Jim Jarmusch has been one of the greatest advocates of art cinema for the past 40 years or so. Since his debut film Permanent Vacation (1980), he never stopped trying to get to the bottom of the human heart and of human society. Though his style might be baffling at first, there are many good reasons to fall in love with his cinema. Here are three.
1. He put a bug on top of a reception desk – and The King all over the place
MYSTERY TRAIN (1989)
The three-layered fantasia of Mystery Train takes place in legendary Memphis, Tennessee, birthplace of a notorious Presley, father of rock ‘n roll. Interweaving arabesques of love and hate, hope and desperation revolve around the shabby Arcade Hotel, where a stylish night clerk (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins) and his down-and-outer bellboy (Cinqué Lee) preside over a bunch of dusty, screeching rooms fitted with once-glamorous portraits of The King. Blue Moon and Mystery Train – this time, the song – make up the soundtrack of a dreamy, seducing film that will get you acquainted with the Absurd à la Jarmusch: an unbearable lightness of eternal recurrence, carefully studied details, and random plastic bugs resting in plain sight on top of a reception desk. What else?
2. He succeeded in creating the best worse detective story ever
BROKEN FLOWERS (2005)
Directly referencing the American pulp & hard-boiled tradition of the ‘20s, the story of a (likely) Don Juan father – played by Bill Murray – in search of his (likely) son turns into a well-behaved farce as his friend Winston (Jeffrey Wright) literally writes the script of the film as it unfolds. This sneery, charming narrative takes us along a quest for a truth that may never have existed. The Broken Flowers of the title thus become a metaphor for the vain, almost naive attempt to get in touch with our past once more. The world revels in chaos, and no Sherlock nor Sam Spade can hope to be able to bring all the pieces back together – neither by deduction, nor by action.
3. He gives us proof that there still are honest people around
…and that’s comforting. If Paterson (Adam Driver), the eponymous hero of the film presented at Cannes in 2016, feels free to walk his dog Marvin at night, tying him to a lamppost as he grabs a beer at the local pub, maybe so can we. Regardless of the ominous threats made by two punks, Marvin always makes it home. You can’t predict life, just as you should not be able to predict films. Thus artist-in-chief Jarmusch advocates total creative liberty for himself, and so does Paterson, humble bus driver who writes beautiful, colloquial poems on the discreet magic of the everyday. Getting inspiration from the American poet William Carlos Williams and his poetry of the ordinary, Jarmusch puts forward a prime example of his idea of a dignified human society – the one in which unambitiously carrying out a task goes along with an enhanced attention towards those things which make men of us, instead of robots.
(+1) The Dead Don’t Die
Think of the usual reasons that prompt you to enter a cinema theatre. You might enjoy a good story. You might want to detach yourself from your dreadful daily routine. Maybe you just like popcorn. Now, with his brand new piece of work, Jim Jarmusch redeems your hypothecated right to watch a film for the sake of watching a film. Welcome to Jim’s World, where dialogues, events and plots become futile. Just relax and let your eyes softly gaze upon the moving images on the screen. Trust me, just enjoy the film. Everything will be alright, I promise.