Film Review : Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

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IMDB Score – 7.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 85%

Directed By – Jim Jarmusch
Starring – Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska, Jeffrey Wright, and John Hurt

A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.

This is not a vampire film. This is a Jim Jarmusch film. These are the words spoken by one of the theater employees at the Landmark Sunshine. He was absolutely correct. It took me a couple weeks to finally get to see this, not because of a distaste of Jarmusch films, but rather a reluctance to see anything vampire related. Once again, I was wrong. The film ended up being about vampires, but only in the way that the two characters just so happened to be vampires. The rest of the film was a slow burning lesson in how to make and immersing hang out film. I loved it.

The film centers around the aptly named Adam and Eve, two vampires who have lived on the earth longer than most countries have around. The adhere to typical vampire myth/lore in which they can’t go out during the day, they are immortal, and they need blood to survive. The problem they face is getting the blood. This is not the same world that they used to live in. There is facebook, youtube, cameras, and police forces that can and will catch them in the act if they used their old way. They have to find their blood in more creative ways and this usually involves a lot of money, money acquired through means I’m not aware of. This seems like a very urgent conflict that would drive the film but it was really only a secondary plot line. The film ended up being a two how Jim Jarmusch dance of style, music, conversation, and light. It’s a complete atmosphere film that relies heavily on the soundtrack to help the painted scenery come alive. The film take place solely at night so every single shot is backed by dark and faded light sources. It perfectly fit the setting of an abandoned and desolate Detroit. I can’t explain enough how much I loved the aesthetic of this film. Jarmusch has always been a talent behind the camera but this may be his finest work yet.

The music, as I said, plays a huge role. Adam is an other worldly musician who has collected priceless items over the years of advancing his craft. He does so however by way of remaining completely recluse in his house so that nobody will catch on to the fact that he’s been alive so long. Anton Yelchin plays Adam’s close friend Ian and person whom he pays to fetch these instruments and whatever else he desires. He doesn’t know who Adam is but admires his genius. Tom Hiddleston was the first of two absolutely perfect casting choices for the leads. He may come off a bit like a hipsters dream of “fuck the system” cynicism but he also is wise beyond any human counterpart and just leaks the kind of coolness only a depressed vampire can give. Usually I frown upon seeing these kind of characters but the way Hiddleston portrayed Adam hooked me in line and sinker just like Adam did with Ian. Tilda Swinton plays Eve, the wife of Adam who travels from her home in Tangier to see her lover. I don’t quite remember why they were apart. They may not have explained it. It may just be the fact that they were lovers for thousands of years and needed some time apart, just like human relationships. Swinton may just be the perfect female vampire. She has that accent to go along with the white face and long hair. I was just amazed by her performance as the older and wiser vampire that understands what her man is going through. John Hurt and Mia Wasikowska also play vampires although their roles are less prominent. Both played their roles beautifully even though I couldn’t stand Wasikowska’s character of Eva, the little sister to Eve.

I’m trying not to go into too many plot details but honestly, there aren’t many details to talk about. It’s a total slow burn that is both captivating in terms of writing and mesmerizing in terms of aesthetics. It’s a film that may be boring to some but for people who love Jim Jarmusch’s films, it’s a pleasure film all the way. I can’t recommend it enough and while I’m not giving it a perfect rating, mostly due to my dislike of one of the characters, it’s probably Jarmusch’s best film to date and probably my favorite film of the year so far. Try to see it in theaters if you can.

4.5/5

Related – Anything Jim Jarmusch…anything




Film Review : The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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IMDB Score – 8.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 91%
Currently #159 on IMDB’s Top 250

Directed By – Wes Anderson
Starring – Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilso, and Tony Revolori

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

There is only one word I can think of to describe Wes Anderson’s latest film. That word is “delightful”.

There has not, to this day, been a Wes Anderson film I did not love. Every single one of them is special in my eyes. Had I known absolutely nothing about this film, I still would have had no doubt in my mind that it was directed by Wes Anderson. He has a style all his own and that has been copied by almost nobody. There’s something about that kind of niche that I just find enchanting. Enchanting could also describe this film, which stars more of my favorite people then I think any other film I’ve seen. I mean, look at that list of people who contribute to this film. It’s an indie film fan’s dream come true. I’m going to spoil something a little bit. Some of those names have such little screen time that I’d be surprised if they spent a full day on set, but the whole picture is empty without them. Everything about the film enchanted me. There are rarely times where I have a smile on my face throughout an entire film, and Wes Anderson has done this to me multiple times, this just being the latest.

In one of his more complex stories he has brought to the screen, the film takes place, during many time periods, in and around The Grand Budapest Hotel, located in a fictitious Polish town during times of war. During these time periods we are introduced to two characters whose friendship is the reason this story is being told. M. Gustave, played as perfect as anybody could play any character by Ralph Fiennes, and his protege lobby boy Zero, played at an old age by F. Murray Abraham and at a young one by a breakout actor named Tony Revolori, are the centerpieces of an intricate yet vastly profound story. M. Gustave has just inherited a small fortune from one of his hotel guests whom he has developed a relationship with and the immediate family of said guest is trying to get rid of him for their own greedy ways. Like always, I don’t want to give away much of the plot but that is pretty much the gist of the film and you’re going to have to find out the rest for yourself.

When “Moonrise Kingdom” came out last year, I thought to myself that one one Wes Anderson was going to cease being able to bring us fantastic cinema. I guess this is just some innate idea that at some point people start to decline but Anderson is proving that wrong by giving us some of his best work as his career continues to move forward. There is n doubt in my mind that he’s going to be making incredible movies until he dies of old age. This latest one is something special, but certainly has some of his traditional trademark qualities. One of the things I love about his work is how symmetrical every one of his shots are. There is a fluid way he moves the camera into the perfect position where we have an actor centered in front of the screen with nearly identical lines surrounding him. Perhaps it’s my OCD leaking through my eyes. I just can’t gt enough of it. He also utilizes the shots from a distance that he has been using since Fantastic Mr. Fox. We see some characters off scurrying along the base of the shot while behind them is a huge scene of mountains or buildings, obviously made of cardboard and paper, but nevertheless whimsical and charming. The wit in this film is also rampant. There were countless times I literally burst out laughing, mostly from either Ralph Fiennes or Adrian Brody saying something insane. The film, which is rated R, uses the perfect time and place to insert either bad language, or in some cases hilarious and crude nudity. It was a riot, and while I didn’t see the movie with a lot of people, the humor was felt all around. Everybody was laughing. It’s a hilarious film.

With such a talented cast, you can’t let everybody have a huge amount of screen time. There just isn’t enough time in the world. Everybody was pretty perfect though. Tilda Swinton was literally unrecognizable as an 84 year old woman. Willem Dafoe was a cold, evil man that almost seemed to turn into a vampire at one point in the film. Jeff Goldblum handled most of the legal dialogue with a diction that only the voice of Jeff Goldblum could make funny. Edward Norton gave the best laughs with the least amount said. His first appearance in the film had my dying and he hadn’t even said a word yet. Harvey Keitel as a bald, muscle flexing prisoner with prison tattoos and Adrien Brody with his short bursts of hilarious anger could not have been better used. I just loved every single aspect of this film. Every single character has their own quirks and humor no matter how long they were on screen.

Overall, I can’t say enough good things. Ralph Fiennes stoles every single scene he was in and he was in a damn lot of them. That’s how good he was. When “Moonrise Kingdom” came out, I knew that it was going to be in my top five of the year regardless of what else got released because of how unique and funny it was and I honestly enjoyed this a lot more. I’ll try to get out to see another viewing, maybe with some friends, but this is most certainly going to be one of my favorites of the year and is already inching it’s way up the ladder of favorite Wes Anderson films the more I think about it. I seriously can not wait to see it again and look forward to everything Wes Anderson will give me in the future.

5/5