Weekend Watch: The Most Perfectly-Cast Vampire Film Ever
'Only Lovers Left Alive' wonders what real vampires might do on a daily basis.
Writer/director Jim Jarmusch has never been one to make mainstream films or reach out to a wide audience. The last time he came close was in 2005 with Broken Flowers. But this weekend, Jarmusch's new movie, Only Lovers Left Alive, starts a limited run in theaters and it may end up being his most successful film for one reason: It's about vampires.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright
If the undead-loving public can get behind a goth tween romance like the Twilight franchise or vamp melodrama like The Vampire Diaries, surely there's a place for Only Lovers Left Alive, right? I mean, this is a vampire movie made by an actual artist and it stars the two most perfectly-cast vampires since Bela Lugosi donned the fangs. Brits Hiddleston and Swinton wear the centuries of immortality around their necks like anvils. Living in separate countries, they reunite in old Detroit and recall their past lives. But their tranquility is broken by the arrival of Wasikowska, who plays Swinton's sister. She's the Lestat of the three, a blood-hungry infant who demands to have her way. Soon, she risks the lives of everyone. The story is straightforward like most of Jarmusch's work, but carries with it a dream-like quality and sophistication that's entrancing. Hiddleston and Swinton are marvelous, creating Vampire Verité and the sweetest music. See it.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, Chadwick Boseman, Terry Crews, Sean Combs, Ellen Burstyn, Tom Welling, Sam Elliott, Kevin Dunn, Rosanna Arquette
Ivan Reitman, who once upon a time directed Stripes, Ghostbusters, and Twins, leads this inside look at an NFL green room on draft day. Starring Costner as the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns, the film follows the madness of the day as Costner spins a trade for the number one pick, but then has to decide what to do with it. The timing is right with the real NFL Draft weeks away, but why this story deserves to be told is beyond me. Costner is, at least, an actor who brings credibility to sports films, but it's doubtful he'll be able to save this one. Check out Moneyball for a quality portrayal of how a sports team is run. Skip it.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement, Andy Garcia, Kristin Chenoweth, Jamie Foxx, Bruno Mars, George Lopez, Leslie Mann, Janelle Monáe, Tracy Morgan, Will i Am
The city birds of Rio head to the Amazon in search of more blue macaws but they bite off more than their beaks can handle. Blue does his best to fit in but runs into trouble in the form of Nigel and also his father-in-law. The reason to see Rio 2 is its brilliant animation and colorful creatures. The reason not to see it is its blatant obnoxiousness. There are plenty of kids movies that suffer from this diagnosis. The best G-rated fare is good for adults and kids alike, but Rio 2 is not one of these. The jokes are cornier and more unoriginal. The voices are more shrill and the songs less catchy. Skip it.
Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane
In Oculus, an old mirror is possessed and responsible for 40 people dying over the course of a few decades. Sound scary? Consider the ghoulish use of a mirror for thrills in Candyman, for one. Mirrors are classic horror villains because they can turn expectations upside down. But like any film archetype, mirrors can be lazily used as a shortcut to evil. 2008's Mirrors is the most recent example. Oculus was produced by the same team behind Insidious and Paranormal Activity so hopes are high and critics have rallied around it. See it.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Adriene Mishler
Joe marks a return to the days of George Washington for director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Prince Avalanche). Set in abject poverty in the south, Joe stars Nicolas Cage in the title role as an ex-con living the quiet life when trouble finds him. He becomes an unwilling role model for an eager teen (Sheridan) looking for work for he and his abusive drunk of a father (Poulter). Sheridan's presence immediately recalls last year's Mud, and the young actor plays a similar character. Once again, he looks for a hero in the wrong place. The story of Joe won't blow your hair back, but it's anchored by some fantastic performances by Cage and also some non-actors who bring real credibility to the backwoods tale. See it.
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld, Nick Nolte, Sami Gayle, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Wiig's latest is yet another indie dramedy centered around a family. She plays a homely, damaged woman who takes a job as a caretaker for a teen (Steinfeld). But she becomes the butt of a cruel joke when the girl poses as her father and emails Wiig's character, pretending to be in love with her. In the vein of films like Life as a House, Hateship Loveship is a moral tale where the selfish young person learns a major life lesson. It's been done many times. Skip it.
Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O'Dowd, Olivia Colman
To impress his boss whom he has a crush on, fat and dorky Bruce takes salsa dance lessons. That's about all there is to this comedy, which also features Chris O'Dowd as Bruce's co-worker/friend/foil. If there is a story, it's the fact this is Frost's first leading role. He came up with the story, but as funny as Frost is, and O'Dowd is, this film walks the delicate tightrope between silly funny and silly melodrama. It will generate a few laughs throughout before turning into pancake batter at the end. Skip it.