Ben Wheatley (dir.), A Field in England
I saw this movie over a month ago. I'm still not entirely sure what it was I saw.
The plot, such as it is: in the midst of a battle in the English Civil War, Whitehead the scholar has been tasked with arresting a man who's stolen some valuable documents from his master. He falls in with two soldiers, one a drunkard and the other a fool. The three of them are accosted by Cutler, who lures them on with promises of an alehouse. Cutler turns out to be an assistant to the alchemist O'Neill, the very man Whitehead is meant to be arresting. O'Neill forces Whitehead to use his psychic gifts to locate a treasure that's been buried somewhere in the field they find themselves in, and the others to dig it up.
From there things get weird. (Ha.) There are hallucinogenic mushrooms, there's a broken scrying-glass, there's what might be a wizard's Certamen or might be simply a bad trip. In the end Whitehead may have grown into an acceptance of who he is and the life he's been born into. Alternately, everyone may be dead. It's hard to say.
The movie's been advertised as a horror movie, which is almost entirely inaccurate but no more so than any other descriptor I can think of. It's less disturbing than, say, Jacob's Ladder. It may be the most sui generis
movie I have ever seen. It's funny and visceral and beautifully shot and on rare occasions oddly touching, and sometimes very difficult to watch. The scene of Whitehead and O'Neill in the tent had me wincing-- and all we see is a tent, and all we hear is screaming.
It is an Experience. Had I more film vocabulary and inclination/ability to dissect visual arts, I could have a field day working out what it all implied and suggested-- not meant, nothing so direct, but how it worked and what exactly 'worked' means in this case. As it is, it washed over me like an unexpected ninety-minute ocean wave, leaving me shivering and wide awake and pretty sure I'd just been hit by something I couldn't describe.
I think I'd recommend it but I'm not sure who I'd recommend it to.
. Other, more coherent, opinions: Greer Gilman
, whose brief review put this on my radar some months back; Sonya Taafe
Jim Jarmusch (dir.), Only Lovers Left Alive
I confess, I was sold on this from "Tilda Swinton as a vampire." Indeed, it has that, and Tom 'Loki' Hiddleston as her vampiric lover, and John Hurt as a vampiric Kit Marlowe, and Jeffrey Wright as a human doctor who seems to have wandered in from another type of vampire movie entirely.
This is like no other vampire story I've ever read or seen. Unsurprising; it shouldn't be my kind of thing. The lighting, the camerawork, even the dialog, all feel slow and langorous. Images, ideas, pop up because they fit and then are discarded: the wooden bullet, the mushrooms, even Ian. This is a movie that is very much in love with being a movie, and is taking its sweet time about it. If it were in prose I expect I would find it deathly dull; on screen it's absolutely perfect for what it's doing. (Jeffrey Wright's character seems to think he's in Dracula, or maybe Interview; he doesn't seem to grasp that they just don't care
about him. This is, as you might expect, hilarious.)
I think (he said, reflecting on the movie and on rushthatspeaks
) that this is in part because it's Adam's (Tom Hiddleston) movie, and Adam is overcome by ennui. Tilda Swinton's Eve is clearly still having a lot of fun with her life, but she also cares for Adam, and so she travels from Tangier to Detroit. (Side note: early 21st century Detroit is an amazing, amazing setting for a vampire movie.) And then, for reasons which aren't exactly plot-related because the movie doesn't have a plot as such, only characters and events, the two of them are forced to flee back to Tangier, where perhaps Adam will learn to enjoy unlife again after all.
Visually stunning, very funny, and some amazing acting from everyone involved. Highly recommended.