Daily Archives: August 29, 2004

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

This British import was described as a “rom-zom-com” (something tells me that genre is rather spare). Director Edgar Wright and star/co-writer Simon Pegg plunk down an assortment of typical British sitcom characters and then throw zombies into the mix. Shaun of the Dead is hilarious from start to finish. Pegg and his batch of survivors go through the strange scenario with wit, grit, and a genial sense of irrelevance. It’s as if even flesh-eating zombies can’t ruin their day (Shaun devises a plan that involves killing his zombie step-dad and drinking a cup of tea). Shaun of the Dead gives a knowing wink to the Romero films but also tweaks the zombie genre’s rules and clichés. Wright has a clever sense of visuals and the film does provide some sticky, gory goods for horror fans. If more films were this much fun I’d probably never see natural light again.

Nate’s Grade: A-

Maria Full of Grace (2004)

No other actress stood out to me this year as 23-year-old Catalina Sandino Moreno. She plays the movie’s Maria, a Colombian woman who agrees to carry 60-something condoms filled with heroin in her gut to the United States. The first half of the film is unjudegmental and nerve-racking, especially when Maria gets snagged by U.S. customs. The second half revolves around Maria trying to land on her feet in an unfamiliar land. The greatness of Maria Full of Grace relies on debut writer/director Joshua Marston framing his story like camera is an invisible voyeur. The film suggests that Maria is only one of thousands that have turned into drug mules to make ends meet or seek better lives. Maria Full of Grace is startling, immersive, delicate and quietly touching as Maria rediscovers the promise of the American dream.

Nate’s Grade: A

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