Cinema Rif in Tangier was the site yesterday of a meeting between Canadian poet Gerald Hill and the Jim Jarmusch feature Only Lovers Left Alive, not yet released in North America.
"I knew more about Cinema Rif than the film," Hill admitted. "Though on the downside of its latest glory-restoration cycle, it's a grand enough theatre," he said. "Anyway, as a major landmark on a prime meeting point in Tangier, the Grand Socco, it must be visited."
Hill's visit did not go without incident. "The sign said 17h," he explained. "I thought that was a shortcut for 17Dh, the local currency. When I handed the woman and 20, she made no move to give me any change. A heightened exchange took place at that point. I wasn't going to give in, and neither was she."
A third party intervened, conveying to Hill that 17h meant 17:00 hours, the start time. The ticket cost 20Dh. After a campaign of animated apology, Hill was able to exit into the darkness of the theatre, more or less gracefully.
Further incident followed, this time not of Hill's making. A cat entered the theatre while the film was showing. "As Huck Finn might say," Hill noted, "the cat "'commenced to howling'" until someone came in with a lantern and flushed the poor creature out the door.
As for the film itself, Hill offered this commentary: "Think vampires without the usual trash. For setting, think rundown Detroit and contemporary Tangier. Brilliant performances by Swinton and Huddleston, dark tones--they're vampires!--and a love supreme." The film works, Hill added, "as both a love story and a fable for our global future."
Film viewed, Hill called himself a new fan of American indie director Jarmusch (he was already a fan of Tilda Swinton). He felt as if he'd seen a way to use a familiar cluster of images--in this case, wrapped in the word "vampire"--in a new way. With such thoughts jingling in the pocket of his brain, Hill walked back to his hotel and fell asleep, waking with the rooster next day.