Only Lovers Left Alive: My Pick for Best Movie of the Year

Poster for Only Lovers Left AliveI love Jim Jarmusch’s work, and Only Lovers Left Alive definitely didn’t disappoint. The main characters of the movie are Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), two very old vampires who are trying to make it in the 21st century. The pair are married, but are living separately when the movie begins – Adam in Detroit and Eve in Tangiers. These two characters are nicely juxtaposed. Adam is dark, brooding, and everything around him is portrayed as such from his hair and clothes to the old, dilapidated home he inhabits. Eve is light, positive, and everything around her reflects this from her semi-dreaded white-blonde hair and light tan suede pants and jacket, to her home’s New Age decor. Adam has an obsession with music and instruments. He is an elusive musician whose compositions appear on the down low, and who has worked with other artists over the years – Schubert, for example. Eve has the skill of knowing things through touch. She can read a book by running her fingers over the pages, or touch a guitar and tell how old it is and everything about it. She can read people this way, too. Added to the mix of these two main characters is an elderly vampire who is no other than Kit Marlowe (John Hurt), writer of the plays attributed to Shakespeare, and supplier of Eve’s blood diet in Tangiers. Blood supply is important to these two, and Adam gets his through an arrangement with a local hospital. This is a humorous situation, since he has not quite adapted to the new century yet, and he shows up to retrieve his blood in scrubs, operating mask, sunglasses, and sporting the name tag: Dr. Faust.

Adam and Eve in Only Lovers Left Alive

The overall plot of the movie is the relationship between Adam and Eve, which is tested by the appearance of Eve’s sister, Ava, a younger vampire who’s into partying and boys. Ava has a history of making life impossible and Adam is not a fan. She once again causes problems with her appearance, sending Adam and Eve on the run, and ultimately putting them in the position of having to start over again on their own. However, it is unlikely that this duo is going to have any problem getting on with things – a better pair I’ve never seen.

Adam and Eve on the couch in Only Lovers Left Alive

Jarmusch always has the best quirky things in his films! Some of my favorites in this one were

  • The many references to Tesla accompanied by Adam’s skill in creating machines: a car engine that doesn’t require gas, and lighting the house using a generator that pulls electricity from the atmosphere.
  • The cool, grungy, hipness with which the underground scene is depicted. Adam and Eve always wear sunglasses at night. Leather, mussed hair, and a decadence reflected in décor and lifestyle are everywhere. For these vampires, Type O- is like a drug, and when they drink they do so with the savoring of a heroin addict shooting up.
  • Ian, played by Anton Yelchin, who is Adam’s go-to human and brings him rare and beautiful instruments or procures any odd item that Adam might want. Ian has a great personality in that kind of eager, young star-seeking way.
  • Adam’s endless supply of cash. He has lots of rubber banded wads of cash that he will just pull out of a pocket, seemingly with no regard for how much he is handing out.
  • Eve’s tons and tons of books. There are stacks and piles, and scenes of her falling asleep in the middle of them. If I was a vampire, my house would look like this.
  • The settings of both Detroit and Tangiers. Dark, destitute, decrepit, cityscapes. Detroit is bare of people for the most part, while Tangiers is home to the drug scene, winding alleys, stone staircases, and cafes that appear in the middle of nowhere.
  • The music. Adam’s music is haunting and dark, beautiful. I would definitely listen to this. The music by the girl in Tangiers, though is an unbelievably cool touch. Through her you can see Adam glimpsing the precursor for a new start to his compositions, a new turn to take, a twist that will fit with this change of locale.
  • The ending scene.

Whether you are a Jarmusch fan, a vampire fan, or just love Hiddleston and Swinton, you have to watch this movie! Go get it now!

Rigor Mortis Will Leave You Scared Stiff

Poster for Rigor MortisI have a special affinity for foreign horror, and so I got pretty excited when I started seeing trailers for Rigor Mortis. This Chinese movie definitely takes a different twist on the vampire!

The protagonist is a former actor who moves into an apartment building where typically only those with a much lower-class lifestyle live. The building is full of odd characters: the seamstress and her husband, the flashy guy who runs the nearby café, the security guard who knows everyone, and the homeless woman and her child who roam the halls. As soon as our protagonist moves in, it becomes clear that he is not planning on being there long. His suicide attempt is cut short by Mr. Flashy, and in doing so we find that his apartment is haunted by the spirits of two women. The spirits haunt the building, searching for a body to inhabit. And, a body is soon provided as the husband of the seamstress falls to his death on the concrete stairs. In her grief, the seamstress resorts to black magic to revive her husband, burying him in dirt in the bathtub, interring him in a coffin that hangs above the ground, and covering his face with a special, creepy metal mask, which she is instructed to never remove. From there, things start getting crazy, and our protagonist finds himself teaming up with a vampire hunter to save the day.

Picture of the protagonist in Rigor Mortis

This movie has some great visual effects, especially the two women spirits who are surrounded by numerous blood red tendrils, and who creep around on the walls and ceiling, while trying to find a body to possess. The cinematography is great – lots of dark, rich colors and noir lighting. There are also some interesting choreographed fight scenes, and some tools of the vampire hunting trade that are pretty cool. One of these allows the hunter to change reality within a certain area and cycles through the different Chinese elements: fire, water, and earth.

The twins in Rigor Mortis

I definitely enjoyed this movie. If you like foreign horror, especially movies that have a combination of action and horror, then you would probably enjoy Rigor Mortis.