We've been Jim Jarmusch fans since we stumbled upon Stranger Than Paradise in 1984. We haven't watched all his movies, but we usually enjoy his downbeat black-and-white no-wave style. So we were pretty psyched about Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), not just as an odd hipster vampire story, but mainly a chiaroscuro Jim Jarmusch movie in color.
It stars Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as ... undead creatures of the night (their condition is never named or discussed). Hiddleston is a reclusive rock-star, hiding out in deserted Detroit neighborhood. He calls mortal humans "zombies". His only connections to their world are the bootlegs of his work that leak out, and a fixer/connection who drops by with classic guitars and other necessities. But he only goes out of the house for blood. He doesn't hunt, however, he drops by the blood bank with a wad of cash to meet "Dr. Watson".
Swinton leads a more sociable life in Tangiers, hanging out in quiet nightspots with the locals and Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) - yes, that Kit Marlowe, the one who wrote Shakespeare. But a phone call to Hiddleston sends her to join him.
Like most of Jarmusch, the story moves slowly, aimless. Things happen, amazing, horrifying, funny, tragic. But the story isn't exactly the point. We have Hiddleston's lair, filled with guitars and old electronics. Dark Tom and pale Tilda, wrapped up in one another. Candle light illuminating old crystal or faces, like a Rembrandt or Caravaggio. For such a supposedly detached director, Jarmusch has made a very warm movie.
Then there's the music, spare and sludgy. I thought it was White Stripes at first, especially when they went to visit Jack White's family home on their tour of Detroit. Or maybe there's an old R&B record, or a lute solo or Lebanese vocalist.
So, beautiful visuals, all filmed at night - warm, rich, decadent, somber night. Beautiful people with wild, tragic, brilliant, immortal lives. Beautiful fascinating music. And a story somewhere in among it all.