Jim Jarmusch

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived thru March 2001:Jim Jarmusch
By Wormwood on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 06:00 am: Edit

I just recently caught a 3 episode (6 hour) miniseries on the sci-fi channel called "Frank Herbert's Dune".

I thought that it did a much better job, than David Lynch did of sticking to the book and telling the story.

I have also seen VHS tapes of it for rental, if you love Dune you won't be able to stop watching it.

By Anatomist1 on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 08:54 am: Edit

Just read a great essay by David Foster Wallace called DAVID LYNCH KEEPS HIS HEAD (1995). It's in a book called A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING I'LL NEVER DO AGAIN, which also contains a great essay on TV culture and irony. I'm going to have to read more Wallace, he's got a very level-headed, easy to read feel, yet very broadly informed and insightful. I think I'll revisit ELEPHANT MAN, BLUE VELVET, and the first episodes of TWIN PEAKS one of these days -- perhaps it will remind me why I used to like his work so much before the worm turned with WILD AT HEART. Lynch fans should check that book out.

K.

By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 09:48 am: Edit

I liked Dead Man so much I bought the sound track. Now if you think the guitar is irritating on the movie...

By Artemis on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 07:47 am: Edit

I watched "Dead Man" again last night; stayed awake this time. Neil Young's guitar gets really irritating very early in the movie. 90% of it could be cut out and the remaining 10% would be that much more effective.

I also watched "Ghost Dog" again. I noticed that the phrase "Stupid fucking white man" appears in both movies, spoken by an Indian (the same actor?). "Ghost Dog" is a far better effort from Jarmusch than "Dead Man"; I liked it even better the second time, but then I'm more into Japanese culture than into William Blake.

By Anatomist1 on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 07:33 am: Edit

Lynch also makes art prints too, but the ones I saw didn't really grab me.

I liked the images and the art design in DUNE -- one of the few cases where a good synergy between book and movie can develop. Unless you read the book, the movie was pretty incomprehensible. If you just read the book, the movie was a little disappointing for leaving out so much.

A couple of things I didn't like about the movie: variations in martial arts/combat skills and scenes involving battle and strategy were replaced with those stupid sound guns. Stillsuits had no hoods, and no one wore robes over them: they wouldv'e been ineffective and eaten by the sun. Chani had blond hair, dammit! That Ed dude they got to play Stilgar was awful. Stilgar was bold and passionate, not a sleepwalking stickfigure. They should have picked John Rhys-Davies, even though he's too fat to be a desert Fremen.

K.

By Aion on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 07:11 am: Edit

I like Lynch´s Dune movie as much as Twin Peaks - looks like I´m the only one who likes this film, critics slashed it - maybe because I love Frank Herberts novel so much.

Did you know, that Lynch also is involved in
musical projects?
I own a CD of Lynch and singer Jocelyn Montgomery
- Lux Vivens - based on the work of Hildegard von Bingen. Pure magic!

A.

By Artemis on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 06:14 am: Edit

Okay, Ted - check your mailbox.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 08:42 pm: Edit

Artemis, email me. I do not have access to my address book currently.

By Heiko on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 12:32 pm: Edit

Artemis,

agreed - I did not want to say I love the movie, I only said there are many things happening in it which I just don't really get. I also ask the question if coming up with something really strange makes art. Mostly, specialists in interpreting find a lot of intellectuality or whatever in art, while it was intended only as a strange thought people would talk about.

Hey...that's what Lynch wanted...he wanted people to talk about the movie - and I'm afraid he succeeded ;-)

By Artemis on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 12:21 pm: Edit

"That's pretty obvious, but it's not everything that happens."

It's everything that makes any sense. Rabbit asked what it "meant", after all.

"Also the story begins with it's own end or ends with its own beginning."

Big deal. An episode of "Seinfeld" did the same and was a lot more entertaining.

"But what about all these scenes that seem to be telling us something, but then they don't,"

Filler. Dried peas rattling in the gourd that is Lynch's head.

"It's almost like dreaming: strange things happen and you are not at all sure why they happen - might have a meaning, might not..."

Life its own self is exactly that way. The only difference is, it doesn't have David Lynch at the control panel, pushing the "confuse" button just for the hell of it.

By Germanandy on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 12:12 pm: Edit

@heiko,

i've got all episodes of twin peaks on tape (vhs),
if you are interrested, i'll make you some copys of them.

twin peaks is defenently lynch's best work, i still love to watch it after all these years.

By Heiko on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 12:07 pm: Edit

"I've only seen it once, but as I remember, two people switched personalities, or two souls switched bodies, that's about it."

That's pretty obvious, but it's not everything that happens. Also the story begins with it's own end or ends with its own beginning.

But what about all these scenes that seem to be telling us something, but then they don't, like the ever backward-exploding hut, or the room full of red flames in the motel and the like - I think one might come up with explanations like "it shows that time is relative" or whatever, but you cannot say for sure "this is the message".
It's almost like dreaming: strange things happen and you are not at all sure why they happen - might have a meaning, might not...

By Artemis on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 11:52 am: Edit

"halfway through TWIN PEAKS Lynch lost his way"

Amen to that. I think that TV series was his best work, but that's right, it turned into so much noodling before it was over.

"But of all his work, Lost Highway is the only one I don't get. Marc, do you get it? Does anyone here? What the holy hell did it mean?"

I've only seen it once, but as I remember, two people switched personalities, or two souls switched bodies, that's about it.

By Bob_Chong on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 08:11 am: Edit

Just because someone has "style" does not mean they are any good. If that were true, Rip Taylor would be heralded as an acting genius. Liberace would be considered better than Ellington, etc.

Art house posers are merely that.

Woody Allen is ten times the director Lynch will ever be. There--is that incendiary enough?

BC

By Anatomist1 on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 07:41 am: Edit

I have no problem with a director displaying a particular directorial style or flair, but in Lynch's case it seems to be in the service of nothing. Watching his same old tricks at the beginning of STORY, I thought "I really don't care about the machinations of your quirky little mind any more Lynch, what's in it for me?" As Pataphys said, "What have you done for me lately?" I agree that ELEPHANT MAN and BLUE VELVET were quality films and extraordinary in their time, but round about WILD AT HEART and halfway through TWIN PEAKS Lynch lost his way. Either he ran out of tricks and had to resort to pulling the same old tired ones out of the bag, his world finally became populated entirely with "yes-men" -- no one left to say no, or tell him the difference between inspiration and pedestrian solipsism... I don't know. But I thought WILD AT HEART and the PEAKS finale were garbage: run-of-the-mill art-school Dadaism, soulless postmodern reference fests and strings of nonsequiturs... blech!

Although not particularly adventurous qua filmmaking, I liked SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE because it communicated a feeling of passion and inspiration.
I suppose it could seem trite to someone too cynical to get caught up in it. Personally, I'd rather get lost in naive melodrama than sit around patting myself on the back for succesfully decoding a piece of aloof irony any day.

K.

By Mr_Rabbit on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 07:06 am: Edit

Lynch rocks.

But of all his work, Lost Highway is the only one I don't get. Marc, do you get it? Does anyone here? What the holy hell did it mean?

I watched Adreniline Drive sunday. Japanese romantic comedy about a geeky nurse and a rental car guy getting mixed up with the Yakuza. Funny as hell, if you dig that sort of thing ;-)

By Artemis on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 05:42 am: Edit

Let us not forget Twin Peaks, probably the best thing Lynch has ever done.

Shakespeare In Love was a magnificent movie, a colossus, WAY better than anything Lynch has ever done or could dream of doing.

Now pass me a pig foot and that there jug o green likker.

By Marc on Monday, February 26, 2001 - 10:39 pm: Edit

Bob,

To a list of directors that scream
"hey look at me, I'm directing, look how weird my ideas are", let's add:

Bunuel, Cocteau, Murnau, Fellini, Pasolini,
Kubrick, Welles, Scorsese, Coppola, Tarantino,
Roeg, Bergman, Jarmusch, Godard...

What great director doesn't have a singular style?
We are so unaccustomed to contemporary directors
approaching the film medium as art, that when they do we call them hotdoggers, egoists, whatever. David Lynch has made at least three
masterpieces in his life: Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man and Wild At Heart. The rest of his films are nothing less than exciting and adventurous. He takes chances in an era in which everything is marketed toward the lowest common denominator. A risk-taking artist such as Lynch
should be celebrated in this day and age of
Shakespeare In Love, Chocolat, Armageddon and
Miss Congeniality.

The more time I spend in the absinthe forum, the more I'm starting to realize that this place is populated by a bunch of absinthe drinking rubes.

By Bob_Chong on Monday, February 26, 2001 - 10:07 pm: Edit

The vibe I get from Lynch is like: "Hey everybody! Look at me! I'm DIRECTING! Look at how WEIRD my ideas are! Ooooh!" I'm not buying into it any more.

You've pegged it.

I love it when someone finally says that the emperor wears no clothes. Kudos Anatomist. Lynch is a monochromatic hack whose best work was never that great anyway. Movies for posers.

Flame away, Lynch apologists.

BC

By Heiko on Monday, February 26, 2001 - 08:18 am: Edit

Pata,
I didn't recognize Iggy Pop - no wonder, he usually wears other clothes ;-)
I remember one of the perfect moments in my life at a festival in Cologne when I was riding a kind of rollercoster-thing on shrooms and shiva while Iggy Pop played "Passenger" just a few hundred meters away....aahh, the good old days *g*

Anatomist,
I don't know The Straight Story, the only Lynch-movie I know is "Lost Highway" - but it's the same with that one ... I watched it at the movies, I was totally sober, had not smoked or whatever - when the movie was over I wasn't so sure about that anymore ;-) Every time I thought "now I know what he wants to say, now I see what the story is", something happened that screwed it all up again. I felt like "either I'm stupid, or Lynch is!" I watched it a few times since then and found out it is pretty interesting and makes you think a lot, kind of stimulates your own creativity.

By Pataphysician on Monday, February 26, 2001 - 07:06 am: Edit

>Some of the scenes I will never forget is these three trapper guys sitting by the fire,

The cook in that scene is Iggy Pop. He's the one doing the rap on Ancient Rome and feeding Christians to the lions. I'm certain he was doing an ad-lib. He did a song on the same theme a couple years earlier on his "American Caesar" album. You should buy it for that song alone, but the whole album is fabulous. 'Iggy Pop: American Caesar', the best album of the '90s.

By Marc on Sunday, February 25, 2001 - 07:53 pm: Edit

Anatomist,

I loved THE STRAIGHT STORY. Richard Farnsworth's performance is wonderful. You should give it another chance.

By Anatomist1 on Sunday, February 25, 2001 - 07:48 pm: Edit

I just rented THE STRAIGHT STORY and I had to quit watching after about 15 minutes. I think I am permanently sick of his style: the quiet snails' pace and long pauses, the heavy emphasis on every little ambient sound and creaky door, the oh-so-quirky characters, and Badalamenti's music is just too melodramatic. 15 minutes and the story hadn't even started yet. The vibe I get from Lynch is like: "Hey everybody! Look at me! I'm DIRECTING! Look at how WEIRD my ideas are! Ooooh!" I'm not buying into it any more.

K.

By Marc on Sunday, February 25, 2001 - 07:05 pm: Edit

"Dead Man" is not available on dvd. A shame.

By Petermarc on Sunday, February 25, 2001 - 04:11 pm: Edit

they aired it here on tv in france just last week...too painful to watch with french overdubs, but then they played it late in VO with subtitles...disturbingly delicious...i love the modern use of black and white...i don't think the scene where cole is eating the arm with the hand flapping back and forth could have worked so well in color,and the indian fort/lodge is an especially strong scene, i would image it could make you feel ill watching it on the big screen...

By Heiko on Sunday, February 25, 2001 - 02:38 pm: Edit

"Is your name really William Blake? - Then you ARE a Dead man!
[...]but I understand William Blake: you are a poet, and a painter, and now you are a killer of white men!"
...
did someone of you mention Neil Young on the "grammy"-thread, or is it just coincidence that I listened to the soundtrack on Friday? The CD was buried under a lot of other stuff, but this Friday I looked for it and listened to some tracks.
I think it might be one of the only movies I would want to buy on DVD (most movies are not worth buying...).

Some of the scenes I will never forget is these three trapper guys sitting by the fire, reading the bible and stating that this is "terrible" and "horrible" - then start arguing about who's turn it was to eat William... then one of the real funny scenes as Big George gets hit in the foot, starts hopping around shouting "goddam I'm hit!" - this is almost like splapstick comedy, I couldn't believe it when I saw it first...

I had not known anything from Jim Jarmusch or Neil Young before I saw Dead Man about two years ago - it was recommended to me by a real Neil Young worshiper: I knew what he was speaking about after I had heard the soundtrack. He told me that Young had just watched the movie once, then played one track on the electric guitar to the second run, played the second track with hammond and ac. guitar to the third run - kind of a live performance while the movie was running.

Is "widescreen" a term for both 16:9 and "cinemascope", or only for 16:9? Everytime I see a cinemascope format movie, I regret I don't have a bigger TV-screen...

By Artemis on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 01:30 pm: Edit

I don't think there's any hard and fast rule on the Sundance Channel as to format. It seems to me I've seen movies both "formatted to fit your TV screen" (a bad thing, agreed) and "letterbox" which is where the height/width ratio of the theater screen is preserved.

I want to say that neither Ghost Dog nor Dead Man were letterbox. I know this makes me sound brain dead (don't you KNOW?), but I guess I was so into the movies I didn't even notice.

Speaking of Screaming Jay Hawkins, there's another movie with Forrest Whitaker, "A Rage in Harlem" which includes a scene at the "Undertakers Ball", complete with Jay and his band on stage providing music for the ball. Terrific scene and a decent movie to boot.

I had heard about "Smoke" but forgotten about it (thanks for the pointer). I've seen about two minutes of the fishing show, right at the end of the show, which made me want to see more.

By _Blackjack on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 01:21 pm: Edit

Ghost Dog was enjoyable, but the fact that Whittaker was practicing with his katana in shirasaya bugged me...

Jack
(sword geek)

By Anatomist1 on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 12:45 pm: Edit

Yeah, I guess I was confused because I thought widescreen only referred to movies shot in 'scope', which would leave out movies shot in 'flat' format, which are also trimmed when rendered to video, but not as much, as the dimensions are closer. Given your definition of fullscreen, does that mean widescreen covers both?

K.

By Marc on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 12:12 pm: Edit

anatomist,

I was writing my post as you were posting yours.

When you say "full screen", I think you mean
"widescreen". "Fullscreen" means the film had been reformatted to fill up the tv screen. Not a good thing.

By Marc on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 12:08 pm: Edit

artemis,

"Dead Man" is by far my favorite Jarmusch film.
I hope Sundance is broadcasting it in widescreen.
It's such a mysterious film, like a peyote dream in black and white. As to what it all means...
well, like all good art, it's open to interpretation. Here's one of mine:

William Blake, the "Dead Man", is dead to the mysteries of life. He's a rationalist in a world of magic. His encounter with the Native American illustrates the clash between the European materialistic approach to life and the spirituality of the Indian. Industry vs. nature.
Blake, like his namesake, goes on a vision quest.
His guide is the Indian.

"Dead Man" has an eerie score by Neil Young, just Neil and an electric guitar. It also features appearances by Iggy Pop, Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers), Lance Henriksen, Robert Mitchum and
Crispin Glover.

"Ghost Dog, Way Of The Samurai" is much beloved by film buff friends of mine. I didn't care for it. After "Dead Man", I was expecting more from Jarmusch. However, "Ghost Dog" was on many critics' top ten lists, so I'm in the minority
on this film. I do plan to see it again.

artemis, come visit the New York Times Film Forum.
It's a cool bunch of film freaks shooting the shit about movies.

forums.nytimes.com

By Anatomist1 on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 11:59 am: Edit

Do they show these movies full-screen on the Sundance Channel? If they do, I'm glad I don't have it -- I'd become a drooling couch-potato.

K.

By Anatomist1 on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 11:57 am: Edit

I've seen GHOST DOG twice. It's great. I guess I have to go against what I said elsewhere about rap, as I thought the soundtrack really worked. I saw DEAD MAN a while back. I remember liking that too - also great soundtrack. If you haven't seen them DOWN BY LAW and STRANGER THAN PARADISE (mmmm... Screamin' Jay Hawkins soundtrack) are also very worthwhile.

Jim is quite a character too. You can see him in SMOKE and/or BLUE IN THE FACE -- both set in the same NYC smoke shop. SMOKE (also w/Forest Whitaker) is a beautiful movie - great story telling, BITF is full of hilarious improvisation. I've seen both of these more than twice.

Also, check out a video series called FISHING WITH JOHN. John Lurie takes his famous weird buddies on exotic fishing trips -- you'll find it has a familiarly bleak, ironic, hilarious tone. In one episode, he takes Jim Jaramusch shark fishing. It's great. Other episodes feature Tom Waits, Dennis Hopper, and Willem DaFoe.

K.

By Artemis on Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 10:53 am: Edit

Last night on the Sundance Channel, I watched "Ghost Dog", followed by "Dead Man". Essentially the same movie in different time periods. Okay, I fell asleep during "Dead Man" but I'll give it another whirl some time.

Beautiful, ugly, violent, tender, funny, deadly serious movies, both of them. "Ghost Dog" in particular is stunning.

Comments? Marc? Anybody?

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