Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Limits of Control

I liked this so much more than I thought I would. I read many mixed things about it so I was a bit afraid to see it. But I really really liked it. Apparently most people don't feel the same way. I posted a 4 star review on Facebook and all but one person completely disagreed with me on it.

Jason wrote, "Two out of five for me. Maybe I have a short attention span for shiny suits and awful fake tai chi."

Shawn wrote," i'm with the wheel and jason on this one. about halfway through i started thinking it was never going to end. enough with the matchbooks, enough with raincoat girl, enough with the paintings in the museum (even though those might have been my favorite scenes.)"

Well Shawn might be with the wheel but I'm with Jeremy. This movie is awesome!

I loved the repetitiveness. I loved the daily schedule of tai chi, waking up next to a beautiful naked woman who he refused to sleep with (no sex while working), 2 espressos in 2 cups at the same outdoor cafe, the visits to the art museum, the exchanging of matchbooks. I loved that every scene began with the new character asking The Lone Man if he spoke Spanish.

Who cares if nothing is ever really explained? It doesn't matter. This is a perfect example of of Jarmusch taking a genre piece and bending it to his own will. Sure - it might not be as good as Dead Man or Down by Law but who cares? Sign me up for anything Jarmusch does.

Some thoughts:
- Reminded me a bit of Godard's 60's gangster flicks - just an extended riff and homage to a great genre but done all auteur style. What else is there to add to the genre other than to add your own unique touches to it? If Jarmusch doesn't want to explain any of the narrative to the audience, who cares? Down by Law was a prison escape movie without a drop of suspense. This film is a crime/gangster/espionage/Hitchcockian type piece without any suspense or explanation.

Or how about the Blonde's explanation? Speaking of which, how great was Tilda Swinton in her one scene? Anyway this is what she had to say to the Lone Man while sitting at the outdoor cafe before the transfer of matchboxes.
Are you interested in films, by any chance? I like really old films. You can really see what the world looked like, thirty, fifty, a hundred years ago. You know the clothes, the telephones, the trains, the way people smoked cigarettes, the little details of life. The best films are like dreams you're never sure you've really had. I have this image in my head of a room full of sand. And a bird flies towards me, and dips its wing into the sand. And I honestly have no idea whether this image came from a dream, or a film. Sometimes I like it in films when people just sit there, not saying anything.
And then she referenced one of my favorite Orson Welles films, The Lady From Shanghai, and how it didn't make sense and then there was a big scene in a hall of mirrors. That's enough of an explanation for me about this movie. Nothing really made sense but who cares? The whole thing is one big hall of mirrors.

- Wow, every woman in this was amazingly beautiful.

- I loved the philosophical riddles and discussions about the universe.

- Was the scene on the train more of an homage to Strangers on a Train or The 39 Steps, what with the windmills looming out the window?

- I can't get enough of the tracking shots of passing scenery that Jarmusch films. He does it so well in so many movies.

- I loved the line that the naked woman in The Lone Man's bed utters in complaint to him, "No guns. No mobiles. No sex." What do you do?

- The score was fantastic.

- It is interesting that Jarmusch followed one of his more accessible films, Broken Flowers, with this quite oblique one.

About halfway through, I e-mailed Jeremy to tell him how much I was enjoying the film. I loved this insight from him, "it reminds of what balgavy said about david lynch movies having their own internal logic and even if he didn't understand them he felt comfortable in lynch's world." The beauty of this statement is that I can't even remember a time when Marc would say something like that.

I also liked how Jeremy ended his review, "Was it a comment on the nature of reality? An exploration of the randomness of the universe? A Hitchcockian thriller with none of the thrills? Anyone?"

Directed by Jim Jarmusch


Crispin H. Glover said...

i agree with you that the brilliant tilda swinton scene sum it all up and it's at that point you are either on board or jumping ship. you mentioned my reviews in two of your reviews in a row and are making want to start it up again.

Marc B. said...

Neither can I. Neither can I.

Listmaker said...

yes! come back to the movie review game!

i miss the marc balgavy that would utter such a thing. he is just a vague memory.