Film Review: The Dead Don’t Die

Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die is not quite as satisfying as the package suggests. Nevertheless, there is still plenty to enjoy. 

Cliff is police chief of the small town of Centerville. When strange occurrences take place, Cliff and his officers try to figure out how to protect the town and its residents…

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, The Dead Don’t Die is probably the most star-studded zombie film ever made. From the main roles to minor characters, the film is populated with well-known faces. On the surface, the offering is most enticing. A zombie film with a focus on comedy, combined with the filmmaker’s offbeat appeal. 

The narrative begins well. The film introduces main characters and supporting characters, as well as the locale, in an interesting fashion. The humour is pretty effective as the narrative unfolds. The camaraderie between Cliff and Ronnie in particular a joy to watch. There is some on the nose social commentary, yet this is not unexpected.

The narrative builds towards the inevitable. Yet it also offers potential heroes in the ramshackle group of individuals in the small town. The film actually is less interesting with the increase of undead presence, oddly enough for a zombie film. Jarmusch chooses not to follow an obvious route however. Instead, The Dead Don’t Die offers a few unexpected moments before reaching its conclusion. 

The only issue with The Dead Don’t Die is that the second half feels like it has run out of steam. The jokes do not land as well, with a second fourth wall-breaking joke feeling flat. Whilst more gore was definitely not a requirement, some of the characters are completely underused. 

Several previous Jarmusch collaborators appear. Adam Driver and Bill Murray are as good value as ever, work well with Chlöe Sevigny. Tilda Swinton is great, while Caleb Landry Jones, Danny Glover, and Steve Buscemi are on good form. Production values are good, particularly makeup. 

The Dead Don’t Die is only a little disappointing given how much promise the film had. The film is still an enjoyable watch. 

Previews: The Killing of a Sacred Deer Trailer, More!

Plenty to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Killing of a Sacred Deer trailer, Goodbye Christopher Robin, and more…

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Trailer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the latest film from Yorgos Lanthimos. Director Lanthimos follows The Lobster with this horror-thriller. The film stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Barry Keoghan. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is out in UK cinemas on 17th November 2017.

IT VR Experience

Adjust your headsets for this frightening journey into the world of IT. This VR experience gives a flavour of the film, which is based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel. It is pretty scary! Starring Bill Skarsgård, IT floats on to UK screens on 8th September 2017.

Goodbye Christopher Robin Poster

Here is the latest poster for the upcoming Goodbye Christopher Robin. The film is about the real life relationship between author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the world of Winnie the Pooh. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, and Kelly Macdonald. Goodbye Christopher Robin is set for release on 29th September 2017.

Call Me By Your Name Trailer

Based on the novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name is a drama from director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash). The film is about an Italian-American teenager whose head is turned when a twenty-four year old intern comes to stay with his family for the summer. Starring Armie Hammer, Timothée Chamalet, and Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name hits UK screens on 27th October 2017.

The Death of Stalin Trailer

The Death of Stalin is the latest film from writer-director Armando Iannucci. The film is a dark comedy which takes place in the days after the collapse of Soviet leader Stalin. The film features an enviable cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Paddy Considine, and Andrea Riseborough. The Death of Stalin is out in UK cinemas on 20th October 2017.

Trailer Round-Up

There are four trailers from the past week that are worth a look. A little bit of horror, LA crime drama, teen shenanigans and East End violence seem to be the shape of things to come.

The Cabin in the Woods

 I have seen The Cabin in the Woods, but I am sworn to secrecy. The film was co-written and produced by Joss Whedon. Go and see it when it comes out on 13th April 2012.

 Rampart

There is not enough noir in modern cinema. Rampart, released Friday 24th February, appears to go some way to rectifying this. Featuring a screenplay by L.A. Confidential‘s James Ellroy, Rampart focuses on a veteran cop in the LAPD. The film features an all-star cast including Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi.

 Project X

Project X seems to be a teen party movie with a twist. The film is about a seventeenth birthday party which high school students shoot with their digital cameras. Project X is produced by The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips and The Matrix‘s Joel Silver. The film is released in cinemas on 2nd March 2012.

 Pusher

Pusher is a remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s film of the same name. This version is set in East London and stars Agyness Deyn, Ruchard Coyle and Bronson Webb. The remake has the approval of Winding Refn, who acts as executive producer of the project. Pusher is due for release this year.

10 Reasons Why Boardwalk Empire is Really a Film

In recent years, television shows have increasingly adopted cinematic tropes. Some of these can be found in current television series, nevertheless Boardwalk Empire is the pinnacle of this trend. Considering the first season of the show, here are ten reasons why Boardwalk Empire should be evaluated as a cinematic production, rather than a televisual one.

1. Martin Scorsese

One of Boardwalk Empire‘s executive producers and director of the pilot episode, the series has Martin Scorsese’s stamp all over it. The director’s preoccupations permeate the show, with themes of crime, morality and Catholic guilt consistently reoccurring. Early cinema also pops up rather frequently, and long time Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker even acts as a consultant for the first episode.

2. Cast

The main players in Boardwalk Empire are all more associated with cinema rather than television. Protagonist Nucky is played by Steve Buscemi, while Michael Shannon and Kelly Macdonald are key cast members. Unlike some shows which feature movie stars in cameo roles, film actors are the main characters in the series. Even supporting roles are populated with actors more associated with film, Gretchen Mol as Gillian for example.

3. Production Values

Boardwalk Empire elevates itself above other television shows with its sublime sets, costuming and overall art direction. The attention to detail is fantastic, with music, artifacts and advertisements all given an authentic feel. The series is filmed beautifully, with a cinematic sheen given to the overall look. Depictions of gore look realistic too.

4. Historical Allusions

Given its period setting, it is unsurprising that events or incidents relating to the era pop up in Boardwalk Empire. Thankfully these never appear to be included for tokenistic value. Issues such as the women’s vote and the presence of the Ku Klux Klan are incorporated in the narrative in a naturalistic fashion. Unlike the ‘issue an episode’ format of shows such as Glee, the themes and historical references featured in Boardwalk Empire play a role in the overarching narrative and are often referred back to throughout the series.

5. Unfolding Plots

Plots in Boardwalk Empire are paced in a more deliberated way than many television shows. Narrative strands unfold in a more organic fashion than the often rushed method frequently employed by television. Although each episode features important events, there is not a sense of jumping ahead with a plot only introduced in the last episode. This is particularly pertinent as there is often a gap of weeks or months between when each episode is set.

6. Drama Not Gimmicks

Boardwalk Empire is a drama, though like most other films and shows it features additional elements. Despite the presence of violence and nudity, the series always retains its base in drama. Unlike True Blood which is increasingly becoming notorious for its graphic content (and The Sopranos before with its famed violence), drama remains the focus of Boardwalk Empire‘s appeal.

7. Episode Run Times

Boardwalk Empire distinguishes itself from most other television series through the differing lengths of the episodes. While television shows will often have a longer first or finale episode than the rest of the series, every episode of season one has at least a slightly different running time. The impression given by this is that the story unfolds at its own pace, rather than being constrained by the necessities of time slots and ad breaks.

8. Real Characters

A number of historical figures feature in Boardwalk Empire. Rather than token appearances, these characters are part of the main cast. Characters such as Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein take on integral roles. Rather than the caricatures they could have degenerated into, they appear authentic and always necessary to the plot.

9. Lack of Cliffhangers

Unlike many television shows, Boardwalk Empire does not end episodes on a cliffhanger. Although the overarching strands are left lingering, there is not the urgency of what directly follows in the next episode. In this way Boardwalk Empire distinguishes itself from shows that rely on teasing audiences in what is to follow next week.

10. Season Conclusion

Season one of Boardwalk Empire can be viewed as a single film in its entirety, albeit a prolonged and slightly episodic one. The season concludes the main plots in a satisfying manner. However, it does not tie up every single loose end, hinting at a sequel in the shape of season two. Like many good films, Boardwalk Empire leaves some questions unanswered, yet feels complete in the journey made during the twelve episodes.

Boardwalk Empire Season One is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray.