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Reviews for February 1st, 2013

Bullet to the Head

Directed by Walter Hill


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Neil Barsky

      Ed Koch served as Mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989. When he started his first term in office, the city was in poor shape economically because it was nearly bankrupt. Koch helped to bring New York City back up onto its feet even the crime rates still remained quite high throughout the 80's. Regardless of whether or not you think he was NYC's best Mayor, there's no denying that he had great economic/business skills that helped the city to prosper until this very day.

      Director Neil Barsky charts the events that transpired during Ed Koch's three terms in office which provides for useful information for those of you who didn't grow up during the 70's and 80's. What makes Koch above the average documentary is that Barsky also shows what Koch is truly like backstage, so-to-speak. After all, politics seems much like theater because every politician has to give a good "performance" to maintain a good image. Backstage, in the present-day interviews with him, Koch comes across as smart, witty and quite funny at times. He definitely has panache both front stage and backstage. A touch of sadness or, perhaps, regret lurks beneath the surface, though, and when it comes to his private life, he's not particularly revealing--nor does he have to be. Barsky briefly crosses a line that shouldn't be crossed by a professional journalist when he tries to get Koch to declare his sexual orientation once and for all. What does Koch's sexual orientation matter in 2013? Koch gives a response that's not only wise and diplomatic, but also adds more mystery to who he is as a human being.

      At a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, Koch manages to be a breezy, thoroughly entertaining and balanced doc that sheds light on Ed Koch's panache, wisdom and sense of humor behind the curtain of politics.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Zeitgeist Films.
Opens at the Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

Warm Bodies

Directed by Jonathan Levine

      Julie (Teresa Palmer) survives a zombie epidemic when R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie, rescues her during an attack. Little does she know that R killed her boyfriend, Perry (Dave Franco), and ate his brains. The more time they spend together, they more they fall in love because R happens to be the first zombie to gradually become a warm-blooded human. John Malkovich plays General Grigio (John Malkovich), Julie's father, and Rob Corddry shows up as R's bestie, M.

      Despite an imaginate plot that subversively put a twist on your standard zombie film, Warm Bodies quickly runs out of steam and becomes increasingly silly and inane rather than funny or clever like the classic zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. Jonathan Levine previously did a much better job of combined genres in the tragicomedy 50/50. Here, though, he blends romance, sci-fi, comedy and horror with very uneven results. Scenes of Julie walking around pretending to be a zombie might be amusing the first time you see it, but Levine extends the scene too long to the extent that it's no longer amusing. Warm Bodies has a few moments that are almost witty, but not quite, i.e. when R reads a popular magazine while laying on Julie's sofa. Moreover, the screenplay treats you as though you're an idiot who needs everything, even obvious facts, to be explained to you explicitly rather than leaving any room for interpretation.

      Fortunately, what saves Warm Bodies from being a total disaster are its talented actors, especially Nicholas Hoult who's quite charismatic and believable in the leading role. He should be commended for giving a decent performance which includes not blinking his eyes throughout his scenes a zombie. Genuinely beautiful Teresa Palmer also impresses as R's love interest, and she's quite believable in this role. It's too bad, then, that Julie and R have so little chemistry, with the exception being their flirtations inside an airplane. With so many preposterous turns of events and an ending that feels rushed, you won't find yourself caring about whether or not they'll end up together.

      At 1 hour and 37 minutes, Warm Bodies is witless, lackluster and uneven despite a charismatic performance by Nicholas Hoult.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Summit Entertainment.
Opens nationwide.

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