31 October 2009
I was 13 in 1992 when I saw "Bram Stoker’s Dracula," and it changed my life.
Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the classic 1897 vampire novel might not be the definitive film version that its title suggests (another studio owned the rights to the simpler title "Dracula"), but it is a gorgeous motion picture, an immersive experience that presents the infamous count and his tale as never realized before.
Coppola, stinging from the critical and fan backlash against "The Godfather: Part III" (1990), originally intended his "Dracula" to be a small, low-budget film with the goal of winning him some measure of independence from the Hollywood studios. His ambition, though, could not be contained, and his little movie grew into a $40-million, centuries-spanning epic.
A movie titled Zombieland brings a certain set of expectations with it. There will be zombies—lots of ’em. There will be blood—lots of it. And there should be a healthy dose of campy humor. What you do not expect is character-based comedy and genuine human emotion.
We get all of that and more from Zombieland, the debut feature by director Ruben Fleischer. As soon as the beautifully filmed slow-motion opening title sequence—set to Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”—starts to roll, it’s apparent that this is far from your run-of-the-mill, B-movie horror flick.
When the movie opens, the zombie apocalypse, caused by a virus, already has occurred. There are survivors, and two of them—obsessive-compulsive, cowardly, college-age Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, Adventureland) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a free-wheeling cowboy-type for whom zombie-killing is a sport—meet on the road. They link up with the wily sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and make for Pacific Playland, a Southern California amusement park rumored to be zombie-free.
You don’t realize how important lies are until you can’t tell them. I’m not talking about deceitful, hurtful lies that can ruin relationships and lives, but the small fibs and half-truths that we all use—often unconsciously—to brighten each other’s days.
The Invention of Lying takes place in a world very much like our own, except that no one has ever told a lie. Instead, everyone always says exactly what they’re thinking, no matter how embarrassing or mean it might be. Without the ability to lie, there is no imagination, no fiction. Lecture Films, where Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is a screenwriter, produces movies featuring a single actor reading stories from history, such as Napoleon 1812-1813 and The Invention of the Fork.
29 October 2009
Instead of exploring what it means when, in the near future, people spend virtually their entire lives in their homes, living vicariously through robot surrogates, or “surries,” that they send out into the world, director Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) and screenwriters Michael Ferris and John Brancato (adapting a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele) wallow in an uninvolving and underdeveloped whodunit.