We’ve reached a point in cinema where zombie comedies are as prevalent and worn out a genre as the straight horror incarnations of the creatures that made them famous in the first place. Zombies are everywhere, whether it’s on TV with The Walking Dead and In the Flesh or in films like World War Z and Zombieland. Even the rom-zom-com subgenre that boomed with the endlessly watchable Shaun of the Dead has seen plenty come in its footsteps, most recently being last year’s Warm Bodies. You can’t escape the undead in pop culture these days, so Life After Beth had an uphill battle in trying to make itself stand out. An independent film screened at Sundance and unlikely to gain a lot of traction among the general populace the way that something like Shaun was able to break out with, Life After Beth is the directorial debut of Jeff Baena (who also wrote it, with his only previous writing credit being I Heart Huckabees) which stars Aubrey Plaza as a young woman who returns to life, much to the surprise of her boyfriend played by Dane DeHaan.
For all of its obstacles, some which it overcomes and some that it doesn’t, Baena’s first movie actually does manage to feel unique among the many other entries in this somewhat stale niche genre. Instead of following the traditional beats of a zombie outbreak or placing us after the fall of humanity, Baena centers everything in a small little community and builds the story from the relationship between Beth (Plaza) and Zach (DeHaan) outward. When Beth returns to life, she initially seems completely normal. There’s no rotting flesh, no hunger for human brains; rather she speaks coherently and is quite confused as to why everyone is acting so weird around her and why her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) won’t let her go outside. Over the course of the movie she begins to devolve into a creature more similar to those we’ve seen plenty of times in the past, but it’s a slow progression that allows Zach an opportunity to try and work out the problems that he wasn’t able to before Beth succumbed to a deadly snake bite.
You see, the two had recently broken up and Beth’s passing left Zach shattered, wearing her ugly oversized scarf along with his all black clothing in the middle of summer, sitting by his pool wasting life away. Beth’s return gives him new meaning and he doesn’t want to let this time with her go to waste. The same can be said for her parents, who suffocate her with affection, but what no one seems to really grasp is the fact that this young woman just came back from the dead and they do their best to ignore all the signs that the world is falling apart around them. Baena cheekily includes little hints at things that will develop later on in the film, creating an active universe in the background of this more intimate story of a relationship facing a unique rough patch. There are clever jokes throughout Life After Beth and the cast ably delivers the material, with Reilly and Shannon in particular stealing their scenes. As for the leads, DeHaan continues to be one of the few actors of his age group to genuinely excite me and his unique persona is perfect for something this quintessentially odd, while Plaza is convincing through all the stages of her character’s evolution.
What really sets Life After Beth apart from others of its kind is the way that Baena refuses to play by the rules and seemingly makes up his own as the film goes along. There’s a rambling sensation throughout that makes it feel like it was written on the fly but those little nods allow it to tie itself around nicely in the final act. This niche genre is hard to fully engage in at times (Shaun aside), feeling a bit try-hard and at this point it has grown a little stale, but Baena gives it a new verve that puts it into a tonal area separate from just about anything I’ve ever seen before. That makes it sound more monumental than it actually is, as it’s a very light and inconsequential journey, but it was a tough movie for me to really place, which came with its share of positives and negatives. It took me a while to adjust to Life After Beth's peculiar rhythm but once I did I found it thoroughly enjoyable while at the same time never fully committing to a sincere appreciation for it. Perhaps it leaves things a bit too distant, a bit too removed from a proper structure or anything concrete enough to generate a moving story but at the very least Baena has created a movie that stands out in a crowded market by being substantially more odd.
I also want to mention the production design and wardrope of this film because I really liked the vintage vibe they were going for, that is also a throwback to a lot of the classic zombie films. The attention to detail with the house design, the records, the wayfarer sunglasses, and the cars.
If you enjoy Zombie films I would recommend seeing My Boyfriend’s Back (1993) that features Philip Seymour Hoffman before he made it big, and that follows a similar zombie premise.
Winds rapidly, blow
From branch to branch you go
When you see the sun dear friend let it glow
MisterWives - Vagabond (x)
"Oh, the kiss wasn’t scripted. I didn’t know I was going to do it. I just thought, ‘I just missed my girlfriend’s valedictorian speech. How am I going to make it up to her?’ Then I was thinking, ‘I’m graduating. I don’t really give a fuck about this place, and fuck all of the people. So I’m going to go in and have fun. And embarrass her!’"
Film #112 of 2014: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Natalie Jean is a dynamic artist who grew up loving music. She enjoyed singing with her famous Haitian father Guy R. Jean, and her love for music further blossomed when she began to write her own poetry. Natalie takes inspiration from her daily life and hopes to touch the lives of others through her music.
This year, Natalie Jean’s songs have received over 20 nominations, including the Artists in Music Awards, LA Music Awards, The Indie Music Channel Awards, The Indees, American Songwriting Awards, Hollywood Music and Media Awards, International Music and Media Association Awards (IMEA), Semi-Finalist in the Songwriting UK Contest, and the Akademia Music Awards. She was named one of the Top Five Vocalists in the Singer Universe Vocalist of the Month for June 2014.
Influenced by artists such as Lena Horne, Celine Dion, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald, her new album “Natalie Jean” features a fiery collection of jazz and blues songs that are filled with passion.
Interview Music Producer & Game Developer DJ Kamal Mustafa
DJ Kamal Mustafa is a Dj, music and film producer, game developer and the owner of his own production company. In 2014 many FM radio stations worldwide played his remix albums and he has collaborated with some famous artists (see here). He has been featured in Times Of India, News Atlanta, News Chicago and I am pleased to interview him for Breakaway Daily!
Can you tell me the projects you have worked on?
My total project which i have done are as follows: The Saver 3D, Dance Electronism Remix Album, Voyage Of Love Remix Album, Club Dance, Aashiqui 2 Mashup Album, Judaii Rebirth Of Trance Remix Album, Treaure Hunt The Game, The Robot Game, and more.
LAX, a funny short film by Camilo Him, is about a young man moving to Los Angeles in search of the Hollywood dream. Instead however, he ends up as a petty thief! His luck turns when he crashes an exclusive LA house party of the notorious rich, beautiful and famous and meets a girl who will change his life forever. The film will premier at New York Fashion Week September 2015. Watch the teaser trailer here.
The LA house party scene will be shot on location at the Sheats Goldstein Residence. Built by architect John Lautner in 1963, the house which is located in Beverly Hills, has a cave-like dwelling that opens up to embrace nature and an stellar view of Los Angeles.
[Camilo Him & Jim Goldstein]
Adrian Voo with the late, great Robin Williams. Find out about Voo’s meetings with the legendary actor in my exclusive interview with this up and coming actor you should know about.
Adrian Voo is best known for his starring role in the post-apocalyptic feature and film festival circuit favorite Infected, which was ranked #1 on IMDb: Future and Newly Released Horror Movies. He has also had high profile credits to his name including The Hangover III, She Wants Me (Hilary Duff, Josh Gad), and Showtime’s House of Lies. His love of the craft has also taken him to the stage, most recently starring in Incentive, a modern ensemble produced by John Coppola. He can be seen this summer in the new web series Black Jacks, and in the psychological thriller Seventy-Nine.
Originally from Malaysia, but now residing in Los Angeles, Adrian Voo has been on the fast track to success since graduating at the prestigious New York Film Academy in 2012. Adrian is not just a talented actor, but also a consummate academic, and this along with his work ethic makes him one to watch out for.
You have a BS degree in Operations Management from San Francisco State University, and are also an award winning graphic designer and programmer. What drove you to go to the New York Film Academy and pursue acting?
I’ve always had a strong passion for film, even as a child. When I started considering pursuing a career in an industry I knew nothing about, I knew I wouldn’t get far going in blind. I knew I needed formal training to learn as many ‘tools of the trade’ – it really is an extremely competitive industry.
The official “Reel Montauk” trailer…To the End and Beyond. The definitive documentry on Montauk, NY. Hosted by Tom Bogdan of Montauk Adventures. A film by John Barrett and Steve Elliot.
Coming Fall 2014