Jeff Baena

Jeff Baena

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Life After Beth Review


Excellent

While zombie rom-coms aren't original (see Shaun of the Dead or Warm Bodies), this take on the genre has such a deadpan tone that it feels refreshingly unpredictable. While the plot sometimes seems like it's going to spin completely out of control, writer-director Jeff Baena (who wrote I Heart Huckabees) holds it together with clever twists and turns and smart, witty dialogue. And the terrific cast helps balance the humour and horror with a hint of emotional depth.

It opens as soulful teenager Zach (Dane DeHaan) is grieving about his recently deceased girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza), who was killed by a snake bite. As Zach and Beth's parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) help each other get over the shock, they are startled when she arrives back home as if nothing happened. Utterly unaware that she's undead, Beth can't understand why Zach is looking at her strangely, while her parents become super protective, refusing to let her outside for fear that someone will spot a dead girl walking around. Then Zach begins to notice that Beth isn't the only person in town who has come back to life. And when he runs into old friend Erica (Anna Kendrick), Beth's jealousy seems to trigger a full-on zombie invasion.

By focussing on the warped relationships between the characters, the film keeps the audience both involved and entertained. The humour is a mix of bone-dry dialogue and riotously nutty visual gags that escalate as the story progresses. And there are constant wrinkles in the plot, such as how Beth conveniently can't remember breaking up with Zach before she died. Or how Zach's gung-ho brother (a scene stealing Matthew Gray Gubler) reacts to the growing threat of the walking-dead. And by combining real heart with silly comedy and even some genuine scariness, filmmaker Baena manages to make some sharp observations about both love and grief.

Continue reading: Life After Beth Review

'Life After Beth' Adds New Twist To Old Genre


Aubrey Plaza Dane DeHaan John C Reilly Jeff Baena Anna Kendrick Matthew Gray Gubler

Zombie movies are as old as cinema itself, kicking off with 1930s hits like 'White Zombies' and 'The Devil's Daughter'. The genre came to mainstream prominence with George A. Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' in 1968, after which the undead onslaught has been fairly unceasing. But a subset is just as venerable: the zombie comedy, or zom-com, can trace its roots back to 1941's 'King of the Zombies' and 1945's 'Zombies on Broadway'. More recent examples include Peter Jackson's 'Braindead' (1992) and 'Zombieland' (2009).

Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza star in 'Life After Beth'
Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza star in 'Life After Beth'

The most memorable recent zom-com is obviously Edgar Wright's 'Shaun of the Dead' (2004), which introduced a further sub-genre: the zom-rom-com. This paved the way for the likes of the Spanish romp 'Juan of the Dead' (2010), 'Warm Bodies' (2013) and 'All Cheerleaders Die' (also 2013).

Continue reading: 'Life After Beth' Adds New Twist To Old Genre

Aubrey Plaza and Jeff Baena - Sundance NEXT FEST screening of "Life After Beth" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown LA - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 9th August 2014

Aubrey Plaza and Jeff Baena
Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt
Aubrey Plaza
Dane Dehaan and Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza

Life After Beth Trailer


Zach is a total mess following the sudden death of his girlfriend Beth and turns to her equally grief-stricken parents for support. However, when they stop contacting him, he becomes confused by their evasiveness and begins to suspect their daughter is still alive. Sure enough, there's a hole in the ground by her presumably previously occupied grave and she appears to have resurrected from the dead. Zach doesn't know what to think, but when he sees her looking just the same as she did before she died, he is overcome with emotion and decides to tell her everything that he wished he'd said before she passed. However, their happy ending is quickly cut short when Beth starts displaying increasingly erratic behaviour - such as biting and eating a man. Realising that she's a zombie complicates things for Zach, who'll give anything to keep her around but struggles to cope with her newfound brutality.

Continue: Life After Beth Trailer

I Heart Huckabees Review


Very Good
In David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees, everyone talks a little bit like they're in a play -- the dialogue is unusually dense and abstract for a film, even an artsy one, even an "existential comedy," as this one purports to be. Huckabees is like a screwball comedy filtered through a student thesis project, but it's nothing if not original.

Five years have passed since Russell's crowning achievement so far, the Gulf War comedy-drama Three Kings, and the ensemble cast for his new film suggests he's spent a lot of that time collecting even more talent to act out his socio-comedic semi-political statements. Jason Schwartzman leads as Albert, a young environmental activist suffering a professional and personal meltdown, as his "coalition" is invaded by smarmy account executive Brad Stand (Jude Law) from the Wal-Mart-like chain store Huckabees (Albert wants to save a local marsh; Stand has his eye on good PR for his company). Albert hires the Jaffees, a pair of "existential detectives" (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) to help solve the "case" of his messy life. Half private investigator and half new-age therapist, Tomlin commences the investigation by asking, "Have you ever transcended space and time?"

Continue reading: I Heart Huckabees Review

Jeff Baena

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Jeff Baena Movies

Life After Beth Movie Review

Life After Beth Movie Review

While zombie rom-coms aren't original (see Shaun of the Dead or Warm Bodies), this take...

Life After Beth Trailer

Life After Beth Trailer

Zach is a total mess following the sudden death of his girlfriend Beth and turns...

I Heart Huckabees Movie Review

I Heart Huckabees Movie Review

In David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees, everyone talks a little bit like they're in...

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