I know there are haters out there… but Jarmusch will forever be a favourite of mine (and no, I’m not jumping on the Coffee and Cigarettes bandwagon, because I’m not a fan the series). Here are a few reasons why:
- He is not afraid of extended scenes where nothing happens on screen.
- He works with John Lurie, who is inherently cool (nobody protrudes their lips like John).
- His films do not demand your attention or appreciation.
- He couldn’t be more un-Hollywood.
Can you think of more?
you’re a man after my own heart. jarmusch and his unconventional, minimalistic films rock my world.
i love him because he’s one of the few true masters working in american cinema now. his films are brilliant, with a ton of things to discover each time you see them.
I have to say, I respect Jarmusch as a film maker more than I enjoy the finished product, (especially after the first viewing). Still, I really love Down By Law quite a bit, and it’s charms don’t seem to diminsh through repeated viewings, (which is pretty much how I feel about Stranger Than Paradise and Dead Man—two films I enjoyed upon their initial release, but have a hard time sitting through today). Down, for me, is the quintessential Jarmusch; setting, cast, music, tone and timing.
Can any of you real Jarmusch enthusiasts provide others like me, (who are willing to like him more but could benefit from a bit of insight) with some comment of greater depth? Somethng along the lines as to what it is that makes particular works and his over-all style stand out for you. Generic praise is nice to hear, but doesn’t go too far into deepening one’s appreciation.
thanks for your comments everyone.
No T.hanks: I think you put it well: his films have a certain charm. I’ll talk about Stranger Than Paradise, which is probably my favourite Jarmusch film, although I haven’t seen them all. First, his cast is an assembly of relative unknowns, but they are all special in their own right. Incidentally, John Lurie and Eszter Balint are both musicians as well, which seems to be a theme in Jarmusch’s work (i.e. Tom Waits and the cast of Coffee and Cigarettes). Jarmusch seems intent on working with artists, not just good actors. That said, I can’t call the acting in his films “good” (outside of Bill Murray in Broken Flowers), because individual performances are actually quite understated and lackluster. But his characters possess a certain charm that cannot be denied. Roberto Benigni, John Lurie and Eszter Balint are three of the most charming actors he’s used. Keep in mind, he used Benigni eleven years before “Life is Beautiful”, when North America fell in love with him. Balint is an anomaly: she’s not especially attractive (by Hollywood standards), nor an outstanding actress, but something drew me to her. The scene when she dances around the kitchen to “I Put a Spell on You” is one of my personal favourite scenes of all time.
In terms of plot, not a lot happens. The audience does not witness the lives of exceptional human beings. We gain a portal into the mundane lives of a New York hipster and his immigrant cousin. The film plods along through snippets of dialogue or scenes in which characters do nothing but watch television or drive a car. This is what I love about Jarmusch: he does not use copious editing techniques or music to generate interest or tension in a scene. He intentionally draws it out so the product is rather mundane. I guess this is where your comment comes in, that you respect him as a film maker more than you enjoy the final product. This is a fair assessment; one can appreciate his distinctive lack of adherence to Hollywood movie-making standards, while finding his films boring. I, unabashedly, love the fact that they are boring. I mean, I appreciate someone like Hitchcock who created suspense masterfully, but I’d take a Jarmusch film any day over a stock Hollywood action film that relies on explosions and sex to lure in the audience (referring to other Hollywood directors, not Hitchcock).
I’ll stop there for now. All things considered, my love for Jarmusch cannot be separated from his characters, because the way he makes films highlights the characters that he writes and the cast that he uses.
Hope this was helpful!
I’ve got another one:
He did Tarantino’s hip and inventive dialogue before Tarantino was even making movies.
If I were to make a list of American directors still making movies and still worth a damn it would be Jarmusch, Lynch, Malick, and Errol Morris, maybe Michael Mann.
Aside from whats been listed, he always puts great music in his films. A lot of the artist you would never hear in films otherwise.
I agree with Campbell, and others who have alluded to this. Music is a centerpoint for me when I watch his films. You can always tell whether or not a director is a huge music fan by how he uses it in his films (see Scorsese also). Jarmush must absolutely love music.
What I love about Jarmusch is just how brilliant his films can be without being pretentious or overbearing. All of his films are so rich with literary, cinematic, and musical influences, and artistically minded people can easily pick up on these references, but they are subtle enough and not integral to enjoying the overall narrative. Without pandering to the cinephiles, Jarmusch can easily reveal his influences (especially in his early films), and still be enjoyable by everyone and even awaken mainstream theatergoers to different modes of filmmaking. In many ways, Jarmusch can be regarded as an European filmmaker with American sensibilities, which average American audiences can find easily digestible. Even Kevin Smith (who, in my opinion, is a complete moron who should never open his mouth in public), has said that he “doesn’t need to see Ozu [films]”, because he can watch one from Jarmusch. I can’t wait to see The Limits of Control, which has been getting some press here in Japan since he cast Youki Kudoh (from Mystery Train). I can remember seeing my first Jarmusch movie as a young filmgeek, and it certainly open my eyes to how cinema could be, and through Jarmusch I learned (and continue to) find new and interesting things.
the fact that someone could make both Stranger Than Paradise and Ghost Dog is proof enough of that they belong here.
Jim Jarmusch is one of the most interesting directors living. His concept of film-making transcends the restraints of genres. The subject matters that he tackles would yield hideous results in lesser hands. How many directors could make a existential ode to isolationism compelling? Jarmusch is one the few for sure.
Stranger than Paradise is an amazing film. Jarmusch handled the long tracking shots with ease. He had the audacity to actually allow the scenes to develop. Image that, a director who sees a concept to fruition. This is definitely not typical Hollywood fare.
I agree with JP Belmondo, the list of American directors with any integrity is very short indeed. Jarmusch definitely makes that list. In fact, it seems rather ridiculous to even be having this conversation seeing as how we are talking about a master film-maker. How could anyone dispute the excellence of his body of work?
jarmusch is a poet of cinema. plus, his films are full of subtle moments with immense significance. again, the stuff poetry is made of.
the view of lake erie in “stranger than paradise”. the window drawn in chalk in “down by law”. the band-aid in “night on earth”.
If you love Jim Jarmusch, have seen his entire catalog, and are itching for more, I recommend Aki Kaurismäki’s 1995-present films: ARIEL, SHADOWS IN PARADISE, DRIFTING CLOUDS, & LIGHTS IN THE DUSK. The two directors have a similar aesthetic: minimalistic, rockabilly, featuring melancholy loners trying to have fun despite life’s boredom & obstacles. Jarmusch and the Kaurismäki brothers are good friends, and used cameo in each other’s films.
I absolutely love Down By Law. He does have great music in his movies. Kudos to him for casting musicians like Tom Waits and John Lurie.