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! 

Natalie Nylon talks about new album “Star Crossed Lovers”

Natalie Nylon is a singer/songwriter hailing from Philadelphia, PA.  Natalie has had music featured on both “American Horror Story” and “The Real L World” and recently released her second full length album titled “Star Crossed Lovers”. Media Mikes recently spoke with Natalie about the music from those shows and also what it was like working on the new album.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your new album “Star Crossed Lovers”?
Natalie Nylon: The album is kind of a reflection of my life over the past few years. A lot of things went on like I had gotten engaged and then later broke of the engagement which left a lot of things for me to   deal. There ended up being are a lot of personal things on this album compared to my previous one.

AL: Did you take any different approaches to how you worked on this album compared to previous releases?
NN: When I wrote my first album I was going out to clubs a lot and that made me want to write mostly dance songs. When I sat down and wrote the second album it was just me on my own. I would sit down with a guitar or in front of a piano with my ideas. When I had a handful of songs laid out I would take them to my producer and we would develop them together. It was a lot more writing on my part this time around.

AL: Where do you tend to start when writing a song?
NN: I think it’s different for every song I write. Sometimes I just start with a thought a phrase and build off of that. What seems to happen most of the time is that I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea or melody. Those seem to be the ones I like the best. Everything tends to be a little different as to whether the melody or lyrics come first.

AL: Are you planning on shooting a video for any of the songs of the new album?
NN: That is what I have planned next. I actually shot two videos already however I was just not happy with them. It’s hard when you have a creative idea and you’re working with people maybe for the first and time and things don’t turn out how you would like. You kind of have to have the right ingredients and the right people to make things work. If one thing’s off it can impact your vision.

AL: Can you give us any hints as to what the new video might look like?
NN: I am trying to decide between two songs right now. People have been pushing for me to do “XXX” which was featured on “American Horror Story” and “The Real L Word”. So it’s between that song which is off my first album and “Dry River” which is off my new album. I don’t want to give away anything just yet as we are working on it as we speak.

AL: What was your response when the networks asked to use your song? And were you a fan of the shows prior to having music on them?
NN: I was shocked! I got a call from my producer telling me they wanted to use the song and I was just on the floor. It has always been a dream of mine to have one of my songs appear in a film or television show. It’s just one of those things that I didn’t expect to happen. I really just couldn’t believe it. I knew of both of the shows however I don’t tend to watch much television. I have checked them out now that my music has been in them but I haven’t seen all the episodes or anything.

AL: Do you have any plans to tour in support of the new album?
NN: I have been playing local shows in and around NY, PA and NJ but when it comes to touring I have been looking for someone to jump on board with or to get on a festival. We have been discussing doing a tour but being an independent artist is really hard. You have to be prepared to pay for everything yourself. (Laughs)

 

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Blu-ray Review "The Vampire Lovers"

Actors: Ingrid Pitt, Kate O’Mara, Peter Cushing
Directors: Roy Ward Baker
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Scream Factory
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Run Time: 91 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When you think of Hammer films you think of sexy and erotic horror. “The Vampire Lovers” was always one of my favorites and delivers that and much more with the lovely Ingrid Pitt in the lead role. This film is based on the J. Sheridan Le Fanu novella “Carmilla”. The Vampire Lovers” is the first part of the Karnstein Trilogy followed by “Lust for a Vampire” (1971) and “Twins of Evil” (1972). It is arriving on Blu-ray for the first time, thanks to Shout! Factory’s sister company Scream Factory. If you are a fan of Hammer, then you are going to love this release.

Ingrid has such a presence on the screen and you can’t take your eyes off her. And boy does she look amazing on this Blu-ray. She was known as the “The Queen of Scream”.  She not only survived a Nazi concentration camp as a child but who on to become one of the most well known faces of Hammer horror films and was billed as  “the most beautiful ghoul in the world”. Hammer legend Peter Cushing also pops in and is charmingly eerie as usual, especially delivering the film’s final blow.

Official Premise: A female vampire with lesbian tendencies ravages the young girls and townsfolk of a peaceful hamlet in eighteenth century Europe who, years earlier, killed off her fellow vampires. A rousing hunt for the vampiress ensues as a group of men follow her bloody trail of terror through the countryside. If you dare, come into a twilight world of unspeakable horror and taste the deadly passion of the blood-nymphs!

Scream Factory delivers a very nice 1080p widescreen presentation with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. There is some notable noise in the darker scenes but it doesn’t plague the transfer much. Overall it is a real treat to see this film presented in high-definition. The film also packs a nice DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround track.  It works perfectly with the nature of the film and carries the essence of Hammer very well.

The special features are all quite impressive for this release.  There is a great audio commentary track with the director Roy Ward Baker, writer Tudor Gates and of course Ingrid Pitt, which is moderated by Jonathan Sothcott. “Femme Fantasique: Resurrecting The Vampire Lovers” is a great look back on the film and its cult following. There are excerpts from the novella “Carmilla”, that inspired the film, which are read by Ingrid Pitt.  There are Original Theatrical Trailer and Original Radio Spot included.  There are two new Interviews, the first with Madeline Smith, who played Emma and the second is with Hammer Films Scholars.

 

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