Only Lovers Left Alive @ The Ross

Eve (Tilda Swinton) and Adam (Tom Hiddleston)

Eve (Tilda Swinton) and Adam (Tom Hiddleston)

Only Lovers Left Alive is Jim Jarmusch’s latest film endeavor, and it is like watching acute depression in motion; and it is very very slow … slow as molasses in winter. It is a melancholic wallow in angst on the one hand; and anxiety on the other; and there’s blood, too, and it is thick and rich! Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play Adam and Eve, two somber vampires who are in the vein of a mysterious space that would cause Edgar Allan Poe to shiver. Adam is a reclusive rock musician holed up in a gothic-like mansion on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan. That was his music you just heard. He is a pack-rat

Adam poses as Dr. Faust on his way to get his supply.

Adam poses as Dr. Faust on his way to get his supply.

enveloped in obsolete technology such as a tube television and an 8-track tape player; he collects vintage guitars, one is a Gretsch Chet Atkins, supplied to him by Ian (Anton Yelchin), an unsuspecting lad in the music business. Eve lives in Tangiers, Morocco where she gets her precious supply of blood from another comrade in the Vampire fold, Christopher Marlowe—yes the Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare’s nemesis (played by a wizened John Hurt). Jeffrey Wright plays Dr. Watson, from whom Adam buys a fresh supply of the deep red liquid jewel. Adam and Eve are reunited when Eve returns to the U.S. What unfolds thereafter is a set of the moody blues plucked from a piano in a smoky café packed back up the way, and the only entry to it is to amble down a one-lane hard-scrabble road!

Eva after her 'fix' of the deep red jewel

Eva after her ‘fix’ of the deep red jewel

The filmmaker could not have chosen a place more complementary to the style and mood of the film than the city of Detroit. The visual of the city is filmed in the twilight hours, and through that lens, Yorick Le Saux’s cinematography produces a city that languishes in its mistreatment but awaits as does the phoenix to rise from the ashes. On a drive in the wee hours of the morning, Adam asks Eve if she would like to see the Motown museum but cautions her that there is nothing left of it really. He then takes her to the once glorious movie theater developed on the site of Henry Ford’s first automobile workshop in 1925, and it is heartbreaking to see its French-renaissance style décor having faded away and being used for a parking lot. It is a hollow grave of memory! But Eve, in all of her vampire wisdom, looks into the future and declares, and I paraphrase: “While the south burns, Detroit will rise again!”

Adam

Adam

Only Lovers Left Alive is also a story swathed in old world romance. What Jarmusch manages to reveal through Adam and Eve, these vampires in love is a weariness over what humans have become. They’ve lived for centuries; they’ve seen it all but their knowledge of the world has left them fragile. They really are the only lovers left alive. Adam laments the present that, in spite of all of its advances in technology, has produced humans whom Adam calls the Zombies.

Jarmusch’s film is a stylistic visual pleasure that, ironically, will leave you craving for more as do Adam and Eve lust after pure uncontaminated blood.

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Only Lovers Left Alive plays through June 19 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Also playing through June 19 is Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 and 2 directed by Lars van Trier and starring Charlotte Gainsburg, Uma Thurman, and Christian Slater and Shia La Beouf.

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‘Maleficent’ ~ The Skinny

Angelina Jolie delivers as Maleficent

Angelina Jolie delivers as Maleficent

… and here we were thinking it was all because she was not invited to the baby shower! Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Robert Stromberg’s feature film debut of the same name. Once upon a time, there lived a young and confident fairy named Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy and Ella Purnell), who, though an orphan, loved life and all that it had to offer her. She had wings that gave her freedom, joy, excitement, and pure unadulterated happiness. They were so large that they dragged behind her when she walked. They were strong and they never faltered–not once–and [she] trusted them. She lived in The Moor, a land of innocence where an animated forest, fairies, pixies, water sprites, and other magical creatures roamed free in a verdant lush land undisturbed by the threat of violence–that is until a human stumbled into their land. Stefan (Sharlto Copley), a farm boy, had all the panache of dried leaf. He and Maleficent, nevertheless, formed a friendship in the Moor that is sealed with “true love’s kiss”. Betrayal then followed, fueled by ambition, and a treacherous act Stefan committed that cut deep into the heart. Had I no hope of the recovery, I may have walked out of the theater!

"They were strong [...] and I trusted them!"

“They were strong […] and I trusted them!”

Some parts of the narrative, however, made me wonder. For instance, is Maleficent the only fairy of her kind? Why is Maleficent so isolated in a forest of thorns with creatures for whom she has no direct association? Who are her friends? Why isn’t there someone–an elder, perhaps–with whom she can consult and who can stand with her while she bears her grief? Perhaps, that’s just it: Maleficent lays bare the threat of isolation and how it breeds abuse, even the will to murder, even the act of rape. In this film, Maleficent’s isolation marks her as an open/easy target for those who wish to devour the very essence of who she is. Isolation sets her up for the kill, and Stefan does with abandon! On another note, there were times in the film I kept asking: you’ve got magic! Why won’t you use it get you out of this situation? Perhaps, that’s just it, again: Sometimes, a woman just has to stay the human course and rest on the hope that she will get out alive to use her magic! After all, her body is the vessel she need to deploy her magic. Hope does come to the rescue in the things which have been stolen from Maleficent. They beat for her. They find her. They lift her up out of the muck and mire! They save her! Therein lies the grace of Maleficent. Mercy!

Anne Sheppard’s costume design is grandiose, but Jolie inhabits it with the confidence of a stalking cheetah. The actress easily transitions from a once trusting, vulnerable friend into a bruised and almost-broken double-crossed villain. I tell you, it is a heart-wrenching scene, and the dialogue written by Linda Wolverton (one line in particular) under girds Maleficent’s most traumatic experience.

Maleficent might disappoint in some scenes but go and watch the film. The twist to Sleeping Beauty is inspiring. Let me just say this: the boys ain’t waking us up any more (think Frozen)! You will not be disappointed!

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