Monday, May 31, 2010

Survival of the Dead (2010)

So I broke down and saw this film, and in a way I'm glad I did. Survival of the Dead is no masterpiece, but it is better then Romero's "Diary of the Dead", and shows some promise even though the story seems too preposterous.

The whole story about letting the zombies live just seemed too off-beat. I mean zombies and bullets seem to go together. I mean what's the point in keeping a zombie alive? So the conflict between the two families doesn't make mush sense. What did make sense was the story of the survivors of the zombie Apocalypse. That's been it for me and I believe a lot others too. In the most interesting zombie film "Dawn of the Dead" Romero was going for the whole breakdown of society. He used comic book violence to get a point across without beating our heads in with the message. In essence it was fun and yet if you took apart the film there was a lot there. Even in "Day of the Dead" Romero goes darker and the violence becomes less comic bookish, and more realistic. In "Day of the Dead" mankind is in ruins, and the zombie Apocalypse is in full gear. Even in "Day of the Dead" Romero uses dark humor to show us the end of the world. Romero gives us even a glance of hope towards the end of "Day of the Dead" which is unlike Romero.

In Survival Romero seems to be going back to his roots and picking characters he is interested in. Alan Van Sprang plays a leader of a motley crew of military deserters who are searching for a safe place to rest. These aren't the good guys, and Sprangs character says that. They are just surviving, and isn't that what these Dead films are all about. How we as human beings survive this great zombie Apocalypse. It isn't all about the zombies. It's about what kind of society we transform into when faced with extinction.

I'm a HUGE fan of Romero and I really like what he has to say, but he's always constrained by his budgets. He does a good job getting his message through, so when the camera was on the survivors I was most interested in the story. The story between the two families was somewhat interesting, but it got a bit ridiculous towards the middle.

In the end "Survival of the Dead" isn't bad at all, and what I hear is that Romero is making some money off these films finally. I'm happy to hear that, and maybe with that extra money he can go back to what the series is all about, and that is the breakdown of society, and how mankind adapts to the zombie Apocalypse.

Maybe a cable series of the dead. Wouldn't that make sense? Possibly highlighting different survivors throughout its episodes. I would think that it would be financial viable, and it would keep Romero rolling in cash for awhile. Maybe it would free him up to do something more interesting, or different. I don't know, but whatever the case I still believe in Romero the filmmaker.

"Survival of the Dead" shows that Romero is still on top of his game, and still laughing while winking at us as he shows man kinds decent into the zombie Apocalypse.

PS: Can we start filming these films in country again. I know Canada has some interesting financial incentives to film there, BUT with this recession here there are a LOT of GOOD deals to be made with local film organizations that make it cheaper to film here then in another country. Also it just looks a lot better from a cinematic point of view.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When Your Strange (2009)

What can I say about Jim Morrison and the Doors that hasn't been already said. For my generation he was and will be an iconic symbol of a time where an artist pushed the boundaries of his art. But that's not how I know The Doors. I remember hearing them blasting from big boom boxes that my buddies used to carry around. For some Morrison is the soundtrack of their youth and I guess I fall into that category. It was only later that I developed such a respect on what he did and how he did it. Without compromise Morrison did what he wanted to do. Call him a drug induced rock star that pissed off the authorities of his time or just call him the "lizard King". He was both.

When your Strange is a documentary on Morrison and the Doors and is narrated by Johnny Depp. Tom DiCillo is the director of the film, and he does a great job assembling footage that we haven't seen yet of Morrison and the Doors. If your a fan of the Doors theres not much new in information about the Doors that hasn't been said or written about. It is the footage that is new and how DiCillo mixes the music and the archival footage together is really special. I didn't have a problem with Depp's voice over since it is sparse and not all the time, but it would have been more interesting in just using the audio of Morrison and Doors to tell their story.

The film also made me appreciate Oliver Stones film "The Doors"even more with all the research he had done. It's all here, and it's pretty dead on. DiCillo does a good job, and I think in anyone else's hands the film wouldn't be as interesting as it is.

So if your a Doors fan I highly recommend it, and if not and you don't know much about the Doors and who they were I would also recommend it. Seeing Morrison so early in his career is interesting. I wanted to see more, and that's the only fault I have of the film. I know there's more. Such as Morrison's poetry, and his relationship with the band members and his long time girlfriend Pamela Courson. The film does not dig deep, and maybe there may not be anything else to dig up, but what of Morrison's associates? Where are they?, who were they?, and what were their stories of Morrison? Maybe that's for another film. It would be interesting to see a film about the selling of Morrison now and then, and get a true feeling on how he felt, and what he believed because right now we only see his band mates recollections. That would also be an interesting film, but probably not a sellable one where the band "The Doors" has become a marketing juggernaut. By keeping the myth of Morrison alive it has become more about selling the bands albums to future generations instead of a real look at an American artist who was more then just a singer . I would think Morrison would have something to say about that, but who knows if there is footage of him talking about his art, and his songs. I would be interested in seeing that footage. I surely don't believe that we have seen or heard the definitive Doors or should I say Morrison retrospective.

In any respect "When your Strange" is a compelling look at an artist who inspired a generation, and to this day still inspires others. Some label him a burned out rock star, and others saw him as a poet of his generation. That's the fascination of Morrison, and for some of us he will always be the iconic rock superstar. Long live the Lizard King.