Daily Archives: 01/03/2012

A Season of Vamps – Bloody Art.

Elina Lowensohn as the eponymous "Nadia"

It’s not all hot English Roses in PVC and slightly wooden posh dudes with sparkly skin in vampire cinema.

Sometimes – hold onto copy of  “Film Comment” – movies with vampires in are actually Art with a capital A.  Take Michael Almereyda’s nineties NYC-set hipster-fest, “Nadia”, for example.  It’s a night-crawling tale so very with it and uptown that it’s presented by David Lynch.  Shot in black and white and boasting some of the most gloriously mannered acting committed to celluloid, this is a treat for you if your taste runs more to the black polo-neck wearing, blood latte-slurping, art house side of horror.

If you like your fangs florid and foreign, let me point you in the direction of Timur Bekmambetov and his utterly hat stand adaptation of the Sergey Lukyanenko novel, “Night Watch”.

If your taste runs towards Western blockbuster cinema but you’re open to something a bit less predictable than the norm, this is the movie series for you.   Insanely inventive but not so obtuse that it’s hard work, “Night Watch” and it’s sequel “Day Watch” offer you a tale of vampires, an uneasy truce between good and evil and an impending cataclysm which can only be averted by the titular force who police the supernatural forces who exist in the back streets and dingy apartments of Moscow.

It reminds me of the glorious chaos which might ensue if you drank a lot of coffee and then explained the varied intricacies of the “Matrix” trilogy, anime such as “Blood – The Last Vampire Hunter” and PS2 beat-em-ups to somebody who had never experienced such delights and then had them make a film based on what they’d heard.

Yes, quite.

Some of its charm is undoubtedly due to it originating from somewhere resolutely not Hollywood and having a whole different cultural perspective to draw from.  It wouldn’t be the same film if it were made by a British or French film maker and perhaps it’s an example of lightning being caught in a bottle, as nothing that Bekmambetov has done since (such as his Hollywood debut, “Wanted”) has demonstrated anywhere like as much free-wheeling cinematic insanity.

There’s no sign of the long-awaited third entry in the series – perhaps it’s best to have the first two films in the series be as eccentric as they are and as inventive as they were on a lower budget than any Hollywood reinvention might boast.

If you like your creatures of the night meta-textual and portrayed by a cast of the best, brightest and most eccentric actors of their respective generations,  you should probably check out E. Elias Merhige’s 2000 “Shadow of the Vampire”.

Yes, for once Cage or co-star John Malkovich don’t end up giving the most eccentric and over the top performances in a film – that honour belongs here to Willem Dafoe.  The star of “Platoon”, “Wild at Heart” and Bird’s Eye’s frozen food adverts plays Max Schreck, in this speculative re-telling of the making of pioneering vampire silent classic, “Nosferatu”.

‘Speculative’? Well, this film posits that the uniquely reptilian and eerie-looking German actor who played the fictional blood guzzler was, in fact, a vampire himself – talk about being ‘method’.

If you love films about films, this is a keeper – if you love genre movies and delightfully deadpan takes on the early days of cinema, this is also for you.

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Trailered – “Upside Down”

I have to confess – the trailer for this new film arrived as a complete surprise to me this morning.  It was not on my radar at all and now it absolutely has my attention.

Directed by Juan Diego Solanas and starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess, “Upside Down” appears to be a science fictional romance based around the idea of a literal social underclass, set in a world where gravity is rather askew.

A quick scan of Solanas’ IMDB page doesn’t yield much in the way of further information – this appears to be his first narrative feature and I can only hope that it isn’t following the lead of Andrew Niccol’s recent “In Time” by casting beautiful people and focussing on the eye candy rather than the more intriguing SF ideas underneath.

No release date as yet but this is one film that I’m going to keep a keen eye on…

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