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Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

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Director and writer Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a peculiar film regarding vampirism. And, as it most commonly is when submitting oneself to a piece from Jarmusch’s body of work, it’s a tough beast to tame. It tackles all the vampiric themes one would expect, undying love, an unquenchable thirst for healthy vitals, eternal existence, and so on. Yet, it’s the fresh, atypical, achromatic reality he brings to the sub-genre that sets “Only Lovers Left Alive” apart from the pack. Jarmusch manages to create and capture these blood-sucker trademarks with such a genuine, almost non-fictional authenticity that the ideal of a vampire transcends the fantastical realm into our own.

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“Only Lovers Left Alive” is subtle, self-referential, inter-textual, allusive, and most importantly, intelligent. Exploding with an entrancing musical score, gloomy visuals, and an engulfing atmosphere. But perhaps what’s most surprising is the dark, sly, morbid sense of humour present throughout the film’s runtime. For example, our anti-hero consistently likens the general human population to “zombies” and our species technological advances have never seemed so insignificant. Caught somewhere between the complexity of electricity and the emergence of the smartphone, there’s no shortage of witty jabs at our futuristic gadgets and their controlling, outdated prowess.

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Not stopping at our achievements, “Only Lovers Left Alive” continues to shine a harsh light on humankind’s shortcomings. With the persistent bashing of our kinds stupidity for dismissing and cutting those down who propel us forward, those who think differently…like scientists, musicians, and philosophers…humanities faults are never far from prominent here. We’ve even managed to contaminate our own blood, which doesn’t sit well with those who bare fangs, as it poisons them, leading to an arduously slow, painful death. Forcing those who want to stay healthy into obtaining uncontaminated blood from a secure, reliable source, which is always risky. There’s symbolism oozing from Jarmusch’s latest, one must only look.

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I can see how being alive for centuries, watching mankind progress at a crawl, might be frustrating. Hell, I can barely stand where we are currently or even look at where we’re heading without buckling…but I digress. There’s a beautiful theory, apart from Einstein’s Theory of Entanglement in “Only Lovers Left Alive,” comparing blood and water as the basis for all life and sustenance, a kind of eternal currency, that’s absolutely transcendent. Make sure to gather all the pieces scattered throughout the dialogue to form the thesis when watching.

“Only Lovers Left Alive” has so much to offer, it needn’t be carried by its two leads, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. Nevertheless, both Tom and Tilda can’t help but put the film on their backs. Hiddleston as Adam, a modern rock god, mopping around a gloomy apartment, suicidal, experimenting, and helplessly in love. Swinton as Eve, sniffing about for fresh sustenance, full of wisdom and love, “ruthless, brutal” as Hiddleston’s Adam claims in the film. Both look so lovely, calm, but underneath storms brew and an evil dormant. Hiddleston, who continues his rapid ascent to the mainstream, is nothing short of marvellous and Swinton matches her co-star stride for stride. Never faltering under the obscurity, complexity, and weight of “Only Lovers Left Alive,” Swinton and Hiddleston run the show.

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Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffery Wright, and William Hurt round out the cast and provide a much needed chaotic, grounded, human element to their cold-blooded, nocturnal co-stars and the film as a whole. Apart from Wasikowska, the supporting staff doesn’t garner much screen time, yet fulfill their limited duties with a very predictable capability. There’s a fear radiating from the supporting ensemble that the viewer can sympathize with, a need to tread lightly when in the company of these mysterious, stoic beings, which we can abide by. They’re never out of place or speak unless spoken to. Their performances are hypnotic, fragile, terrified.

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Not simply a story with characters and structure, rather, Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” has a point to make. Its unnerving, smart, haunting, and beautiful, a toxic cocktail that tastes too good to put down.

Only Lovers Left Alive: 8.5 out of 10.

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The World’s End (2013)

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The “Cornetto” trilogy has always been about humour, heart, and homage. And even though it’s been six long years since we last visited a quirky, enthralling, and action-packed world created by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright…”The World’s End” was well worth the wait. That being said, the fact that Pegg, Wright, and company were able to pull it off is no surprise at all. It’s simply a rarity for a trilogy to be so evenly brilliant, so skepticism is understandable. Nevertheless, “The World’s End” is a fitting conclusion to such a fantastical series. Undoubtedly, it’s sad to see one of the most critically and all-around successful trilogies come to a close…but much like our way of life, nothing lasts forever. “The World’s End” is a superlative finale to a near-perfect trilogy and while not as strong as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” it isn’t far off…

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Gary King (Pegg) is somewhat of a low-life and a borderline alcoholic. One day, having been reminded of his youth and happier times. Gary sets out to track down his old friends in order to convince them to complete a pub crawl they all failed to accomplish when they were younger. Upon successfully persuading Peter (Marsen), O-Man (Freeman), Steven (Considine), and Andy (Frost) to accompany him on this idiotic journey, the crew head back to their hometown of Newton Haven. After the group finishes up the first few pints, they begin to realize that something is amiss. However, deciding to carry on, Gary and his pals soon come to terms that this night will not go as originally planned.

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For all of it’s playful hilarity and jaw-dropping action, I don’t think the public expected “The World’s End” to be so decidedly earnest, disheartening, and tragic. Without question, it’s the most serious and honest chapter of the trilogy. After removing layer upon layer of relatable fears and experiences, such as dissipating youth and failed relationships, not to mention the triviality and flaws of the human race. It’s quite upsetting to realize how deep and truthful this satirical, bittersweet rabbit hole is. No matter how disingenuous and unfazed this group of pub-crawlers appears to be facing down their impending doom, they reek of mortality, mistakes, vulnerability, and imperfection. That being said, the final confrontation, themes, and the film as a whole is funny and unforgettable. Yet resonates a harsh, inevitable wake-up call.

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Perhaps the most important thing about “The World’s End” is that it didn’t let the previous entries down. Granted, it is somewhat a blend of the first two entries, brandishing similar plot points and themes. In addition, the premises and specific style of the “Cornetto” trilogy is becoming a bit stale and a tad bit predictable. That being said, “The World’s End’s” candidness, fresh comedy, and fast-paced violence is enough to differentiate it from the others. Each entry carries its own merit and traits that make them like no other. It feels like the right time for Wright and company to move on and bring to fruition their bright, limitless futures. With the “Cornetto” trilogy, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright have created something that is truly invaluable, priceless… They should take unmeasurable pride in what they have accomplished.

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Without question, Edgar Wright is the most responsible for the triumph of not only “The World’s End,” but the “Cornetto” trilogy as a whole. His refusal to make pictures inside the norm is easily the most promising aspect of his career thus far and is what makes this trilogy so utterly brilliant. Wright continues to employ a Guy Ritchie-esque style melded with his unwavering, youthful wonder and cinephile heart. Essentially, this is what makes Wright’s films so intoxicating and enjoyable. But more importantly, what sets him apart as a filmmaker is the passion and humbleness in which he derives vision and creativity. He conjures up films that he, as a cinephile would cherish, which is the reason he is so respected and relevant to movie lovers every where. Sure, things might get a little hectic here and there, especially when your filming a battle to save all mankind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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One thing that no one will ever accuse the “Cornetto” trilogy of having is shallow ensembles. And with “The World’s End,” we are treated to much of the same. Starring the exuberant, trustworthy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, a wonderful supporting cast that features Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsen, in addition to a plethora of brief cameos. “The World’s End” arguably contains the strongest cast in the trilogy. Freeman is sort of the unsung star of the group, having landed the role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy. He continues to provide evidence as to why he earned the job in the first place and apart from his reprising role on “Sherlock,” Freeman has never been better. Marsen and Considine, both severely underused in the business today, have an undeniable comedic charisma that is on full display in “The World’s End” and will hopefully garner them the attention they deserve.

As predicted, it’s Pegg and Frost who take the reigns of this fantastic adventure, with one significant change. Nick Frost is the responsible, sensible wet blanket, well, for as long as he can muster it anyhow and Simon Pegg is the  idiotic, chaotic friend, who isn’t really much of a pal at all. Now, aside from the closing of the trilogy, the biggest tragedy here is the disconcerting underuse and lack of acknowledgement from filmmakers everywhere towards Frost. Who, continues to be an under-appreciated talent and arguably gives the performance of his career in “The World’s End.” As for Pegg, who’s chagrin, heedless, and selfish performance is unfathomably effective. Pegg, who has gone on to star in several big-budget blockbusters, makes a fortuitous return to his humble beginnings and certainly adds another invaluable notch to his already stellar repertoire.

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Just a brief shout-out to Alice Lowe, Reece Shearsmith, Michael Smiley, Bill Nighly, and Steve Oram for their brief, but memorable roles in “The World’s End.” It’s nice to see Wright give a little extra screen time to the great, up-and-coming filmmakers for, his homeland.

Funny, heartfelt, and all-around awesome. “The World’s End” is the closing chapter die-hard “Cornetto” fans and cinephiles were hoping for and so much more.

The World’s End: 9 out of 10.

Top 10 Zombie Flicks

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In all honesty, this Top 10 is long overdue. I should have posted this when I first started the website. Regardless, here it is!

I don’t think there is a film category I love more than the notoriously gory, excessively violent, and at times, down-right idiotic Zombie sub-genre. Show me someone who doesn’t yearn for rotting flesh so detailed you can almost smell the decomposition or over-the-top brutality conducted with a plethora of vicious weapons thrust into action by survivors fighting for their lives and I’ll show you a liar. Below, you’ll find a variety of films about the undead ranging from satirical romps, dramatic thrillers, brilliant homages, and so much more.

Remember, the films listed are my own personal favourites, not that of the movie-going public. So, try your best to differentiate preference from the general consensus. Nonetheless, hopefully you’ll find a lot of your own cult-favourites ranked and enjoy this week’s top 10!

 

Honourable Mention:

“The Horde” (2009, Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher). The Horde is the header image in case anyone was wondering.

 

10: “Planet Terror” (2007, Robert Rodriguez).

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9: “Dawn of the Dead” (2004, Zack Snyder).

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8: “Zombieland” (2009, Ruben Fleischer).

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7: “Dead Alive” (A.K.A “Braindead” 1992, Peter Jackson).

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6: “Zombie” (1979, Lucio Fulci).

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5: “28 Weeks Later” (2007, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo).

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4: “Dawn of the Dead” (1978, George A. Romero).

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3: “Shaun of the Dead” (2004. Edgar Wright).

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2: “Night of the Living Dead” (1968, George A. Romero).

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1: “28 Days Later” (2002, Danny Boyle).

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Alright guys, that’ll do it for this week’s edition of the top 10. Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did organizing it. Please comment below if you think I’ve overlooked a film or if you feel a film made the list that shouldn’t have. Have a great weekend!.

Top 10 Emerging Directors

C’mon guys, we all know the truth. As cinephiles, we are apart of a very select group that don’t joke around about movies, unless they’re directed by Michael Bay. The sad truth is that not everyone is as inclined to obsess over cinema as we are. At times they can’t differentiate what is a truly good film and which is bad. After recently speaking to people I know at random about the film industry, I realized that not a lot of people are familiar with the actors on screen, let alone the people behind the camera. This list is for all of you out there who have better things to do than compile a cinematic top 10, essentially those who have a life, unlike me.

This list isn’t about household names like Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg. This list is about the up and comers, those who’ve solidified a base for themselves and that we look forward to seeing add and build on top of it. Again, as always this is my personal list, not the opinion of the general public. So, let’s get started.

10: James Wan.

Why you should know him: Saw (2004) and Insidious (2010).

What to expect from him: The Conjuring (2013) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013).

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9: Ben Wheatley.

Why you should know him: Sightseers (2012) and Kill List (2011).

What to expect from him: A Field in England (2013).

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8: Rian Johnson.

Why you should know him: Looper (2012).

What to expect from him: Nothing in the works as of the moment.

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7: Joss Whedon.

Why you should know him. The Avengers (2012) and Much Ado About Nothing (2012).

What to expect from him: The Avengers 2 (2015).

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6: Edgar Wright.

Why you should know him: Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).

What to expect from him: The World’s End (2013) and Ant-Man (2015).

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5: Derek Cianfrance.

Why you should know him: Blue Valentine (2010) and The Place Beyond the Pines (2012).

What to expect from him: Nothing scheduled as of the moment.

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4: Duncan Jones.

Why you should know him: Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011).

What to expect from him: Warcraft (2015).

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3: Nicolas Winding Refn.

Why you should know him: Bronson (2008) and Drive (2011).

What to expect from him: Only God Forgives (2013).

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2: Steve McQueen.

Why you should know him: Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011).

What to expect from him: Twelve Years a Slave (2013).

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1: Jeff Nichols.

Why you should know him: Shotgun Stories (2007) and Take Shelter (2011).

What to expect from him: Mud (2012-2013).

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If you feel that I’ve overlooked someone or have an issue with the top 10 feel free to comment below. Actually if you have anything to say comment below. Have a good weekend :).

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

All right, now, not to be confused with last week’s “Top 10 Films of 2013 Predicted.” This week’s Top 10 will consist of the 10 most wanted films set for release in 2013. Judged by budget, publicity, and overall excitement stemming from the general public, this Top 10 will feature, in a general sense, crowd pleasers. Without any further ado, let’s begin.

Honourable Mentions: Anchorman 2, Monsters University, The Wolverine, Elysium, Sin City 2, Kick Ass 2, Evil Dead.

10: Thor: The Dark World. The hotly anticipated follow up to 2011’s smash hit Thor. This soon to be blockbuster stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins.

9: The Great Gatsby. From visionary director Baz Luhrmann and starring a plethora of stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan. and Jason Clarke. The Great Gatsby seems primed for stardom.

8: The Green Inferno, V/H/S 2, and The Conjuring. This is for all of you who need your horror fix, a lot like us. Coming from modern horror master such as James Wan, Eli Roth, and Adam Wingard. This trio of frightening delights is sure to leave your pants wet and in need of a wash.

The Conjuring Trailer:

V/H/S 2 Trailer:

The Green Inferno: First official picture.

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7: This is the End and The World’s End. Here to get you prepared for the apocalypse are these two doomsday comedies. Brought to you by the guys behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The World’s End reunites Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Also starring Martin Freeman, The World’s End looks like to become another cult favourite. As for This is the End, starring a multitude of comedies best such as Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill. This hilarious heavyweight film should be interesting to say the least.

This is the End: Red Band Trailer.

The World’s End:

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6: World War Z. Brad Pitt, Zombies, and based off of Max Brooks highly addicting novel, need I say more?

5: Iron Man 3. The Third entry into the Iron Man trilogy. It features an army of iron men and Ben Kingsley as a villain. Your argument is invalid.

4: Pacific Rim. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Idris Elba. This monster vs man picture features the use of gigantic robots controlled by humans battling humongous aliens, I’m sold.

3: Man of Steel. Produced by Christopher Nolan and starring Michael Shannon as General Zod. Man of Steel is the highly anticipated reboot of the Superman franchise.

2: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The follow up to An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson’s The Desolation of Smaug should be a much improved film and appease those disappointed by the first.

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1: Star Trek Into Darkness. I have nothing to say, I am beyond words with anticipation. Just enjoy the trailer.