The “So Surreal” Award
Winner: Only Lovers Left Alive
This was one of those films that had been part of my “to watch list” for a while, but it never made it to the top. And then this excellent review showed up on my WordPress Reader, and I decided it was about time.
When you say Only Lovers Left Alive is a vampire film, that comes with certain expectations. Even though vampires have been around a lot longer than the Cullens, one of the first associations we/I make is The Twilight Saga. (Disclaimer: I was a teenage girl when those books came out, so I devoured them. I ended my Twilight affair by watching the last installment of the film series in the theatre. At that point it was of course, an ironical viewing. And I shall never speak of it again.) Jim Jarmusch‘s film is nothing like Twilight, and yet, there were certain scenes where I thought to myself that this could have been in one of those movies. When Swinton‘s character is on a plane and a fellow passenger cuts himself, she has to restrain herself from going over there and sucking the life out of him. Or even the way Adam obtains the blood from the hospital. The way that the slick modern world intertwines with a vampire’s lust for blood.
The fact that I had these thoughts while watching the film was pretty jarring to me. Did Twilight really leave such an impact on me? I hope not.
Anyway, back to this little treasure of a film. My favourite thing is the way Tom Hiddleston‘s character keeps referring to humans as zombies. As a viewer, you get drawn into the world of the leading characters, and I very easily developed the same aversion for humankind as Adam did. The way the 21st century world so easily intertwines with the worlds that the main characters have been living in, elevates the entire story. It could be anywhere, anytime. And yet, the locations and our modern world are part of the fabric of the film.
Another thing that I absolutely love about this film is the following trivia:
According to the script, Eve is 2000 years old and was the druid matriarch of a Celtic tribe. Adam is 500 to 600 years old. Jim Jarmusch decided that Adam and Eve would be aware of each other’s true age so he argued they have no reason to state it in the film, but simply informed the actors of the age of the characters.
One of the things I hate as a viewer of any kind of media is expositional dialogue. It’s such a no-go, yet it’s so common. But Jarmusch didn’t go there, and this might seem like such a tiny thing, but it made me immediately respect him more.
I loved all of these. You can read my review for A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence here and the one for Le Tout Nouveau Testament (The Brand New Testament) here. The latter has now been revealed to be my country’s official submission for the Oscars, so fingers crossed.
The “Small Place, Big Stories” Award
Winner: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan wows with this grand tale of hope and guilt. ‘Grand’ might not be the first word to pop into your mind. After all the plot is pretty simple: finding a dead body, preferably before sunrise. Yet still, the manner in which the film is constructed turns it into something quite bigger than that. Two hours and a half of running time doesn’t scream nice and simple either. And even though the film’s title sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, nothing in Anatolia is covered with fairy dust and happy endings.
The film is incredibly dark, in subject matter, but even more so literally. The still you can see here is no exception at all. But there’s always light, fighting its way to the foreground. The many layers are definitely food for thought and analysis. (The scene where the camera follows a rolling apple, references a similar scene in The Wind Will Carry Us. And just like that film, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia tries to reflect on the Kurdish problem. And then there are the many ways in which stories by Chekhov became integral parts of the characters’ backgrounds.)
The final scene is probably one I’ll be thinking about for quite some time. There’s no pandering, no over-explaining. Either you get it, or you don’t, and that’s your own responsibility. Anatolia might be a place where there’s not an awful lot to do, it might even be a wasteland, but it’s Ceylan‘s home, and he portrays it with a melancholic grandeur that is incredibly striking.
Wet Hot American Summer. Who knew summer camp could be so dramatic? Everybody who ever went to summer camp. I also sped through the netflix show right after that. All very entertaining, but not exactly life changing.
Kristen Wigg and Will Ferrell‘s weird lifetime spoof, that actually is an honest to God lifetime movie. I have no words for A Deadly Adoption.
Then there is Irrational Man, which takes place at a small- town college campus. But honestly, it’s not really a big, or interesting, story. It was however the first time I consciously experienced a film, shot on film, in the theatre, so in the end I was quite pleased. Despite the voice-overs. Despite the ‘These characters are so intelligent. They’re reading books, quoting Kierkegaard and Heidegger and discuss arthouse cinema. They obviously sprung from a superior mind.’ – bullshit. I just want Woody Allen to make another Bananas.
I also saw Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s debut film, Kasaba (The Small Town) which is a very intimate portrait of a family living in small town in his beloved Anatolia.