Warm Bodies

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

IMDB's "genre" line for this movie: "Comedy | Horror | Romance". Close enough. It's unexpectedly sweet for a zombie movie; I imagine it might offend purists who like their undead cinema grim, cynical, and hopeless. For my part, I thought it was clever and different.

The movie follows teen zombie "R"; he still has enough brainpower to think about his sorry state. (We are treated to his internal monologue, and it's pretty funny.) Inhabiting a derelict airport with his fellows, he spends most of his day shuffling through the concourses. He finds time now and then to visit his retreat: an abandoned passenger jet that he's tricked out with a stereo and collected knick-knacks. For a zombie, he's rather charming and sympathetic. But when hunger strikes, R and his zombie friends stagger off to the nearby city to find some living human flesh on which to feed. So that's a downside.

The remnants of humanity are led by authoritarian John Malkovitch, and they're all huddled in a city behind an immense circular wall. But they need to send expeditions into zombie-dominated areas for medical supplies; one includes General Malkovitch's lovely daughter Julie. The humans are attacked by R's zombie band, and there's a lot of death and PG-13 gore, but during the battle R is entranced by Julie, and instead of eating her, spirits her away to his jet.

Does an unlikely star-crossed romance blossom? Well, sure.

Checking out IMDB and Wired post-viewing, it was brought to my attention that there were a lot of intentional parallels between Warm Bodies and Romeo and Juliet. (Yeah, I'm a philistine, that totally went over my head while I was watching.) Fortunately for R and Julie, they weren't totally married to the R&J plot. But there's a balcony scene.

The Tin Roof Blowdown

[Amazon Link]

Amazon (once again) helpfully informs me that I bought this over five years ago, on May 14, 2008. I need to start reading faster, I think.

But before I get into the book itself, let me share with you a brilliant idea.

I'm a big fan of the FX series Justified. It was originally based on an Elmore Leonard short story, and it follows US Marshal Raylan Givens as he is assigned back into the area in which he grew up, Appalachian Eastern Kentucky. He is surrounded by a fascinating bunch of family, co-workers, criminals, and assorted lowlifes. It's powered by some of the cleverest TV writing ever.

Well, let me tell you: they could do the same thing with James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux. Might be even better. Dave's a little more haunted by his past than is Raylan. But, other than that, there's the same rich stew of colorful characters, outrageous crimes, and a decent guy just trying to navigate the demands of justice, friendship, family, and his inner demons.

There have been two Robicheaux movies, both kind of duds. But an episodic TV series that plays out a novel-length plot over an entire season would work much better than trying to fit the same thing into 100 minutes.

Just sayin'. To potential producers of this goldmine: I don't need any compensation; just send me free DVD sets of the series as they come out.

Anyway: the events of this book are centered around 2005's Hurricane Katrina and its devastating effects on New Orleans. Dave is heartbroken by the toll on the area and its citizenry, outraged by governmental ineptitude and malfeasance. (Burke's prose mostly implicates Dubya's administration of course, and lets local authorities mostly skate. But this isn't a political tome.)

But in the midst of all that horror, the bad guys came out to play, with the usual tragic results. A junkie priest has gone missing while trying to rescue parishoners that mistakenly took refuge in a church about to be engulfed by floodwaters. An insurance agent is trying gamely to hold his family together, although his daughter is recovering poorly from the trauma of a savage crime. A "roving band of youths" coincidentally pick a house to loot that turns out to be chock full of cash and diamonds, but their escape is complicated by sniper fire from unknown persons. Soon a trademark Burke villain, a funny-looking creep is prowling around, menacing all concerned; worse, he takes a shine to Dave's grown daughter Alafair.

In short, it's another engrossing read from James Lee Burke.

Last Modified 2013-06-26 7:49 AM EDT

Senator Ayotte Chooses … Poorly

DSC04182.JPG A message I sent to New Hampshire's better Senator earlier today:

I'm very disappointed that you have decided to back the "Gang of Eight" immigration legislation. As Byron York pointed out in his Washington Examiner column yesterday, you are obviously breaking the 2010 campaign promises on which you were elected.

This is all the more sad given your courageous stance on gun control back in April.

I hope it's not too late for you to re-examine this issue, remember your promises, and change your mind.

Addendum: A lot of my libertarian buddies are dropping their normal healthy skepticism of thousand-page "comprehensive" legislation that nobody's read or understands. This is one of the rare times that my conservative side wins out over my default libertard.

For more arguments, go to Kausfiles and keep scrolling. The NR editors also criticized Senator Ayotte here.

Disclaimer: I probably won't stay mad at Senator Ayotte. I mean, how can you?

Last Modified 2013-06-19 9:12 AM EDT