I just watched Dead Man (1995) directed by Jim Jarmusch. It was simply incredible. Not only was it one of the best movies of the late 1990’s as some critics said, but it was also one of the greatest movies ever made. Simply stupendous. It’s been called an “acid Western.” You will like it if you like Jarmusch, who makes some very weird movies.
Previously I saw Stranger than Paradise, one of the funniest movies ever made, an actual movie that shows what life is really like, in all of its utter banality. It also shows that movies aren’t real life because real life never acts like the movies. If it did we wouldn’t be able to handle it. But if movies acted like real life, no one would watch them because they would be too boring.
We can only bear to watch movies because they are so far removed from daily existence. We can only deal with quotidian life because it is so banal. And even in all of its utter banality and lack of consequence, a lot of us still can’t handle it. Look how many people check out via their own hand every year. Look at mental illness rates, mental illness in part being a symptom of not being able to cope with life at all. Look at how many people commit slow suicide via alcohol and dope.
You really need to see Stranger than Paradise in a movie theater where everyone will laugh along with you, otherwise you might not laugh at all.
I also watched Down by Law, Jarmusch’s next movie. It was excellent but I have pretty much forgotten it by now and may just watch it again.
Anyone ever seen any of Jarmusch’s very weird movies? If so, speak up or forever hold your tongue. I will list them here for anyone who’s memory is as bad as mine is getting in these dear late years:
Permanent Vacation (1980) – His first film school project – a lot of critics did not like it. Shot in black and white.
Stranger Than Paradise (1984) – Absurdist, deadpan comedy. Possibly his magnum opus. Stars jazz musician John Lurie. Shot in black and white.
Down by Law (1986) – Jailbreak movie with Tom Waits, Roberto Bagnini and Lurie. Superb movie. Shot in black and white. This was his last black and white movie.
Mystery Train (1989) – Three vignettes all set in Memphis. Has that great Stranger than Paradise feel of the banality of life. Very good, watching now. First movie shot in color. All subsequent movies were shot in color.
Night on Earth (1991) – Comedy-drama with five vignettes all taking places in taxi cabs. Mixed reviews, either good or awful.
Dead Man (1995) – Acid Western” with a superb, out of this world Johnny Depp playing the lead, a man named William Blake. And no, the name’s not coincidental if you catch my drift. The other fellow, the man of letters, is also part of his identity. Also Iggy Pop and Billy Bob Thornton. Also possibly his best movie.
Year of the Horse (1997) – Neil Young tour movie. Regarded as one of his worst movies. Apparently his rock show movies just don’t cut it. Maybe he should quit making them?
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) – Crime film about the Mafia with a most unlikely Mafia hit man. Said to be very good.
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) – 11 vignettes. Either good or terrible, with the latter opinion being the consensus. Then again, the worst Jarmusch movies are still probably pretty good.
Broken Flowers (2005) – Comedy-drama about an aging Don Juan. Also very good, stars Bill Murray.
The Limits of Control (2009) – Spy/assassin movie, generally regarded as one of the worst if not the worst of his movies.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) – Vampire movie. Oddly enough, a movie about a love affair between two vampires. Well-regarded.
Paterson (2016) – Regarded as excellent.
Gimme Danger (2016) – Stooges concert movie. Generally seen as one of his worst movies of all.
The Dead Don’t Die (2019) – Zombie horror comedy movie with Bill Murray. Well-regarded.