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Tag: Tilda Swinton

Doctor Strange (2016)

Surrender, Steven !

For a Marvel joint, Doctor Strange is remarquably squeamish about tampering with the space-time continuum and the multiverse, even though the purpose of its script – and the function of its CGI – are precisely just that. Let’s just say that the Ancient One’s (SWINTON!, one of the two reasons to watch the film) terse warning that that shouldn’t be done comes a little late; I don’t know who’s planning the expansion of the Marvel Extended Universe but that particular Big Bang is a bit messy.

Three quarters ludicrous exposition and one quarter the expedited resolution of a dimensional clash threatening the very existence of the world, Doctor Strange is nevertheless quite enjoyable. Of course, the arc is the same as usual, a powerful character reduced to pulp by trauma only to become a god-like figure having to chose his of the Force, training scenes, time travel, cities folding on themselves, more training scenes, a mirror dimension, a cape, nefarious instoppable villains defeated by fisticuffs, and yet more training scenes. As usual, rooms full of priceless relics in glass boxes have been built for the express purpose to be shattered in said fisticuffs, the vilains of the piece takes order from un uber-vilain from outer space and time (Dormammu is coming and he’s ANGRY!). Also, one specific aspect of the movie kinda swallow all others, this time the polemic about casting Tilda Swinton as an originally Asian character. Which is, by the way, the wisest decision made here: just watch her graciously ackowledge that yes, this is good tea, and succumb to her sublime presence; she actually makes for a credible mentor/antagonist, as was the case in Constantine.

Doctor Strange‘s other saving grace is great production design (apart from this Dormammu guy, who looks like the writers described it as “generic evil CGI entity). Sets and costumes look great – and expensive, magic is not too shabby either. Casting is prestige Hollywood all over. Oh, right, casting, so easily outshone by Miss Swinton that it’s like she’s actually able to manipulate screen time.

Benedict Cumberbatch keeps on auditioning for the Bond role, driving a sports car over the speed limit in a tuxedo, which owns him the stupidest accident ot recent memory (a neuro-surgeon checking CAT-scans while driving at night, really?) and equipped with a rotating display for his collection of super expensive wrist watches. Forget about his smug attitude and God complex, the rotating wristwatch display says all about what a self-imbued, callous moron Steven Strange is: definitely, the new James Bond will be a throwback to the Roger Moore era. His love interest is played by Rachael McAdams, which has the virtue of answering the question what she has done lately, not that it was a very interesting one. Madds Mikkelsen plays Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner with his customary inexpressiveness, with the help of “Strong Zealot”, “Tall Zealot”, “Blonde Zealot” (one can’t help loving that one) and lots of glitter. Chiwetel Ejiofor looks gloomy about having to feature in the sequel, and Benedict Wong plays Wong, because the writers couldn’t come up with a better Chinese name.

The final showdown is rather good for once; the vilains stop their annoying antics and get their comeuppance like nothing had happened. Comedy scenes rub shoulders incomfortably with lines like “Who are you in this vast multiverse, Mr Strange?”, an instant contender for 2016’s worst dialogue. The nature of reality is once more questioned, only to be swiftly put aside as a perfunctory plot point. After the movie ends, all sorts of questions remain unanswered, the least of which not being how The Ancient One built three sanctums (Suspiria, anyone?) in New York, London and Hong Kong,& centuries before these cities even exist. All in all though, a decent entry in the Marvel canon.

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Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Screenshot_2016-04-11-14-27-11 copy

MONEY    Monstrometer2
LONELINESS    Monstrometer4
BOREDOM    Monstrometer3
FEAR    Monstrometer3
TIME    Monstrometer4


It Could Be Better But Not By Much

With a title bound to leave you out in the cold, begging to be let in to experiment immortal love, this Jim Jarmush movie is not exactly the easiest beast in the zoo. It captures a moment in the story, or the absence thereof, of Eve (SWINTON!) and Adam (Tom Hiddleston), her only love and creation. She lives secluded in Tangiers like a Jane Bowles character, he’s a recluse musician collecting guitars in Detroit. They are both vampires and survive on a strictly no-kill diet with the help of catering “French doctors”.

They hide well, those low-profile vampires, only betrayed by the odd turn of phrase or an out of period detail that only specialists would notice. Their sources of supply are dwindling down, because time has not stopped for the rest of the world and finding clean blood becomes more and more difficult. Drinking human being have simply become too much of a risk, as one of the character will, unfortunately for everyone involved, experience.

Eve is strong and has faith on eternity. She shares jokes about the good ol’days with Christopher (John Hurt) her best (only?) friend, and they laugh as if those moments four centuries ago were yesterday. They savour blood in small liquor glasses, a delicate ritual with a rush so strong it slows down everything in a brilliant series of ecstatic close ups. This movie takes its vampirism seriously, the drinking of blood more communion than consumption, more celebration than desecration. It starts spinning on embroidered djelabbas and priceless mandolins and it never stops swirling, like dervishes, life and death entwined, forever and ever.

Adam is more of a tortured soul. He’s sick of depending on “zombis”, human vassals, to be fed. He has a secret art project commissioned, one small object made of the toughest African wood possible. Eve senses something is wrong and flies to Detroit, from one city in decay to another. He plays guitar and she dances, the high priestess of an intimate cult. “You missed all the fun in the Middle Ages”, she tells him. Their lovemaking is reminiscent of l’amour courtois with its taking off the glove and symbolic undressing. They sleep in total darkness, in love like in death.

It takes its time and unfolds rapturously, a trip to the Jack White’s house now and some urban exploration in a decrepit movie theater then. Blood lollipops and poison mushrooms. “I suppose it could be worse, but not by much” says Adam. So evidently it becomes much worse.

Ava (Mia Wasikowska) Eve’s younger sister, reappears, even though an unfortunate incident in Paris drew them apart 87 years earlier. Eve is welcoming, Adam is annoyed by the selfish and greedy girl. They go out in a club where Adam’s unreleased music is playing. Mia drinks a zombi and falls sick “What did you expect, he’s from the music industry”, Adams hilariously observes.

Blood rarefies. They fly back to Tangiers only to discover the French doctor has been peddling bad stuff to Christopher. His death scene is a delicate balancing act between drama, tenderness, and the offhand revelation of his true identity. It reminds one of the painting La Mort de Murat and it is lovely made. Lovely, lovely, but oh so sad.

It ends with two brilliant scenes, one in a cabaret with a commanding Arab songstress and one outside at night, Eve and Adam watching a young couple making out, obviously hot for each other. In both scenes, the dialogue is brilliant but one has already quoted too much.

Only Lovers Left Alive is one of the three great vampire movies of this young century, together with Let The Right One In and Byzantium. It is the trippiest of the three and it has to be watched or you’ll wander in endless darkness, wondering what immortal love feels like.

IMDB page

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