Only Lovers Left Alive
Okay, I need to be writing chapters of a novel, but, to keep my brain from melting, I slip out from time to time for a movie. And I got zero time or fingerstrength for rigging a proper review together, but, man, I did dig this one. Also, the world may be lucky that Jim Jarmusch chose to drop this movie now, instead of twenty years ago, when Sandman was in full swing. I mean, Gaiman, he gothed the world up, and there’s still remants and vestiges of that, which is all cool and great. But, had Only Lovers Left Alive hit in the mid-nineties, well, it would have been all over for good old Planet Earth. An alternate universe Captain Kirk would have fallen into orbit one day, transported down, and there would be raggy black cloth everywhere, and eyeliner would be heriditery by then, and all the babies would be named Robert Smith.
Which is to say: both the style and the tone of this movie, it sucks you in completely, it makes you want to be these cool, mopey cats. I mean, sure, there’s a sense in which they’re kind of functioning as immortal commentators on the ills of humanity—nicely dubbed ‘zombies’—and, yes, since Ann Rice, vampires have pretty much been a class-fascination for the rest of us (we want to join that club . . .), but, who wouldn’t choose to live in a dilapidated, velvety Victorian mansion in abandoned Detroit and collect impossibly vintage guitars and then have the added luxury of denying all the fame your haunted-up music tries to bring you? Seems like a good enough gig to me. And you don’t have to wear shirts, or brush your hair, and there’s sunglasses and gloves involved, and a Jaguar, and steampunky kind of engines, and you can Skype through televisions that still have vacuum tubes.
What this vampire movie puts me in mind of, I guess, it’s Midnight Son. Anybody see that? It’s got a similar pace. Can’t recall if I saw it on a screening committee or a film festival, either. And the only reason I even say that? Because, by the terms of Only Lovers Left Alive, you’re automatically cooler if your movie point-of-reference is super indie. Case in point: after a vocal performance that’s as perfect a piece of music video as David Lynch ever did, our main vampires says he hopes the singer never gets famous, as she’s too talented. And he says it so cool that you don’t even pay attention to how staged it is, really. You just think, yes, Lestat could have been this, if he’d just not been such a maniac. And then you’re bitten, you’re infected, you’re displaying those same characteristics—proving your coolness by citing remote movies. Sorry.
Anyway, it’s a cool movie, definitely worth seeing. It’s no Near Dark, no, and it’s no Blade. But maybe a pullback to the arthouse is good for the vampire. Maybe that’s how ‘sparkly’ gets reset. Though, yes, for a long while these vampires are some version of ‘vegetarian’ . . .
And, of course, it goes without saying that this gets the award for the best title of the decade, yes? Maybe the best since Lord of the Flies and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, even.