Neil Jordan

byzantium

From The Company of Wolves to Interview with a Vampire, director Neil Jordan has made some of the most entertaining, if modest, melodramatic treasures of the horror genre. There is a certain moodiness he brings to these worlds, especially if there’s fangs involved, that leads to a unique canvas that’s easy to lose one’s self in, flaws and all. That remains the case for his latest vampire picture, Byzantium, an intimate and yet occasionally grand picture. Jordan milks every gorgeous location at his disposal to tell Clara’s (Gemma Arterton) story. Clara, who grew up during in the Napoleonic Wars, has adjusted easily to her vampire lifestyle, although she’s still trying to figure out how to be a good mother to her unsatisfied daughter, Eleanor (Saorise Ronan). The two have lived as wanderering loners together, never staying in one place for too long. There’s a reason why: vampirism is a brotherhood, making Clara and Eleanor outcasts in the boys club. When Clara turned, she was rejected by her fellow vampires, forcing her to get by on her own. Cutting to modern day, an unknown vampire shows up to chase Clara down, causing her and Eleanor to once again pack up and start a new life. With the help of a bumbling hotel owner, Clara convinces him to allow her and her daughter to stick around in his dwindling family business. Clara, a stripper/prostitute, turns the man’s dying motel into a brothel. For a small portion of the film, Byzantium becomes the Risky Business […]

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byzantium

If you’re anywhere near being a vampire fanatic, then chances are pretty good you know who Neil Jordan is, because he’s the guy who directed Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the adaptation of Anne Rice’s famous vampire story Interview with the Vampire. Well, it turns out Jordan must have developed a taste for those who have a taste for human blood, because his latest film, Byzantium, is also about undead bloodsuckers. Perhaps even more important than what it’s about though is the fact that Byzantium is a gorgeously shot epic that stars Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton. This is important because Ronan is clearly one of the strongest young actors working, and Arterton could possibly be as well, although I’ve only seen her in mostly terrible movies, but she sure is pretty though, and, oh—just go watch the trailer. It’s got vampires that kill people with coke nails.

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Byzantium

Vampire movies are about sex. This has become practically a rule, and that’s totally okay. I have no problem with Taylor Lautner winning Best Shirtless Performance at the MTV Movie Awards. But if you’re going to make a movie with irrepressibly erotic vampires, you should figure out why you’re doing it. The problem with Neil Jordan’s Byzantium is that it so drips with sex it loses purpose. It has elements of every recent incarnation of the genre, moments of horror and action and myth-making, but in the end it’s more of a bland vampiric soup than anything with real bite. Saoirse Ronan is Eleanor, two centuries old but trapped forever in her teenage years. She feeds only on those ready to die, which typically means the silent and fading elderly. She writes of her life but then tears up the pages, knowing that no one can ever know who she truly is. This secrecy is under the rule of Clara (Gemma Arterton), a woman the world knows as her sister but who we can easily see is her mother. “My savior, my burden, my muse,” Eleanor writers of Clara, whose torrential personality and dangerous profession only exacerbate their tense relationship.

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Tom Cruise

Whether you love him, hate him, love to hate him, or hate that you love him there’s no denying that Tom Cruise’s career decisions in terms of what directors he will work for have been second-to-none. Or, maybe they have been. You decide.

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