Only Lovers Left Alive (2013); directed by Jim Jarmusch

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It’s a rare movie that wraps you up in its own unique dreamspace. I suppose that’s the ultimate goal for any director, and any scriptwriter, too. Many movies try to do that. Many movies fail. The story, whatever it is, exists as a dream in the writer/director’s head before it makes it to the screen, before words are put to paper. There is something to say, something to contemplate, a world to be inhabited, characters that need to speak. The goal, the hope, is that whatever that dreamspace is will translate.

Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive has one of the most luscious and evocative and emotional dreamspaces I’ve experienced in a long time, and while the movie lasts, you are caught in it, submerged in its mood and feeling. It takes a long time for the effects to wear off. The characters in Only Lovers Left Alive are nocturnal, by necessity, and emerging from the film is akin to walking out in bright sunlight after being in a dark space for hours on end. You shake your head to let the dream go.

John Cassevetes once said, “I don’t care about the scene. I only care about what happens between people.” Jim Jarmusch is the same way. He is interested in the charged space that exists between people: they could be strangers, they could be a long-time married couple … but when human beings (or, as in Only Lovers Left Alive, the undead) interact, a charge is transferred, something sparks, something ignites. The spark is not controlled. Anything can happen in that space: empathy can open up, or close down, connections can be made and lost, understanding achieved or disintegrated. Human beings often shy away from those sparks, because they cannot be controlled. We fall back on cliches or small talk in order to bear the interaction. We do so automatically. It’s not necessarily rude. It’s how we survive. Jarmusch removes those barriers. All that is left behind is the raw and open space “between people.” What happens in that space? How do we listen to one another? How do we share ourselves and share our perspective on things? Are we alone? Or can a hand cross that abyss and pull you over?

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Only Lovers Left Alive tells the story of a longtime married couple. They got hitched in the 1860s. They are vampires (although the word is never spoken in the film). Their names are Adam and Eve. They are played brilliantly by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. At the beginning of the film, Adam is hiding out in a dilapidated house on the outskirts of Detroit, surrounded by his collection of guitars and amps, and Eve is holed up in Tangier, books stacked against every wall. Travel is challenging, since they have to avoid the sunlight. Blood supply is a constant issue, especially since so much blood is now contaminated. Getting “the good stuff” requires connections. Eve has a connection in Tangier, a “doctor”, also an undead being, who is actually Christopher Marlowe (played by John Hurt). “Kit” is able to hook Eve up with “the good stuff,” procured somewhere in the warren-maze streets of Tangier. Adam, meanwhile, has a connection at a Detroit hospital, a “Dr. Watson” (Jeffrey Wright), who gives him thermoses of blood in exchange for wads of cash, no questions asked.

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It is not clear why the couple is across the world from one another, although the opening sequence makes clear, visually, that geography is irrelevant. A record spins on the record player. It is Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love.” As the swoon-y gritty song plays from the Queen of Rockabilly, we see Eve from above, the camera circling over her, echoing the circling of the record. Her beige hair is long and wild, and she lies on the floor against a sky-blue bed, surrounded by books. We see Adam, sprawled on a leather couch, surrounded by shadows, guitar in hand, also with the camera circling above him. The images continue to alternate, circling, circling, no movement from the figures, the only movement coming from the camera. They are on opposite sides of the world. They are connected. Life is hard. Adam is depressed and lonely for his wife. Eve flies to Detroit (making sure all the flights are night-flights) to be with him.

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From the get-go, I was caught in the dreamspace of Only Lovers Left Alive. Not much happens. It is a story of a marriage. There are a couple of other characters: John Hurt’s “Kit,” a grizzled old guy, who still seethes somewhat because Shakespeare got the glory for works written by him. “He was illiterate …” moans Kit. There is Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska), who shows up uninvited in Detroit, asking to crash. There is bad blood, so to speak. Something bad went down in Paris once, involving Ava. She is impulsive, reckless, bratty. She plays with Adam’s drum set, grinning at him, hoping for approval. He glowers. It’s like any in-law drama you’ve ever seen. Except they’re all the Undead.

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There is a humor in that dichotomy, but it’s not presented in a cutesy way, i.e. “Oh, isn’t it funny to have a vampire man bitch about his vampire sister-in-law to his vampire wife?” In Jarmusch’s dreamspace, it’s an emotional confrontation, with a sister-in-law who shows up uninvited, and leaves a trail of wreckage wherever she goes. Adam is right to be cautious. Eve feels torn. Ava is hurt.

The plot is not the thing here, anyway. “The thing” here is a portrait of a marriage. A good marriage. When one is in need, as Adam is in the beginning, contemplating suicide, lonely, the other does what she has to do to get to his side. The reunion is breath-taking. They play chess. They listen to music. They talk about music. After all, Adam lives in the city of Motown, although, as Eve says to him, “I’m more of a Stax girl, myself.” She tries to get him to lighten up. She takes care of him. She makes fresh-blood popsicles, and they suck on them as they play chess.

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He is gloomy. She is practical. She tries to get him to see the bright side. She forces him to dance with her, even though he’s not in the mood. The scene where they circle around, playfully, sexily, intimately, all to Denise LaSalle’s “Trapped By a Thing Called Love” is a swoon of romance.

Things happen. Bad things. But all around it is the magical and strange darkness of the night, the spaces in between people, the relationships, the inter-relation of all things. Having been alive for so long, the vampires have a wealth of knowledge. Eve touches one of his guitars and knows the make and model, merely from what her fingertips tell her. She speaks every language on the planet and speed-reads books, inhaling them. He was a Romantic – like, literally. He hung out with Byron and Shelley. He saw Eddie Cochran play. He writes music and releases it anonymously. Blood is hard to come by. It seems that they may be at the end of the road.

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Jarmusch films all of this with a heightened and glamorous drama, the shadows thick and encroaching on the figures. In one scene, we see Adam and Eve lying in bed together, the blankets are black, their skin is white, and they are so entwined it is hard to tell whose limb is whose. It’s gorgeous. Detroit seems like an abandoned city. It is seen only at night, the bright lights of downtown glimmering faintly in the distance from the bombed-out outskirts, overrun by gigantic empty factories and shells of houses. Adam and Eve take long drives at night. They drive by the house where Jack White grew up, and sit there in the car at the curb, staring up at it. They are still capable of being amazed by things. It is the main way they connect.

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Our culture is drenched in vampires. It always has been, since they first stepped onto the scene. Currently, of course, we have the tween version, with glittery skin and Superman powers, vampires being turned into a metaphor for self-sacrifice. There is that here, too: the undead here do not kill, or “turn” people. At least they try not to. They try to get by with blood procured from other places. Humans do intersect with them, sometimes on comfortable terms, but, in general, Adam and Eve keep their distance. It’s better for all involved to keep a low profile.

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Tangier and Detroit are the locations, filmed only at night. It’s a a dark and twisty insomniac underworld where everyone seems both out of place and at home at the same time. Everyone needs something. Everyone is wandering the streets, looking for a fix. Whatever it might be. Sex, drugs, black-market blood, companionship. The vampires don’t “pass” as normal people, not really. You get the sense that the humans know something may be strange about them, but they’re not sure what. They always wear gloves when out in public. They wear sunglasses at night. They seem to communicate without language.

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Einstein’s “spooky entanglement” theory is mentioned once at the beginning, briefly, and then brought back near the very end. How do quantum particles react to one another, mirroring one another, changing, reversing, whatever, while at opposite ends of the universe? How is that possible? It could be seen as the theme of the film, or at least the theme of the marriage between Adam and Eve. Without getting intellectual about it, Jarmusch shows us that interconnected-ness from the very first scene, with the twirling record, and the twirling couple, separated by thousands of miles.

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Once upon a time, Hollywood used to specialize in something sometimes referred to as the comedy of remarriage, where a husband and wife who have separated or divorced find their way back to one another. The Awful Truth, starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, is a high watermark of the form. His Girl Friday. The list goes on and on. What was so special about these films, and what is still so special, is that the re-marriage comedy doesn’t have to trouble itself over a “meet cute,” or a falling-in-love process, or the other things that go into typical romances. The remarriage comedy features a couple who has already been through all that. They’ve got some miles on them. You can’t fool your partner anymore like you did during the courtship stage. The mystery is gone. But with the disappearance of mystery, other more profound things start to come into play. The audience is thrust smack-dab into the middle of a well-worn relationship, and when these films work, you ache for them to get over themselves and get back together. It also makes marriage look like the biggest possible adventure.

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In its strange undead way, Only Lovers Left Alive is one of the best and most positive films about marriage I’ve seen in a long long time. This is a working relationship. Adam has strengths and weaknesses, so does Eve. They balance each other out. They reach out for one another, glancing towards one another, for confirmation, or questions asked/answered, many times without any language exchanged. They hang out. They talk about literature and music. They problem-solve together. What he cares about, she cares about, and vice versa. The needs of his soul are on her radar. Always. It’s a partnership.

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The more I think about the film, the more I think about those separated quantum particles, spinning and reversing, and reacting to what is happening with its partner across the universe. Adjusting: “Oh, you’re going this way now? Okay, lemme catch up, so I can go that way too.” Balance, connection, mirroring.

Like Cassavetes said: The scene doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what happens between people. And the space “between” could mean across the room or across the universe.

Only Lovers Left Alive is all about that. It’s a swooning dark dreamspace of love.

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25 Responses to Only Lovers Left Alive (2013); directed by Jim Jarmusch

  1. evave2 says:

    I was waiting for this film to be released but I guess it went straight to video?

    Yours is not the only + positive review I’ve read.

    Or is it playing art houses and has not made it to the wilds of New Mexico yet?

  2. sheila says:

    It’s still playing in one theatre in NYC but yeah it is out on DVD now. Definitely not straight to video.

    I haven’t read any negative reviews. I love Jarmusch’s stuff.

  3. Regina Bartkoff says:

    Sheila: Gorgeous review! I just loved this movie! It’s so much about being older too. Vampires and old people have their lairs, books, paintings, music and don’t really want to go out. The movie is not so much about blood and gore but the spiritual questions on life and death. I love when they drink the blood regally from delicate glasses. And the movie looks so beautiful. When they do go out they drive through the deserted streets of Detroit, looks like fun to me! Tilda is amazing and one of the best vampires I’ve had ever seen. I’m a little bit obsessed about Morocco in a weird way. I don’t read about it or look at pictures of it, it’s my dream city. It is a city of dreams. When they first show Tilda stalking the streets of Tangier on her midnight run, it took my breath away, I knew it was Tangier right away and she looked so fabulous dressed in pale colors practically blending into the stone walls. I loved that singer in Tangier they listen to for a bit. And it is about true love! It’s funny how they are different, she is attached to her iPhone and he has all the old fashioned equipment (that he makes work) Tom Hiddleston is wonderful too, you believe he loves her by just the way he looks at her! I disagree with Jarmusch on one thing, Shakespeare wrote those plays!

    • sheila says:

      Regina –

      // It’s so much about being older too. Vampires and old people have their lairs, books, paintings, music and don’t really want to go out. //

      Yes! Good point! They have no need for anything other than their own company. Well, and blood too. But I love your point.

      // and she looked so fabulous dressed in pale colors practically blending into the stone walls. //

      Yes! She totally was a chameleon. The colors of the film were to die for. From the first second, I was lost in them.

      Also, there was something in Tilda’s eyes – that wasn’t human. She was clearly conscious and thinking and reacting – but there was an animal-like quality, something “other” in her eyes that gave me goosebumps.

      I love that singer in Tangier too. That whole scene was amazing. At first I thought they might want to drink her blood – and there may be some of that going on – that sort of mix of thirst/sexual desire that always goes along with vampires …. but when they turn away after she finishes singing, Adam says, “She is so amazing …” in practically a swoon of appreciation. It was so beautiful.

      The soundtrack is incredible! And so much of the incidental music was done by Jarmusch himself. But all the songs chosen – Wanda Jackson – and Charlie Feathers – those old Sun Records rock and roll legends …. It made me think of “Mystery Train,” Jarmusch’s film about Memphis. He’s so good with music choices.

      Oh and yes, her with her iPhone and him with his little TV – so funny. The “apple” logo clearly visible on her phone … I mean, they are named Adam and Eve!!

      I absolutely loved the movie.

    • sheila says:

      Oh, and hahaha about Marlowe. I know. I disagree too. :) I did love how Marlowe had a picture of Shakespeare on his wall in Tangier, just to sneer at. Funny.

      I also loved his Moroccan friend, the cafe owner. What a lovely small performance.

  4. mutecypher says:

    “Just goes to show, we don’t know shit about fungi.” I would love that line in any movie, but in a vampire movie, it is just beyond great.

    I was going to call this an almost perfect movie, but then I had to ask myself what kept it from being perfect. I can’t think of a thing. And I liked what you wrote about it being an affirmation of marriage. I was mostly just caught up in the beauty and the richness of allusions.

    The chess scene that ends with
    “You’re ruthless, you’re brutal.”
    “I’m a survivor, baby”

    Adam driving a Jag in Detroit after talking about how beautiful Packards were. And the gloves, why is is good manners to ask if you can remove your gloves when you enter another vampire’s lair? Or why a layover in London was not acceptable. Glad we didn’t find out.

    The bar in Tangiers was called 1001 Nights. “Names? Stephen Dedalus and Daisy Buchanan.” The animals were always given their latin names. The books in Adam’s fridge. Eve’s eyes being bright blue when she’s reading, but brown at other times. The colors in Tangiers were the orange and blue scheme that was derided by the guy you linked to in the SPN “Bloodlust” recap – but done beautifully. Those instruments. Eve’s certainty that us zombies will go to war over water, and that when the cities in the south are burning, Detroit will be whole again. Just a wonderful movie.

    And I’m impressed that you avoided the temptations of SPN creep. You didn’t mention that the movie had both a Loki and a Gabriel in it. And didn’t mention that it had the perfect Alice for any Maximum Teapot Confusion episodes.

    • sheila says:

      Mutecypher – So few things are perfect – Only Lovers Left Alive is perfect, in my mind. The only other perfect movie I’ve seen this year is Love Is Strange, and I’ve seen a lot of very good movies.

      and yes, the fungi!! Her talking to the mushrooms: “What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here!”

      And yes, the teal/orange color scheme of Tangier is “so done” now it’s almost a cliche, but not here. It felt like a unique artistic choice. Her clothes/hair the same sandy color of the walls, and then at the end of one of those alleys … a blue light. It was stunning and creepy.

      I loved the glove behavior so much. I loved that it wasn’t explained! It had this ritualistic aspect to it.

      And I loved Adam’s “contact” who brought him the guitars and amps, and wooden bullets, and everything else. You could see him being totally ingratiating – this is a guy who pays him really well – and totally bowing down before his Alpha status – ‘Okay, man, sorry, just asking …” But he was a sweet person, you could tell. It’s classic Jarmusch, for some reason – that guy. It’s a non-acting kind of acting that Jarmusch prefers. I loved him. He was a good guy.

      // Eve’s certainty that us zombies will go to war over water, and that when the cities in the south are burning, Detroit will be whole again. //

      Goosebumps.

      And their sight-seeing through Detroit – that old movie palace that is now a car park. I’ve seen articles about that place – and it was featured in 8 Mile in a great scene, where people gather to rap-battle before hitting the clubs. This gigantic echoing yawning place, with the old murals from the 1920s still evident on the ceiling … Just in ruins. Like the Coliseum or something.

      I’m trying to think of another movie that has captured the grandeur/tragedy of Detroit like this. 8 Mile did, although that was more of a gritty realistic movie than a dreamspace, like Only Lovers Left Alive. 8 Mile made it look like the characters were living their lives, fully, in the midst of a completely deteriorating landscape. The scene where all the guys burn down a derelict house – basically to protest a little girl who was raped and murdered there (“Do you think that motherfucker would have done that if he hadn’t had an abandoned house to go to?”) – and Eminem looking at the family photos in the house before lighting it on fire – “Someone lived here once. A family lived here.” The tragedy of Detroit. But Only Lovers Left Alive took that and made it into a dream. It literally seemed like Adam and Eve (and his contact) were the “only people left alive” in Detroit. When they went out to that grubby rock club to hear some music, I was surprised to see other people.

      I love how the movie took its time. Things happen, but there was no need to rush from one thing to another. I loved that.

      And yeah, so many movie people who read me don’t give a shit about SPN, and I respect that. :) I don’t want to drive away my regulars. Gotta keep it compartmentalized.

      I also loved how the “rock and roll kids” would gather outside his house. They’re onto him. The image of that … basically doing to him what he and his wife were doing to Jack White’s house … It gave such a strange sense of the sweep of American music history, something Jarmusch holds dear … and how important it is to people. Eddie Cochran!!

      So glad you saw and loved too, mute cypher.

      What did you think of the whole “spooky entanglement” thing? I thought it was handled gracefully and specifically. A reference thrown down – “do you want me to tell you more about it?” “Not now darling.” Then, at the end, in Tangier, she says, “I’m ready for you to tell me about it now.” I thought it was very effective.

    • sheila says:

      And all of the pictures on Adam’s wall!! I recognized many of them but couldn’t clock many others. I loved that wall. Wall of geniuses.

  5. Regina Bartkoff says:

    I loved the spooky entanglement theme! Done so beautifully! I have minor telepathy with our daughter out in L.A. It’s on the level of calling on the phone asking, “are you craving an ice cream sandwich right now?” “Oh God Yes! how did you know?” Minor, but always uncannily correct! I believe you are connected to the ones you love no matter how far away and even if they are off this planet! And, oh yes, I loved the music! Jarmusch is like Picasso in the way he too puts whatever he loves into his movies.

  6. mutecypher says:

    I’m with Regina, I thought the quantum entanglement was well done. I had enough trust in the film when the idea was introduced that I knew it would illuminate something about relationships and not just be some “thing” mentioned to show how smart a character is.

    //Pet Peeve Alert// I hate that – usually it’s String Theory that’s the “look how smart someone is” thing. The writers who do that must not be aware that String Theory doesn’t fit the basic definition of science: it doesn’t generate testable hypotheses. It’s cool math, it might even be true to some degree, but it ain’t science if there’s no way to disprove it. Given the exceedingly tiny sizes that it is describing, we have no instruments that can measure things going on at that scale.//Done//

    There’s the entanglement of Adam and Eve at the beginning of the movie, the entanglement of Ava, Kit, Adam and Eve due to Ava being the subject of a dream for the last three of them (hmmm, how are the 4 of them entangled? Not explained), the creation of new entanglements with the couple that Adam and Eve are going to turn at the end. Marriage. The rock-n-roll kids versus the Jack White house visit. War over oil versus war over water. Not sure how Detroit and Tangiers are entangled, but I bet they are.

    Ava: I think your sister’s “Science Can’t Be Coy” could be her theme song:

    “She’s like the Doppler Effect, he said,
    When she comes near me she sound so high.”

    … just to keep the science going.

    If there was an imperfection, it would be that Ian still has a beer when they all return from the club. We saw him take it with him when he left, did he just nurse it on the car ride back?

    Detroit: I think The Crow was set there. There was a cartoon called Motorcity a couple of years ago set in a Thunderdome-like Detroit, I thought it did a good job of capturing the grandeur/tragedy. I think it only had one season, but the creators definitely had a love of the city and disappointment in what it has become.

    You’ve mentioned Orson Wells’ comment that some actors are King Actors. I wonder if John Hurt is an Eccentric Wisdom actor. He does a great job with those sorts of parts.

    Those pictures on the wall, I think I recognized 20% of them, at most. And I liked that we didn’t get long shots of the wall, so that we couldn’t try to figure out who’s who. It kept us focussed on Eve and Adam: Eve loving him, and getting that maybe Adam isn’t ready to shuffle off the immortal coil just yet if he has a wall of heroes.

    All the books in the movie made me want to see Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books again. I only saw it once, 25 years ago or so, when it came out. I guess there are copyright or ownership issues keeping it from being released to DVD. I recall my girlfriend turning to me with tears in her eyes as we watched it, saying “It’s just so beautiful.” In my memory, the movie is even more gorgeous than Only Lovers Left Alive . I’d like to test that theory.

    • sheila says:

      Mutecypher – so I’m no scientist but I am familiar enough with all this stuff to (kind of) know what you are talking about. :) I understand the annoyance that scientists have when this stuff is used as metaphor – I get annoyed when it is used as New Age pablum – “look how we are all connected …” Well, yes, that very well may be so on the most microscopic level, but there’s something about the dumbing-down of these concepts in New Age circles that rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know. I did not feel that Only Lovers Left Alive did that. I felt like him bringing up the spooky entanglement theory was just one of the many things he was interested in … and all of these things connected them as a couple – music, chess, popsicles, sleep, books, history, literature … all of it were topics for discussion.

      Speaking of John Hurt – this was the second movie I’ve seen this year starring both of them (the first being Snowpiercer). He played a very similar character in Snowpiercer – a grizzled old wise guy who had been through a lot of shit. Did you see that one? I can’t remember if you commented on my piece about it. I’ll check. And Tilda, of course, was completely unrecognizable in Snowpiercer. She’s a phenom. And having met her at Ebertfest, I am even more impressed – basically with just who she is as a person.

      I think I mentioned this from that Ebertfest – I was on one of the panels in 2013. We were talking about the art of the video-essay and how it may be changing the way we talk about film. (Like the video-essay I did for Love Streams – they’re the newest wave in film criticism). So it was an extremely esoteric nerdy conversation – for true film buffs – the kind who like to break shots down into their specific parts (kind of like what I’ve been trying to do with Supernatural) and try to figure out how it all works.

      The panel was at 9 a.m. Everyone had been at the Festival until midnight the night before. So it was a hardy group that gathered for the panel. And at one point, during the panel, I glanced out in the audience and saw Tilda Swinton sitting there, leaning forward, listening, her face leaning on her hands. Her hair was bright yellow. I hadn’t seen her come in.

      She was there to present her movie Julia – which had happened the night before. Celebrities fly in to Chicago and then take planes down to Champagne-Urbana, or rent cars, whatever – for the most part, they fly in and fly right back out, although many of them stick around. Tilda (whose mother had also just died a month or so before) woke up at 8 a.m. and fucking came to the Nerd Panel and listened to all of us talk about video-essays and editing software and shot construction as though she was in an undergraduate class she needed to pass. It made me love her even more. She’s a true artist.

      I loved Prospero’s Books, too! Peter Greenaway is an amazing visual artist!

  7. mutecypher says:

    Just to keep the science going, here’s Nick Cave’s Higgs Boson Blues.

    Thanks for finding the video of Yasmine. You can understand why Jimmy Page and Robert Plant keep finding inspiration in Moroccan music.

    • sheila says:

      Totally! That whole area of Africa is a gigantic cultural crossroads. It’s incredible. I had to review Jonathan Demme’s latest music documentary – Enzo Avitable – and he gathered together musicians from all over the world for a concert – from Africa and Iran and Lebanon – So many composers (in the West anyway) do not write for those instruments – it’s just not in our tradition – and Avitable wants to change that. It’s not Demme’s best music doc, but it was fascinating – and it was great to see these phenomenal international musicians playing their strange and beautiful instruments from North Africa, from the Middle East.

  8. bybee says:

    Oh no! This movie opened in South Korea in January. Just my luck; I was in the USA at the time. Pout.

  9. mutecypher says:

    Hi Sheila –

    Just to be clear, I was very happy with all the mentions and uses of science in Only Lovers Left Alive. It enriched the characters and was spoken of in such a way that made me believe this was simply a part of their lives and interests. Perhaps it was misleading for me to voice my pet peeve when talking about a movie where the peeve DIDN’T happen. Where it was avoided.

    I remember your stories about Tilda at Ebertfest, her leading everyone in song. When Eve reached out to comfort Bilal after Kit died, that seemed like the sort of thing Tilda would do – which I know isn’t how acting is done – but still.

    I had seen Snowpiercer, but I also had Dr. Oxley from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Mr. Ollivander from the Harry Potter movies, Professor Bruttenholm from the Hell Boy movies in mind when I made my Eccentric Wisdom Actor comment. Maybe it’s just a normal age thing: he’s not going to play the guy who rappels down the side of the skyscraper to rescue Katy Perry from the clutches of the evil Taylor Gaga. Or maybe it’s just a reflection of my taste in movies and the kinds of things I’m likely to see him in.

    I had forgotten about the Enzo Avitable doc you reviewed. I’m in the mood the check it out now, thanks for the reminder.

    • sheila says:

      Mutecypher – Oh I understood what you were saying in re: science. I share your pet peeve, especially when scientific theories are used in a Nicholas Sparks “everything happens for a reason” kind of way. It’s so science-lite that it is annoying.

      John Hurt has had such an interesting career. I love him in Contact, too – it’s the same kind of role you’re describing. Eccentric wise old guy – mischievous – cunning … floating around upside down on the Mir space station. Good times.

  10. mutecypher says:

    We were talking about Detroit …. and I was listening to some Dire Staits today. I remembered that their song “Telegraph Road” was about Detroit. Per the Wikipedia entry on the song:

    Inspired by a bus trip taken by Knopfler, the lyrics narrate a tale of changing land development over a span of many decades along Telegraph Road in suburban Detroit, Michigan. In the latter verses, Knopfler focuses on one man’s personal struggle with unemployment after the city built around the telegraph road has become uninhabited and barren just as it began.

    In an interview on RockLine, a “rock radio network” call-in show, broadcast live on 10 May 1983, Mark Knopfler said, while on tour, he… “in fact was driving down that road and I was reading a book at the time called Growth of the Soil [by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun], and I just put the two together. I was driving down this Telegraph Road… and it just went on and on and on forever, it’s like what they call linear development. And I just started to think, I wondered how that road must have been when it started, what it must have first been. And then really that’s how it all came about yeah, I just put that book together and the place where I was, I was actually sitting in the front of the tour bus at the time.”

    I’d like to see Detroit become one of our great cities again. Not sure how to get there from here. Here’s a YouTube of the great, beautiful song.

  11. mutecypher says:

    I hadn’t seen that before, lots of great stuff from that concert! Thanks. I also like the version of “Baby Let’s Play House.” I wouldn’t have pictured David Gilmour doing Elvis’ “Don’t.” That was a tasty cross of rockabilly and Pink Floyd on the guitar solo.

  12. mutecypher says:

    Marginally related, I came across this beautiful set of photos of mushrooms. I don’t know how much that will help with our knowledge of fungi, but, you know, beauty is its own reason.

    http://www.boredpanda.com/mushroom-photography/#post0

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