Tag Archives: British

The Zombie Diaries (2006)

You NEVER see this guy in the film, which is too bad because the cover looks like it should actually be a pretty cool film.

WOW, where to start?  How about my rating for the 2006 film “Zombie Diaries” … Frankly, I’ve flip-flopped.  Originally I gave it a yellow puss — very pale yellow puss.  When I started watching the 2011 sequel I dropped it to a red blood.  And then I saw more of the sequel and boosted the original flick back to yellow.  Yep, that’s right, the first film is better than the second in this humble bagpiper’s opinion!

The back of the DVD case cites The Dark Side (whatever that is) as having said that this is “The best zombie film ever.”*  If that’s the case, I’m giving up on zombie films.  Fortunately, the are patently wrong in this regard.
(*I tried to find the specific article on their site without luck… did they change their mind, delete their review, and disassociate themselves with this film entirely?)

THE GOOD NEWS

This film could serve as insights to people’s different experiences before Jim wakes up in 28 Days Later — although this isn’t possible according to Wikipedia since “The second chapter, “The Scavengers”, takes place one month later.“, and the third chapter presumably takes place later still.

THE BAD NEWS
The truth is in a real zombie situation, you and your friends are going to only be as awesome as these folks …

Imagine if you will Blair Witch Project (otherwise known as the worst bad film ever) but with the actual presence of a horror threat — in this case smatterings of amateur-actor zombies.  Instead of a couple of Blair Witch guys screaming at nothing and pissing themselves like millennials, you get the audiobook version of World War Z giving insights to various people and their experiences as things fell apart due to the outbreak or mass presence of zombies.  All of this is done in a you-are-there found-footage hand-held-documentary filming format … which I often find annoying because the filming is overly jerky and the audio is incredibly noisy with hyper yelling. In this case this looks like a an amateur film with decent execution

HEY YOU GGUUUUYYYYYYYSSSSS!!!

The film doesn’t begin to get interesting until 14 minutes in.  It possibly starts to interconnect around 37 minutes.  Perhaps one of the best things about it is that it gets an interesting look around 39 minutes when the visual switches to night vision.

Otherwise, what do you have in this film?  Bickering Brits, who, if not for zombies taking over the world, would be complaining about Americans and claiming that they’re SO much better and nothing like us …. except for the bickering, complaining, and conceitedness, all-in-all failing to acknowledge that everywhere you go people are just people.  Yep, everyone sucks just as much as everyone else everywhere else, including English people and even Canadians …  but especially people in France.  In truth, between the rigors of long term survival along with death and fighting off zombies, the stress level in such a situation would be pretty high so bickering seems realistic.  The other thing that’s bogus — and common in movies — is that the characters are complaining about not having enough guns in a country where guns are highly restricted, and yet they’re instantly pretty damn good shots for people who are unaccustomed to firearms.

THE YOU-ARE-THERE PROBLEM
When you see zombies this badass, you’re dealing with a home-spun Z-film production

One of the things I keep thinking over and over which applies to this film and any you-are-there hand-held film — and I’m sure I’m not the first to ask this — why would anyone film all of this stuff?!? Everyone one of these types of films need to justify this, few if any of them do. Similarly, particularly a story that takes place a number of months, a year, more than one year, whatever — why are these folks bothering to still record, especially when they must be running out of film or disc storage space, how are they continuing to power their devices, eventually why would they bother? While the hand-held you-are-there style film making has a certain feel and effect, to a degree it is also cheaper to make, which may also be a motivator behind writing/creating a story in this fashion. Mostly, I just don’t think it works all that well or at least to say as often as these films come out.

Hopefully the 2011 sequel — World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries — is better.  But then you got to wonder about a crummy film that gets the juice behind it to make a sequel … Did other audience members think it was good enough to support a second film?  Are the film makers deluded or trying to fix their errors from the first film?  Did I leave the stove on?  Is the redhead at work flirting with me or does she flirt with everyone?  Instead of using gel I wonder if I could use wood glue in my hair and then only have to style it once a week?

A List Of Words Not To Believe Relative To This Film
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Joyeux Noël AKA Merry Christmas (2005)

I’ve wanted to watch the 2005 film “Joyeux Noël” (AKA Merry Christmas) for years — finally got to and I’m very glad I did!  One could easily say that every piper, every musician, and every person ought to.

We all know the setting…

The Great War, which of course later came to be known as World War I and lasted from 28July1914 to 11November1918.  It is viewed as being the first modern war and the most destructive.

Scottish soldiers in a WWI trench
Emerging from the trenches with Silent Night in the film.

During the first year of the war there were a number of informal and unauthorized “Christmas truces“, where men on both sides of the Western Front line stopped fighting to celebrate the holiday … and in some cases met in the middle to celebrate together.  Joyeux Noël is a dramatization of a group of French, Scottish, and German soldiers.  Having heard Silent Night on bagpipes from trench and the singing of the classic song by a German vocalist in another trench, they rose and met on No Man’s Land in one of these truces.

Maybe I think too much, this gets listed as an anti-war film.  I’m not always sure what makes a song or a film (etc) an anti-war piece — or to say, some are more obvious and direct than others.  What I am clear on is that Joyeux Noël shows that we as different cultures can set aside our differences, meet together peacefully, and share what we have in common.  To me some of the significance of this film has to do with universal languages — among those I believe are math and music.  As musicians we bring people together — in good times, in bad times, and bridging our different languages.  The lyrics may sound different but the music is the same.

Here are my side-notes on this film — in other words, these are the not important things I observed …

To me this film looked great — the costumes were good, there were four languages in this film (so long as you count the priest delivering a sermon in Latin), the acting was good, and so far as I could tell everything was period correct.  According to Wikipedia, Joyeux Noël had a budget of $22 million and brought in only $17,709,155 at the box office.  This happens — a well made film with a beautiful message … clearly it did not go unnoticed, and from when I’ve talked about wanting to see it the film apparently resonates in the collective conscious … but I’m saddened that this didn’t get as much notice in the theater that it profited let alone broke even.

As a musician I of course enjoy seeing when singers and instrumentalists are given focus in a film or in a TV show — especially when pipes are featured in a film.  I’m also accustom to these not actually featuring singers or musicians. In the case of this film the actors-not-singing is glaringly obvious — the lip syncing is painful.  The bagpiping in this film is also synced (pipe-synced?), which is understandable — finding actors who play bagpipes is uncommon (yep, sorry — Viggo Mortensen doesn’t actually play pipes in Captain Fantastic, although the filmmakers did a very good job of making it look like he did and Viggo trained hard to look as-so).  The pipe-syncing is both good & bad in Joyeux Noël.  When pipers start playing and then stop playing but the tune continues … that’s bad.  However, at times in this film the actors-not-pipers are seen playing and they actually do a considerably accurate job of appearing to play … so to some extent these guys actually trained — WOW!

The one other hang-up I had, or call it that if you will — there were four sets of bagpipes in the film.  Four clearly bran new, shiny sets of pipes.  I find it hard to imagine that pipes exposed to such conditions would be in such good shape, but this is a small thing so let’s look past it.

Okay, before I get any more into the weeds, let’s just say this — Joyeux Noël was a heck of a film — see it, it well deserves its time in the sun.

Joyeux Noël AKA Merry Christmas

Make no mistake, this is not a buddy-comedy film