A Zombie Rom-Com With Brains and The Rest of This Week's Screenings Around Town.

Warm Bodies.
Director:
Jonathan Levine.
Writers: Jonathan Levine (screenplay), Isaac Marion (novel).
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco
Where's it playing? Everywhere!

We've seen zombies do all sorts of crazy things in the 45 or so years since they rose from the grave to their current popularity in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead*.

They've walked, shuffled, crawled, ran, jumped and even fought sharks.

But fall in love? A zomb-rom-com? We've seen that with vampires and werewolves. Zombies, though? No, we've never seen that**.

Still, despite the marketing for the film, the Hot Topic tie-ins and the fact that it coincidentally hails from the same studio as Twilight, Warm Bodies is a surprisingly fresh take on both the love story and the uber-popular zombie genre. Think Beauty and the Beast meets Romeo & Juliet — if Romeo had to resist the urge to feast on his beauty's brains as he fell head over heels for her.

Most of the credit here goes to writer/director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Wackness, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane), with a major tip of the hat to the vivid cinematography of Javier Aguirresarobe (The Road, Fright Night). Levine adapts Isaac Marion's novel of the same name into an unconventional story of love knowing no boundaries.

With a fantastic mixtape soundtrack as eclectic as the film's tones, Levine gives us a heartwarming story of a zombie named R who saves and soon falls in love with a human named Julie (picking up on those not-so-subtle Romeo & Juliet references yet?) in a post-apocalyptic society where the living barricade themselves from the walking dead with a giant city wall.

But these aren't the flesh-eating monsters we're used to. Well, not exactly.

They still eat flesh and brains, but the twist here is that eating brains allows them to experience the memories of their victims and feel somewhat human again. With this, we get a poignant, inner-monologued perspective never quite seen in a zombie film before. Yes, as with Land of the Dead, these zombies indeed posses the power to evolve. And evolve they do.

But the credit shouldn't all go to Levine. As R, Nicholas Hoult does very much with very little, bringing a genuine somber tomes to his subtle groans, grunts and glances. Teresa Palmer, meanwhile, fills the silence as Julie. And for a dead guy and a human girl, the two have a wonderful, slow-flickering spark that carries the film's star-crossed lovers tale.

All in all, Warm Bodies is a pleasant surprise for January, which is typically the place where bad movies go to die quick deaths and never come back. Hopefully that's not the case with this one, as it's a bloody good fun time at the movies.

Whether eaten or not, this film definitely has some brains behind it.

Rating: 8 out of 10 braaaaaaaains.

* Before you go all gore geek on me, I know that Night of the Living Dead wasn't technically the first feature-length zombie film and therefore didn't originate the genre. That titles belongs to 1932's White Zombie. Still, it was Romero who first gave us the shuffling, flesh-eating movie monsters we now associate with zombies, thereby making him the godfather of the genre.

** Unless, of course, you're counting 1993's My Boyfriend's Back or love between bros as seen in Shaun of the Dead.

Also in theaters around town this week…

Sound City.
Director:
Dave Grohl.
Writer: Mark Monroe.
Cast: Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood.
Where's it playing? Friday at 8 p.m. at the Texas Theater, where it will be followed by a DJ set from Diamond Age and Ex-pat.

Former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl helms this documentary about the famous California recording studio that famously produced legendary albums by everyone from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Fleetwood Mac to Neil Young and Nirvana (Nevermind, specifically), among many other iconic releases. To soundtrack the film, Grohl has also put together a compilation album featuring the Foo Fighters as the backing band for such acclaimed artists as Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield and more. It's like The Avengers of rock docs!

Stand Up Guys.
Director:
Fisher Stevens.
Writer: Noah Haidle.
Cast: Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Christopher Walken.
Where's it playing? Everywhere!

After a 28-year prison stint, a now-geriatric conman (Pacino) reunites with his partner from the past (Walken) and another grey-haired gangster (Arkin) for one last job. Little does he know that his old pal (emphasis on “old”) has been hired by an enemy to send him to sleep with the fishes… or whatever old people do. I wonder if it's called Stand Up Guys because it's hard for these old timers to stand up at this point? Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Bullet to the Head.
Director:
Walter Hill/
Writers: Alessandro Camon (screenplay), Alexis Nolent (graphic novel).
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater.
Where's it playing? Everywhere!

Based on a French graphic novel, this film from classic action director Walter Hill (48 Hrs., Red Heat) centers around a hitman (Stallone) and a cop (Sung Kang) that team up to take down a common enemy that kidnapped the hitman's daughter. Currently at 49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the title seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of what you'll want to do to yourself by the time the credits role.

Goodfellas (1990) in 35MM.
Director:
Martin Scorsese.
Writer: Nicholas Pileggi.
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci.
Where's it playing? Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Texas Theater

With two gangster-centric crime films hitting this week, you might want to put your money on a sure bet and go for Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning classic about three wiseguys making their way up the mob ladder. If you somehow haven't seen this one yet, just know it's not a comedy. And don't you dare tell Joe Pesci he's funny. However, if you do want to have some fun with this film, hit up the Texas Theater's bar and play the Goodfellas drinking game. Here's how it works: Every time they drop the F-bomb in the movie, take a drink. With it being uttered 296 times during the course of the movie (mostly by Pesci), you'll be good and wasted in no time at all.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) in 35MM.
Director:
John Cameron Mitchell.
Writers: John Cameron Mitchell (play and screenplay), Stephen Trask (music and lyrics).
Cast: John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask.
Where's it playing? Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m. at the Texas Theater.

Based on the cult musical, writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell's tale of transexuals, drugs, and rock 'n' roll is coming to the Texas Theatre in true style with an after party featuring DJ sets from Woodtronic and Tigerbee, plys a drag show intermission featuring a live performance from Nikki Trash.

Heavy Metal (1981).
Director:
Gerald Potterton.
Writers: Daniel Goldberg, Len Blum.
Cast: Richard Romanus, John Candy, Joe Flaherty.
Where's it playing? Friday and Saturday at midnight at the Inwood Theatre.

Comprised of nine animated shorts and boasting a killer soundtrack featuring Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath and Cheap Trick (not to mention a bevy of animated boobies), this cult classic based on the famous '70s sci-fi/fantasy magazine of the same name is flying into the Inwood riding a steel dragon breathing fire while shredding a solo on a double-necked guitar made of bones.

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