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onlyloversleftaliveWith awards season drawing to a close and the first blockbuster window yet to open, it is a quiet week for big releases. But it is often these times in which you will find the brightest gems unencumbered by glossy awards razzmatazz or bloated budgets. And so it proves this Friday.

It turns out that eternal life is a bit of a drag, especially when you have to rely on a species as idiotically self-destructive as humans for your food. In Only Lovers Left Alive, cult favourite Jim Jarmusch’s latest feature, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play remarkably convincing vampire lovers going through something of an existential crisis. Their loathing for the world they live in and their abandonment of hope as they cling ever more tightly to each other is a gloomy treat not to be missed.

Be careful who you meet at places of natural beauty in Stranger by the Lake. While they can be handsome and beguiling, it is possible that they may be prone to the odd spot of murder. Alain Guiraudie’s French drama explores sexuality and obsession in the guise of a stylish thriller. There is a reason it has been receiving acclaim wherever it goes.

The Godfather Part II hardly needs an introduction. 40 years after it first proved that sequels do not have to be terrible, it is now back in the cinema again. In case you have somehow managed to forget, this is the one where you get Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The only valid area of debate around this film is whether it beats the original. Not quite for my money but boy is it close.

If you find yourself in need of an acting masterclass, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is out on DVD this week. Cate Blanchett, almost certain to pick up the Oscar, is magnificent beyond belief as the east coast socialite brought low by the shady financial practices of her husband. Forced to move in with her working class sister, she struggles to understand all that she did wrong while desperately trying to reclaim her former glory. Sharp and biting, it would be a good film even without Blanchett. With her it is something else.

See you next week for book thieves and yet more Liam Neeson action heroics.

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