Playing Catch-Up With The Films Of 2019: The Dead Don’t Die (by Jim Jarmusch)


Uh-oh, the dead are rising again.

Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many zombie films I’ve seen over the past ten years.  This last decade was the decade when zombies went mainstream and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about it.  Zombies have become so overexposed that they’re no longer as scary as they once were.  I mean, there’s even PG-rated zombie movies now!  How the Hell did that happen?  Everyone’s getting in on the act.

There were a brief flurry of excitement when Jim Jarmusch announced that his next film would be a zombie film.  Myself, I was a bit skeptical and the release of a terrible trailer didn’t really help matters.  The fact that the film was full of recognizable names also made me uneasy.  Would this be an actual zombie film or would it just be a bunch of actors slumming in the genre?  The film opened the Cannes Film Festival and received mixed reviews.  By the time it opened in the United States, it seemed as if everyone had forgotten about The Dead Don’t Die.  It was widely chalked up as being one of Jim Jarmusch’s rare misfires, like The Limits of Control.

Last month, I finally watched The Dead Don’t Die and you know what?  It’s a flawed film and yes, there are times when it even becomes an annoying film.  That said, I still kind of liked it.

In The Dead Don’t Die, the Earth’s rotation has been altered, the result of polar fracking.  No one seems to be particularly concerned about it.  Instead, they’re just kind of annoyed by the fact that the sun is now staying up in the sky a bit longer than usual.  Cell phones and watches stop working.  House pets abandon and occasionally attack their owners.  In the rural town of Centerville, the dead rise from their graves and start to eat people.  Whether or not that’s connected to the Earth’s rotation is anyone’s guess.  (I like to think that the whole thing about the Earth’s rotation being altered was Jarmusch’s homage to Night of the Living Dead‘s suggestion that the zombies were the result of space radiation.)

We meet the inhabitant of Centerville.  Zelda (Tilda Swinton) is the enigmatic mortician.  Bobby (Caleb Landry Jones) is the horror movie expert.  Farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi) is the red-hatted farmer who hates everyone.  Zoe (Selena Gomez) is the traveler who is staying at the run-down motel with two friends.  Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) is the police chief who wants to save everyone but Farmer Miller.  Ronnie (Adam Driver) and Mindy (Chloe Sevigny) are police officers.  They’re all in the middle of a zombie apocalypse but very few of them seem to really be that surprised by any of it.

Throughout the film, we hear Sturgill Simpson singing a wonderful song called The Dead Don’t Die.  Cliff demands to know why the song is always one the radio.  Ronnie replies that it’s the “theme song.”  Ronnie, we discover, has an answer for almost everything.  He explains that he knows what’s going to happen because he’s the only one that “Jim” allowed to read the entire script.  Cliff isn’t happy about that.

That’s the type of film that The Dead Don’t Die is.  It’s an elaborate in-joke, a zombie movie about people who know that they’re in a zombie movie but who are too detached to actually use that information to their advantage.  The script has been written so they have no choice but to do what the script says regardless of whether it makes them happy or not.  It’s a clever conceit, though a bit of a thin one to build a 103-minute movie around.

As I said, the film can occasionally be an endurance test.  Everyone is so deadpan that you actually find yourself getting angry at them.  But, whenever you’re on the verge of giving up, there will be a clever line that will draw you back in or the theme song will start playing again.  Bill Murray and Adam Driver are fun to watch and Driver reminds us that he’s actually a good comedic actor.  (In the year of Marriage Story and Rise of Skywalker, that can be easy to forget.)

It’s a flawed film and definitely not one of Jim Jarmusch’s best.  At the same time, though, The Dead Don’t Die is not as bad as you may have heard.

Playing Catch-Up: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (dir by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone)


Have you heard of Conner4Real?

If you haven’t, you’re probably just old or else you don’t keep up with what’s happening in the world of popular music.  His real name is Conner Friel and he used to be a member of the Style Boyz.  Of course, the Style Boyz eventually broke up.  Kid Brain became a farmer.  Kid Contact became a DJ.  And Kid Conner — well, he became Conner4Real and he became a bigger star as a solo artist than he ever was as a Style Boy.  His debut album, Thriller, Also, broke records.

But the follow-up, Connquest … well, Connquest wasn’t quite as acclaimed.  In fact, it was hated by just about everyone.  This is despite featuring classic songs like:

Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)

Mona Lisa

and Equal Rights (featuring P!nk).

Fortunately, when Conner4Real was facing his greatest existential crisis, a film crew was present to record his struggle.  For those of us who were fascinated by the career of Conner4Real, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a chance to see how Conner dealt with everything from his terminally ill pet turtle to the elaborate marriage proposal ceremony that led to Seal being attacked by wild wolves.  We would have gotten to see Conner and his manager defeat a swarm of mutant bees but, unfortunately, that happened right after the only time that Conner’s manager asked the film crew to stop filming.

Oh well, these things happen.

So, as you should have guessed from all that, Popstar is not a serious film.  It’s a mockumentary, with the emphasis on mock.  It was also one of the funniest films of 2016, a spot-on parody of the silliness and pretensions of fame.  Conner is a combination of Justin Bieber and Macklemore at their shallowest, a well-meaning but thoroughly empty-headed singer.  In fact, if Conner was played by anyone other than Andy Samberg, he would be so annoying that the film would run the risk of being unwatchable.

But fortunately, Conner is played by Andy Samberg.  It’s hard to think of anyone who plays dumb with quite the same panache as Andy Samberg does.  There are plenty of lines in Popstar that shouldn’t work but they do, specifically because they’re being delivered by Samberg.  He brings just the right amount of sweetly sincere stupidity to the role.  Almost despite yourself, you find yourself hoping that things will work out for Conner and the other Style Boyz.  Conner may not deserve to be as big a star as he is but it was obviously going to happen to some idiot so why not a sincere one?

Samberg is not the only funny person in Popstar.  The movie is full of funny people, from Sarah Silverman to Bill Hader to the always underrated Tim Meadows.  It’s also full of celebrity cameos and I have to admit that I usually tend to cringe when I see too many people playing themselves.  But in Popstar, it works.  One need only rewatch something like Zoolander 2 to see how well Popstar pulls off its celebrity cameos.

Sadly, as funny as Popstar was, it was also one of the biggest bombs of 2016.  (The trailer, it must be said, did not do the film justice.)  However, I expect that it will soon develop a strong cult following.  In a few years, we’ll get a sequel.  It probably won’t be as as good.

Oh well.  These things happen.

Trailer: Django Unchained


The last couple days have seen the release of a number of upcoming films that should be jockeying for all those fancy-pants end of season awards. One such film is the latest film from Quentin Tarantino. Django Unchained is his latest trip into the grindhouse world with this film being his take on the spaghetti westerns made popular by Italian maestros like Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Enzo G. Castellari.

It’s an ensemble cast that’s headlined by Jamie Foxx in the title role with Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio (playing against the grain as the main villain of the piece). To pay respect to the very genre that this film owes not just it’s title, but theme and tone, Tarantino has even cast the original Django in Franco Nero in the role of Amerigo Vassepi.

Django Unchained is set for a Christmas Day 2012 release date (hopefully the world didn’t end just four days earlier).

Trailer: The Man with the Iron Fists (Official)


One thing that seemed destined the moment RZA (with his hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan) arrived on the scene in the early 1990’s was him finally making a martial arts film. Not just a martial arts film, but a wuxia kung fu film that he and the other in the Wu-Tang Clan had watched as kids and cotinued to obsess over as adults. RZA’s own brand of hip=hop was infused with many sound bites and track beats from the classic kung fu flicks of the 70’s and 80’s. Even the group’s name was taken from one of those very kung fu classics, Shaolin and the Wu-Tang.

Now RZA has teamed up with genre filmmaker Eli Roth to make his dream to a reality with the upcoming martial arts film The Man with the Iron Fists which RZA has directed from a story written by both him and Roth. It also stars RZA (making him a triple-threat in this production) with Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung, Daniel Bautista and MMA fighter Cung Le. The fight choreography was handled by renowned martial arts fight choreographer Corey Yeun.

The first official trailer has now been released and it’s in awesome Red Band which shows just a hint of how ultra-violent the film will end up being. All I can say is that near the end of the trailer we get eyeballs!

Trailer: Django Unchained (Official)


If there’s a film arriving this year that’s bound to be hyped up by both fanboys and critics alike it would be the latest from Quentin Tarantino. Django Unchained will be his ode to the spaghetti westerns of the 60’s and 70’s. The title of the film alone owes much to Sergio Corbucci’s own spaghetti western, Django.

The trailer first premiered simultaneously over at Fandango and Movies.com and the amount of times the trailer has been reposted over the blogosphere just shows how much people have been waiting for anything about Tarantino’s western when it was first announced. I know that pretty much most everyone here at Through the Shattered Lens have been anticipating this film especially co-founder Lisa Marie Bowman.

I’d describe the trailer itself, but it’s better just to watch it. I’m sure Lisa Marie squealed a bit when two Django’s met near the end.

Source: Movies.com

Trailer: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2nd Official)


Today we saw the release of the second official trailer for Paramount Pictures’ G.I. Joe: Retaliation (sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra).

This new trailer show’s a bit more of the plot that was hinted at in the first trailer. That trailer told us that the President of the United States has declared war on the Joes and the survivors of a preemptive strike on the team has to try and figure out a way to get their reputations back (plus show the world that the group Cobra is not the saviors they’re showed to be).

This new trailer expands on the film’s story and also gives a bit more detail on why Bruce Willis’ character, Gen. Joe Colton, was a big part of the formation of the G.I. Joes. That’s all well and good, but everyone going into this film knows all they want is some kick-ass action. The trailers shows that and more. Hopefully, the action scenes showed is just a hint of the action in this film.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is scheduled for a June 29, 2012 release.

Trailer: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Super Bowl Spot)


If there’s a recent guilty pleasure of mine the past couple years it has to be 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. Yes, that film was a mess with iconic characters from the G.I. Joe franchise of toys and comics so miscast that it was difficult to feel any sort of attachment to them in the film. But for some reason the film was still entertaining in that dumb, but fun way certain films just end up becoming.

No one thought a sequel would ever be made after that first film, but it looks to have made enough money to justify one for the studios making it. This latest trailer and Super Bowl tv spot for G.I. Joe: Retaliation has The Rock quoting Jay-Z while showing some new sequences in addition to ones already shown in past trailers. We get to see a more than quick glimpse of Cobra Commander in his new, but recognizable facemask.

I’m definitely going to be watching this the weekend it comes out and with Channing Tatum barely being shown as being in the film then my wish that he may not make it past the early minutes of this sequel may have been answered.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is still set for a June 29, 2012 release date.

Trailer: G.I. Joe: Retaliation


I will admit right here and right now that I really enjoyed G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra when it came out in 2009. I know that it was really panned by critics and many film-goers, but I thought it brought the cartoonish action of the original cartoon to life. I wasn’t too thrilled with some of the casting choices, but overall I had fun with the film. I wasn’t really the only one who enjoyed it since it made quite enough in the box-office to warrant a sequel. This sequel looks to bring in only a few people from the first film (Channing Tatum, Ray Park and Lee Byung-hun as Duke, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow respectively) while bringing in a new cast and, most important of all, a new director and writers.

Jon Chu, fresh off the success of Fast Five, took on this project and from the trailer shown above it looks like he has injected the very same fun action he did for the Fast and the Furious franchise. It’s going to be interesting to see if the action in this sequel follows the same cartoonish (lasers and stuff) kind they had in the first film or will Chu and crew go old-school action and just go with bullets, bombs and rockets. If they go with the latter then I am all for it. Plus, it has “The Rock” as Roadblock. That alone had me as ticket-buyer on Day One of it’s release.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is set for a June, 29, 2012 release.