Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

  • Director – Jim Jarmusch
  • Starring – Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt
  • Writer – Jim Jarmusch
  • Year – 2014
  • Running Time – 123 mins
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The opening of Only Lovers Left Alive sets the scene for what is to come. We see the stylus slip into the groove of an old vinyl version of Wanda Jackson’s Funnel of Love and we are introduced firstly to our lovers, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), two centuries old vampires, bound to each other through time, and then secondly to Marlowe (John Hurt), a fellow vampire and now frail wordsmith.

Director and writer Jim Jarmush, shoots the opening from above in a circular motion, seemingly to mirror the motion of the record and perhaps hinting at that never-ending notion of immortality. As the music plays and the screen spins, we see our three vampires each drink a glass of blood and it is clear by the end of the scene that this is no regular run of the mill vampire love story and that we are in for one wild ride. (more…)

My CIFF Diary – Day Six

I missed the middle weekend of CIFF due to a wedding in Sydney, but I was soon back in town for some more CIFF goodness.  The week got off to a good start with one of the best films of the year.

CIFF Film Three – Amour

 Director – Michael Haneke
Starring – Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Writer – Michael Haneke
Year – 2012
Running Time – 94 mins
 
 

For me, Amour was one of the best films of the festival and indeed of the year. It is a powerful, beautiful, emotional and at times grueling tale of one man’s love for his wife

I have not seen any of Haneke’s previous work, but from what I can tell Amour is true to form.  The depths of the story are immense and the direction, whilst simple, is frankly masterful.  We see the world purely through the eyes of the two leads and apart from brief moments, we are confined to their spacious Parisian apartment.  Heneke uses this simplicity to great effect, building deep emotional layers that are at times confronting, but always compelling.

The two leads bring a lifetimes worth of experience to the role and there was not a single moment in the entire film that I did not fully believe in their characters and their relationship.  A simply stunning achievement of a film, which you simply have to see.

★★★★★

CIFF Film Four – Sightseers

Director – Ben Wheatley
Starring – Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Writer – Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Year – 2012
Running Time – 95 mins
 

After the emotion of Amour, I was looking forward to a slightly lighter film with Sightseers.  I knew nothing of the plot so didn’t really know what to expect going in.   However, what I wasn’t expecting was a pitch-dark comedy about serial killers, the countryside and caravanning.

Alice Lowe and Steve Oram play an unlikely couple who set off on an ‘erotic odyssey’ in the back of a caravan in the heart of the English countryside.  However as the wheels start coming off, the odyssey quickly turns into a killing spree with the couple leaving a trail of dead bodies in their rear view mirror.

The small cast are all on murderously good form, with Lowe and Oram playing off each other exceptionally well as a sort of Bonnie and Clyde for the Caravan Club generation.  The two have a very odd kind of chemistry and are at their best when interacting with unsuspecting tourists. These exchanges are beautifully socially awkward with perceived slights quickly punished by our dangerous duo.

The other main star has to be Ben Wheatley’s direction.  The killing scenes are brutally shot and scored.  You see each drop of blood and feel each crunch of bone.  In one particular scene you feel like you are with the body the whole way down.  Shot against the backdrop of the beauty of the Lake District and filmed mostly using natural light, Wheatley doesn’t present this as a green and pleasant land, instead its pissing down and grey most of the time, a bit like our couples’ mood.

Sightseers is one of the best and most original British comedies of recent times and comes highly recommended. It has also confirmed a long-held suspicion about what caravanners really get up to.

★★★★

 

My CIFF Diary – Day One

My passion for film has reignited since I arrived in Australia just over a year ago after spending the best part of 12 years living overseas with no access to a regular cinema.  I have spent the last year reacquainting myself with the cinema experience as well as introducing myself slowly into the online world of movie related geekery.  It was here that I read Ryan McNeil (from the always informative and insightful The Matinee)  account of attending the Toronto International Film Festival, as well numerous Australian bloggers who attended both the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals.

Their experiences sounded incredible, so it was fair to say that I was quite excited about attending the 16th Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF), which whilst not on the same scale as others, still boasted 60 films from 30 different countries.  Additionally, this was not only my first time attending CIFF but it was also my first ever festival.  There was lots to look forward to.

I skipped the opening gala evening and showing of Ken Loach’s The Angel’s Share, as it was over $50 a ticket, which seemed a little extreme, so my CIFF kicked off on the second day with two screenings at the beautiful, yet contemporary, Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive.

CIFF Film One – Grabbers

Director – Jon Wright
Starring – Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley
Writer – Kevin Lehane
Year – 2012
Running Time – 94 mins
 
 

This was a great start to my festival, essentially a tale of Tremors in Tipperary.  Richard Coyle (of Coupling fame) stars as a Garda officer, who alongside Ruth Bradley is posted to a small island off the Irish coast, which is invaded by blood sucking aliens. As so many often do, the local community turn to drink in order to drown their sorrows only to discover that being drunk may actually be their salvation.

Horror comedy is such a hard genre to get right, but Grabbers is pitched perfectly in this regard.  The aliens look convincing, the story is ridiculous yet solid and the wide supporting cast put in entertaining performances whilst gently poking fun at their own stereotypical tendencies.

Highly recommended, Grabbers will grab you from the off and is a smart, intelligent and above all else funny horror comedy which succeeds where so many others have failed.

★★★★

CIFF Film Two – Berberian Sound Studio 

Director – Peter Strickland
Starring – Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Cosimo Fusco
Writer – Peter Strickland
Year – 2012
Running Time – 92 mins
 

Toby Jones stars as a British sound engineering sent to work on a Giallo Italian horror film in Rome.  Jones, more used to recording the sounds of the British countryside, sons finds himself at odds with not only his new employers but also with the dark nature of the film.

This was a real contrast to Grabbers and much more hard work.  The first half is interesting, especially looking at how a sound is mixed into a film, so much so that I will never look at vegetables and fruit in the same way again.  The second half however dives deeper into Jones’s consciousness and it is hard to tell at times what is real and what is reality.

This deeper second half brought a significant amount of walkouts in the screening I was in, and if I am honest, I did consider it as well.  However in the end I was glad that I stayed, but I am not sure I could really tell you what the last 20 minutes meant.

Worth watching for Toby Jone’s performance as well as a fascinating the opening half; however if you want to understand the second, then knowledge of 1970’s Italian horror films and especially Giallo would certainly help.

★★

New Films In The ACT

 

A big week ahead in the ACT as the Canberra International Film Festival kicks off with a plethora of great films across three different venues all screening over the next 10 days or so.  I have a pretty hectic festival schedule taking in 20 flicks and you can see the full details here.  If any bloggers are heading to Canberra and fancy meeting up then drop me a line.  Details in the contact section above.

If nothing takes your fancy at the festival then the following are all opening in the ACT this week:-

Bachelorette – Some say this is better than Bridesmaids, see what Sam over at An Online Universe thinks. Playing at Hoyts.

End Of Watch– David Ayer the writer of Training Day and Fast and Furious takes the helm of this gritty drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peria as two hotshot cops who go up against the local cartel. Playing at Hoyts.

Housos v Authority  – I am so sick of seeing this trailer which seems to be playing in in front of every film I sit down for.  Apparently this is a satirical look at residents of an Australian Housing Commission project.  Not sure I have been in Australia long enough to get this, even if that does make me un-Australian.  Playing at Hoyts (where else….)

You Will Be My Son – A French tale of family, friendship and conflict all wrapped in a vineyard.  Don’t know too much about this one, but the trailer looks interesting.  Not sure I will get round to it though.  Playing at Manuka.

My CIFF Casualty List

After a lot of pondering, my CIFF schedule is now locked in and can be seen in full here.  As with any schedule there are inevitably casualties due to screening clashes and as I am quickly learning you just can’t see everything.

Therefore I have had to regretfully say farewell to :-

The Angels’s Share – I could only make the opening night screening which was $50 which seems a bit steep for a film that I can rent from iTunes for a tenth of the price

Save Yer Legs – Closing night screening and again priced at $50, decided to take the cheaper option and see Paris-Manhattan instead.

Smashed – Clashed with Room 237 which I was very keen to see.  This was a tough call.  Still not convinced I have got it right.

The Shining – Clashed with Like Someone In Love and whilst it would have been great to see The Shining on the big screen, especially directly after Room 237, I had to prioritize seeing new films over rewatches.

There is also a three-day block in the middle of the festival that I am missing due to a wedding of a good friend which knocks out a whole range of films, but the biggest being Monsieur Lazhar; probably my biggest casualty of all.