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The Dead Don't Die is Jim Jarmusch's star-studded follow-up to Only Lovers Left Alive, trading the vampires' elegance and urban landscapes for a zombie obviousness and a rural setting. But it's still about the undead as a metaphor for societal decay, and in this case, an amusing if slow-paced (amusing BECAUSE it is slow-paced?) comedy set in Trump's America. This thing is insane in more ways than one, but it's biggest sin is being too on-the-nose. When zombies moan about wi-fi and Xanax, I think it's already too clear what Jarmusch is saying without Tom Waits' survivalist explaining it in voice-over. If the basic message is evident and on the order of the grumpy old man shaking his fist at a politically apathetic population, there are other layers of meaning too. It was actually fun to try and discern how each character represented a different reaction to the film's metaphor for climate change. One throws blame at immigrants but never understands the situation. Another believes all the government's lies and eventually joins the throng. Some recognize the narrative and see all the signs, but are impotent to do anything about it except say we're doomed and moving on. And then there's Tilda Swinton's outrageous, absurd foreigner, who can just leave and wipe her hands of the whole thing, as many of us outside the States frequently do (until it happens to us). A pointed message that borders of the lecture may make you think there's no food for thought here, but there's quite a lot happening when you start talking about it. It's the kind of comedy I like, and there are a lot of fun details in the background as well, Plus, it's got a cool theme song.
Pretty lame over all. Some of the jokes were good, other were repetitive and stale relying on references. Actors were mostly all great, i think this movie benefited hugely from its cast but most of the characters are pretty uninteresting, and the ones that are interesting like hermit-bob and the juvenile kids are only briefly on screen not doing too much to further any plot. Most of the characters are basically there for a cheap laugh at best which is unfortunate because this movie really had something charming and interesting going for it in the first half.
This isn’t gonna end well.
Life is full of surprises. First of all, the location where I saw this film. I thought it was a unique experience. I watched “The dead don’t die” outdoors in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. And yes, this is something I don’t do too often. To be honest it’s the second time that I watch a film under a starry sky. The first time, however, I guess the budget was a slight problem. The screen wasn’t exactly resistant to the wind. The result was that in “Racer and the Jailbird“, Matthias Schoenaerts looked unwillingly comical every time the wind rose. In Ljubljana, however, in addition to the perfect location namely Ljubljanski Grad (The Castle of Ljubljana), they also provided professional equipment. In short, a perfect image and sound (even with a gust of wind).
Next, I was surprised by the film itself. I’m not a fan of a mixture of comedy and horror. But, I recently saw the movie “Monster Party“. And I must say I also liked that movie. Perhaps I should, therefore, revise my opinion on this latest statement regarding humor and horror. Maybe it was also because of the type of humor that was used in “The dead don’t die“. Such a repetitive, bone-dry, absurd Monty Python-like humor. The kind of humor I’m a huge fan off. Already in the 80s, I watched TV shows such as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus“, “The Young Ones“, “Not the Nine O’Clock News” and to a lesser extent “The Muppet Show“. I’m sure there are people who don’t appreciate the “Theme song” joke. And others will be bored when a third person makes the same remark about the possibility that some wild animal had something to do with the victims in a diner. Well, that’s the humor I love.
However, if you expect a purebred zombie movie, then the disappointment will be even greater. Because this flick won’t scare you at all. Even the attempt to introduce some gore didn’t really help. The reason why the dead left their graves en masse can be called original. Perhaps it’s even a subtle environmental message for Governments. In any case, natural gas fracking causes incomprehensible phenomena to manifest themselves worldwide. For example, the movement of the earth appears to be disrupted, so the sunset is no longer correct (apparently it has something to do with the rotation of the earth). Pets and livestock suddenly disappear. And mobile phones and digital clocks no longer work. The behavior of the resurrected fellow human beings also deviates from the standard zombie behavior. This time no mindless non-living whose desire for blood and flesh is uncontrollable. No, these creatures stumble through the streets in search of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Xanax, and Snickers. Probably what occupied them just before they kicked the bucket.
It’s kind of normal and understandable to see actors such as Bill Murray and Steve Buscemi showing up in such an absurd horror-comedy. Bill Murray has such a natural appearance of a man who can’t be profoundly disturbed and who apparently always reacts soberly to situations that make average persons hyperventilate. And Buscemi’s appearance is extremely suitable for this kind of crazy movies. Bill Murray apparently also has a taste for zombie movies now. Hence his collaboration on the film “Zombieland: Double Tap“.
But I didn’t expect actors such as Adam Driver (Jedi Kylo Ren in Star Wars) and Tilda Swinton (Mason from “Snowpiercer” and The Ancient One in “Avengers: Endgame“) in this film. And yet they proved to fit perfectly one way or another. Adam Driver is a person with a neutral facial expression who looks at the situation in a relaxed manner. And Tilda Swinton took care of the most hilarious role as the mortician Zelda, who speaks with a Scottish accent and dangerously swings around with her Samurai sword just like Uma Thurman did in “Kill Bill“. And last but not least you can admire the infamous Iggy Pop. The people from the make-up department didn’t have much work on him, I guess.
Although I had lots of fun watching this film, I had to conclude that the film didn’t have a definite goal in mind. The whole is fairly frivolous and absurd. The denouement manages to surpass the absurdity in this film. I’m still surprised this was the opening film at the festival of Cannes. I think Jim Jarmusch had a very different target audience in mind. Certainly not an audience consisting of gentlemen in tuxedos and coquettish ladies dressed in evening dresses. I’m sure those who were there in Cannes will speak about “The dead don’t die” for years to come. There’s one person who benefits enormously from this grotesque film. And that is Sturgill Simpson whose song “The dead don’t die” can be heard several times. Good for him.
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