Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jim Jarmusch - American Auteur

The Complete Works of Jim Jarmusch: Part II

This page is a continuation of Jim Jarmusch - An American Auteur: Part I. We'll look at the the last five films that Jarmusch has offered: A Night On Earth, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai, Broken Flowers, and The Limits of Control.

We've seen his beginings in the colorized Permanent Vacation, and his transition to black-and-white films. With Mystery Train Jarmusch went back to color, though he continues to aternate between black-and-white and color. It continues to be dificult to describe his complete style due to the fact that he often switches structure and geres between each film. There is always a the breath of fresh air within each of his movies, and you can never be certain that you have it figured out. We can always look foraward to viewing something new each time we watch a new Jarmusch film.

Below are summaries of his last five films. I placed my opinion in them to try to help the reader decide if they like them. Though, if you are reading this, then you are probably curious to begin with. If you new to the world of Jarmusch, then perhap Ghost Dog or Dead Man would be the best options to start with.

If you would like to learn more about Jim, besides the interviews that I have posted on Part I of this article, then I would suggest that you check out They have a lot of good information such as news updates and a biography.

Night On Earth
5 Segment Anthology

Coming Soon!

Back to Black and White

With Dead Man Jarmusch tackles the Western genre. Westerns have been a dying for many years, and perhaps Johnny Depp's character, William Blake, is the representation of the death of the Western? Anyways, we see different type of Wild West, without all of the glitz and pizzaz of the typical hollywood Western. It's raw, dirty, and the closet thing to a hero is the Native American, Nobody, that is leading William to his destination. In other words, this is not John Ford's or Sergio Leone's version of the West.

We begin with Blake on a train headed to the town of Machine. He is given an upleasant welcome by a mysterious train fireman as men aboard the train shoot the buffalo as they pass them. When he arrives, Blake discovers that the company that said that they would hire him had already given the job to somebody else.

Disappointed, he meets a prostitute and ends up in her room. Her ex-boyfriend discovers them and tries to kill Blake as he lies in bed, but he shoots the prostitute instead. The bullet ends up in Blake's chest, but does not kill him. Blake kills the man, who we discover is the son of the rich owner of the company that Blake was supposed to work for. He then flees town because he knows that he will be considered a murderer and hung.

The rich owner hires three fronteer bounty hunters to find Blake. From this point He wakes to find Nobody, an Indian, trying to dislodge the bullet from his chest, though unsuccessfully. Nobody knows that Blake is "the walking dead", and agrees to escort him to where he needs to go. They encounter the bounty hunters and a group of strange people on their way to their destination, all of which are comical. Blake finally arrives to his destination on the verge of death.

There is much more to this story than the brief description that I provided above. There are many visual, as well as verbal statements made that are typically comical in nature. This film is definitely worth renting or purchasing. It's not your typical shoot out at the coral adventure, it's on another level.
Dead Man

Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai
Jarmusch's Urban Samurai Vision
Ghost Dog is a hitman that follows the ancient code of the samurai. He lives in simplicity says very little, and has a whole lot of street creditibilty. He spends much of his time on his rooftop cottage with his carrier pidgeons, or conversing with his French speaking friend, an ice cream salesman that does not understand English. Ghost Dog does not understand French, but they seem to understand each other. He is loyal to a mobster that he claims saved his life years ago, and performs hits for him when he is ordered to.

He is sent on a mission, but is discovered and becomes a liability to the mob. They decide to track him down and kill him to eliminate the possibility of the developement of any problems. Eventually the mobsters find his cottage and kill his pidgeons. Ghost Dog knows that he's going to have to kill the entire mob in order to survive, which he does with the exception of the man that saved his life.

In the end, the man finds Ghost Dog, who is then forced to decide between staying loyal to the code, or killing his master in order to survive.
Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai

Broken Flowers
The Return of Murray

Broken Flowers follows the events of an aging ladies man, Don Johnston. As his girlfriends breakups with him, a letter is slid throught the door. He reads it to find out that it is from a former lover. The letter claims that he had a son with her, and that the son may be trying to track Don down. The letter is not signed and Don concludes that it could only be one of four possible women that wrote the letter, or could be hoax.His neighbor convinces him to seek out the women, and to find out who his son is.

The first of the four possible candidates, Laura, has a daughter, Lolita, that tries to seduce Don by entering a room that he is sitting in, fully nude. (Lolita could be a reference to the novel or the film.) Don is able to resist and enjoys dinner with Laura and Lolita. He ends the night by sleeping with Laura, and concludes that she is not the person that wrote the letter, and moves on to the next.

Dora is the second possibility, but he believes that she did not write the letter after an awkward dinner with Dora and her husband. After Dora, Don travels to the workplace of Carmen to find the answer. She clearly tells him that she never had children, and there are allusions that she has a relationship with her female secretary. The final option is Penny, who is offended at the question, and punchs Don in the face. After which he is beat up by two of her friends and left in a field in his car.

As the film ends Don returns to his hometown and begins to see possible sons everywhere. It's an enjoyable film, and Murray is good as always. The soundtrack complements the film well.

An interesting side note is that there were claims that Jarmusch stole the idea and themes from a man that had circulated a similar idea earlier. The courts found no reason to believe that Jarmusch had stolen anything, and the case was released.
Broken Flowers

The Limits of Control
A New Bond

Jim Jarmusch's latest film, The Limits of Control, is a film that I personally really enjoyed, but many find to be too slow. The filming locations are beautiful. The dialog is slow, and often time cryptic, but I viewed the film as a mystery, and found it very watchable.

We start with a Lone Man in an airport. He is sent on a mission, though we do not know what for. He is told to go to a cafe to meet somebody. Once in the cafe that person gives him a matchbox with a code, and then tells him where to go next. He follows this pattern until he finally reaches his destination. In order to finish his mission he must use his imagination, which can sum the film up entirely.

The Lone Man plays the French speaking Haitian in Ghost Dog, and has one of the most interesting faces on film. It's funny that this mechanical person, who doesn't even have sex "when working", uses his imagination to achieve his goals. Much can be said and discussed about this film, as there is a lot of symbolism, and a lot is open to interpretation. This is a down played spy film that doesn't appear to work for everybody. If "slowness" is a problem, try to rent before buying.
The Limits of Control

Night On Earth Trailer

Dead Man Trailer

Ghost Dog Trailer

Broken Flowers Trailer

The Limits of Control


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