Farewell, George Andrew Romero

George A. Romero, the father of the modern zombie movie, died on July 16, 2017. He was the director of one of my most favorite movies of all time, the original Dawn Of The Dead, the movie that lit my imagination as a teenager in ways like nothing else before. This is not an exaggeration: I was so hooked that only after the 100th time I actually stopped counting how often I had watched Dawn. Mind you: I merely stopped counting. I didn’t stop watching the film or letting it run in the background so that I could suck up more of its atmosphere while I was doing something else.

Dawn Of The Dead is the end time movie, and no other director could ever create such a cold, apocalyptic atmosphere in a film as Romero. He didn’t need a huge Hollywood budget to bring the end of the world on your screen, he didn’t need big name actors to make you believe that the end of civilization had come. And he didn’t need cheap close-ups on gore scenes to scare you for nights and days to come – but his movies use an almost comic-style, bizarre version of violence nonetheless; not because of cheap showmanship, but to make a point, to emphasize the dire reality his characters – and his audience – cannot escape from.

Romero knew how to capture his vision of the downfall of mankind on film, and he knew how to plant those images into your brain in a way that makes it impossible to shake them out of your mind.

He was an artist, a filmmaker extraordinaire, and he was the creator and unrivaled master of what we later came to call the zombie apocalypse. Attempts at copying his unique style were made countless times, and some decent movies, books and computer games were created along the way, but nothing ever matched Romero’s total vision or could hit you with the same impact his Dawn Of The Dead did.

We have lost one of our greatest movie writers and directors.

Farewell, George. You will be missed.

Westworld (The Series)

This is going to be very, very brief: Watch it!

There were a few exceptional TV series, or seasons of TV series, this year. Sometimes it’s even a stretch to call these things TV shows or series, because it does not describe what they really are. Westworld was a ten hours long movie, stretched over ten episodes. You can say the same about The Expanse or even the last season of The Strain. (I admit that The Strain is only a feast for fans, but I absolutely love it.) These seasons are just long movies, and they break with the traditional concept of TV series.

The Expanse already pushed everything to new heights when I watched it in the end of 2015. This “show” (which is a stupid, unfitting word in this context) really redefined the concept of Science-Fiction series. It had great characters, a great environment/universe and a great story to tell, along with good acting and, for TV, great cinematography, great directing and very, very good special effects.

Westworld, in direct comparison, which is allowed since they share the genre, blows this entirely out of proportion. Westworld features a cast and acting out of Academy Award winning Hollywood blockbusters. The cinematography also has the smell of Oscar-winning movies. It doesn’t need pure Science-Fiction-style special effects like The Expanse or, let’s say, The Martian, thanks to its simpler setting. But Westworld knows how to tell a great story, it knows how to respectfully pay homage to other great representatives of the genre; it even knows to respectfully bow to the original Michael Crichton movie. Remember the blurry “Yul Brynner”-lookalike gunslinger in the background? Or the unbelievable shooting in the first episode with the symphony orchestra cover of Paint It Black in the background? And, to top it all off, it also has a story with a deeply human message, slowly but thoroughly developed in a mysterious, intriguing plot.

Westworld isn’t TV. It’s the best of classic cinema that somehow got lost on its way to the big screen and accidentally appeared on TV.

This is the one release of 2016 that you need to watch.