Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Reading & Seeing 15

Only Lovers Left Alive
Set in the not so distant future where the world is sort of crumbling and blood is in short supply. The film follows the story of long long time vampire lovers (who've married each other several times) Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Having influenced a number of revered composers throughout history, Adam has become a reclusive musician in his own right and spends his days in his crumbling Detroit house surrounded by his vintage guitars, listening to old records and making grizzly-snythy (awesome) music. His only contact with the outside world is Ian, a big fan of Adam's music who also "gets stuff" for him - more guitars, equipment and the like - and a doctor at the local hospital who keeps Adam, for a fee, in regular supply of blood. He also talks/skypes Eve who lives in Tangier with her good friend, fellow vampire and provider of her blood supply, Christopher (John Hurt). Eve flies to see Adam in Detroit (as he's being all mopey - Tom makes a great and mopey vampire) and we follow their exploits from there. So what did think? FINALLY! A vampire film I can get on board with! Hiddleston and Swinton make beautiful vampires - pale, boney and quite obviously very much in love. The two leads seemed so comfortable and easy with each other, I didn't question for a second that they'd spent centuries together. And, given that they have lived for centuries, there's some amusing name dropping (Adam's thoughts on Byron and Mary Wollstoncraft for example) and the script is littered with pleasing literature references and quips. The sets (Detroit and Tangier) are perfect and, coupled with the reverberating grungy music, are incredibly atmospheric. True, the pace is slower that a lot of the films we're fed these days and it won't appeal to everyone but for me, it was a real breath of fresh air. The cast is small - Hiddleston and Swinton claim the most screen time but there are also very short but brilliant performances performances by the supporting cast, most notably Mia Wasikowska, as Swinton's impetuous (and greedy, let's say) younger sister. If you want your vampires glowing and fannying around with werewolves in high school then this is not for you. However, if you like your vampires altogether a bit more brooding and gothic give this a whirl.
Still from the movie - I love LOVE these tiles (I'm currently rather obsessed with tiles). The shot framing in this film was beautiful!

The Goldfinch
Donna Tart's long awaited third novel and my first book read on a kindle (but that's another story, which you can read about here). The Goldfinch centres around Theo Decker who is re-calling (or rather penning) his life story. He begins on the day that his mother is killed, 14 years previously, after a bomb explodes in New York City's Metropolitan Museum. The aftermath of the explosion sets Theo's life on a fragmented and rather lonely path at the core of which is the painting of The Goldfinch - spurring him on on one hand but also unravelling his life at the same time. So, would I recommend it? Yes, but be warned: it is long, just shy of 800 pages actually. Although it starts with a, quite literal, bang, it doesn't keep that pace and, in places, I found myself thinking, "c'mon, c'mon, get to the next bit"(the Vegas stuff dragged on a bit too long for my liking). But, persevere, it does pick up again. On the plus side, Tart's descriptions are stellar and there's some great, rather meaty, supporting characters which really move the story along. Other good stuff: a couple of plot twists and turns, which I didn't see coming, and the details and descriptions of New York City build such a rich picture, they made me want to go back there so so badly. It's not as amazing as The Secret History (of course, I would say that, it's one of my favourite books) but it was bloody good and certainly worth the 11 year wait.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Set in the ficticious land of Zubrowka, this is the charming, amusing and at times rather sad story of  charismatic concierge, Gustave H, and lobby boy, Zero, at The Grand Budapest Hotel. In true Wes Anderson style every shot is perfect and a joy to behold, the script is quick, witty and poignant, the characters are a beautifully varied bunch if a little 2-dimensional (especially the female characters) but thanks to the pacey story-line and a seriously fabulous cast that last observation didn't really bother me. Also, the two main characters are pretty meaty and spectacularly portrayed - Ralph Fiennes has been given much praise for his performance and rightly so. There's numerous chase scenes, cameo appearances, excellent costumes and magnificent sets all wrapped up in several layers of story-telling - a particularly favourite detail of mine. If you hadn't guessed already, I loved this film. You must see it, preferably in the cinema. It's a feast for the eyes and much too lovely to miss on the big screen.

Life After Life
Ever driven by interesting concepts, the premise of a character reliving her life over and over again (taking different paths each time) seemed right up my street. Ursula Todd, born, many times over, in 1910, lives many lives some of which do not last beyond childhood, others find her meeting her doom in the blitz of WWII, but everytime she dies, her life starts over on the same snowy day in Feb 1910. On the whole, I liked it. I wanted to see how each life Ursula lived would unfurl and how the choices she made changed the outcomes of her (and others') situation. I also liked that certain events didn't change, some exchanges or outcomes were always bound to happen, and that the re-telling of some life events gave a much more 3-dimensional view of our protagonist and her family. However, there were a few things that really irked me. Obviously, this is not a new concept and it's not surprising I was drawn to it because one of my favourite books, Replay, does it too. Replay takes a different stance in that the protagonist always dies at the age of 43 and instead of being reborn he comes back at ever-closer ages to 43. He also, unlike Ursula, remembers everything from his former lives. What annoyed me about Life After Life is that Ursula's remembering is inconsistent and lazily explained if she does in fact "remember" something. Also, in her different lives, external happenings, often vary. Fair enough if events are altered as a result of Ursula's choices but it didn't seem to make any sense that external happenings were subject to change without an instigator, surely they should have been the constant. Perhaps I'm being picky but it bothered me. However, the bits set during the blitz were enthralling - v.morbid but interesting and really vividly described. I think I'll try another Kate Atkinson. I really liked her writing style, and probably just need to cool it when it comes to the rules of incarnation - I don't know if there are any afterall.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...