Apr 11, 2012

Everywhere and Nowhere (UPDATED! 4/12/12)

There was a time back in the early 90s when I was convinced that Jim Jarmusch was one of the finest American film makers ever.  And my expectations for Dead Man, Jarmusch's 1995 film starring Johnny Depp, were very high, indeed.  Dead Man was a crushing bore that night (prob still is) and I left the theater, feeling particularly ripped-off.  I have not seen another new Jarmusch film since.

Moreover, his films are not aging well.  I have pushed Down By Law on numerous friends and each time I have seen it, it gets worse and worse.  Night on Earth was enjoyable in the theater but looks extremely silly and flimsy now.  I have not seen Stranger Than Paradise in a very long time but the last time I saw it, it was still refreshing and fun; a blast of black and white sunshine, strangely enough.

But Jarmusch has one film that still seems as lively and lovely today as it did in 1989, Mystery Train.  (Renee and I watched it last night, and Renee does not agree with me.)

There is so much to still love about Mystery Train.  The film is actually three short films, three stories that are inter-connected, and take place in the South Main Arts District of Memphis, Tennessee over the course of one day.  And like most of Jarmusch's work the cast is eclectic and superb, featuring Screaming Jay Hawkins, Rufus Thomas, Nicoletta Braschi, Elizabeth Bracco, Tom Noonan, Joe Strummer, Steve Buscemi, Rockets Redglare, and Tom Waits as a radio DJ.

Obviously, this being a film about Memphis, the music is amazing.  The funky moody score was done by Jarmusch regular, John Lurie, and includes the amazing Marc Ribot on guitar.  But the found music is the real highlight.  They use only about a dozen songs and almost all of them are from either Stax Records or Sun Studios, heavy on Elvis (natch) and Rufus Thomas.

In fact, Elvis and Rufus are the twin ghosts that haunt the entire film.  Rufus Thomas even makes an appearance in the first "film" of the inter-connected trilogy, Far From Yokohama.  Elvis' "appearance", as it were, comes in the second "film", A Ghost.  But both of these men are all over Mystery Train.  There are paintings of both men shown throughout nearly every scene, Joe Strummer's character is reluctantly known as "Elvis" amongst his neighbors and friends, and, of course, they use a number of Elvis' and Rufus' great great songs throughout.

My favorite of the three "films" is A Ghost.  Nicoletta Brasci's husband appears to have died on the plane, meaning she will have to spend one night in Memphis before she can fly back home to Rome.  She does not appear to be the least bit bothered by her husband's death.  After being confronted by a con-man and potential mugger, Tom Noonan, who gets twenty bucks out of her by relating an old Memphis urban legend about picking up a hitch-hiking ghost of Elvis, wanting to be dropped off at Graceland, Brasci finds herself lucky to share a room at a decrepit hotel with one of the most annoying loudmouth characters in film history, Lorraine Bracco's Dee Dee.  (This is obv Jarmusch making a statement about the difference between Europeans and North Americans, but it is realized with such taste that it is merely hilarious and not preachy.  All four of our protagonists in the film are auslanders -- as they say in the Cantons of Helvetica -- two Japanese kids, the Italian widow, and an Englishman.)

But the most poignant heartbreaking moment for me occurs in the last film, Lost in Space, when our three "heroes" drive by Stax Records.

This is what the mighty Stax records looked like in the late 80s.
Thank God, they have rebuilt this American Treasure and turned it in to a museum and recording studio again.

It is a splendid film and comes v highly recommended.  Renee and I watched it on Apple TV last night, as I only have a VHS copy of the film, but Criterion, once again, have come out with fantastic blu-ray and dvd versions of the film.


I am about to go to the City and see the film, Shame, at long last.  It is playing at the last stop Art House Cinema, the Opera at 2:20 PM.  I imagine I might be the only person in the theater and the film is rated NC-17.  It could make for an extremely unusual cinema experience.  I will give all of you the complete scoop re the film tomorrow.


Obama and his team are on a frickin' roll right now.  Earlier today on Fox News, in anticipation of Obama's Buffet Rule speech today, all their pundits trotted out their usual Talking Points:  The Buffet Rule is class warfare, that all millionaires are job creators, and their favorite today, that the Buffet Rule would only save us five billion a year on the deficit.  Obama, in his speech, hit on every single one of those Talking Points, smashing them down.

If only Obama governed as well as he campaigned.

And on the Mittens front, with Santorum out, Fox News granted Mittens a congratulatory interview today.  He is firmly in Projection Defense Mode re those recent crushing Gender Split numbers in the polls, "The GOP is not conducting a War on American Women.  Obama is!"

I am surprised he just did not have his Wife sit for the interview.


UPDATED! (4/12/12):  Yup.  Guess who sat for an interview on Fox News about an hour ago. That is right, Mittens' Wife, Ann.  They will be blasting her "best" bits from this interview on all their programs over the next few days.  And she could even appear on one or more of their commentary shows.  (I am guessing Greta gets her first.)

And by the way, Ms Rosen's comments on CNN yesterday were "inappropriate" and "wrong", just as Jim Messina and David Axelrod have stated.

I imagine Axelrod has gone full Malcom Tucker on Ms Rosen, already.

"You've been disinvited."


No comments:

Post a Comment