Friday, August 21, 2009

The Limits of Jarmusch

The Limits of Control - Jim Jarmusch

The latest Jarmusch film starts off like a visual treatise grafted off the pages of Gene Youngblood's cult cinema tome THE EXPANDED CINEMA. All natural coloured psychedelic pulses and swiping flashes, before we are introduced to Isaach De Baankole as 'the Lone Man'. Who is this man and what is his mission? A mysterious African killer agent, ripped straight out of Burroughs, 'the Lone Man' is sent on a mission to reboot reality and hunt and kill 'the American'. And off we go. Through the luminous, modern city-to-landscape spaces of Spain - exotic skyscrapers, labyrinthine city streets and the empty desert shrines of rural wastelands. On his mission he meets a new-wave temptresses, trippy old men, a female Albino cowgirl and a lost cowboy rockstar. They all have a message as the 'lone man' finally finds his way. While Tarantino Jacks off with his comic-book marsers, Jarmusch re-feeds us more acid from the early 70s. A 'head' movie for the Internet generation - well, not quite - they more than likely won't see this. Jarmusch avoids the sharp-cutting hyper mania of modern film. His scenes roll, the droning acid rock soundtrack from Japanese psych band Boris rock, as 'the Lone Man' cruises to his destination with strange shades of darkness seeming to claw at the edges of his (or our) reality. Black helicopters, black sedans, men in black - all refracting back to our 'black' protagonist. 'Limits of Control' is a simple 'fuck you', a message from the counter-culture against the forces that try to crush the dream.

stranger than paradise

written and directed by jim jarmusch, 1985

'Stranger than Paradise' is one of my favourite films of all-time. It was probably the first modern film (of the time, 1985) I ever saw that was filmed in black and white, since when you're 15, black and white films were the sort of stuff your parents would watch. Watching this film was a total punt at the time, and I think the only reason I went to set it was because there was a review of it in the 'Jewish News' when the Jewish News was readable, and also because I read somewhere that it was made for less than $100,000 and it was funny. It took me a while to figure out what this film was about, but I found the whole style of it completely compelling and watchable. For one the whole film was in black and white. Then each scene was filmed in one single shot, and separated by a 2 second 'black out'. Then there was the really wild music by Screaming Jay Hawkins, the song 'I put a spell on you', this music was completely foreign to me at the time, since all I knew was British 80's New wave and Talking Head. I thought Screaming Jay was a fucking legend. The story was pretty dead beat - some bludger of a guy has to look after his cousin who arrives from Hungary. He's such an arsehole to her than she runs off to Cleveland. After a few months, the guy and his best buddy decide to visit his cousin in Cleveland, and then they decide to go to Florida for a holiday, but when they get there the weather is shit and the lose their money. Basically this film is about things fucking up in a Zen sort of way, which is very funny coz, well thing fuck up, you get angry, and then you don't give a shit. My favourite scenes are when the two bums visit their old Hungarian aunt who speaks not English and whips their asses playing cards. Me and Itchy found this scene extremely poignant, since it reminded us of both our mothers, who were old European ladies who played cards all the time. 'Stranger than Paradise' is a fucking legendary film, that has not dated, and is better than 90% of the indie cuck that gets made these day and is term 'cool'. Watch this film and you can see where blokes like Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez got their chops.