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Rating History

Zombieland
Zombieland (2009)
7 years ago via Movies on Facebook

A wise man once said, "I don't know what it is, but there is something deeply postmodern about zombies." (That man was Brooks Landon, in case you're wondering.)

I don't know what it is, but there is something deeply right about Zombieland.

Zombies are a modern trope that refuses to die (pardon the pun). Every time something new arrives I am ready for it to be terrible, one final step to far. I keep thinking that at some point we will reach the zombie event horizon, beyond which nothing more good can come of them, a zenith after which they will slowly fade away from popular consciousness.

I was half-expecting Zombieland to be that film. It's a very self-aware film--pomo to the max, as Landon would say--and films like this very easily, and often, slip into awkward cheese that doesn't work. Zombieland, however, does work, and beautifully. Despite appearances, I think its success is very subtle and a result of very careful composition. The broad strokes of the movie aren't anything new--how could they?--and many of the individual moments of amusement, upon reflection, aren't either. In this way Zombieland is a very slippery movie, one whose success I still don't quite understand.

I think it must be in the connections, in the navigations and relationships and flow of the movie, which is a very vague and unsubstantial claim, I realize, but for now necessary. I am sure that this is a great film; and it is perhaps greater for that from looking at it its constituent parts, there appears to be nothing great about it. It is thus something in the way the parts come together, in the ambiance and experience of their dance, a quiet success that never shoots you in the face but just slowly layers up as the film goes on, catching you almost unawares with its greatness. I am perplexed, in a way that gives me even more respect for this film than I otherwise might have.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
7 years ago via Movies on Facebook

Surprisingly successful romantic comedy due to its characters (and the actors, who are with the possible exception of Mila Kunis uniformly brilliant and elevating to the roles, and Kunis is by no means bad), which fulfill the stock roles of the formulaic plot but--crucially--are not limited to them. Rather than most films of this type, which consist of simply hollow icons acting out the necessary motions with the only variations being superficial ones arising out of minor changes of setting from past iterations of this plot, in this film the characters are allowed to be actual people, who by their nature and position, yes, act out the plot we all know, but also do a lot of other stuff, just like real people. And I'm not talking about the cliche crazy dream of the protagonist, which even at its extreme here in "Dracula puppet rock opera" doesn't quite work, but about the much more mundane liminal activity: Russel Brand's hilariously open sexuality, the brief bonding moment between Segel and Brand, Hader's appearances over web cam with his contrarian wife, etc. It is these small moments, built up over the course of the film, that make it a success.

Dead Snow (Død snø)
7 years ago via Movies on Facebook

"Nazi zombies" is really all you need to know if you want to see this movie or not, but to say more anyway: it lives up to its promise. Surprising to me (as that summation was in fact all I knew going in), this is more of a take on teen slasher flicks than zombie movies, but it works very well. Extremely gory (the zombies have a fetish for intestines), which is where much of the comedy lies, a sort of morbid slapstick which keeps one-upping itself throughout the film to epically hilarious lengths by the end.

I did find the inclusion of the stock crazy guy warning a bit unnecessary--his character was somewhat amusing, but the backstory was (as always) superfluous and his presence in general didn't seem to add anything.

500 Days of Summer
7 years ago via Movies on Facebook

It feels odd to describe this film as "brutally honest", but at the end that is perhaps the best term for it. While I may take issue with its use of "fate" in the last few minutes, the rest of the film is beautiful, heartbreaking, touching. As in many of the best films--and following Vonnegut's advice, which I think is very good--you know where it's going to end from the beginning, and watching is not so much an exercise in suspense--will they end up together?!!--but of dramatic irony. We know something the protagonist doesn't--that Summer doesn't want him, and never will. Not that she keeps it a secret, as a woman tells him after he drunkenly explains how Summer "betrayed" him, just that he was so blinded by his own obsession that he couldn't face that brutal truth. And we understand, and feel terrible for everyone involved, and are simply left to hope that he will learn.

The Brothers Bloom
7 years ago via Movies on Facebook

Wonderful contemplation on the power of narrative on our own lives. The search for an "unwritten life" is powerful, something I've spent a lot of thought on myself, and I think the characters' answers are not intended to be an answer from the film itself, which I think leads to some of the issues people have with its conclusion (which I saw coming quite a ways away, but I still wasn't sure they would in fact go for it until the very end, and it was still pleasing to me). The film is indeed perhaps too long, and its meandering may get away from the audience, but I feel that that in some way is the point--this isn't, at the end, one of Steven's perfectly structured cons constructed with the mastercraft of a dead Russian author. It's a rambling, ambling nature feels, to me, more honest than a tighter film perhaps would have.