Almost exactly one year ago I posted some exciting news that Jim Jarmusch was planning to make a vampire movie with Tilda Swinton that would be a ‘crypto-vampire love story’. Well, he’s made it and by all accounts it’s amazing. Check out the Variety review from Cannes:
Did somebody make it a rule that every director has to do a vampire movie at some point? If so, Jim Jarmusch got the memo, and he tweaks the genre slightly in “Only Lovers Left Alive” to fit his own laid-back vibe, turning in a sweet but slight love story about world-weary hipster bloodsuckers. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston have empathic chemistry as the leads, and the pic (acquired by Sony Classics at Cannes) is a smidge more commercial than Jarmusch’s meandering previous effort, “The Limits of Control.” But it still feels like an in-joke intended only for select acolytes, who will probably love it with an undying passion.
The end credits mention Jarmusch’s longtime partner, Sara Driver, for “instigation and inspiration,” and indeed the film feels a bit like a quirky, fitfully touching love letter from one aging punk to another. Slightly upending the conventions of the vampire film (although there are precedents for this sort of reinvention), “Lovers” is a celebration of connubial bliss between two creatures who are still in love after centuries, but are out of step with the modern world. They’ve been there, done that, and ripped up the band T-shirts long ago to make cleaning rags for their awesome guitar collection.
Jarmusch’s characters tend to be either laconic, enigmatic ciphers or garrulous clowns, so it’s a surprise to hear what sounds like a clearly spelled-out author’s message for once, when Eve (Swinton) tries to cheer up her suicidal paramour, Adam (Hiddleston), by pointing out all the things in the world there are to live for, like “appreciating nature … kindness and dancing.”
Indeed, these are basically nice, hepcat vampires, deeply attractive despite their fried, undernourished-looking hair, and exquisitely unscary; they score blood from hospitals and almost never feast on live humans, which would be so 15th century. Hyper-sophisticated to the point of being sometimes irritatingly supercilious, they despair at the stupidity of humans, whom they call “zombies,” and congratulate themselves for all the great art they’ve made and the famous luminaries they hung out with, inspired and/or used as fronts to disseminate their own great masterworks (as in the case of Schubert and Shakespeare). It even turns out that Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), another vampire, really wrote Shakespeare’s plays; he’s still alive and well, living in Tangiers and hanging out with Eve as the film opens.
Adam and Eve (someone should have talked Jarmusch out of those names) are so secure in their relationship that they can spend long stretches of time apart on separate continents, like nuclear particles in Einstein’s theory of entanglement (which is explained in the dialogue), but still keep the connection between them alive. So while she’s in Tangiers, surrounded by a library of books in every language she loves, he’s in decrepit Detroit, making droning dirge rock on vintage recording equipment supplied by Ian (Anton Yelchin), a helpful human dealer in rare goods who’s unaware of Adam’s true nature.
Foreboding dreams about her sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) send Eve on a night flight to Detroit to be with her beloved. When Ava duly blows into town from Los Angeles, Adam and Eve grit their fangs and bear it, even though they have to hide their blood stash from this selfish, feckless houseguest and can’t leave her alone with their human friends.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” works best in this section, when it’s essentially a light comedy of social mores set among a bunch of bohemians whose drug of choice just happens to be human blood, rather than cocaine or heroin. The attempt to introduce a more tragic dimension in the final act falls flat, however; by this point, the film has run out of juice, not unlike its wan, exhausted protagonists.
Languid pacing makes the result feel longer than its two-hour running time, and although lenser Yorick Le Saux’s nighttime traveling shots of desolate Detroit cityscapes and Tangiers’ acrid backstreets have a bewitching beauty at first, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Likewise, Jarmusch brings the film to a stop too often to show off his taste in slightly recherche music from all over the world, even if the tracks will collectively make for an interesting soundtrack album.
The grand façade of the Customs House at Circular Quay will feature a visual feast of 3D-mapped projections of the Doctor and some of his greatest enemies, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Stoner, announced today.
The spectacular celebration of Doctor Who will be staged for fans as part of Vivid Sydney, on Saturday, 1 June. The soundscape with the projections will feature music from the TV show including I am the Doctor and the iconic theme tune.
Developed, owned and managed by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, Vivid Sydney is an 18-day festival of light, music and ideas. It is the biggest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere and will take place in Sydney from 24 May to 10 June.
Destination NSW has collaborated with BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand to ensure local fans of Doctor Who can celebrate this major Anniversary through an evening of entertainment, featuring amazing light projections and a special cinema screening of two episodes from the series.
“This collaboration sees Australian creative innovators, The Spinifex Group, working with the Doctor Who team to create projections that will deliver a worldwide unique birthday celebration for the shows legion of fans, and our own Vivid Sydney is the perfect environment for this experience,” Mr Stoner said.
Customs House, 31 Alfred Street Sydney
Times: 6.50pm; 8.50pm, 10.50pm & 11.50pm
Check out this Mother’s Day screening from Screen Junkies. In honor of Mother’s Day – they flew in Hal’s Mom! But only if he and his Mother agreed to watch and review the most inappropriate Mother’s Day movie we could think of… The Human Centipede!
At last, the sequel we weren’t waiting for has a release date. Anchor Bay Films has set a fall release for CineTel’s horror sequel “I Spit on Your Grave 2,” which wrapped production late last year with Steven R. Monroe directing. A loose sequel to the 2010 remake I Spit On Your Grave.
Synopsis: “Naturally beautiful, Jessica (Dallender) has just settled into New York where she, like many other young women, is trying to make it as a model. But what starts out as an innocent and simple photo shoot soon turns into something disturbingly unthinkable! Raped, tortured and kidnapped to a foreign country, Jessica is buried alive and left to die. Against all odds, she manages to escape. Severely injured, she will have to tap into the darkest places of the human psyche to not only survive, but to exact her revenge…”
Special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, whose work influenced filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and George Lucas, died in London. He was 92. His family announced the death via The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation Facebook page. The Oscar and BAFTA award winner was known as the master of stop-motion animation on such films as 1963′s Jason And The Argonauts, for which he’s remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven sword-fighting skeletons. In 2003, Harryhausen wrote: “Each of the model skeletons was about eight to 10 inches high, and six of the seven were made for the sequence. The remaining one was a veteran from The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, slightly repainted to match the new members of the family. When all the skeletons have manifested themselves to Jason and his men, they are commanded by Acetes to ‘Kill, kill, kill them all,’ and we hear an unearthly scream. What follows is a sequence of which I am very proud. I had three men fighting seven skeletons, and each skeleton had five appendages to move in each separate frame of film. This meant at least 35 animation movements, each synchronised to the actors’ movements. Some days I was producing less than one second of screen time; in the end the whole sequence took a record four and a half months.”
Harryhausen’s fascination with animated models began in the early 1930’s after watching Willis O’Brien’s creations in King Kong with his childhood friend, the late Ray Bradbury. He began his lifelong adventure in filmmaking with his own home movies that featured his first attempts at model animation. His genius was in bringing his models to life, becoming characters in their own right. The signature technique he devised blending rear projection and stop-motion animation came to be known as Dynamation and was applied in the majority of his other major works, which include Mighty Joe Young (1949), It Came From Beneath The Sea(1955), 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957), Mysterious Island (1961), One Million Years B.C. (1966), The Valley Of Gwangi, (1969), The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad(1973), Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger (1974) and Clash Of The Titans (1981).
Check out a compilation of every Harryhausen creature, in chronological order: