David & Layla - Directed by Jay Jonroy.
Cultures clash when David (David Moscow), a young Jewish man, meets Layla (Shiva Rose), a Kurdish Muslim, and falls in love with her. She has 30 days to marry an American man or else she’ll be deported from the U.S., so guess who she decides to marry? Their run into an obstacle because both of their families are clearly racist and don’t want them to get married. What follows could have been a warm and tender romantic drama, but instead ends up contrived and awkward with only a few charming, heartwarming scenes. Writer/director Jay Conroy rushes the relationship between David and Layla so fast that it’s hard to believe that they’re truly in love with one another. Moreover, David appears to be somewhat unlikable and behaves strangely. If only the script weren’t so stilted had the organic subtleties found in other indie romantic dramas such as last year’s extraordinary Once. Any attempts for comic relief fall flat with poor comic timing and just plain awkwardness. Polly Adams, who plays David’s racist mother, overacts like Diane Keaton has been doing lately films. Fortunately, what makes David & Layla at least mildly engaging is the beautiful Shiva Rose who radiates with a strong performance filled with charisma. Number of times I checked my watch: 6. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by NewRoz Films. Opens at the Quad Cinema.
Diary of the Dead - Directed by George A. Romero.
A group of college film students, including Jason (Josh Close), Debra (Michelle Morgan), Tony (Shawn Roberts), Eliot (Joe Denicol), Tracy (Amy Lalonde), and their professor (Scott Wentworth), defending themselves against zombies and film their experiences throughout their adventure. Writer/director George A. Romero goes back to his horror roots with this zombie horror film and he clearly knows how to add gruesome death scenes for shock value. However, he fails to include anything truly surprising or refreshing to the genre which has already been treaded by many films such as 28 Days Later and his very own Dawn of the Dead. The only funny scene that actually works is when a deaf-mute Amish farmer shoots a bunch of zombies and then holds up a sign that reads, “Hello, my name is Samuel. Nice to meet you.” If only Romero had gone further with the dark comedy and didn’t take everything else so seriously, like in Shaun of the Dead, he’s be able to enliven this otherwise forgettable film. The attempts to add social messages regarding the value of the human race feel merely tacked-on, oversimplified and unnecessary. Number of times I checked my watch: 4. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: None is required or desired. Released by The Weinstein Company. Opens at the Village East Cinema and AMC Empire 25.