The Week in Film: Jarmuschian Vampire edition


Only Lovers Left Alive
(Sony Pictures Classics)

In Theaters

If you see one movie this weekend, make it Only Lovers Left Alive.  In what could be Jim Jarmusch’s best work, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play centuries-old vampires who offer witty musings on existence while traversing Detroit and Tangier by night.  As of now, it’s my #3 movie of the year behind The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Past, and might be #2 if The Past is deemed a 2013 release.

If you have time for another movie, see Only Lovers Left Alive again, and if there’s room for a third, check out God’s Pocket.  Directed by Mad Men‘s John Slattery, the dark drama features one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final performances and strong supporting turns from Christina Hendricks, John Turturro, and Eddie Marsan.

I missed the press screening for The Railway Man two weeks ago, so I’ll be playing catch-up with this tale of a British former P.O.W. (Colin Firth) suffering from PTSD who seeks revenge on his Japanese torturer.  Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgård also star.  The other newbies are Godzilla, touted by many major market critics as the best blockbuster in years, and Million Dollar Arm.  Keeping the Mad Men theme going, the Jon Hamm vehicle looks like your average sappy sports movie, but whose screenplay by Tom McCarthy (Win Win) makes its Indian baseball (no, not like Major League) story far more interesting.

Fleeing the Scene

Finding Vivian Maier proved that Asheville can occasionally support a documentary and ends its improbable three-week run.  Elsewhere, Blue Ruin and Particle Fever rightfully flopped and NeighborsThe Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return have been cut back to a single screen apiece.

(Warner Bros.)


Spike Jonze’s masterful Her and the erotic French thriller Stranger by the Lake are two highly recommended and vastly different new options.  Even though Michel Godry’s last film, The We and the I, was a near-total mess, I’m curious to check out his animated conversation with Noam Chomsky, Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?  I have no desire, however, to revisit two of the year’s worst offering to date, I, Frankenstein (which my Citizen-Times colleague Bruce Steele gave an “F”) and That Awkward Moment (which got failing marks from me).

On Netflix Instant

An unusual yet exciting range of titles this week, starting with Michael Bay’s best film, Pain & Gain, and Joss Whedon’s fun, low-budget production of Much Ado About Nothing.  The aforementioned Stranger by the Lake and Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? are also available, and while I didn’t go gaga over Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in LoveI respect its artistry and reserved storytelling.  Conversely, I admire less about the MacArthur-in-Japan flick Emperor and its goofy Matthew Fox performance and next to nothing about animated monstrosity Free Birds, one of my ten worst films of 2013.  The sound of Owen Wilson screaming still haunts me on certain nights.