Monday, September 27, 2004

Movie: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The filmmakers are calling this a ‘rom-zom-com,’ or a romantic zombie comedy. Whatever it is, it works. Comedy is the movie’s strongest suit. Slacker Shaun (co-writer Simon Pegg) and his best bud Ed (Nick Frost) are so out of it that they almost don’t notice the apocalypse playing out in their drab London neighborhood; they’re already the living dead. The ‘zom’ element is also served up in force as Shaun and his friends barricade themselves in the godawful pub where they while away every evening. The benchmark for all good zombie movies is met, in that entrails make an appearance. Even the romance has a little weight to it, thanks to the appealingly sensible Kate Ashfield.

The scenes between Shaun, his sweetly dim mother and his distant stepfather (the great Bill Nighy, who played the lord of the vampires in UNDERWORLD) have a surprising emotional impact. SHAUN is a fully-rounded movie with a distinctly English sensibility. Points for a note-perfect ending.

DVD: Spartan (2004)

I had this movie at #1 in my half-year recap. Three-quarters of the way through 2004, it’s still there. A repeat viewing only confirms that David Mamet’s political thriller is the film that the MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE remake wanted to be. It wrings gut-wrenching tension from contemporary fears – that the system is irreparably broken, that the government lies to us, that the terrorism card can be played for political ends. Considering the plot, I still find it damned odd that Alexandra Kerry is in this movie.

Watch this one. Watch it now.

Miscellaneous: Phrase of the Day

This New York Times article on the proliferation of sex shops in Greenwich Village explains that such stores outside ‘adult entertainment zones’ can stay open if at least 60 percent of their merchandise is not X-rated.

“Robert Sacklow, the inexhaustible inspector for the Office of Midtown Enforcement, calls the merchandise ‘Spanish Popeye.’ The term stems from a sex shop he once inspected in the Bronx that had 12,000 X-rated videos – and a single wall covered with 18,000 copies of Popeye cartoon videos dubbed in Spanish.”

Miscellaneous: Links

I haven’t been to McSweeney’s in ages. The humor was getting a bit too ... experimental for me. But Matt at pointed me toward this piece on classic films reconsidered. Which led me to this one on great works of literature, Maxim-style.

Of course, all of this is merely an excuse for me to link to my contribution to McSweeney’s, which ran nearly two years ago. Pathetic, isn’t it?