Friday, November 7, 2014

Z Nation and the Zunami

Yes, I know this is quite a turn from the sublimely lovely film "Winter's Tale," but hey the work of a pop culture diva is nothing if not diverse.

Face it boys and girls, zombies are a happenin' thang in our pop culture these days.  Everywhere you go you see the walking dead...well maybe that's an exaggeration and it is only a week after Halloween which could explain the undead onslaught.  Okay, but zombies pervade our pop culture.

In fact a local university beat the existing collegiate record for the most participants of a university reenacting Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video last night.  They had literally thousands of dancers putting on the King of Pop's famous moves.  It even got local news I said, they're everywhere!!

So a week ago tonight on Z Nation, the Sy Fy Channel's homage to the staggering dead, the one that gave us ZNado, came up with the dreaded Zunami, as in Zombie Tsunami, or an ongoing never-ending horde of Zombies trampling the countryside looking for lunch.

In the story, they had scavenged the US from the Canadian border down to Kansas.  An enormous dust cloud announced their approach. I have to say on the flat fields of Kansas, the humans could see them coming from quite a distance. Of course the zombies could also see their prey, hardly a win-win situation for our heroes.

The humans ran to the local mortuary and each hid in the morgue in the refrigerated trays where the corpses were kept in happier times.  I have to admit it was very creepy to watch those shut up on the trays having to lie still and make no noise while the Zs grunted, shuffled, and looked for their next meal.

Most of the live ones survived the Zunami.  I wonder what will happen on tonight's episode...Killer bee zombies?  Who knows...

I wanted to mention a couple of movies that got excellent reviews in our local paper.

"Interstellar" starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway with a host of popular actors in the cast, got a very good review in our local paper.  Which is a rare feat.  But it does sound intriguing and the special effects look incredible.  If you like thought provoking science fiction - the adult kind without transformers, this one might well be for you.

"Birdman" starring Michael Keaton is another well-lauded film opening today.  In it, he plays an actor who in his youth played the Birdman, a popular super hero.  Alas, as he has aged, he has fallen on hard times. Anybody remember when Keaton played Batman? While close to some aspects of his life the film is hardly biographical.  It has gotten wonderful reviews from several sources.  If you're going to see a movie this weekend, consider "Birdman" and do me a favor, let me know how it is...I don't get to the movies anymore, not until they come to video.

Special notice, the third film in the "Hunger Games" franchise - "The Mockingjay, Part. 1" opens in two weeks.

Enjoy our wonderful pop culture - this is a great time for movies when many big ones open to make the Oscar race in time and/or rake in the revenue from all those holiday movie-goers.

Take advantage!

Til next time...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Winter's Tale

Last night I stumbled upon a film, Winter's Tale, on HBO. It was an enchanting surprise.  Well cast with Colin Farrell as Peter Lake, the reluctant hero, facing Russell Crowe as the villain, it is an amazing production. Akiva Goldsman wrote the screenplay for the Mark Helprin novel of the same name, and directed the film.

It's 1916 in New York City.  Peter Lake is an enigma.  He was found unconscious in a boat that drifted to shore by a native American played by the wonderful Graham Greene.  Along the way Peter discovers he has an aptitude for two things - repairing all manner of mechanical devices and theft.

His only possession is a magical white horse, known only as "Horse," who conveys to him what he should do.  When they are about to flee evil Russell Crowe and his minions, the horse stops in front of a snow covered mansion and won't budge.  So Peter gets off to make one more score before leaving the area.

The mansion's only occupant is a beautiful young woman, named Beverly Penn,who turns out to be dying of "consumption" what we know as tuberculosis. She is frail and ethereally beautiful.  Played by Jessica Brown Findlay, Beverly is a memorable character.

Peter falls immediately in love with her and vows to protect her on her remaining life journey. Beverly tells him that when we die, when our lives, no matter how many or how few are over, we fly to the heavens and become stars.  She chants the name of many stars.  A habit he gains in the future.

I won't spoil everything for you but will say, Peter is not successful in keeping her alive.  When she dies, he cannot revive her.  Even though her baby sister Willa has shown him the special bed she has prepared in their greenhouse where the princess can be revived with her true love's kiss.

The film then jumps from 1916 to 2014.  Peter appears again with no memory of who he is.  It turns out his real purpose was saving another red-haired girl, instead of Beverly.  Bit by bit he remembers and finds her.

Along the way, he meets elderly Willa, played by the still beautiful Eva Marie Saint.

The ending of the film is a gorgeous fantasy, one that will stay with me for a long time, I think.

There is one bad bit with the magical horse where the bad guys try to capture him, but Peter frees him and saves him.

I have to tell you I was sobbing by the end, not because it was so awful, but because it was so beautiful.  Of course the fact I take care of a 93 year old may have played into that reaction as well.

Look for Will Smith, in a surprising turn as Lucifer - yep, I mean THE Lucifer.

This is the best film I've seen in a long time.  It's currently running on HBO, but is also available for rental from your favorite vendor.

Check this one out.  It is a spellbinding work of art.

Until next time...