Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Films of Jim Jarmusch: An Introduction

In 1984, Jim Jarmusch made Stranger Than Paradise, that by any standard has to rank among the most important and influential American independent films ever made. He shot the film in black and white on film he borrowed from Wim Wenders who gave Jarmusch the “ends” of the film stock he shot on The State of Things (basically, unused film). That film, which is basically made up of scenes that are shot in one take, by an unmoving camera, was a watershed moment for American Indies.

Unlike many Indie filmmakers, Jarmusch has remained independent ever since. He didn’t use his indie films as a jumping off point to make more mainstream films – other than Broken Flowers (2005) – all of his films have been independently financed. He makes the films he wants to make, and somehow convinces people to give him money to do so, and actors to be in his movies. Through the years he’s worked with some big names – Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, etc. His films are always interesting –even when they are also infuriating – as his last film, The Limits of Control, was. In April, his 11th Feature – Only Lovers Left Alive – will come out, so I decided I wanted to go back and re-watch all of his films. I haven’t seen most of them since I watched them after seeing (and loving) Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai in high school – and I had never seen his “debut” film Permanent Vacation (really, a student film) at all. I’ll also look at the five music videos, and one omnibus segment – as well as his Neil Young concert documentary – Year of the Horse. Only Lovers Left Alive opens in Toronto on April 25, and I hope to have all of these posts up by then. I’ll continue on with the Coen Brothers reviews as well – they’re already done, so it’s just a matter of posting them, 2 or 3 a week. Jarmusch, I may have to go a little faster with. Anyway, enough of the introduction - let's get to the films.

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