Review of the Vampire Film ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’

14 09 2014

It is Only Lovers Left Alive - Posterone of the most striking films I have ever seen. Vampires Eve and Adam re-unite after a few decades, and the younger sister, Ava, tries to shatter their dreams by acting like a no-good Angelena. The premise is bizarre, yet fascinating.

Eve and Adam text about Adam’s depression, and she, the ever-sprightly one, decides to travel from her base in Tangier to his place in Detroit, where she attempts to soothe him. Everything is weird—she is texting her lover on an iPhone via her Moroccan boudoir, which is decorated in embroidered fabrics and is probably suffused with various exotic scents. Gold, blue, and white are the main colours. He is consumed in a mess of guitars and violins in a decaying Detroit mansion.

Eve and Adam are humane vampires who acquire blood by bribing hospital staff and local friends to quench their thirst. They have no desire to feed on humans unless necessary. Much like modern-day human vegans refuse to consume animal products unless necessary. Until Eve’s younger sister, Ava, arrives and starts acting like a total douche-bag. "only lovers left alive"She drinks Adam’s musical assistant to death, and Eve and Adam have to dispose of his corpse in a vat of acid somewhere in an abandoned building in Detroit.

After kicking Ava out on her own, Eve and Adam decide to return to Eve’s favourite place—Tangier. Unfortunately, Tangier is infected with contaminated blood. Even Eve’s reliable source of blood—Marlowe—lies dying of contaminated blood. Eve delicately lays her hand on the head of his human care-taker. It is actually a quite moving scene.

The last scene is amazing. Since Marlowe and his special source of blood are gone, Eve and Adam are forced to walk the streets ofOnly Lovers Left Alive - Last Scene Tangier, seeking a source of blood. They are starving. Eve in particular catches the scent of blood. It is a couple making out. She convinces Adam to turn them. He acquiesces. The look in their glassy eyes is disturbing.

Only Lovers Left Alive is amazing not only because it is so cryptic and peaceful, but also because it forces the viewer to re-imagine the vampire as a creature with human emotions. After all, humans are just cattle in the eyes of the vampire.

 

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30 Years of Italo-Disco

28 08 2014

Michelle Pfeiffer Grease II Cool RiderIsn’t it funny how musical styles come and go? I remember 1950s rock ‘n’ roll being popular when I was growing up in the early ’80s, mainly because of Grease and Grease II. Michelle Pfeiffer straddling a ladder was one of my most cherished memories (and her electrocuting Christopher Walken to death in Batman Returns was perhaps my favourite scene in cinematic history). Everything ’50s was cool then, from the turned-up cuffs to the white socks. One of the first songs I learned to sing was ‘Rock Around The Clock’, but that was in 1982, long after the original song had been played on the radio, let alone penned. I was flooded with images of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George. The same era had a peculiar dance beat which nobody had ever heard before—a 4-4 dance beat–with synthesiser arrangements.

In the early ’80s a new sound flooded the dance clubs of Europe and trickled down to America (as usual—new sounds happen in Europe first). It was a style of dance music with a rich, heavy, persistent bassline and simple yet elegant melody. It originated in Italy, with musicians like Giorgio Moroder, who produced music not only for Donna Summer, but also for films like Midnight Express and iconic ’80s fantasy films like The Never Ending Story. It clearly derived from 1970s disco, but reinvented itself with modern synthesisers. It became known as Italo-disco.

Probably my favourite italo-disco tune is ‘Hypnotic Tango’, by My Mine:

Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?

One of my other favourite italo-disco tunes is ‘Orient Express’, by Wish Key:

Isn’t that the most seductive dance tune you’ve ever heard?

Glass Candy basically aced the whole italo-disco revival with the following tune:

How beautiful is that? Ida No, the singer of Glass Candy, is totally awesome.

New italo-disco style music is being created by Sally Shapiro:

Absolutely sublime.

Italo-disco is a gorgeous dance style. You just have to love dance, melody, and rhythm.





Toronto and Ontario Trip (Part 3)

7 12 2013

Have you ever seen a sunset so brilliant it looked like it was Photoshopped? A mansion so regal it looked like a Hollywood horror set? A farm so bucolic it looked like an Andrew Wyeth painting? These are the kinds of images you see in Ontario, the most populous province of Canada and home to its largest city, the vibrant and multicultural Toronto, as well as its seat of government, the stately and civilised Ottawa.

In Part One of this series I looked at Toronto, and in Part Two I focussed on the Royal Ontario Museum of Art. In this part, I’ve decided to look at the countryside of the St Lawrence Lowlands which surrounds Canada’s southeastern megalopolis. The region is much like the Midwestern United States, with farmland, lakes, fields, and old towns surrounding major cities like Chicago. Where southeastern Ontario has not been converted into farmland or built up into cities, it remains a primeval temperate woodland called the Carolinian Forest.

My mother’s cottage lies nestled in the midst of this forest.

So without further ado, I bring you my snapshots of the vast, fabled landscape of southeastern Canada. Heading east on the 401 past the high-rise suburbs of Toronto… IMG_1667 IMG_1664 …you pass a few exurban mega-malls and housing developments until you finally reach the pastoral, strangely English countryside of southeastern Ontario’s St Lawrence Lowlands:

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And then you move into deeper country…

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…and even deeper country (God, this reminds me of the Madonna song) until you reach full-fledged Carolinian countryside (aren’t the clouds stupendous?)

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Then you reach Madoc, a village on the Trans-Canada Highway between Toronto and Ottawa. The village where my mother was raised: IMG_1751

Isn’t it quaint? It has a post office, a couple of banks, a few restaurants, a supermarket and hardware store, a bowling alley, a quaint pub, and a smattering of other local establishments. That is where my mother owns property.

Then there is Stirling, which is a little bit larger than Madoc because it has more industries based there. It has some amazing buildings:

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The architectural style of the houses you see is called Second Empire. Remember when I mentioned how some buildings looked like a Hollywood set? It is the Second Empire style you see here that I was thinking of. It was common throughout North America in the 1860s and 1870s, and it has inspired numerous horror movies and television shows, like The Munsters, The Addams Family, and Psycho, as well as American Horror Story. Yay, Jessica Lange!

But then we move outside the towns into real wilderness, which is largely wooded. We move north to Lake Jarvis, near the edge of the Canadian Shield:

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It is about a half-hour meandering drive from the Trans-Canada Highway, but imagine this being your destination: IMG_2041

A secluded cottage on a lake graced every night with the mournful call of the loon. And imagine this being your sunset: IMG_2030

Or this: IMG_2692

Or this: IMG_2701

Or this: IMG_1819

Or this: IMG_1820

Or this: IMG_1827

Is it not spectacular? In Ontario the land is so flat that clouds take the place of mountains. Here we see mountains of the sky.

But Ontario’s brilliant landscape takes on a more earthy hue when we look at her rough, summery farmland nature:

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Isn’t that a portrait worthy of Andrew Wyeth?

And this? IMG_2350

And of course the typical roadside barn: IMG_2361

Is this not eerie? It kind of screams Stephen King novel to me.

Anyway, that was just a slice of the photos I took while in Hastings County, Ontario. The sky is amazingly huge because of the flat land. That is something I’m not used to, being from Seattle, where there are mountains or hills everywhere you look. Everyone in Ontario should be thankful for their amazingly broad, cloud-filled skies, their bucolic farmland, their absolutely vast hinterland of forest, and the hauntingly beautiful call of the loon. Especially the call of the loon. It is otherworldly in its beauty, and it is one of my earliest memories as a child. That is how much it stands out to me.





Old Gems: “Gloria”, by U2

27 04 2011

I dug up this ancient promo video for the song “Gloria”, released by U2 all the way back in 1981, when I was three years old and listening to pop music on the radio for the first time. (I remember when MTV first came out in 1982. Yes. That’s how old I am.) Forget the hair. Forget the scrubby-looking working-class Irishmen. (Or are they British? I tried to look up the site on Google Earth but couldn’t find it.) The best things about this video are the crazy, frenetic way the people are dancing (are those two guys dancing on a mast?), Bono (delish), and the gritty harbour panorama at the end. The best things about the song are the exciting, suspenseful post-punk dance feel, the unusual song structure, the Latin chorus, and the grand, sweeping, melodic finale. So I am dumbfounded that this single only reached #55 on the UK charts. (Apparently they’re playing at Qwest Field in Seattle–a giant soccer stadium–in June. I hope, hope, hope, pray to God they play this song.)