Posts Tagged ‘Mia Wasikowska’

Only Lovers Left Alive: More Blood Needed—Movie

April 27, 2014

Albeit very slowly paced, “Only Lovers Left Alive” may be the most realistic look at the lives of vampires in the 21st century since “Angel.” No magic day rings, no “oh, we live in Seattle where it’s cloudy, so it’s safe”…no nothing to let vampires frolic in the daylight. In “Only Lovers Left Alive,” vampires come out just in the darkness of night, like God and Bram Stoker intended.

Only LoversWritten and directed by Jim Jarmusch, “Only LoversLeft Alive” is the story of Adam and Eve (Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton), a married vampire couple, although living separate lives in different parts of the world. Adam is a musician residing in Detroit. His work is known and revered, even though no one knows who the writer is. Eve is more of a free spirit, currently making her home in Tangiers, where she’s good friends with author, Marlowe (John Hurt)… yes, that Marlowe.

In addition to writing music, which he really doesn’t want anyone to hear, Adam collects guitars and other musical instruments. His chief supplier of these instruments and seemingly only friend is Ian (Anton Yelchin), who doesn’t know Adam is a vampire. One funny aside is Adam referring to humans as zombies, which is confusing at first, but then one realizes he means “us.” Adam is lonely, seemingly tired of living and near suicide. Out of desperation, he calls Eve and she agrees  to join him in Detroit. Their joyful reunion is short-lived when Eve’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska ), pops in from LA for a visit. It’s that visit turns the couple’s life topsy-turvy.

If there is any actress paler than Swinton, I haven’t seen her. She’s perfectly cast as a vampire.  Swinton makes Eve’s joie de vie infectious. Hiddleston is terrific as the moody Adam. It’s hard to say why Eve was drawn to him, but it’s easy to see why he was attracted to her. If anyone can make a vampire seem truly alive, Eve is that “person.” Wasikowska imbues Ava with a delightful sense of fun. One doesn’t normally see this actress in such a care-free role and she carries it off with ease.  Barely recognizable underneath all his rocker hair, Yelchin is very good as the movie’s innocent. I have no idea of what Marlowe was like as a human-being, but John Hurt’s scenes with Swinton are fun to watch.

Placing the story in Detroit is sadly all too fitting. At night the city seems very gloomy and the number of abandoned homes and businesses makes the vampire setting perfect.

With all it has going for it, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is one gigantic slog. I struggled to stay awake and that’s a shame. The premise for the film is a good one…in this day and age, what does a vampire do to keep active, stay relevant, and want to live? Nightly kills are no longer necessary because blood can be easily obtained from doctors for a fee. If one doesn’t have a circle of vampire friends like those in “The Vampire Diaries,” what is a vampire to do to keep his or her sanity? Unfortunately “Only Lovers Left Alive” doesn’t explore these issues, so we’re left as bored as Adam. I feel his pain.

2 ½ nuggets out of 4

Stoker: Nothing Beneath the Surface—Movie

March 21, 2013

With “Stoker” renowned South Korean director Chan-wook Park makes his English-language debut.  Sadly, it’s not an auspicious one.

Somewhere beneath “Stoker’s” watercolor-like cinematography, the sinister music (and who knew Nancy Sinatra’s and Lee Hazlewood’s “Summer Wine” could be so disturbing), the blood spatter in all of its red fineness, and most especially, the two pairs of the bluest of blue eyes one has ever seen on the screen, is what turns out to be, nothing more than a slasher film, albeit a stunningly packaged film.  It’s because of this beauty that I will be creeped out for some time to come. However, don’t view this as praise or a recommendation, because it is most assuredly not.Stoker

“Stoker,” with screenplay by Wentworth Miller (“Prison Break“) and Erin Cressida Wilson, is basically India Stoker’s (Mia Wasikowska) story. High-school age India spends most of her time in her own head and her one friend seems to be her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney). He’s killed suddenly in a car accident and it’s at the funeral that India meets for the first time her father’s younger brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode). That’s when the creep factor begins in earnest.  A too soon immediate attraction from Richard’s widow and India’s mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman),begins for Charlie. He reciprocates, but  at the same time we also sense something not quite right in how Charlie interacts with India.

Mia Wasikowska is an outstanding actress. Her work in “Albert Nobbs,”  “The Kids Are All Right” and “Alice in Wonderland” is as good as anything  her peer,Jennifer Lawrence, has done. BUT in “Stoker” she is so one-note sullen (and the dark brown severe hair-style does her no favors) as to become painful and boring to watch.

“Stoker”  is no friend to Nicole Kidman. She probably thought that working with Park would be an interesting experience. Perhaps it was for her, but not for the audience. Kidman spends most of her time staring with her big, blue eyes. This movie is so beneath her.

Finally, Mathew Goode. He also spends a lot of time gazing, glaring or staring with his big, blue eyes. He might be “Stoker’s” most interesting character.

Chan-wook Park  has directed some very remarkable movies, but this is not one of them. “Stoker” is beautiful to watch, but is excruciatingly boring and fairly dumb. He lets himself down with this one.

1 nugget out of 4

Jane Eyre: Not Your Grandmother’s Version—Movie

March 27, 2011

 Jane Eyre has been given a fresh coat of paint and it’s stunning to behold. Directed by Cary Fukunaga, based on Charlotte Brontë’s novel, with screenplay by Moira Buffini, Jane Eyre 2011 is romantic, eerie, and very well-acted.

Mia Wasikowska, seen most recently in The Kids Are Alright, is perfectly cast as Jane. She infuses her character with just the right amount of quiet spunk to stand up to Mr. Rochester and all other obstacles that come Jane’s way.

Michael Fassbender is a revelation as Rochester. My only point of reference for Rochester is in the form of Orson Welles from the 1944 version I’ve enjoyed countless times on television and Orson Welles is no Michael Fassbender. Welles played the role as sinister and brooding. Fassbender‘s Rochester is more eccentric than sinister and more lonely than brooding. Not to make less of Orson Welles, but Fassbender’s interpretation is more entertaining to watch and complements Wasikowaska effortlessly. And wow, is he gorgeous in a Daniel Day-Lewis kind of way.

But I digress. The supporting cast is impeccable, too. Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers, Jane’s rescuer and potential suitor, brings just the right touch of denseness and sweetness to his role. He’s proven to be a very versatile actor. Judi Dench is just right as Mrs. Fairfax, Rochester’s housekeeper, and is far more likeable than was the 1944 version. Sally Hawkins, so bubbly and perky in Happy- Go-Lucky, is nearly unrecognizable in looks and tone as Jane’s heartless, greedy Aunt.  Finally, Amelia Clarkson as the young Jane and Romy Settbon Moore as Mr. Rochester’s charge, Adele, are very real and unprecocious in their respective roles.

Fukunaga is a former cinematographer and it shows. Although Jane Eyre 2011 is more bare-bones than other productions, it has a melancholy splendor about it that is highlighted by the hauntingly beautiful piano and violin solos throughout the film.

Jane Eyre 2011 is not your grandmother’s Jane Eyre, but it’s destined to be a classic on its own.

Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema 7235 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD

Landmark E Street Cinema  555 11th Street NW, Washington, DC

Loews Shirlington 7 2772 South Randolph St., Arlington, VA

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

The Kids Are All Right—Movie

July 22, 2010

With the release of the smart comedy, The Kids Are All Right, the 2010 Sundance Film Festival continues to unveil a number of terrific films.

Written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg and directed by Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right takes an unflinching look at a family consisting of lesbian parents whose children have the same sperm donor. Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) live with their two teenage children, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hucherson) in a breathtakingly beautiful bungalow in Los Angeles. Nic is a doctor and Jules is the stay-at-home mom, still in search of a career for herself.

The story is set in motion when Laser prods Joni, before she leaves home to start college, to take the steps necessary for them to find their biological father. With the help of the sperm bank and the agreement of the donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), children and father meet.  Paul is a good-natured bachelor/restaurateur, who actually embraces the new additions to his life.

The Kids Are All Right’s acting is sheer perfection. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore have real chemistry and are at the top of their game. Mark Ruffalo nails his role and relative newcomers Wasikowska (most recently Alice in Alice in Wonderland) and Hutcherson more than hold their own against this talented cast. A shout-out must be given to the casting director. The two children could definitely pass for the real-life offspring of this combined family.

So what do we learn from this from this complicated family? That same-sex coupling and sperm donor aside, this family is just like any other family, full of laughter, tears, problems and forgiveness. Their story is just better told than most.

3 ½ nuggets out of 4


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