m already looking forward to watching it again.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mini Review: Under the Skin

Thoughts on Under the Skin, in three different stages:
1. During the movie. 
What is going on?  She's an alien, right?  That's what the description said.  Is she going to be driving around in this van for the entire movie?  Are those guys actually having sex with her and then getting destroyed, or are they consumed and converted to fuel without ever touching her?  That seems kind of cruel. 

2. Immediately after the movie. 
That was okay, I guess.  I think I kind of liked it.  It was different than I thought it would be.  I liked the thought process behind her trying to eat cake.  "I think I'm starting to feel things.  Maybe I'm human.  Let me check by eating this cake."  There are worse ways to check to see if you're human or not, I suppose.

3.  The day after the movie.
I really loved that movie.  Scarlett Johansson gave a tremendous performance.  She gave her stoic character a ton of depth, and brought her subtle character arc to life with silence.  It was odd and heartbreaking, and I'm really looking forward to watching it again.

Translation: it's not necessarily an easy movie to watch, but it gets better the more you think about it.  Plus, it can kind of be described as "Art house Species," which I’m a fan of.

Rating: 4.5/5