February 22, 2013


"Whoever does not abide in love abides in death." 1 John 3:14
"Love is as strong as death." Song of Songs 8:6

"Whoever does not love knows nothing of God. For God is love." 1 John 4:8
Authentic love between the sexes IS the cure! For what? For everything!
The rift between the sexes was the first rift after the rift with God (and self) in the Garden.


"To live Theology of the Body is nothing less than to heal the universe.
To live the redemption of the body is to redeem the whole physical world."

--Christopher West
“Warm Bodies” is a post-apocalyptic zombie love story. More precisely a zombie-human love story. But, of course, zombies were once human, so it’s not THAT much of a stretch. The opening scene is a young male zombie shuffling through an airport, surrounded by other zombies, narrating his typical day’s activities for us. We say to ourselves: “Selves, if the rest of this movie is this hilarious and insightful, I’m glad I came.” And it is! Sit back, relax and be entertained and inspired S-I-M-U-L-T-A-N-E-O-U-S-L-Y.  (I think listening to zombie dialogue has influenced me to drag my words out a bit.) In “Bodies,” zombies are called “corpses.”

Zombie “R” (Nicholas Hoult) can’t remember his name. He can’t remember how he died, or much of anything else. He can’t think, sleep, dream, feel, bleed, etc. Human Julie (Teresa Palmer) is the daughter of the acting leader of the embattled humans (John Malkovich) who live sequestered behind “the wall,” safe from the zombie world. Zombies must feed on humans’ brains to stay alive, er, dead. When they eat brains, they have access to humans’ memories. It’s the only way they can experience anything of what they once were as humans themselves.

When R’s cadre of roaming zombies comes upon some humans, including Julie, a feeding frenzy begins. In the midst of the carnage, R falls in love with Julie--as best he can, that is, with his non-functioning heart—and saves her by bringing her to zombie land (she must pretend she is a zombie to survive there).  He informs her that she must stay there for a few days, but it’s only so that he can begin to woo her.

Lest someone think “Bodies” is a one-trick pony, it’s not. There’s more going on. There’s a third “species” besides humans and zombies called “boneys.” Boneys are zombies who have “given up.” Both zombies and boneys will eat humans, but, as R states, at least zombies “are conflicted about it.” Boneys, instead are relentlessly vicious skeletons—stronger and more powerful than zombies. They eventually become the common enemy of both zombie and human.

Although all films worth their salt are meant to be journeys of change, the overwhelming message of “Warm Bodies” is that people can change. A lot. And love is the ONLY catalyst. Primarily male/female love. “Warm Bodies” is not only a “Theology of the BODY” movie for all the obvious reasons, but—even if unknowingly—has showcased male/female love as THE crux, THE matrix which brings love into the world AND brings peace to unlike, warring factions. TOB principle: “All differences are a call to communion.”

The YouTube: “Zombies vs. Jesus” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y2BrmcVf6c sums up the “hunger” that is really beneath all this zombie-mania today. Hint: It’s Eucharistic.


--New take on zombie genre. Story is told from perspective of THE ZOMBIE. (Thanks to @gregorjk for pointing this out.)

--SPOILER ALERT!!! Reverse of Romeo & Juliet story. R & Julie's love really does bring peace without them having to commit hari kari.

--Do NOT miss the dig at beginning of film when R longs for the days when we he used to be alive and human and could feel, and share, and warmly talk and connect with people (visual: people with earbuds and heads down using mobile devices, ignoring each other).

--Dear Lord, we give thanks that writer/director Jonathan Levine is only about 37 years old and, You willing, has many more supergroovetastic movies in him. Amen.

--“Warm Bodies” is a postmodern rebuff to determinism. And fatalism.

--Unfortunately, Julie takes the precious name of Jesus--the only name by which we are to be saved--in vain about four times. It sounds so extra-awful coming from a pretty young woman's mouth. (As opposed to old, crusty, cynical, mafia guys or something.) May her (yes, I know she's acting) invoking of THE NAME draw down only mercy.

--This is an ambient film. I felt I was IN the film. I felt I was a zombie coming to life!

--In the mind/body, spirit/matter split of 500 years ago, the masses chose the body/matter. And they were right. BJP2G says explicitly that he was setting out to heal this chaotic and tragic rift with his Theology of the Body. J

--Great, great cinematography. Broad use of filmic palette, tools and techniques.

--The “new world” of Act Two is two very different and hostile worlds of lovers-to-be meeting and clashing. Tres cool.

--Humans can turn anything into a love story. J

--Julie does not like R’s constant “noncommittal” shrugging.

--Clever anti-modern-technology excuse: Post-apocalypse! No internet! So they use all old artifacts: vinyl records, Polaroid cameras, 3-D Viewmasters (of Victorian lovers!), parlor games, etc.

--Lots of 80’s and 80’s style music. Why? More romantic? More being said?

--Pretty darn close to being an elusive, prized “perfect film.” For what it is. A zom-rom-com.

--I just want to reiterate: How does love come into the world? Through male/female relationships. How does life come into the world? Through male/female relationships.

--Oh dear. Filmmakers felt they had to define the word “exhume” for the audience. Oh dear.

--Are you a human, a corpse or a boney? One person can go through all 3 stages!

--Better to love and feel pain than not love and feel no pain.

--Um, best use of the word “bit***s” in a movie ever. Funniest line in the whole film. Sums up the whole film. ONE WORD. Brilliant. And it is reassuring as a woman to know that men really do feel us in their hearts. :) BUT here's the real deal. WHAT changes everything for "R" and then everyone else? THE WOMAN. The redemption of the world comes THROUGH a woman. Yessssssssssssssss. BVM imagery, anyone?

--Zombie baseball!

--Male/female love is supposed to be awkward at first!

--"The new hunger is so overwhelming." #TheologyOfBody

--Zombie metaphors, symbolism and applications to real life are manifold.

--“Warm Bodies” will make you soooooo glad to be a human. And make you want to be FULLY human.

--Rob Corddry (sic) is wonderful. Analeigh Tipton is her usual delightful self. Dave Franco (James Franco’s younger brother) is not an actor, I’m sorry. John Malkovich gives a sturdy, dependable performance (couldn’t stop thinking of his hilarious militaristic role in “Red,” however). Teresa Palmer looks and acts like a blonde Kristen Stewart (was casting intentional)? And, for the record, I LIKE Kristen Stewart’s acting.  Nicholas Hoult (A Brit! He was the little boy in “About a Boy”!) is beyond brilliant and wondrous and captivating. Played to perfection—not a hair under- or overacted. Bravo. When those British actors are on the money they are just so nuanced and believable and, well, I just can’t say enough.

--Excellent use of voice-over. Not trapped in convention! It pops in here and there—whenever needed--to great, mirthful effect!

--Why all this fascination with zombies? It’s pretty elementary: life, death, what happens after death, immortality, the precariousness of life, the tenacity of life, the evil of sickness/contagion, the determination to stay alive no matter what, the one great leveling enemy of us all death (personified by “the walking dead”). Some have posited that a “culture of death” is naturally fascinated by the dead.

--I wonder if they forgot to edit out the two shots of a box of medicine in the pharmacy that had absolutely no significance to the rest of the movie.

--Could have been PG.

--So heartening to see such a positive, sweet, young adult love story with such a hopeful message!

--Even though “R” wants to protect Julie and keep her “safe” (with his limited zombie lexicon, he says “safe” umpteen times), she is a strong young woman in her own right. Nice.

--This film (written and directed by Joseph Levine, who is not known for much of anything else) feels like a true male/female collaboration. Check the full credits—lots of women interwoven everywhere. Big, big props to Levine!

--Superb-o soundtrack.



February 8, 2013


In case you don’t know the plot of the highly-acclaimed “Argo,” it’s based on the true story of the daring rescue attempt by the CIA to get six American hostages out of Iran in 1980. Operative Kevin Hawkins (director/actor Ben Affleck) pretends they are a Canadian film crew looking for an exotic location to film “Argo,” a non-existent sci-fi flick.

Why is “Argo” winning all these awards? (Highest honors at Golden Globes, PGA, SAG, DGA.) I don’t know. It’s good, but I’ve seen big budget made-for-TV movies like this that are just as good. The cinematography is erratic at times (not just the grainy reenactments). “Argo” frequently changes tone and doesn’t seem to know exactly what kind of a movie it wants to be. It starts off to be an exciting, tense, exacting historical reenactment like “Miracle” (the story of the 1980 USA Olympic hockey victory), then it relaxes right at the beginning and gets all sloppy when it shifts to a Hollywood setting, and then turns to pure oatmeal mush when two male characters begin randomly talking about their families so that we get a little more invested in them and squirrel that information away for further heartstring pulling. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting. A great premise (the information only became declassified in 1997), a great story waiting to be told. And starting from the “going to the bazaar” scene halfway through, it becomes a real thriller. But the epilogue goes all warm cereal again.

It has been conjectured that the reason it's the darling of the film world (it even MENTIONS the Golden Globes in it), is because Hollywood loves films about filmmaking (most recently, “Hugo,” “The Artist”). When I was studying screenwriting at UCLA, they told us that acting is all about one thing only: “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” “Argo” also makes the U.S. government look bad--telling the U.S.’s dirty little history lesson in Iran from the opening scene—which much of the world likes to see. Even Vietnam vets are denigrated. And then the U.S. looks good. A little bit. At the end. Canada, however, shines “from far and wide”—and rightly so! Thank you, Canada! Who knew? But then, the U.S. takes back the glory and has the last triumphant, humblebrag word.

All the other acting is superb, but Ben Affleck is mostly strutting and mugging like Ryan Gosling, and walking around silently, looking slightly worried with the camera in tow. Ben Affleck’s acting strained believability. He is self-consciously unselfconscious. He was pretty deadpan and emotionless. Never looked scared. Never looked anything. Is his character simply a super cool cucumber? He tried to act a little with his eyes.  As with his acting in “The Town,” I felt I could see his preoccupied director’s brain whirring. Methinks he should not be in his own films. Sorry. I also find he does best as a secondary character. There was a pointed “Hollywood” joke about how BEN AFFLECK’s character, Kevin Hawkins, couldn’t possibly pretend to be the DIRECTOR of the sci-fi film. Groan. Waaaaay too many heavy-handed Hollywood insider jokes (mostly poking great fun at “the industry”). Alan Arkin, whom I usually love dearly, wasn’t up to par, either. John Goodman? He should be getting little Oscars for all his little parts. Like in “Flight.” Do they make little Oscars?

What’s the takeaway? Well, there is one fantastic line and concept (especially when dealing with governments, espionage, the military): “SOMEONE is responsible when things happen. I’m responsible.” If this is the heart of the film, if all the action is framed in this, then—there’s some meat to the film other than the display of immense courage and bravery. However, like “Hurt Locker,” the plot is really about BREAKING the chain of command. The NEED to break the chain of command in order to be successful. True American lawlessness. Above the law stuff. Individualism in all its glory, which is the theme of so many products/creations of the American imagination and American storytelling. Or, one could also read such storylines as boiling things down to conscience. How does conscience survive, react, play out in the smallest and largest of dilemmas? To whom or what is blind obedience really owed? Worthy food for thought.


--4K can look very weird sometimes. Out of place. Just too vérité.

--The 1979/1980 clothing was meticulous.

--I didn’t feel it demonized Iranians at all. Their cause was presented as just (because we deposed their rightful shah and set up our puppet-tyrant). Revolutions are always messy. But it’s sad that instead of truly progressing in their own noble, intelligent, Persian cultural way, they turned backwards to religious fundamentalism, oppression of women, draconic laws, etc., (NOT shown in the film).

--Read Reza Baraheni’s poetry (tortured under the USA shah).

--Persian-graphic-novel-into-film “Persepolis”(by young woman author) is very disappointing. I just had to say that here. It less a critique of the revolution than: "I really miss wearing American jeans."

--The Infant of Prague makes a cameo. Yay!

--Um, “Argo” might be worth it JUST to see the icon of Jesus in the Hagia Sophia in 4K! Yes, they film inside the real Istanbul deal.

--Yellow ribbons. Who remembers?

--The Hollywood sign in disrepair. Who remembers?

--The young adults in my theater were chatting all during the dense historical exposition at the beginning.

--Disgraceful abortion metaphor used toward beginning of film by Ben Affleck’s character: “It’s like an abortion: you don’t want one, but when you need one, you don’t do it yourself.” Really?

--During credits, intriguing juxtaposition of actual photos of the ordeal/characters with the film’s.

--“Nobody can know about this.” Ha ha.

--1970’s muscle car “knock and rattle” when turned off.  Ha ha.

--Answer the phone!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :)

--Superb soundtrack.