Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that zombies are ridiculously popular. Through a plethora of films and television shows (here’s looking at you, The Walking Dead), the zombie sub-genre has exploded into the mainstream, joining other pop-culture phenomenons like vampires and werewolves. Although over the years we have received a multitude of zombie survival films, none of them have really revolutionized the way we see these creatures. Other than 28 Day Later introducing zombies that could run ferociously at their intended target, the formula for a zombie film has always stayed pretty much the same: one or two lonesome survivors meet up with others and form a group as they try to survive the oncoming apocalypse. So when the first trailer was released for Warm Bodies, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I saw a zombie film with a fresh premise that no one had ever done before, but on the other, I saw a film that, if not handled correctly, would become Twilight with zombies. To my surprise, not only is this film extremely innovative in the way it portrays this well-known creature, but it’s also very enjoyable, funny, and full of heart.
I’ve made this proclamation many times and I will stand by it until I’m definitively proven wrong by excessive arguments with irrefutable proof. Joel and Ethan Coen – more informally referred to as The Coen Brothers – are the most consistently successful and diverse filmmakers working regularly in Hollywood today. I’m sure many are quick to snap at this claim, but before you begin to hound me, take a look at the facts. In just under thirty years of filmmaking, the familial auteurs have written and directed fifteen films, not including the segment they contributed to the anthology, Paris, je t’aime. They have been awarded a total of thirteen Academy Award nominations and have accepted four statues as winners. Regarding the wave that was the independent film resurgence of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Coens were pioneering that ship after the success of both their debut, Blood Simple., and their follow-up, Raising Arizona, before shaping themselves into two of the most unique voices in contemporary cinema. They’ve tried their hand at absolutely everything from gangster flicks (Miller’s Crossing) and mainstream romantic comedies (Intolerable Cruelty) to fictional biopics (The Hudsucker Proxy), pitch black, absurdist comedies (Burn After Reading, The Ladykillers, The Big Lebowski), full blown westerns (True Grit), highly reflective self-portraits (A Serious Man), noirs (The Man Who Wasn’t There), adaptations (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), and quirky original works that have come to be known as nothing other than distinctly ‘Coen’ (Fargo, Barton Fink). They also were awarded the grand trifecta of Academy Awards – Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture – for their comeback picture in 2007, No Country For Old Men, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Oh, and did I mention that they do all of their own film editing? Well, under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes, of course. Since No Country, they have churned out one film every year until 2011 and took a hiatus in 2012 to work on their sixteenth career film: A character-driven period drama about a folk singer entitled, Inside Llewyn Davis. Below, you will find the first trailer for the Coens’ upcoming film and my reaction immediately following. From this short 2:11 trailer, I can assuredly say that Inside Llewyn Davis is high on my anticipation list for 2013:
The annual cinematic party known as The Sundance Film Festival has officially wrapped as of this past weekend, with a number of brand new independent features having been adored, critiqued, and loathed by a number of the internet’s buzzing critics. Big studios have bought some hot news properties and each and every film is hoping to be 2013’s Little Miss Sunshine or Beasts of the Southern Wild. Last week, I rounded up ten films that were hot off the presses, some lingering the safety of a release date with a distributor and others keeping their fingers crossed every second of the day looking for a studio to bring them from the festival circuit into the multiplexes. Some of the films I touched on last week have since been acquired – The Spectacular Now, Before Midnight, Fruitvale (which also went home with the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award this year) were among those selected in the last seven days – and this week I have seven more films that have become highly desired commodities. With the festival over, the films below are mostly ready to be distributed, but what will be interesting to see is whether they make the transition from festival darling to renowned piece of cinema. Here are seven buzzed about films from the second, and final, week of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival:
Of all the cities in Europe, Amsterdam is unequivocally one of the biggest travel destinations for American college students. The city is infamous for its lenient laws towards sex, drugs, and all around partying, so unsurprisingly it attracts the collegiate crowd looking to blow off some steam. Seeing as I am a college student, it was only natural for me to be immediately drawn to this supposed “City of Sin.” Ever since I was a child, the city of Amsterdam has always had a certain allure to it, primarily its seeming lack of rules and regulations. This idea has consistently been drilled into my brain for years on end thanks to the vast amount of Hollywood movies that depict the city as a 24-hour, non-stop party destination. With this in mind, I was eager to visit the city and discover the truth behind Amsterdam’s reputation for myself, to determine whether or not Hollywood has blown it out of proportion or if the city really is as crazy as it’s depicted.
Space, the final frontier; these stories take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Is that how it goes? I don’t think so…but it might as well be that way now.
The surprising news of director J.J. Abrams officially taking the helm of the first installment in the new Star Wars trilogy had the trades, message boards, blogs, and fanbases buzzing with all kinds of reactions. The television auteur has made a quantum leap into filmmaking over the last few years with mega-hits like Mission: Impossible 3 and Super 8, as well as the lucrative and critically lauded reboot of the Star Trek franchise for Paramount. With only months separating the present from the release of his next film – space-treading sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness – the news of Abrams’ commission to direct Star Wars: Episode VII is easily the biggest story to come out of Hollywood in 2013 so far. In fact, it could probably rival some of the biggest stories from 2012 (one being Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and their announcement that a new Star Wars trilogy was on the way).
Another night, another prestigious awards show. In the crux of award season, it seems that every other day brings a new batch of winners and losers, and last night, the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, like the Globes and BFCAs before it, shook up the Oscar race in dramatic fashion. Bestowing their Best Ensemble Cast prize to Argo (how it won over the great Silver Linings Playbook is beyond me!), the Screen Actors Guild further propelled Ben Affleck’s Iranian hostage crisis thriller to the front of the Oscar race for Best Picture. With top honors from the HFPA (Golden Globes), the SAG, and the PGA (the Producers Guild), Argo is sweeping the Best Picture prizes and is now the one to beat come Oscar night. Equally as locked in for awards following last night’s SAG Awards are Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis and Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway; start writing your speeches you two, you’ll be newly crowned Oscar winners in about a months time! Most exciting, however, is the fact that the SAG Awards turned 3 categories into the most competitive races they’ve ever been since I’ve been following the awards circuit. By now, every category is almost always a forgone conclusion but not this year; let’s break down the categories the Screen Actors Guild shook up last night:
As some of you may know, I, James Hausman (red shirt), am abroad this semester. For the next three months, I am going to be living in the Netherlands at a castle that Emerson College owns. While I am extraordinarily lucky to be able to participate in this amazing program, unfortunately it also means that I am not going to be as involved with Reel Reactions as I was this past semester. So, don’t expect very many Reviews or Closer Looks from me this semester from my neck of the woods. Luckily, the vastly talented Mike Murphy, Nick Franco, Zack Sharf, and a host of new writers are going to be picking up the slack while I’m gone. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t be hearing from me now and again, for it would be impossible for me to stay away from the one thing I love most: movies; thankfully, I’ll still be writing specialty articles like our newly created Movie Rewinds, our wide variety of different lists, and our profiles of various directors, writers, and actors.