Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weeks Too Late: Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Interview With The Vampire. Directed by Neil Jordan & Written by Anne Rice.

Aside: Well, this Tuesday brings us to our first trio review. It is, as usual, on the subject of vampires. Expect an excellent forthcoming review by Terry on Thursday and read my other lovely cohort's review on this book on Saturday. Also: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, really? Long damned title.

Preconceptions: Unlike Doomwench (who we all know has much better taste than me), I did read a lot of Anne Rice in my formative years. Do I need to point at the picture of 15 year old me again? Of course I read a lot of Anne Rice. I was ecstatic that a movie was coming out and that Anne Rice was writing the screenplay (wouldn't want one perfectly crafted word to be changed, after all). I remember clearly swooning over Tom Cruise (yes, Tom Cruise, if you're younger than me, let me say that the world has really altered in a lot of dramatic ways) and feeling genuine sympathy for Kirsten Dunst (who I still like, no matter what people say about her performance in Spiderman). While this felt like a perfect project for the lot of us to collaborate on, I was worried about tainting my fond memories. I remember what it was like seeing the Lost Boys out of my teen years and I didn't want to lose my nostalgia for Interview as well.

General Review: I had braced myself for a painful two hours; a painful two hours filled with kicking kid me up and down the street for enjoying something that my more sophisticated (not actually sophisticated, just more so than a teenage girl) palate would find distasteful. I actually did nothing of the kind. While I wouldn't call Interview great cinema, I enjoyed seeing it again.

This isn't to say that the movie was perfect, it contained some wincefully clumsy writing. Many things were referred to as a "dark" something, a dark gift, a dark eternity, a dark kiss, a dark ale...wait, not so much that last one. I know I was supposed to feel at least some sympathy for Brad Pitt as Louis, but his whining didn't engender any. Neither did his fang lisp (weird that he was the only one who had it though, kudos to the rest of the cast). It was also strange to see Pitt before he'd really gotten his acting legs, I'm used to being able to take his excellent performance for granted. He was at least partially to blame for unlikable Louis, a stronger actor might have made the part more bearable.

Lets not dance around it, Tom Cruise was great in this. He was cruel, sexy (despite the big vein in the middle of his forehead, which I had trouble looking away from) and funny. He captured the Puckish, egocentric nature of Lestat that I loved so much in the books. Kirsten Dunst's performance is also worth mentioning. She played some difficult things believably -the awareness that she'd never grow up and her ability to manipulate her vamped parents (I wonder if she ever had to explain why she had two daddies to the other vampires?).

I was worried that even if the story/acting/directing held up that the effects were going to date the movie. There are some cheesy effects that place a flick very much in its era. While there were a few notable groan moments (like the "I can nearly see the strings" wire fighting), it didn't look that early 90s. Though, the less said about the Guns n' Roses cover of Sympathy for the Devil (and Christian Slater having a major movie acting job) the better. I dug the fangs, less delicate than the little Dracula points, but it didn't look like they had to unhinge their jaws for them to be feasible. The eyes and faces going from human to vampire was very smooth and otherworldly. Mostly, the effects aged gracefully.

If I may continue to be shallow (given the movie we're talking about I think I'm safe to do so): there were some outrageously bad wigs. I mean fine, if it's difficult to get a wig that looks good on one character, mores the pity, but all of them? It shouldn't be this difficult to make a gaggle of Hollywood hunks look hunky. Perhaps they should have borrowed someone from the BBC to help with the be-wigging. Those guys are always having to make guys look like they've got long hair. Overall, the costuming and hair in this movie were awesome, but the bad wigs stood out almost as badly as the crushed red and velvet getup they put Antonio Banderas and his followers in (they looked like they were in Halloween costumes provided by Spencer's Gift).

The Bad Wig Brigade:

Less superficially, this movie managed to portray a real sensuality (or "dark" sensuality if you prefer). Putting aside my usual hur, hur those guys seem gay jokes, there is some damned fine sexual tension. And if a movie must make its vampires sex symbols (something I think we deserve a long break from) at least this one succeeded at it (you wouldn't think it'd be hard, what with all the piercing). Between the bodice ripping and man on man biting it was a successfully sexual movie.

I'm glad this collaboration got me to watch this particular movie from way back. It wasn't quite as good as I remembered (y'know, it being the best movie made in years) but it held up surprisingly well. If you know a little goth girl who's looking for a vamp fix you could do a lot worse than recommending this to her.

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