Only Lovers Left Alive

The Limits of Control

As many successful American filmmakers who get their start in independent filmmaking quickly find themselves comfortable in Hollywood studios, Jim Jarmusch feels like the anachronism that the economics of filmmaking rarely find room for but the culture of cinema certainly needs. After making the No Wave-era Permanent Vacation on the seemingly post-apocalyptic landscape of a crumbling late-70s New York, Jarmusch made waves at the then-young Sundance film festival with Stranger Than Paradise, a bare bones indie that exhibited the director’s penchant for deliberate pacing, wry humor, an insistent soundtrack and a canted examination of Americana. Jarmusch’s productions are few and far between, partly due to the fact that he is ever in want of funding and seeks final cut on all his films. The process may be difficult, but it’s worth it: thirty years after Paradise, Jarmusch crafted Only Lovers Left Alive (recently released on disc and digital), a film that surprised me as both a sideways look at high-cult consumption and one of the most genuinely romantic films of this year. It is, in short, well worth the seven years of frustration that it took to get the film made and into theaters. It’s hard to imagine the same film coming from a filmmaker willing to touch studio funding. And it’s an intoxicating glimpse of what could be if more independent filmmakers were as unimpressed by studio dollars as Jarmusch. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a Son of Lee Marvin.

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TIE ME UP discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (Criterion) Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was a massive cross-Atlantic hit in the early 1990s, helping to launch the global career of Antonio Banderas. Following an obsessive but charming former mental patient (Banderas)  as he captures a porn star (Victor Abril) so that she learns to fall in love with him, the dark comedy was the import of the season on summer movie screens 24 years ago, accompanyingWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown as the one-two punch that made Almodovar an arthouse fixture. While Almodovar has gone through various stylistic phases since, Tie Me Up remains a prime example of his unique propensity for comic chaos that plunges unabashedly into the trenches of sexual id. The film’s success can be credited in part to its massive controversy: its sexual content threatened its US release with an X rating, which began a lawsuit that resulted in the creation of the NC-17 rating. The story behind the film is thus as much a part of it as the film itself, and Criterion justly adorns this set with a collection of new special features that illustrate how the film changed the career of those in front of and behind the camera, with Almodovar thankfully present across all of them. Hopefully this first release of Almodovar’s work promises many Criterion treatments of the Spanish auteur to come. […]

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Paramount Pictures

The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid) and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.

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Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

Editor’s note: Our review of Only Lovers Left Alive originally ran during this year’s SXSW, but we’re re-posting it as the film opens theatrically. Director Jim Jarmusch‘s (Broken Flowers, Dead Man) films have never been for everyone. They’re experimental in a variety of ways, but, for good or bad, they are always Jim Jarmusch films. However, sometimes too much Jarmuschiness can agitate even his own fans. His last film, The Limits of Control, never shied away from testing its audience’s patience in part because its awareness of itself was far too often distancing. That’s not the case with his latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive, a movie that maintains its focus, emotional investment, and laughs from start to finish. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) have been lovers for hundreds of years. They’re true romantics, but they are on opposite sides of the world. Eve is living in Tangier, while Adam is in the rotting city of Detroit. Time is relative when you’re immortal, but still, it’s not easy for them. The distance becomes an issue when Adam, a shy goth rockstar, is feeling more lost than usual without her. She immediately packs her favorite novels, books a flight, and comes to Adam’s side. It should be mentioned that they’re also vampires, which explains why they’ve been alive for so long.

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A24

We’re not even halfway into 2014 and already this is proving to be a terrific year for movies. In March alone we had a slew of quality films: Enemy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Raid 2, and Bad Words. This month is even better. What’s nice about this March and April is that they’ve given us some quality blockbusters that we’d expect from the summer without having to wait for the heat. While Noah had its flaws — a lot of them, to be exact — it was a grand and ambitious drama with the scope of a summer movie. A more consistent summer film is opening this week, and if you pay any attention to the world, you know which. A hint: it’s the one about a super soldier who was frozen for over 60 years and is now fighting a man with a metal arm that’ll make a gazillion dollars. The movie, not the guy with the metal arm. Not sure what his day rate is. The Marvel juggernaut isn’t the only movie you need to see this month, though. There are two movies in particular that will surely stand the test of time: Under the Skin and Only Lovers Left Alive. Those are experiences, not just movies. Before the busy summer movie season begins, make sure to make the time for them, in addition to these other eight Must See Movies:

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Only Lovers Left Alive

When a well-known actor takes a job for the cash, the final result generally comes off as little more than a paycheck for all involved. Actress Tilda Swinton is lucky, in that regard. Her work-for-hire performances have served the likes of David Fincher, Tony Gilroy, the Coen Brothers, and the perfectly fine adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Those pictures aren’t Swinton “selling out,” but taking on respectable gigs with people whose work she admires. What revs the actress up the most are the kind of projects that represent who she is. “That’s just the way I roll,” says Swinton on her long history of staying in the trenches with the projects and filmmakers that she deeply connects with. She’s someone that stands by her director. If you recall, when Bong Joon-Ho’s director’s cut of Snowpiercer was in danger of being chopped up for its US release, Swinton quickly came to the his aid, saying, “Maybe an effect of the film is that when one has spent two hours in the claustrophobia of this train we can leave the cinema and feel the relief that we can make life wider, so maybe it’s a sort of aversion therapy to sit in the train for two hours. That’s two hours, not one hour and forty minutes.” Clearly, Swinton is an actress you want by your side during all the trials and tribulations of filmmaking. She also went to bat for director Jim Jarmusch for this long-in-development Only Lovers Left Alive. She’s been attached to the project […]

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Meat Loaf and a member of the KISS Army in STAGE FRIGHT

Seems like just two months ago we were knee deep in Sundance coverage, but already we’ve moved on to the next big thing in film festival coverage. SXSW is the annual film/music/interactive extravaganza that draws film, music, and interactive(?) fans from all around the country to descend into Austin, TX for one hell of a good time. We here at FSR come for the movies (and the food and the friends), and this year our team is four strong and ready to rock. And by rock we mean sit in theater seats of varying levels of comfort, enjoy the culinary wonderland that is Austin’s food scene, and hang out with other like-minded characters. This year’s fest features a lot of titles we’re excited to devour with our eyes, but of the dozens of films we’ll be seeing this coming week we’ve narrowed down our top fourteen below. Neil Miller had to be talked out of putting The Raid 2 on here multiple times, Christopher Campbell moved outside his comfort zone to show interest in some narrative films, and Jack Giroux failed to realize that “anticipated” should really refer to movies he hasn’t seen yet. Keep reading to see which fourteen films we’re anticipating most at SXSW 2014.

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Only Lovers Left Alive

You know, it must really be a new year and a new day if we have information about two vampire-related projects coming down the pipeline and they’re both instantly labeled as must-sees and don’t immediately make  everyone utter a collective “ugh” on sight. There’s nary a sparkle abound for 2014. First up is a film in which Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are undead British rock star lovers, something that none of us had ever really formulated into so many words, but subconsciously, realize that it makes way too much sense. Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive — our 24th most anticipated movie of 2014 — is the story of a depressed vampire rocker (Hiddleston) who is just fed up with this modern world and its ever-changing technology. Luckily, he has his beautiful, understanding wife to console him with blood popsicles and shots, followed by some listless trance dancing. Normal couple stuff. A visit after 87 years of peace from bratty younger sister Mia Wasikowska is just another inconvenience in their life of style.

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before trilogy celine

This past week was a bit slow in terms of movie news thanks to the holiday, but there’s always plenty to talk about. Over the past seven days we found reasons to discuss the performances of Peter Cushing, the significance of Medium Cool (one of my faves) and of course the entirety (so far) of the Before (Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight) and Fast and Furious franchises. Meanwhile we wrapped up our 2013 Cannes coverage, consumed all of the long-awaited new episodes of Arrested Development and found new reasons to look forward to the future work of Sam Mendes, Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Doctor Who beauty Karen Gillan, who has just been announced as being cast as a villain in Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve highlighted a bunch of FSR’s content from the past seven days along with two outside links to notable pieces from our friends. As usual, if you have or know of a movie-related (or TV-related) piece of news commentary or feature that I should include in the Reject Recap, please send it my way. Start your weekend right after the jump.

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Cannes 2013

The Cannes Film Festival is all wrapped up for another year; the awards have been given out, and pundits are busy working out what’s going to go the distance in the coming awards season, and what will fall by the wayside. In my first time at Cannes, I managed to watch 41 films, including all 20 films In Competition, and have arrived at the 10 films that I feel were the best of show. Put simply, these are ones to watch out for:

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Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch usually only makes a new movie once every few years these days, so it’s always nice to see something he’s done pop up on the upcoming releases calendar. His latest work, Only Lovers Left Alive, can’t help but give one pause though. Is Jim Jarmusch, the guy who always makes off the beaten path projects, really making a vampire movie at the height of this current, Twilight-inspired vampire craze? Yes, it’s true, Jarmusch is making a movie about a glamorous, vampire rock star and his eternal romance with a pale, blood sucking beauty—but there’s a twist that makes all of that instantly okay. As you can see from the film’s first released image [via Indiewire], Jarmusch has cast The Avengers’ Tom Hiddleston as his vampire rocker, and Middle-earth’s Tilda Swinton as his centuries-old lover. Maybe it goes without saying, but… They. Look. Awesome. That’s all it takes, just one image of these two wearing sunglasses at night, and suddenly one’s mind dizzies with the anticipation of watching them hanging all over each other and acting all sleazy together. What a couple of creeps. Factor in that Jarmusch has also cast Mia Wasikowska as Swinton’s crazy little sister, and this thing is likely to extend the tired vampire craze by another five years. But it’s going to be worth it.

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