Academy Award-winner, Nicolas Cage talks about his role in “Left Behind”

Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage is a man that does not need any introduction. He is well-known worldwide for being one of the most versatile actors of all time, equally known for his poignant portrayals in both drama and comedy. Some of his more notable films include “The Rock,” “Con Air,” “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “National Treasure”. Coming up next, Cage stars in “Left Behind,” a Christian-themed apocalyptic action film based on the best-selling book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Additionally, Cage recently completed filming Paul Schrader’s “The Dying of the Light” with Anton Yelchin and is currently in production on “The Runner,” which also stars Sarah Paulson, Peter Fonda and Connie Nielsen. Media Mikes had a chance to attend a teleconference with the actor to chat about his role in “Left Behind” and what we can expect the film.

Can you give us a little background on your character Rayford Steele and his importance in the film?
Nicolas Cage: Well I mean Ray Steele is a captain of a jumbo jet, a transatlantic jumbo jet going to London, England. And he’s an important guy on that airplane and he has a flirtation and there’s a chemistry that’s happening with the flight attendant, so marvelously played by Nicky Whelan. He loses track of what’s really valuable to him in terms of his treasures within which is his love for his family. He’s kind of, not that he’s a bad guy but he’s making a mistake that many people make that are in powerful positions lose track of the importance of family. They’re drawn away, or they’re seduced from their true inner-values by something attractive, or something flirtatious, or something that has the call of the wild. Ray Steele gets back to his true need for family through this experience and through this extraordinary experience and understands the value of family and just wants to get back to that no matter what happens. Just to be able to get back on the phone with his daughter and say I’m sorry and “I love you”. And I think that’s as simple as that. I think that is heart-wrenching. And if you have a heart I don’t think it’s possible to see the movie and not get a little verklempt. I mean it, there’s some very poignant, emotional moments.

What was it about this script or what regarding the movie in general that drew you in?
NC: I really said “Yes” on the merits of the screenplay. And also to work with, to work with Vic again, the director. I think all artists, if you’re tapped in, if you’re tuned in, to the zeitgeist and they’re open to that then they’re going to pick up on that. I felt that the script was a challenge and it gave me a chance to really try to make the extraordinary, believable and to do something authentic within performance so that everything around me was going into chaos. People were just appearing on the airplane and how did I make that organic? And again, all the actors, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, they were all on-point. And I find that exciting. To me, it was, it was an exercise and I’m very happy with the results.

How familiar were you with the “Left Behind” series before getting on board?
NC: I was not familiar with the “Left Behind” series. I’m familiar with the rapture of course. My brother, Mark, is a Christian pastor, and he was very excited about this. And he said, “Nicky, you’ve really got to to do this”. I’d already wanted to make the movie because I thought it was such a great script and an opportunity again to do something challenging. But when I saw how passionate he was, I thought, “Well, yeah I want to make this movie for my brother too”.

What was it like working with director Vic Armstrong?
NC: Well actually I’m very comfortable working with Vic. I got to spend quite a bit of time with him on another movie that we made, called “Season of the Witch”. And it was a good experience and I thought that he directed me to a good performance and something that I was very proud of and wanted to work with him again. I knew that I would be able to relax with him and that I would be able to go within and just sort of exhale and be in the moment and be in the scene. That he would allow his actors to breathe and to be relaxed and to find the truth of their performances. And it really shows in the movie. I mean, across the board, of Chad Michael Murray, and Nicky and Cassi again just powerfully real performances. And I knew that that would happen working again with Vic.

Blu-ray Review “Only Lovers Left Alive”

Actors: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, John Hurt
Directors: Jim Jarmusch
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Run Time: 123 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

If you aren’t familiar with the work of Jim Jarmusch…let’s just say his films are an acquired taste. Very arty and poetic usually filled with his unique humor. “Only Lovers Left Alive” is no different. This is definitely a visual trip with some great underground music and amazing performances from Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. They are also backed with great supporting cast including Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin and John Hurt. With those people fed up with the overflow of vampire flicks, this is a unique and interesting spin the genre. Probably not a film that I can watch every day but definitely enjoyed it and worth checking out just for performances.

Official Premise: The tale of two fragile and sensitive vampires, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), who have been lovers for centuries. Both are cultured intellectuals with an all-embracing passion for music, literature and science, who have evolved to a level where they no longer kill for sustenance, but still retain their innate wildness. Their love story has endured several centuries but their debauched idyll is threatened by the uninvited arrival of Eve’s carefree little sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) who hasn’t yet learned to tame her wilder instincts. Driven by sensual photography, trance-like music, and droll humor, Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a meditation on art, science, and the mysteries of everlasting love.

Since the film is being released on Digital HD, I would have hoped that Sony Pictures Classics would have included an Ultraviolet code but that is a negative. The studio did the same thing with The recent documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune” as well. The Blu-ray does includes a solid presentation including a very well shot 1080p transfer. You know that Jarmusch had a specific look he was aiming for this film and it is executed perfectly. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works with the dialogue and the great music. The special features are a bit of a let down though. There is a spotlight on the director with “Traveling at Night with Jim Jarmusch”, a few deleted and extended scenes and a music video for Yasmine Hamdan’s “Hal”

 

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Film Review “Only Lovers Left Alive”

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin and Jeffrey Wright
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch
Running Time: 123 minutes
Sony Pictures Classics

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

May 2014 – “Only Lovers Left Alive” made its US debut at the New York Film Festival this past autumn, when this review was posted. It’s subsequently been on limited release since April. I can’t recommend this film highly enough and we are reposting the review in light of its nationwide expansion this month. Enjoy!

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, already pretty ethereal as they are, are well cast as vampire lovers Adam and Eve in Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful upcoming film, Only Lovers Left Alive. The film finds Adam at a low point in his long existence with wife Eve swooping in to lift him from his disappointment at the state of the modern world. It’s a clever, macabre character study that beneath its too-cool undead protagonists lies a tremendously romantic beating heart.

As Adam, Hiddleston drives away any and all comparison to that other shaggy, dark-haired immortal he has so expertly played recently. Adam is a fascinating creature who displays a wall full of iconic mortals in his den, all the while repeatedly protesting that he has no heroes. Everyone from Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde to Rodney Dangerfield and Iggy Pop are framed in a shrine to human imagination that at this point in time Adam is lamenting the “zombies” have lost. This admiration for human achievement somewhat undermines Adam’s intentions to kill himself with a wooden bullet obtained from his stoner human buddy Ian (Anton Yelchin in a Renfield-goes-Rock-n-Roll mode). Adam wants to seem the depressive loner, it’s a romantic notion that suits his look and music, but every so often there are cracks in this facade where Hiddleston lets through brilliant moments of enthusiasm. He can be completely enchanted by an unknown singer in a back alley club or excited over a new guitar despite an already huge collection. Adam gives an angry impassioned speech about the world’s dismissal of great scientists–Tesla, Darwin and the like–but that he is able to get so worked up about the fate of humanity weakens his stance that he’s lost all hope in it.

These small embers of optimism are fanned by Adam’s wife Eve and Swinton is perfect at embodying his more mischievous other half. When we meet her, Eve is living apart from Adam in Tangier trying to stir up some controversy in the mortal world by goading her friend, fellow immortal Kit Marlowe (John Hurt), into dusting off the Shakespearian authorship debate just for a bit of entertainment. She’s recalled to her husband in Detroit when she senses Adam’s melancholy over a touching video phone call they share.

Eve having to carefully engineer night flights to make such a journey possible is one of the many vampiric touches Jarmusch cleverly slips in without being explicitly expository about his brand of bloodsucker. Others include Adam’s usage of preternatural speed only when really pushed or their eyes growing paler the more in need of a drink they are. There are references to a larger crisis of contaminated human blood, causing Adam to haunt a complicit doctor (Jeffrey Wright, making a huge impact in just two scenes of bouncing dialogue off a hilariously unresponsive Hiddleston in scrubs) for a healthy supply, but that’s not the focus here.

Rather, Eve is content to share blood popsicles with Adam during a game of chess or bond over their mutual appreciation of Jack White. Such smaller moments are where Hiddleston and Swinton really shine. They have a chemistry that feels lived in without any of the negative connotations so often associated with the “old married couple.” And they really can’t get much older than these two. One gets the sense that Adam’s depression is just part of a larger cycle the two have weathered many times before with the gleeful Eve returning to turn over the hourglass that Adam says is running out of sand. In a particularly joyful scene, Eve finds Adam’s would-be means of suicide and defuses the tension by drawing him into a heartwarming dance to Denise LaSalle’s “Trapped by a Thing Called Love” instead of an argument. This tendency to physical interaction over words in many instances adds to an animalistic dynamic this little clique of vampires share. It becomes more pronounced when Eve’s party-vamp sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) drops in on the couple. In the only concrete conflict of the film, the sister from LA throws a monkey wrench into Adam and Eve’s chilled out lifestyle, demanding they all go out and over indulge on their “good” blood. Like most bingeing, it doesn’t end well. The sisters together are able to push Adam around rather like the females in a pride of lions, an idea reinforced by Gerd Zeiss’s wild hair designs which incorporated actual animal furs.

Beyond the cool makeup design, Jarmusch creates a fascinating nighttime world for his characters to inhabit. Eve is surrounded by books in her lush Tangier location while Adam’s lair in Detroit is completely wired and filled with all the things he’s engineered himself from decades of technological equipment. Both the cities are richly shot by Yorick Le Saux who finds beauty both in the dark and in locations of complete decay. Jarmusch’s own band SQURL reinforces this dark environment with a hypnotic guitar driven soundtrack that will haunt viewers long after the credits roll. Still, despite its gothic trappings, Only Lovers Left Alive is a surprisingly funny and touching character study of what it is to sustain love and inspiration throughout a very long lifetime.

Jim Jarmusch Hosts “Only Lovers Left Alive” Concert in NYC

In speaking about Only Lovers Left Alive– which seems to occur often since posting my NYFF review of the film. I usually compliment the distinctive world that director Jim Jarmusch created for his vampires Adam and Eve. This audience sentiment may have reached the director’s ears because on Tuesday night in New York, Jarmusch hosted a screening along with an immersive after party and concert to celebrate the movie’s limited US release on April 11th.

Having already staged similar events in London and Paris, the film took over the entirety of NYC’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema. The theater’s hallways were darkened and lit only through projections of dried blood. Audience members were encouraged to wear sunglasses and gloves in keeping with Adam and Eve’s costuming which made for a striking movie line on the not-so-sunny New York afternoon.

After enjoying the screening of the film, the audience moved a short walk away to Santos Party House where guests were welcomed by staff members in Adam’s “Dr. Faust” scrubs offering a spicy taste of blood at the door. The lower level featured a dj who played a mix honoring the film’s Detroit roots. Exciting for film fans in other areas of the floor, you could visit recreations of Adam and Eve’s rooms.

Heading upstairs was the concert of artists from the film’s soundtrack. Film composer Jozef Van Wissem took the stage first on the lute, eventually joined by the beautiful vocals of Zola Jesus.

The highlight for me was second act, Yasmine Hamdam. In the film, the Lebanese artist entrances Tom Hiddleston’s Adam in a small club in Tangiers and she had a similar effect on this crowd with her powerhouse singing.

Next came what can only be described as the intergalactic rock of White Hills which got the most excited response from the audience. Finally Jarmusch with his band SQÜRL took the stage and it was thrilling to hear, among other tracks, the film’s signature theme “The Taste of Blood” performed live just hours after the film’s credits had rolled.

…………

Should this concert make its way to more US cities, definitely check it out. In the meantime, Only Lovers Left Alive opens in New York and LA on April 11th in the meantime you can check out the film’s newest trailer below:

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New York Film Festival Review “Only Lovers Left Alive”

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin and Jeffrey Wright
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch
Running Time: 123 minutes
Sony Pictures Classics

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, already pretty ethereal as they are, are well cast as vampire lovers Adam and Eve in Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful upcoming film, Only Lovers Left Alive. The film finds Adam at a low point in his long existence with wife Eve swooping in to lift him from his disappointment at the state of the modern world. It’s a clever, macabre character study that beneath its too-cool undead protagonists lies a tremendously romantic beating heart.

As Adam, Hiddleston drives away any and all comparison to that other shaggy, dark-haired immortal he has so expertly played recently. Adam is a fascinating creature who displays a wall full of iconic mortals in his den, all the while repeatedly protesting that he has no heroes. Everyone from Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde to Rodney Dangerfield and Iggy Pop are framed in a shrine to human imagination that at this point in time Adam is lamenting the “zombies” have lost. This admiration for human achievement somewhat undermines Adam’s intentions to kill himself with a wooden bullet obtained from his stoner human buddy Ian (Anton Yelchin in a Renfield-goes-Rock-n-Roll mode). Adam wants to seem the depressive loner, it’s a romantic notion that suits his look and music, but every so often there are cracks in this facade where Hiddleston lets through brilliant moments of enthusiasm. He can be completely enchanted by an unknown singer in a back alley club or excited over a new guitar despite an already huge collection. Adam gives an angry impassioned speech about the world’s dismissal of great scientists–Tesla, Darwin and the like–but that he is able to get so worked up about the fate of humanity weakens his stance that he’s lost all hope in it.

These small embers of optimism are fanned by Adam’s wife Eve and Swinton is perfect at embodying his more mischievous other half. When we meet her, Eve is living apart from Adam in Tangier trying to stir up some controversy in the mortal world by goading her friend, fellow immortal Kit Marlowe (John Hurt), into dusting off the Shakespearian authorship debate just for a bit of entertainment. She’s recalled to her husband in Detroit when she senses Adam’s melancholy over a touching video phone call they share.

Eve having to carefully engineer night flights to make such a journey possible is one of the many vampiric touches Jarmusch cleverly slips in without being explicitly expository about his brand of bloodsucker. Others include Adam’s usage of preternatural speed only when really pushed or their eyes growing paler the more in need of a drink they are. There are references to a larger crisis of contaminated human blood, causing Adam to haunt a complicit doctor (Jeffrey Wright, making a huge impact in just two scenes of bouncing dialogue off a hilariously unresponsive Hiddleston in scrubs) for a healthy supply, but that’s not the focus here.

Rather, Eve is content to share blood popsicles with Adam during a game of chess or bond over their mutual appreciation of Jack White. Such smaller moments are where Hiddleston and Swinton really shine. They have a chemistry that feels lived in without any of the negative connotations so often associated with the “old married couple.” And they really can’t get much older than these two. One gets the sense that Adam’s depression is just part of a larger cycle the two have weathered many times before with the gleeful Eve returning to turn over the hourglass that Adam says is running out of sand. In a particularly joyful scene, Eve finds Adam’s would-be means of suicide and defuses the tension by drawing him into a heartwarming dance to Denise LaSalle’s “Trapped by a Thing Called Love” instead of an argument. This tendency to physical interaction over words in many instances adds to an animalistic dynamic this little clique of vampires share. It becomes more pronounced when Eve’s party-vamp sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) drops in on the couple. In the only concrete conflict of the film, the sister from LA throws a monkey wrench into Adam and Eve’s chilled out lifestyle, demanding they all go out and over indulge on their “good” blood. Like most bingeing, it doesn’t end well. The sisters together are able to push Adam around rather like the females in a pride of lions, an idea reinforced by Gerd Zeiss’s wild hair designs which incorporated actual animal furs.

Beyond the cool makeup design, Jarmusch creates a fascinating nighttime world for his characters to inhabit. Eve is surrounded by books in her lush Tangier location while Adam’s lair in Detroit is completely wired and filled with all the things he’s engineered himself from decades of technological equipment. Both the cities are richly shot by Yorick Le Saux who finds beauty both in the dark and in locations of complete decay. Jarmusch’s own band SQURL reinforces this dark environment with a hypnotic guitar driven soundtrack that will haunt viewers long after the credits roll. Still, despite its gothic trappings, Only Lovers Left Alive is a surprisingly funny and touching character study of what it is to sustain love and inspiration throughout a very long lifetime.

Note: This film screened as part of the 51st Annual New York Film Fest where we were informed it would be aiming for spring opening in the US. For now, it’s continuing to make festival rounds and has a UK release date of February 21st. You can view a recently released trailer below and check back here for further updates as we get them!