TBT – Snowpiercer (2014)

Chris Evans, films, fucking beautiful, John Hurt, post-apocalyptic, reviews, TBT, Tilda Swinton

I have a bit of a problem guys: I’m in love with a man who is completely unattainable. That man is Chris Evans. It hasn’t always been this way. No no. Back in the Fantastic Four days I couldn’t have cared less. Even the first Captain American film didn’t do anything for me… I assume it’s down to the creepy tiny Steve CGI. Yeah, I happily denied any attraction to Chris Evans for years and even presented arguments with my friend about why Robert Downey Jr. was a more attractive member of the Avengers. Then bloody Winter Solider went and got really good and suddenly Chris Evans starts to look better and better. By the time Civil War came out I was hooked. Seeing him do interviews with his Gifted co-star kind of made my ovaries explode. I don’t know what’s happening to me. It was because of my deep-seated interest in Chris Evans that I was so desperate to see Snowpiercer. I knew very little about it but had heard great things. Unfortunately, that proved difficult because the bloody thing wasn’t released in UK cinemas. Then I managed to miss it on Netflix because I’m a bloody idiot. I became invigorated after seeing Okja earlier this week so went on a hunt to find a copy of Snowpiercer.

Now I’ve watched both Captain America and Snowpiercer, it’s safe to say I won’t be getting on a train with Chris Evans any time soon. It never seems to go well for his second in command. In the first his childhood friend Bucky Barnes fell to his death after being blasted out of the train. In Bong Joon-ho’s adaptation of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, Jamie Bell doesn’t exactly come out on top after saving Evans’ life. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which the vast majority of humanity were killed in a new ice age. After spreading a cooling chemical over the Earth to combat global warming went terribly wrong, a number of humans were given passage on a constantly moving train which circles the globe and keeps them safe from the cold. The passengers are split into the elites at the front and the undesirables in the final carriages. The elite are given all the luxuries that the train has to offer whilst the rear-passengers are forced to survive on the dregs.

Understandably, they are pretty pissed off at this and are eager to take over the train for their own benefit. With the help of his elderly mentor, Gilliam (John Hurt), Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) plans to lead his fellow passengers through the train to the engine. Curtis wants to stand face-to-face with the train’s creator, Minister Wilford (Ed Harris) and find out what he is up to. Gilliam expects Curtis to take over driving the train and bring peace to the rear-carriages. To do this he must first free a prisoner, Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho), who knows how to open the doors between carriages. They must fight their way through the train whilst being chased by guards. As they progress, Curtis finds out that there is more to the running of the train than meets the eye.

Snowpiercer is one of those refreshing films that takes something as pedestrian as a post-apocalyptic ice age and makes it utterly new. On the surface is sounds like something you’ve seen a thousand times: a band of disillusioned people band together to take over from their mysterious and uncaring leader. This film is so much more than that. Bong Joon-ho takes the conventions for this kind of film and uses them in ways that make them seem incredibly different. He’s had fun with the scenario and created a haunting and exciting narrative. It is the opposite of the usual big budget action movies that explode in your face without having much substance behind it. The scope is obviously fair limited because the action takes place on a train. It feels very claustrophobic and the action sequences fence you in further. Snowpiercer draws you in to its bizarre new world and presents something so completely different to anything you’ll ever have seen before. The shots that show the train travelling through a vast, snowy landscape are breathtaking and perfectly counter the dark and dingy interior of the rear-section of the train.

Like the train, the passengers are constantly moving forward but never getting anywhere. As they move further down the train we see carriages full of amazing little details. The car that has become the train’s greenhouse or the aquarium are breathtaking. This film is clever and so beautifully made that is demands multiple viewings. All I really wanted to do after I watched it was to sit down and watch it all again. It is down to the superb direction and an amazing cast that this film keeps moving. Chris Evans is a strong lead in the role and is given a greater chance to show depth than he ever was as Steve Rogers. As Curtis makes his way nearer the train we see startling revelations that Evan’s handles like a pro. Although, he comes a close second in terms of memorable performances thanks to Tilda Swinton’s turn as Minister Mason, the train’s second in command. She has the air of a smarmy politician but with the wicked streak of an out of control dictator. Swinton plays the character wonderfully and Mason becomes a spine-chilling adversary for Curtis.

The rest of the cast all play their own parts in making Snowpiercer so special. It’s an incredible film that should have been given a wider release. It is the antidote to every thoughtless and obnoxious action blockbuster that comes out each year. The film has been crafted by people who really care and want to make a compelling and important story. It is the kind of thing that feels so similar whilst also feeling so unusual. I’m so glad that I finally got round to seeing this but am also incredibly annoyed with myself that it took so bloody long. If you haven’t see it, then I suggest you hunt down a copy as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Okja (2017)

films, fucking beautiful, fucking funny, fucking sad, Netflix, reviews, Tilda Swinton

Since Netflix started making original films there have been more than a few duds. The online streaming site is really good at certain things, like Marvel TV series, documentaries and original sitcoms, but the majority of the original films that I’ve watched have been underwhelming: The Circle was fucking awful; Mascots was fun but nothing to really get excited about; The Fundamentals of Caring was sweet but unambitious; and Special Correspondents was the worst Ricky Gervais film I’ve ever see and that’s saying something. So it was really refreshing that one of its recent releases, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, was competing for the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes festival. Refreshing for about 30 seconds, obviously, because, as we all know, the shit really hit the fan soon after. Okja‘s inclusion in the list of Palme d’Or candidates created much controversy when the judging panel suggested that the film’s release on Netflix meant it shouldn’t be eligible. When the film was opened to the press it received boos from the audience and suffered from technical issues. Still, this did nothing for the film’s reputation and, in its official opening, the film got a standing ovation from the audience. Everything was looking good for Okja being a rare Netflix hit.

Tuesday’s Review – Doctor Strange (2016)

Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, comic book, comic books, fucking beautiful, fucking weird, magic, Marvel, Rachel McAdams, review, super powers, superhero, Tilda Swinton

I used to be one of those Marvel fangirls who would go and see a new release as soon as it was out. Now I tend to take my sweet time because there doesn’t seem to be any need to rush. I’m guarateend to love the film regardless but it’s becoming more like doing a Where’s Wally instead of watching a film. There can be no denying that Marvels films have become more than a little predictable of late. An underwritten big bad threatens the world and the good guy/guys have to save the day, probably involving something huge crashing to the ground. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a system that has worked for them and gives the audience everything they want from a superhero film. However, with the arrival of Phase 3 this year it was definitely the time to see something different. That started subtly with Civil War where we saw the good guys facing off against each other for a huge showdown. It wasn’t everything we hoped it would be but you can see that it’s starting to break the mould. The problem is that the formula is safe and adaptable enough for different themes, heroes, and genres. Marvel don’t want to risk losing fans when they know what works.

Which is why Doctor Strange always seemed like a massive risk. Of course, there are always anomalies and Marvel are always keen to take on a project that breaks the pattern. In 2015 Ant-Man took us away from the big time heroes like the Avengers and gave us a smaller tale that became more like a crime caper. Problems behind the scenes meant this was full of issues but it showed that there was room for different think. Like Ant Man, the story of Stephen Strange wasn’t one of the most widely known outside of comic book circles and wasn’t necessarily going to fit into the existing MCU. I mean, the minute you introduce magic into the world of superheroes then everything changes. Power is no longer measurable on a normal scale: this isn’t just about size and physical strength. Magic widens the limits of the possibility and means the rule book just got blown up. It could very easily have fucked up everything Marvel films has been doing over the last 10 years.

So Doctor Strange had a huge job to do: it needed to introduce us to its newest hero and explain the world of magic. It’s a big task that fills the 2 hour running time. Although, the first act is rather slow to get us anywhere. We first meet the egotistical but brilliant brain surgeon, Stephen Strange, who gets into a car accident that destroys his career. He’s helpless and desperate to get back to what he once was. If I’m honest, the first 30 minutes of this film was basically just an episode of House with Benedict Cumberbatch taking Hugh Laurie’s place as British actor playing a doctor who’s also a huge dick. I get that we needed to see why Strange was so desperate to get the use of his hands back but it all felt a bit too much like a parody.

When all hope looks lost, Stephen is directed to Nepal and a mysterious group of people who helped supposedly heal a man who couldn’t walk. Stephen meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who allows him to see the hidden dimensions that have remained hidden and sets him on a journey to learn to use magic for himself. As he learns, Strange learns that, as well as all the wonders he never knew about, there is untold danger within these different dimensions that constantly threaten humanity. It is up to Ancient One and her sorcerers to keep darkness away from the Earth. Darkness that is being summoned by her ex-student, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), to destroy humanity. Its up to Stephen, his mentor, Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and librarian Wong (Benedict Wong), to stop him.

There is a lot to take in when you watch Doctor Strange and the typical format of a Marvel film isn’t really the best place to try something so new. I mean Thor had to introduce much less than this and it had a hard time teaching the audience about Norse mythology whilst also leaving enough time for fighting. Doctor Strange only just manages to keep a handle on everything it’s trying to do and manages to introduce magic to the MCU in a really trippy and awesome way. When Stephen first meets the Ancient One, she sends him on a journey through dimensions that will definitely give a few hippies some 60s flashbacks. It’s a visual feast and is an incredible film to watch. The many out-of-body experiences and crazy architectural remodelling bring a new freshness to the usual superhero film. This manages to feel like every other Marvel film but, in so many ways, is something completely new.

Although, that isn’t to say it comes without its problems. Benedict Cumberbatch is remarkable in the title role as is Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. Both are reliable actors who enjoy playing the outcasts of society and so they are well suited to the roles. The rest of the cast are more forgettable. Rachel McAdams is given especially short shrift as fellow doctor and love interest, Christine Palmer. Chiwetel Ejiofor, whilst setting up his role for the next instalment, makes a limited impression and the always delightful Mads Mikkelsen finds himself in the role of another underdeveloped Marvel villain. The main two aside, it is only Benedict Wong who makes any kind of lasting impression and that has little to do with the script.

Doctor Strange is a good film; it’s a very good film. I was super excited to see it and I was incredibly happy afterwards. However, it would be wrong to say that this is the turning point for Marvel. It is a fresh and new film in the midst of every other punch ’em up superhero film but, really, it’s still the same old Marvel underneath. Every time it looks as if a storyline is being allowed a modicum of freedom then its pulled back in. Despite the new ideas at play, this is the same structure as every other Marvel origin story and has the same flaws we are sick of seeing. It shows great potential for the future but Marvel really need to start giving their writers and directors more freedom. It was so close to perfection.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Hail, Caesar (2016)

Channing Tatum, Coen Brothers, films, George Clooney, Jonah Hill, Josh Brolin, review, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton

One of the things I have managed to achieve with my week off is to manage to watch the latest release from the Coen brothers. I have generally mixed feelings about them as film makers but would put myself, largely, in the fangirl camp. I argued with my friend over our differing opinions of Inside Llewyn Davies because she’s wrong about it being shit and won’t see reason. Still, I haven’t always found it quite so easy to love them. Either a rewatching is in order or I just didn’t understand A Serious Man enough to come out of it feeling inspired. I mean I didn’t hate it but I can’t say I loved it as much as most people seem to. I mean there were very few reviews for Hail, Caeser! that didn’t reference the earlier film. I get the connections between the two but it did have me worried that I could be wrong about my excitement to see it. Still, with such a great line-up of actors and their long time collaborator Roger Deakins on board, I figure it’s got to be great, right?

Hail, Caesar! is set in the Hollywood of the 1950s, a time when studios were more concerned with quantity than quality. The Coen brothers have avoided falling into the trap of looking back at this era of filmmaking through rose-tinted glasses. They use their trademark gifts for satire and parod to create a witty yet realistic portrayal of that period of film history. Whilst the pair celebrate everything good about filmmaking, they also cast their critical eye over every aspect of the industry. The egotistical creators and the voracious stars are all based on historical figures and their leading man, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), is based on the real life fixer for MGM from the 1920s onwards. The real Eddie was responsible for ensuring that MGM’s image remained family friendly.

Like his real life counterpart, Hail, Caeser! follows studio fixer, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), as he rushes around the lot trying to stop problems before they can create issues for the studio. We first meet Eddie as he is taking the first of a number of confessions and it’s clear to see that he is a man struggling to keep his faith in the Lord in line with his faith in the film industry. It quickly becomes evident why Eddie is having doubts about his jobe as the fires that he spends his days extinguishing are morally questionable and outrageous. They can range from tracking down a young actress who has been talked into an illicit photo shoot, arranging for a pregnant star to adopt her own child born out of wedlock, and helping ensure that a country bumpkin Western star is transformed for a period drama.

However, Eddie’s biggest stress comes when the studio’s biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is abducted from the set of the Roman epic “Hail, Caesar!”. Mannix must bring the star back whilst preventing twin gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinton) finding out the truth. When he later receives a ransom note, it becomes clear that there is something deeper going on as a mysterious groups called The Future declare responsibility for the crime. Turns out that Baird was kidnapped by a group of angry screenwriters who have become students of Communism and are protesting Captiol studios as a tool of capitalism. Although, don’t think that this is the Coen’s own protest against Hollywood. The group are ridiculed just as much as the industry they are fighting against.

Really, Hail, Caesar! is a bit of a mishmash of stories and, at times, ends up looking like a good old fashioned revue. The Coens take great pleasure in letting their audience see behind the scenes of the process of film making. They take us through the artificial sets used to create the Roman epic, let us into the editing room to see the film reels, and let us see the frantic exchange between a director (Ralph Fiennes) and an actor who is out of his comfort zone (Alden Ehrenreich). Then they move out of the real world and let us view the final product as they were intended. It is when we see glimpses of the various movies as movies that we can get lost in vintage Hollywood glamour. These moments are engrossing and fabulous but the Coens are, as always, clever about limiting their time. They can’t let us have too much of a good thing after all.

It is Brolin who carries the majority of the film and Mannix is a true Coen creation. Almost taking the role of Noir leading man, Eddie is a man with a purpose, a fedora and a lot weighing on his soul. He is also incredibly endearing and thoughtful in the midst of the lunacy of the rich and famous. It is his loyalty to the studio that causes him stress and gives him pleasure. He is lost in the fantasy of that world whilst being the only person keep it grounded. Mannix is the very image of the industry’s self-aggrandisement but his alternative faith still leaves him able to question his actions. He is a wonderful creation and Brolin commands the screen in a quietly, brilliant way.

Mannix is the sane one in a sea of idiots but, just like the sullen fixer, these idiots are great at their craft. Alden Ehrenreich as Western star Hobie Doyle shines off the screen as a gymnastic cowboy and, despite her personal troubles, aquatic star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johnansson) is quite the talent. Channing Tatum has the dance skills necessary to prove that his Gene Kelly alike is a worthy talent. Even the dense Baird has the acting chops necessary to pull of the Roman epic of the title. Hail, Caesar! may ridicule many aspects of the supposed Golden Age of cinema but there is a genuine respect beneath the scorn. With their cinematographer, the great Roger Deakins, the pair have recreate the tone and aesthetic of this era and, despite the darker and Noirish undertones, everything is played with a playful touch. The brothers revel in the absurdity of the industry at that time but, with their series of impressive pastiches, celebrate that bygone age. It’s not a film for everyone but, if you’re a Coen fan, then it’s everything you could wish for.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

animation, Bill Murray, fucking beautiful, Ralph Fiennes, review, Tilda Swinton

I have to admit that if I had to pick one director as my spirit animal then I’d probably go for Wes Anderson. That’s not to say that I, hands down, consider him the best director of all time (we all know his had his fair share of misfires) but, out of everyone, it is his cinematic vision that always has the ability to make my heart leap with joy. I mean I still smile to myself when I remember the gorgeous stop-motion animation of Fantastic Mr Fox. He also happens to be a very divisive director and I often find myself having to justify my Anderson appreciation to one of my closest friends who often dismisses him as hipster pretentiousness. This is the same friend who has also spent years trying to convince me that her love of Ralph Fiennes is anything other than madness. To her dismay, I’ve never really got over his insistence on pronouncing his name “Rafe” or been able to forgive him for Maid in Manhattan. However, after watching his recent films, Coriolanusand Skyfall, I found myself coming round to her way of thinking (although his time as Magwitch in Great Expectations proved to be unintentionally hilarious – I mean that death scene) and if any man could prove her to be correct it’s Anderson.

For his eighth outing, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson is moving into the world of murder mystery and slapstick crime caper a la The Pink Panther. Taking inspiration from Austrian author Stefan Zweig, Anderson introduces us to the fictional European country of Zubrowka, home of the eponymous hotel. We experience the hotel through multiple timelines starting with the celebrated author (Tom Wilkinson) who remembers his meeting with the hotel’s owner (Abraham F. Murray) in the 1970s. The young author (Jude Law) inquires into how the mysterious Zero Moustafa took possession of the hotel and why, if he as rich as people say he is, he insists on sleeping in cramped employee quarters. Taking us even deeper, Moustafa reminisces about his time as lobby boy working for the much loved concierge M. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes).

As we’ve come to expect from Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a pastel coloured, visual treat. With his beautifully imagined snowy vistas of Middle Europe, watching Anderson’s latest film is like indulging in a fucking huge ice cream sundae without feeling sick. Sitting on top of it all is Anderson’s crowning glory, The Grand Budapest Hotel itself: sitting atop this ice-cream mountain looking like the world’s best wedding cake.

Whilst a selection of the interior shots was filmed on location at an old department store in Germany, the wide shots of the hotel were gained thanks to a scale model. Like Anderson’s adaptation of Fantastic Mr Fox, this gives the film a greater sense of nostalgia and feels as though we’re all watching over the residents of a really intricate dollhouse. Let’s be honest though, when you watch a Wes Anderson film you are watching an adult child playing with the biggest toy set that he can get his hands on. He has such a deep-seated presence within his own film that everything comes together precisely and it’s always a joy to behold. Take those brief moments of animation which have a wonderful homely feel to them and sort of make it feel like Oliver Postgate got creative in a candy store. I could easily gush about how fucking beautiful this film is for hours because it’s just fantastic.

Although, there is a lot more to The Grand Budapest Hotel than the sweet candy coating: the story packs an emotional and dramatic punch. We are dealing with a Europe underneath the gathering storm clouds of invading Communism. The growing presence of the grey Nazi-like force with their “ZZ” emblazoned uniforms increases as the film progresses and is just one of Anderson’s reminders that life isn’t just a soft pastel joyous affair. Gustave himself is a contrast of perceived perfection whilst hiding his secret life as a gold-digging paramour to the hotel’s elderly and wealthy women. Gustave’s illicit affairs come back to haunt him after his greatest conquest (played by an almost unrecognisable Tilda Swinton) dies suddenly and leaves him a priceless painting. This sets in motion a plot filled with art theft, murder, love, prison breaks, clandestine meetings, military occupation and cake. It is a dark tale that whilst full of horrors and dangers is tinged with enough optimism that I left the cinema feeling a great serenity wash over me. Quite simply, The Grand Budapest Hotel is your typical Wes Anderson controlled mayhem in which even the moments of violence and danger are played out with polite society in mind: take for example the gunfight taking place towards the end of the film.
Any of you out there playing Wes Anderson Bingo or whatever will no doubt be overjoyed to discover that, added to The Grand Budapest Hotel’s already fairly full list of the director’s staples, the film contains a whole host of Anderson collaborators. The film offers brief appearances from regulars, likes Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Willem Defoe, as well as some from the newer members of his film family, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum and Adrien Brody. Some of these are fleeting and used primarily to keep to long standing tradition but, as with all customs, there is some comfort to be found in their presence.
It also helps that the supporting characters are horribly (or fantastically I suppose) overshadowed by the central figure of Gustave, played to great effect by Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes hasn’t pulled off this great a comic turn since his part in 2008’s black comedy In Bruges. Fiennes clearly relishes the challenge of the concierge’s rapid-fire dialogue that flawlessly moves between sophisticated, smarmy and obscene. It is the definition of a pitch-perfect performance and everything is perfectly executed.  With his stiff and angular mannerisms, his straight back and perfectly groomed facial hair, M. Gustave is the perfect figurine to roam through Anderson’s dollhouse.
Whilst watching, there never comes a moment when you are worried that Anderson has lost control of his film. Everything is planned out with utter precision and attention to detail. All parts of the films are planned out to aid the storytelling and create a fully imagined world full of 3-dimensional characters. It may seem like a small thing but Anderson even goes so far as to differentiate between the three different timelines by utilising three different aspect ratios: 1.33, 1.85, and 2.35:1 respectively. Frankly, it’s brilliant and rather exciting film making. Whatever your thoughts on his style, there can be no denying that Anderson is a director who knows how to use his camera, particularly for comic effect. His preference for theatrical framing devices and Kubrick-esque love for symmetry is as much on show here as it ever is. His signature long tracking shots and comic zooms (often immediately panned straight back) are present throughout. Although, you never get the feeling that these things are simply par for the course because everything has a purpose. There is no aspect of The Grand Budapest Hotel that feels redundant.
I’ll be honest with you, I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel from the moment I saw the opening titles and that oh-so-Anderson font (despite the fact that he once again avoided his classic Futura). I went to see this with a friend who had little experience of Anderson’s films so I was worried my over enthusiasm would oversell it. However, my fears were soon forgotten: this is by far Anderson’s most accessible and funniest film in years. It also happens to be the most Wes Anderson film that the director has made for a long time.

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

fucking beautiful, Jim Jarmusch, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, review, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston

I like the idea of vampires. Not romantic and sappy Twilight vampires but back to basics vampires. I’m thinking those who build on the foundations laid out by John Polidori (let us not forget the true father of the literary vampire) and Bram Stoker: basically Lord Byron but with a bigger appetite for blood. So vampires: tick. As you probably also know, I really like Tom Hiddleston (I’m talking worry proportions here). Therefore, after finding myself alone on Valentine’s Day, I made the best of the situation by watching a preview showing of Jim Jarmusch’s vampire love story with friends. I ask you, dear reader, if you can think of a better Valentine’s companion, than sexy vampire Hiddleston. No, thought not.

In the nineties painfully hip director Jim Jarmusch experimented with genres and gave the world his indie versions of the classic western, Dead Man, and the samurai movie, Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai. As we all know, these days there are very few things quite as popular as vampires so it was only a matter of time until Jarmusch tackled this in his usual ‘too cool for school’ style.

Taking back vampires to the original Byronic hero style, Jarmusch’s tale follows undead married couple Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). The pair has been together for centuries but now find themselves apart. Eve meanders around Tangier enjoying the music and literature it has to offer her. She has a lust for the after-life and enjoys her time with friends, including the famous Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) who also happens to be her supplier of clean blood.
Across the globe in Detroit, Adam is a reclusive rock star who is lamenting the stench of humanity that has infected the world around him. Viewing all of mankind as culture destroying “zombies”, Adam has grown tired of his immortal existence and divides his time between making melancholic music with his vast array of musical equipment and contemplating firing a wooden bullet through his chest. Worrying about her long-distance love, Eve packs up her belongings and travels to her husband’s side.
We have come to expect certain things from Jarmusch’s films and Only Lovers is no different, despite being one of his most accessible films for a few years. The director’s focus has never been on narrative and story but on style, characters and mood. The film looks amazing thanks to the work of cinematographer, Yorick le Saux, and production designer, Marco Bittner Rosser. Thanks to the crumbling backdrop of modern Detroit, the film-makers have created a dark and luscious world full of hypnotic images that sum up Adam and Eve’s strange, night-time world. Most notably those gorgeous slow-motion scenes in which the camera circles over the couple.
Only Lovers is a technically wonderful film and visually stunning but, don’t go into this expecting great drama and complicated story. It is minimalistic and slow-paced, giving itself room to be self-indulgent and arty. Nevertheless, thanks to the fantastic performances from the main cast you never feel less than engrossed by the limited action on screen. Tilda Swinton makes an elegant and beautiful vampire and, if it is even possible, gives the film its humanity and sympathy. She treats Adam with a motherly tenderness and attempts to remind him of the joys the world has to offer. Swinton is the strongest member of the cast and is utterly mesmerising.

Her husband Adam is a much less agreeable character thanks to his incessant dark mood. Adam’s condemnation of the majority of the human race endows him with some amusing deadpan evaluations but Adam occasionally comes across as just another annoying hipster moaning about modern culture and lamenting the loss of the old ways. Due to Hiddleston’s inherent likeability and his relationship with Eve, Adam is prevented from falling over into full on emo-ness and becomes someone you care about.
Thankfully for the audience, we have a brief respite from Adam’s negativity with the arrival of Eve’s younger sister Ava, or at least the vampire equivalent of a sibling. Played by the joyful Mia Wasikowska, the screen lights up every time Ava appears. Acting like the playful toddler getting in the way of the pairs romance, Wasikowska is a scene-stealer and, though I never thought it would be possible, grabs the attention away from Tom Hiddleston’s remarkable cheekbones.
The main characters are aided by notable supporting roles from John Hurt as Marlowe, Anton Yelchin as Adam’s loyal errand boy, and Jeffrey Wright as an opportunistic doctor who supplies Adam with his supply of blood. They are all allowed to have a bit more fun than either Swinton or Hiddleston and bring some light-hearted relief to the potential melodrama of the central relationship.

Jarmusch’s script is littered with humour and self-awareness. This is not a vampire film but a Jim Jarmusch film containing vampires. It is arty, unconventional and ever so delightfully pretentious. There are few allusions to traditional vampiric law and instead the couple make numerous references to the historic figures that they have met over their vast lifetime. Those not accustomed to Jarmusch’s work will no doubt find this grating and smug but there is something lovely and alluring about its unashamed superiority. 
This certainly isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. If you are looking for a complex and drama-filled story then this may not be the film for you. However, if you appreciate stylish films, with an interesting script and intriguing, well-drawn characters I insist you give this a chance.