‘The Dead Don’t Die’ drags zombie film genre back to its roots

Bill Murray (left) and Adam Driver star in the film. (Supplied)
Updated 25 June 2019
0

‘The Dead Don’t Die’ drags zombie film genre back to its roots

  • The “Dead Don’t Die” explores relations between humans in the face of an apocalypse
  • Each zombie receives a different death

CANNES: “Paterson,” the last film that the legendary, idiosyncratic director Jim Jarmusch screened at Cannes, was a love letter to poetry, small town life and the depth of soul that exists inside all of us. He’s followed that up with a zombie film — “The Dead Don’t Die” and he’s brought some stars along for the ride to explore how a small town deals with its own demise.

Zombie films and television shows have, since their resurgence after “28 Days Later” (2002), been as omnipresent as they’ve been impotent. Before them all, the films of George Romero —namely “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) and its follow up “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) — were explorations of racism, consumerism and broader society. The “Dead Don’t Die” drags the genre back to those roots, tackling the impending climate-driven catastrophe, the bad actors who hurtle us towards it and the way we treat each other in the face of a potential apocalypse.

As nihilistic as it is at points, “The Dead Don’t Die” is the most irreverent and playful Jarmusch has been since “Coffee and Cigarettes” (2003), with a cast just as star-studded. Recent collaborators, such as Adam Driver, feature alongside long-time friends Bill Murray, the Rza of the Wu Tang Clan, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi and Tom Waits. Young stars Caleb Landry Jones and Selena Gomez stare down death, clinging to the music and pop culture they love. For many of the film’s players, their personas are standing in the place of fully drawn characters, with meta jokes scattered throughout that lampoon the actors and even their relationships with Jarmusch. The film consciously references other zombie films as well, though none of that awareness is enough to help the poor souls of Centerville. 

As the zombies, each of whom audibly yearns for the thing they loved most in life (Coffee! WiFi! Fashion!) come for the townspeople one by one, death reaches them in different ways. For some, including the racist, hateful Farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi), death is called justice. Even as some townspeople manage to fight back, the dead never stop — as Driver’s character continually reminds us, this is all going to end badly. 

As the bodies pile up, a voice on the radio denies the catastrophe was caused by greedy businessmen. Tom Waits, who plays a hermit who lives in the woods and is the only one who seems to see anything clearly, can’t offer a cure, only a diagnosis — a summary of life that is too explicit to print.


Saudi film industry heralds new dawn with opening of first arthouse cinema

Updated 26 June 2019
0

Saudi film industry heralds new dawn with opening of first arthouse cinema

  • Cinema El-Housh is the brainchild of Saudi film director, producer and screenwriter Mahmoud Sabbagh and the event will continue until July 25 as part of the Jeddah Season festival
  • Mahmoud Sabbagh: We chose old Jeddah because the phenomena existed here, and the idea of an arthouse film isn’t new

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s blossoming film industry on Tuesday heralded a new dawn with the launch of the Kingdom’s first arthouse cinema.

The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated “2001: A Space Odyssey” to mark the movie’s 51st anniversary.

The project is the brainchild of Saudi film director, producer and screenwriter Mahmoud Sabbagh and the event will continue until July 25 as part of the Jeddah Season festival.

“Cinema El-Housh is one of the first proper arthouses for film theater initiatives in Saudi Arabia and in Jeddah,” Sabbagh told Arab News.

“The idea of the cinema comes from outdoor cinemas, which was a phenomenon that existed in old Jeddah from the 1940s until the end of the 1970s, where people gathered in courtyards where they would screen a film and enjoy it.

“We are bringing that back to the community with all its minimalism and gestures for bringing people together and bringing the communal experience of watching films again,” he said.

“We chose old Jeddah because the phenomena existed here, and the idea of an arthouse film isn’t new. It really strikes a balance between a commercial cinema and non-commercial cinemas.

“With the opening of cinemas, we are witnessing a burst of commercial-driven cinema multiplexes. However, there was a void someone had to fill by introducing this idea of arthouse cinemas,” added Sabbagh.

“We are free to screen films that are of non-commercial value, non-mainstream, more independent films that are film festival frequent and classics, and Saudi films. We want to be a platform for all the emerging Saudi voices.”

 

Tuesday’s private screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey” was also attended by Saudi actor Khaled Yeslam who said the film’s message conveyed the dawning of a new era in the Kingdom.

“From my perspective, choosing “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it started with the new dawn of mankind. And the music played was the music we listened to in the 1980s and 1990s,” Yeslam told Arab News.

“So, seeing such an entry as a film in Al-Balad, it’s a metaphor itself; here in Al-Balad, in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia itself. I thought it was planned and that he meant to do that. And I think Mahmoud is such a genius for choosing such a film.”

On the Kingdom’s booming film industry, Yeslam said: “Through movies, it’s finally our (Saudis) time to tell our stories. We’re fed up with the stereotypes and double standards by Western media and it’s time to reveal our reality.

“In the end, we’re just human, we’re just like everyone else, and I believe that art is a way to connect with others as humans.”

FACTOID

Outdoor cinemas existed in Jeddah from the 1940s until the late 1970s.