Jill - AV
The Vampire Academy series of novels by Richelle Mead concerns the adventures of two teenagers, Rose and Lissa, who share a psychic bond following their involvement in a near-fatal car crash. Lissa is a princess of the moroi (royal, magic-wielding vampires) and Rose is her dhampir protector (a half-human, half-moroi) who lives to protect her friend. This movie covers the first novel in the series and, frankly, it's a mess. There is too much world-building in the novels to be delivered in a two hour film, even when the snarky dialogue and lengthy exposition are delivered at breakneck speed. If you are longing for a mash-up of the Harry Potter series and Twilight that emphasizes lame special effects and the perils of a high school full of blood-sucking mean girls, this movie is for you. My advice is, stick to the books.
Overall Rating: C-
In the opening scene of Orphan Black, the main character, Sarah, watches in shock as a woman who could be her twin calmly sets down her coat, purse and shoes before walking into the path of an oncoming train. Sarah attempts to cash in by taking the woman's purse and identity and quickly falls down the rabbit hole into the world of human cloning as the series explores the themes of sisterhood, nature versus nurture, individuality, scientific experimentation and religious extremism. The Clone Club consists of nine members (so far) all played by the incredible Tatiana Maslany as distinctly different women ranging from an uptight soccer mom, to a homicide detective, to a geeky scientist, to a psychotic killer. Each week this action-packed series takes the viewer on a thrilling ride as Sarah tries to answer the following questions: who created the clones, who is killing them off one by one and who can she trust to help her? The second season of Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America. Welcome to the trip.
Overall Rating: A
The newest movie from the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, depicts the life of a struggling folk singer on the streets of Greenwich Village in the winter of 1961. Llewyn Davis, played by the multi-talented Oscar Isaac, spends a week looking for a gig, a couch to crash on and his friend's orange tomcat with varying degrees of success. The movie brilliantly depicts a place and a time before Bob Dylan – who is briefly glimpsed near the end – and other artists who turned folk music into a commercially successful art form in America. The outstanding supporting cast includes Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and John Goodman as just a few of the people Llewyn manages to alienate in his quest to remain true to his artistic principles. One of his friends refers to Llewyn as “King Midas' idiot brother” because everything Llewyn touches turns to excrement instead of gold. The film itself follows the form of a folk song: the viewer experiences various “verses” and a repeated “chorus” scene at the beginning and end of the film, but when the chorus comes around the second time, the audience has gotten to know the character well enough to understand how the extremely talented Llewyn has brought this trouble down on his own head.
Overall Rating: A-
Inspector Endeavour Morse, based on the character in Colin Dexter’s mystery book series, was played for many years by John Thaw in the popular British series, Inspector Morse. Now the character is reimagined as a brash young Constable Morse played by Shaun Evans in the new series, Endeavour. In the opening scene of the pilot, set in 1965, Constable Morse is writing his letter of resignation when he is called in with other officers to investigate a missing persons case in the city of Oxford, where he was once a student at the university. Many of Morse’s memorable character traits are already present in the young man- he is almost always the smartest man in the room, which does not endear him to his fellow officers, and his love of crossword puzzles and opera music also play a part in his investigations. This series is smartly plotted and well-acted and even those who were not fans of the original series will find themselves hooked, while fans of the original Inspector Morse will enjoy seeing the young man solve his first case, drink his first ale, and sit in his first Jaguar.
Only Lovers Left Alive is the newest film from director Jim Jarmusch starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as a vampire couple named Adam and Eve that has spent centuries together. Not a lot happens in this movie: Adam creates moody rock music on his antique guitars while Eve speed reads in multiple languages and the couple goes for long moonlight drives while discussing scientific theories and the damage that humans aka “zombies” have done to the planet. A brief visit from Eve’s bratty younger sister, Ava, forces the couple to take some action, but for the most part this film is a languorous look at a long-term relationship between two beautiful creatures. This film may favor style over substance, but that style is beautifully atmospheric and brilliantly acted.
Overall Rating: B