Is Jim Jarmusch's 'The Dead Don't Die' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
VENKMAN AND KYLO REN WALK INTO A BAR...

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Jarmusch is bringing his signature style and a seriously stacked cast — including Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, RZA, Iggy Pop and more — to a distinctly 2019 take on a Romeo-esque zombie film. Does the combination work, or it a mash-up that won't mesh? Here's what critics think:​

It Follows A Sprawling Cast Of Characters Dealing With The Zombie Apocalypse In Small Town America

Chief cop Cliff Robertson (a pricelessly unfazed Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Driver making stoner art out of dazed and confused ) banter amiably in their squad car and check in with their partner, Officer Mindy Morrison (Sevigny), back at Centerville HQ. Their wake-up call happens when the globe takes a spin on its axis, night never falls and in a forever daylight — hauntingly captured by DP Frederick Elmes — the dead rise from the cemetery demanding what they wanted most in life: coffee, WiFi and "especially chardonnay."

[Rolling Stone]

Each of the large ensemble cast are a small component of a whole that is Centerville. From the "Make America White Again" hat sporting farmer that no one likes (Steve Buscemi), to the eccentric guy Bob that lives in the woods (Tom Waits who doubles as our narrator), the shy comic collector gas store clerk Bobby (Caleb Landy Jones), the plucky motel owner (Larry Fessenden), and sweet hardware store owner Hank (Danny Glover), we get glimpses into their feuds, idiosyncrasies, and inane unhurried conversations[…] Then there's Tilda Swinton who ups the ante on the absurd as the bizarre Scottish mortician with a talent for katana wielding.

[Bloody Disgusting]

The Message Of 'The Dead Don't Die' Is As Unsubtle, If Not More So, Than That Of 'Dawn Of The Dead'…

In the best Romero tradition, the jokey explanations of what precipitated the apocalypse are open-ended metaphors for real fears, American and global. The world got knocked off its axis by something called "polar fracking," which seems like Monty Python-eseque word salad until you hear representatives of the polar fracking industry going on the news and baldly denying that the process is bad for nature.

[RogerEbert.com]

There's a tinge of melancholy to almost everything Jarmusch has ever made, and The Dead Don't Die is perhaps his most hopeless. It's not devoid of warmth or tenderness, but it takes its take on the end of the world seriously. The world is ending. People die. That's that. That pervading aura of nihilism has a depressive effect, particularly in combination with Jarmusch's penchant for slow burn; what is the point of fighting the tide if we're doomed no matter what?

[Polygon]


… And In That Vein, It's Very Pessimistic And Doesn't Build Towards Any Themes You Haven't Seen Before

Any great zombie movie doubles as a piece of social commentary, and yet Jarmusch's droll parable about the end times seems to predict that humanity will greet the apocalypse with little more than a baffled shrug.

[The Atlantic]

You start to think Jarmusch has something suitable and unique planned, and that anticipation makes all the low-key plot unfolding increasingly intriguing[…] However, when all is said and done, none of that means anything. The Dead Don't Die ultimately reveals itself to be a zombie film that's almost exactly like every other zombie film. It's a metaphor for humanity. A film where zombies are there to provide commentary on the nature of capitalism, greed, and consumerism. Even those standout oddball scenes in the third act don't feel quite as funny or weird when you realize they're thematically pointless.

[io9]

Bill Murray And Adam Driver Give Astoundingly Dry Performances, Which Has Its Pros And Cons

Murray and Driver fill the margins with toned-down versions of Murray and Driver performances, Murray all hangdog wariness and Driver constitutionally unserious while somehow determinedly playing it straight. So it goes for the rest of the ensemble: Given outlines to work with, they're free to banter and breathe life into their parts as they see fit while ambling through Jarmusch's easygoing sense of direction.

[Paste]

Everything is driven by Murray and Driver, though, who curiously both turn in what appear to be intentionally apathetic performances. Each is as dry as dry can be—which, at times, can lead to some huge laughs. (I'm still chuckling at the mere thought of Driver's character pulling up to a crime scene in a tiny Smart car.) But having dry main characters also drags the film down considerably.

[io9]

Of The Supporting Cast, Tilda Swinton And Tom Waits Get The Best Scene (Or They At Least Make The Most Of Theirs)

I was charmed by the banter between Danny Glover and Caleb Landry Jones as shopkeepers who bar themselves in a hardware store, and by Tilda Swinton's performance as a samurai-sword-toting Scottish mortician. I was less intrigued by Steve Buscemi as a Donald Trump supporter wearing a red hat and wielding a shotgun, and by Selena Gomez as a hipster from Cleveland in search of a fun night on the town. Jarmusch's script ping-pongs from location to location, character to character, but viewers are never given a reason to care about any of them.

[The Atlantic]

Not quite last — and far from least — is Zelda Wintson, Centerville's new mortician. A mysterious Scottish immigrant with an affinity for samurai swords and some very unusual taste in postmortem makeup design, Zelda is obviously played by Tilda Swinton, and her delightful performance shoots the movie full of fresh embalming fluid every time it starts to rot.

[IndieWire]

Of the lot, though, it's Tom Waits as the forest-dwelling outsider, Hermit Bob, who leaves the strongest impression and has the most to draw from here… which isn't saying much, sadly. Indeed, for a movie with such a unique ensemble, it's frustrating how little The Dead Don't Die actually offers them, when it comes to interesting material or things to do.

[ScreenRant]


It'd Be One Thing If The Movie Was Just A Little Too-Cool To Take The Zombie Movie Thing Seriously…

If Jarmusch's latest often feels as though it lacks a pulse, this star-studded parable is held together by one consistent truth: When Hell is full, the dead will walk the Earth. And when the Earth is fucked, the living will do whatever they can to sleepwalk through the nightmare.

[IndieWire]

The premise of "The Dead Don't Die" is as basic as it gets. Watching it is, I would imagine, a bit like watching a world-class chef make a grilled cheese sandwich. There's only so much you can do with this specific dish, but it's still fun to watch a master slice the cheese and blood-red tomatoes, every move as graceful as Zelda's.

[RogerEbert.com]

I get that Jarmusch's unbothered approach to all this celebrity—his daring to treat stars so cavalierly—is sort of the whole cool point. But there are, I think, big enough ideas happening in The Dead Don't Die that the film could have benefited from some more character.

[Vanity Fair]

… But Jarmusch's Approach Results In A Film That Just Drags On Too Long, Even At Under Two Hours Long

The shambling, tossed-off quality of The Dead Don't Die is its most appealing trait. But that's all it has besides the performances. The plot is so loosey-gooesy it can barely stand on its own. Country singer Sturgill Simpson, who sings the film's catchy title song, shows up as a zombie on guitar. No reason. Jarmusch is so laidback at inserting whatever amuses him into the mix that The Dead Don't Die fails to build up any momentum. The movie just ends, as if Jarmusch ran out of money or a reason to go on. If there exists such a thing as an apocalyptic afterthought, The Dead Don't Die is it.

[Rolling Stone]

A 100-minute runtime feels considerably longer with characters who don't seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere, and Jarmusch has no rush for them to. When it comes to a contemporary take on classic movie monsters Jarmusch did a far better job with his vampire rock music drama Only Lovers Left Alive.

[Punch Drunk Critics]

At first, it's humorous. But there's no real plot and the pace keeps its consistent slow drawl throughout, making this zombie comedy crawl ever leisurely toward the end credits. The same type of jokes and references only go so far after a while, and when characters begin breaking the fourth wall it tends to elicit groans more than guffaws.

[Bloody Disgusting]

TL;DR

There's an admitted pleasure to watching Jarmusch work even at his worst, and in fairness, The Dead Don't Die's excesses don't stop it from being funny. Still, it's a shock to find that Jarmusch's worst is this bad.

[Paste]


Watch The Trailer

 


Is The Seth Rogen Comedy 'An American Pickle' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
IN A REAL PICKLE HERE

Digg · Updated:

The movie, which streams on HBO Max on August 6, has an enticing premise: a man gets preserved in a jar in the early 20th century and wakes up 100 years later in contemporary Brooklyn. But does the movie itself live up to its zany plot? Here's what the reviews say.


Seth Rogen Plays Two Men, Herschel Greenbaum, A Man Who Wakes Up After 100 Years In A Pickle Vat, And Greenbaum's Great-Grandson, Ben

An Eastern European labourer named Herschel (Seth Rogen) arrives in America, only to be pickled for 100 years in a factory accident. He awakes in 2020, and moves in with his only surviving relative: great-grandson Ben (also Rogen). Things are going swimmingly — until Herschel wrecks Ben's business, leading to a vengeful game of oneupmanship.

[Empire]

While Hershel is low-key confounded by these modern times (what with interracial dating, women's rights, and the high cost of produce), he is most perplexed by his descendant's priorities. Ben doesn't observe Jewish religious traditions and hasn't visited the family graves in years. He has no wife, no children, and no career that Herschel can comprehend. So tensions rise. In no time at all, the pair declare each other enemies. Herschel strikes out on his own with a pickle cart with wares pulled freegan-style from dumpster diving. Meanwhile, Ben stews over how to ruin his eccentric great-grandfather.

[IGN]


The Movie Probes Into Issues Of Jewish Immigration Identity — Though Perhaps Not Deeply Enough

In its best moments, An American Pickle knows how to thread the needle between fish-out-of-water comedy and retaining a thoughtful look at Jewish ancestry in America, but those moments are few and far between […] Every time the movie has a chance to go deeper, whether it's with immigration or legacy or American comfort or Judaism, An American Pickle skims the surface and moves on.

[Collider]

Made in the midst of a resurgence in blatant anti-Semitism across the US, it's a strange choice for "An American Pickle" to reveal that Herschel's greatest backlash comes from...violent Christians? The movie sidesteps the most alarming aspect of Jewish persecution — its resurgence in public over the last four years — and never even gives Herschel a chance to learn about the Holocaust.

[IndieWire]


As A Comedy, It Sometimes Falls Flat In Delivering Laughs

There are some scattered laughs but it's not particularly funny, and "American Pickle" […] is generally all over the place, aiming to be an abstract comedy about family and religion but losing its way trying to also poke fun at modern culture.

[USA Today]

 [T]he film fails to build its laughs into substantial comic momentum, or even construct many substantial scenes. (Tellingly, one of its funniest is a mid-credits bonus.) As it progresses, the material feels more and more like a series of slightly amusing paragraphs, with sentimentality wedged uncomfortably between flights of satirical whimsy.

[The AV Club]

There are laughs along the way with Herschel and Ben's mirror-image intergenerational, culture-clash roommate bromance. But, inevitably, as with so much high-concept comedy, the real laughs, the ones built on detachment, self-aware flippancy and cynicism, come at the beginning, with the establishment of the premise.

[The Guardian]


The Story's Emotional Beats, However, Manage To Shine Through

 Despite the acrimoniousness of their split, you root for their inevitable reconciliation, which closes the movie on a warm note […] "An American Pickle" is neither the most substantial nor the most sophisticated comedy, but its soulful sweetness outweighs its flaws.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

It may not always succeed as a comedy but as a drama, this is the real dill. Part time-travelling family drama, part idiosyncratic immigrant-adventure comedy, "An American Pickle"'s gags underwhelm, but its emotion and originality will surprise you.

[Empire]

[T]he thread of leaning on family to process grief is touching, and Rogen manages to make Herschel and Ben's longing to connect feel real. The movie is frequently funny, sometimes sweet, and never particularly deep, but it does have a uniquely odd relationship to time that gives it a peculiar extra layer. Call it the proprietary brine.

[Wired]


And Rogen's Charisma Helps To Keep The Audience Entertained, Even When The Rest Of The Movie Falters

[I]t's enjoyable enough to watch the actor single-handedly rescue the high concept surrounding him.

[IndieWire]

Rogen is an always likable actor whose reputation was built largely on playing crude, sophomoric stoners. But there's an inherent sweetness in his screen persona that's been there since the very beginning on "Freaks and Geeks," notably in the affecting story arc in which his befuddled character, Ken Miller, struggled with the revelation of his tuba-playing girlfriend Amy's intersex birth origins. It's a variation on Ken — the tender, passionate bear of a guy occasionally stymied by his blind spots — that steers "An American Pickle" through its narrative rough patches.

[The Hollywood Reporter]


TL; DR

Nothing in "American Pickle" can match the silly storybook fantasy of its opening moments, but they do a good job of getting us hooked. 

[IndieWire]


Watch The Trailer Here


Is The Google Pixel 4A Worth It? Here's What The Reviews Say
NOT PHONING IT IN

Digg · Updated:

The Pixel 4A, which will be released on August 20, is incredibly affordable at $349, but can it compete with other smartphones? Here's what the reviews say.


The Best Feature Of The Phone Is The Camera

[W]hen it comes to photos, the Pixel 4A goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 — and often wins.

[The Verge]

There is no distinguishable difference between the $350 Pixel 4a's and the Pixel 4's camera, a phone that starts at $800. That's incredible, and if you like your photos to look good, it's a major reason why the Pixel 4a should be at the very, very top of your list. 

[Business Insider]


Design-Wise, It's Not The Flashiest Phone

The Pixel has always been a phone that felt a lot nicer than it looked — it's not the most stylish. The Pixel 4a's design is even more basic than ever, though. It comes in Just Black and... that's it. There are no other sizes available, either. Keeping to one size and color was part of Google's strategy to reduce production costs. 

[Engadget]

The word I use most often to describe Pixel hardware is "unassuming." It's basic: no frills, no fanciness, just an easy-to-hold phone without any embellishments. It's a little boring, but at least it isn't tacky.

[The Verge]


But Helpful Software Features Like Live Captioning Might Be Drawing Points For Users

Google's software tends to make up for its basic hardware, and as usual, the company has some helpful tools that make the Pixel experience better than any other Android phone. Most of these have already been announced, like its personal safety and car crash detection feature, Google Docs integration for the Recorder app, as well as adaptive battery management. With the Pixel 4a, though, Google is bringing its Live Caption feature to calls.

[Engadget]

I like Google's bonus software features that it includes on Pixel phones. The voice recorder app is able to transcribe text, for example, and accurately transcribed about 90% of my interview with Google during a Pixel 4a briefing. It just saves me a ton of time that I'd otherwise spend trying to jot everything down. Other unique software features include crash detection, which can automatically call 911 if you get in a car accident.

[CNBC]


The Performance Of The Phone Is Generally Fine, Though It Can Be Slow Sometimes

The Pixel 4a has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It's fine and fast enough to keep the phone running smoothly. There are a few hiccups at times, though. I noticed it would stutter while scrolling through long lists, like in Twitter, but that problem generally resolved itself after a few days. Google was aware of this, too, and it may just be that it takes some time for things to store inside the phone's memory.

[CNBC]

Anecdotally, the phone works quickly with most tasks. Unlocking the screen with my fingerprint, launching Assistant and opening apps went off without a hitch. But the Pixel 4A isn't the smoothest phone I handled. After I downloaded Call of Duty and PUBG, I had to restart the phone because both apps stalled while loading.

[CNET]


Some Of The Phone's Drawbacks Are Its Lack Of Wireless Charging And Waterproofness

Google left out one big feature that does matter: water resistance. That would save a phone that was accidentally dunked in a toilet or left out in a storm. So it was disappointing not to have it because durability was another feature that people wanted most in their smartphones.

[The New York Times]

This phone doesn't have some of the premium flourishes, like wireless charging, water resistance, a triple-lens camera, or 5G connectivity. But, it gets the core features so right that those extra flourishes seem irrelevant. 

[Business Insider]


Most Importantly Though, The Phone Is A Great Bargain With Its Cheap Price

The Pixel 4A is about $50 cheaper than its closest competitors and has 128GB of storage, instead of 64GB like years past, so it really is a solid value. And these days, any amount of money that can be saved is crucial.

[CNET]

The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it's a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

[The New York Times]


TL; DR

The Pixel 4A is cheap and basic, but most cheap phones don't get the basics right. The Pixel 4A does. And just to remind you: it does so for $349.

[The Verge]


You can pre-order the Pixel 4A at Google Store and BestBuy. And if you're interested in buying a Pixel 4, you can buy one here.


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