Wednesday, September 3, 2014

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE: a tale of two cult classics

I needed a rock and roll vampire fantasy like this film for total immersion/distraction after the death of my beloved Deerhound so I was ripe for this film's spell. "Only Lovers Left Alive" is a later period Jim Jarmusch, an exploration of the emotional landscapes of strange outsider folk as in "Broken Flowers," quirky as always but more believable than earlier mannerisms, a good trade-off in my opinion. 

Recommended to me by Mary Ann Rose and now I to you: convincing portrayals of vampires as languorous musician/blood junkies in present day Detroit MI and Tangier, Morocco. The 2013 film's leads, 33-yr-old Tom Hiddleston and 54-yr-old Tilda Swinton look and act made for each other. Very affectionate, high-functioning addicts, she with her classic literature and he with his music fueled by oldskool tech despite nano-second-new sounds. Many insider jokes of current state of music (young vamp after feeding: "ugh, I feel sick." Older vamp: "No wonder, he was in the music business!") and insider props with no attention directed at same: posters of Nicola Tesla, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, etc.

No doubt as director Jim Jarmusch's further little jape, it shares its title but zero plot points in common with the famous 1960s' teenage, post-apocalypse novel "Only Lovers Left Alive" by Dave Wallis, once optioned as a vehicle for the Rolling Stones. The book was surprisingly sympathetic to the people older than its protagonist teenagers, and there was a pastoral redemption twist at its end after all the Lord of The Flies violence. So it's amusing to learn that both Jarmusch and Oldham had parallel thoughts of purchasing the rights for its cool title alone although I'll bet the then young Stones themselves grokked the book's ultraviolence (to use '60s parlance) and pictured themselves happily in it. 

I also like the non-sophistication of the vampires' affection, always draping themselves over one another and holding hands wherever they ventured like teen kids' first loves, a cute contrast to their actual ancient ages. More cool dialogue, paraphrased: Q: "Why Detroit?" A:"Because it's like a flower growing from seed, blooming, withering and dying, all in one century. Fascinating to be here to watch!") As the film's reputation grows steadily word of mouth far past its 2013 release, Mary Ann thinks it a future cult classic and I concur.


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