I was in my twenties when I fell in love with Jim Jarmusch. In the beginning it was Stranger Than Paradise (1984), but we traveled Down By Law (1986), and on to Mystery Train (1989) until that final Night on Earth (1991).
Like many youthful romances, it didn’t last; I grew tired of the road (1), we drifted apart and before long completely lost touch.
I tried to reconnect over Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), but it just didn’t work. I was resigned to reliving my memories of that early magic on borrowed DVDs.
Then in 2013, I saw a glimmer of hope. Another chance. This time the attraction wasn’t really my former auteur-crush, but his new film’s stars; Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and John Hurt. Based on past experience, I’d pay to watch them watching paint dry.
And that is how Only Lovers Left Alive comes to be on my list of great, watch-again-and-again-and-never-get-bored movies.
Have I mentioned that it’s a vampire movie? No? Well that surprised me too. According to my usual “will I enjoy this film” checklist, if any of the actors are sporting overly long canines, the answer is probably “no.” If the aforementioned canines are bloodied, it’s a resounding “thanks, but no thanks.”
Let’s just say, I’m rewriting the checklist.
Only Lovers Left Alive IS a vampire movie, but it’s also so much more. It’s a really tender love story, a (very dark) comedy, a celebration of art and creativity, and a cautionary tale for our sickening world. It’s packed full of musical and literary references (spoiler alert: Christopher Marlowe DID write the works of Shakespeare — and he was a vampire), haunting cinematography, and a luscious soundtrack.
I hadn’t really expected there to be much chemistry between Swinton and Hiddleston (playing a couple married for over 500 years), but somehow it works. I’d probably have suggested he get a haircut, but that’s quibbling.
Here’s the trailer, and if you haven’t seen this quirky gem — add it to your lockdown list.
Oh, and as for me and Jim. I wasn’t crazy about his next film Paterson. I haven’t seen his latest, The Dead Don’t Die, but it’s a “zombie comedy.” Not really my favourite genre, but I loved Shaun of the Dead, so who knows.
About Film Friday
Sarah at Art Expedition, and Darren, The Arty Plantsman have initiated this great new blogging project. You can find out more and see their chosen films for the week by visiting the latest post by Darren and Sarah.