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May 2, 2021

A Binge too Far #16: Reel Inheritance

Iggy Pop munching in The Dead Don't Die (2019)

Men In Black: International (2019)


Men In Black: International

Directed by Gary Gray, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg (and a bunch of other people that you may or may not know, depending on your affiliation with current Hollywood fare), this sequel to the Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones-led Men in Black sensation was directed by music video F. Gary Gray.


It is about Agent M (Tessa Thomson) who joins the Men in Black, despite being, well, a woman, and a lot of politically correct humor is played upon this occurrence. However, the real meat of the plot is her romance with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), and their joint crusade on defeating his psychotic ex-girlfriend (Rebecca Ferguson, gorgeous beyond belief) who also happens to be the film’s main villain that is also now in possession of the world’s most dangerous weapon.


Plenty of alien monsters are on display, so the film is a kind of a rollercoaster ride for readers of this magazine, but for piece that cost a whopping $110 million to make, it is unfortunate that some of the CGI look like they could have been achieved by the SyFy channel on the cheap. Liam Neeson also shows up.


The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

The Dead Don't Die (2019) poster


Set in the small town of Centerville, U.S.A., this is about Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray, no introduction needed) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver, no introduction needed), and their day to day routine which involves heavy crime-solving escapades such as dealing with the town’s crazy Hermit Bob (Tom Waits, again, no introduction necessary). That is until the dead rise from their tombs (led by Iggy Pop, who’d not expect to play a zombie in his 70s, I am sure). Local eccentric mortuary woman Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton, a gorgeous creature) will come to the rescue bearing a sword and beheading as many zombies as possible and doing it in style as well.


After the success writer/director Jim Jarmusch had with his art-house vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive (2013, UK/Germany/Greece/France), it was inevitable that he would try his hand at similarly paced zombie epic. However, whereas his vampire opus was elegant (pretty much like vampires are supposed to be), the zombie opus under review never elevates itself above the schlock horror comedy standards. Sure, the layback tone and the director’s trademark awkward dialogues, and even the exquisite humor are all here and very welcomingly so, but other than that the end result falls short of expectations. Maybe the best things about it are its soundtrack (a great selection of tracks, really) and its cast (which is even ballyhooed in the tagline – see above) which aside from the aforementioned performers also includes Steve Buscemi and Danny Glover amongst others. The zombies too die in quite an unexpected way, as instead of blood, we get dust when they are beheaded.


The project was announced in February 2018 by none other than Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray, and the rest of the cast became known shortly afterwards. Principal photography commenced on July 2018 just outside New York. The film premiered at Cannes International Film Festival 2019, I guess on the strength of the director’s resume, rather than the nature of its genre. A wide theatrical release followed (a first for a Jarmusch movie) and the film went on to gross $13.9 million.

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