Nearly 20 years after Interview With the Vampire, Neil Jordan returns to the genre to breath some new life into a mythology that has grown stale, predictable and rather mopey (see Twilight). With a lively script by Buffini, Jordan creates a lushly stylish dramatic thriller that continually takes us aback with off-beat storytelling and complex characters who don't always do what we expect them to.
The story centres on mother-daughter immortals Clara and Eleanor (Arterton and Ronan), who are on the run when they arrive in a fading British seaside town. The resourceful Clara seduces the nervous Noel (Mays) so they can stay in his dilapidated Byzantium guesthouse. To earn some cash, the always resourceful Clara turns the empty rooms into a brothel. Meanwhile, Eleanor befriends the fragile young Frank (Jones) and reveals the fact that she and her mother are actually more than 200 years old and need human blood to survive. Through all of this, they're being chased by two elder vampires, the ruthless Ruthven (Miller) and the more sympathetic Darvell (Riley), both of whom share a tangled romantic past with Clara.
Unusually intelligent, the film holds our interest with an astonishing series of twists and turns plus an array of colourful characters that play on stereotypes. Holding it all together is a fairly simple plot that reveals itself in bits and pieces until the full picture comes into focus. From this point, we pretty much know what has to happen in the big finale, but watching events unfold is satisfying and sometimes both thrilling and moving.
Continue reading: Byzantium Review
In 1898, Albert (Close) works at an upscale Dublin hotel, and no one suspects that he's actually a woman. Quietly going about his work while saving to open a tobacco shop, Albert is unassuming and relentlessly polite. Then he's asked to share his room with visiting painter Hubert (McTeer), who learns his secret and reveals one of his own: he's a woman too. But Hubert has managed to have a normal married life. This inspires Albert to pursue the hotel maid Helen (Wasikowska), which is complicated by her lusty relationship with handyman Joe (Johnson).
Continue reading: Albert Nobbs Review
Michael (Murphy) is a slacker who has four hours to pay back his loan shark Perrier (Gleeson) before a bounty is put out on him. On this fateful day, he teams up with his dying father Jim (Broadbent) and his neighbour Brenda (Whittaker), who accidentally gets involved in his mess. As they run around Dublin trying to stay one step ahead of the goons, as well as a couple of zealous traffic wardens, this trio is forced to examine their lives and relationships, often in the face of imminent injury.
Continue reading: Perrier's Bounty Review
A child of British diplomats who was always keenly embarrassed of his public school education and refers to himself as "a mouthy little git," Strummer was squatting in London with gypsies in the mid-1970s, busking for food money, playing in a pub band called the 101ers, and generally charming the pants off of everyone he met. It was a hand-to-mouth existence, but seemed like the kind of thing Strummer could do for years, living his beloved lowlife. Then he was being introduced to a trio of short-haired punks, The Clash was formed, and Strummer was on his way to rock stardom. He wasn't a singer, he was a yelper (as some fantastic footage of him laying down the vocal track for "White Riot" shows particularly well), a snaggletoothed smoker with a penchant for nonsensical lyrics and overblown statements. But in Strummer's work, with The Clash and afterwards, there always rang true a tone of absolute and unmistakable sincerity, sung and played with complete conviction each and every time. This was a man without irony, leading a band that set the model for all the conscious groups which would follow (tellingly, Bono is one of the interviewees here, talking about The Clash being his first concert, and in short the reason he got into music).
Continue reading: Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten Review
What Intermission resembles just as handily, though, is an Irish Love Actually, which is to say it's like Love Actually with a lot more drinking and violence. This is unlikely to placate anyone who truly hated Love Actually and, as such, would require something on the order of a soccer riot to feel fully cleansed. But if you (like me) merely thought a few of those charmingly stammering Englishmen could use a good deck, Intermission is the punch-throwing, rock-chucking romantic comedy for you.
Continue reading: Intermission Review
The same holds true for his latest, Breakfast on Pluto, starring the ever-impressive chameleon Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins) as an orphaned transvestite in Ireland during the 1960s and '70s. After seeing brief passages of his playful struggle to maintain his identity from one boarding school to the next in working class suburbia, we're swept up in the journey of Patrick, a.k.a. "Kitten," as he heads to the wilds of London in search of the mother who left him behind.
Continue reading: Breakfast On Pluto Review