EPISODE 260: artist profile of JIM JARMUSCH

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4 Responses

  1. Rmangum says:

    Hey guys, great job on this episode! I always enjoy the artist profiles, but this was the rare one where I have extensive experience with the artist’s work. I’ve seen everything by Jarmusch except Permanent Vacation, The Limits of Control, and (unaccountably) Down By Law. I’ve always been attracted by Jarmusch’s sense of style and idiosyncrasy, as well as (as Tyler made me realize) his American themes. But I’ve gone back and forth as to whether he is a great filmmaker or not. He takes chances and experiments, and often it doesn’t work. Often he seems to be including things for no other reason than that they are cool (and they really are cool). I’ve gone from loving Dead Man (for instance) to disliking it, and then back to loving it. I think his films tend to be less impressive as wholes than as parts, which is why he seems to like the vignette so much. Thanks for pointing out the thematic as well as stylistic threads which run through his whole oeuvre.

  2. Scott Nye says:

    Don’t know if you guys are BORED TO DEATH fans, but Jarmusch’s appearance on it made for one of the better in-jokes without any real explanation behind it:


  3. Nick M says:

    Firstly, congratulations on the five-year anniversary!

    Secondly, just to expand on a few thoughts that you bring up in the episode.

    I entirely agree with Tyler’s thoughts about Jarmusch being an ‘American’ director. Not only in the ‘Americana’ of what he delights in (like Tyler said, the road trips, diners etc.), but also the fact that he celebrates art forms that are/were indigenous to America. For example, the ‘Western’ is a literature/film genre that is very much one born of America’s history, and while jazz and rock and roll have precedents in other cultures, they are nevertheless art forms that were created from American experiences and then exported around the world.

    Here are three examples alone (and I am sure there are more), all of which are celebrated consistently within his films.

    And yet, to expand on your thoughts that the American culture in his films is filtered by the experience of the visitor, it could also be said that this is the ‘view’ or director’s eye that Jarmusch himself brings to his films as a whole. His film style and grammar are not recognisably what are seen as ‘American’ (i.e. with a strong narrative drive), but rather are themselves ‘foreign’ (not meant as a pejorative).

    Indeed, his ‘grammar’ seems greatly influenced by the great influx of overseas ‘art films’ that found an audience in New York in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I’m thinking of the likes of those of the French New Wave (real locations, on the street, expansive cuts that leave a great deal of the story in the imagination of the viewer; e.g. the straight cut from the prison to the swamp in ‘Down By Law’), and the plaintive filming style of some of the great Japanese directors, such as Ozu, Kurosawa and Imamura. (Don’t forget, the character in ‘Ghost Dog’ is holding a copy of the novel ‘Rashomon’.

    Anyway, these were just some thoughts as I drove home from work down here in Australia while listening to your episode. I’m only about 40 minutes into so far, so forgive if I’ve repeated some of the points you make later in the podcast.

  4. James says:

    Jim Jarmusch was an inspired choice for your 5th Anniversary show. It pleases me, naturally, that one of my favorites and a real American cinema treasure like Jarmusch would get the nod on the auspicious occasion, but, more important than that, it sends a clear signal of his stature and value to cinema to your listeners.

    I appreciated also the fact that Dead Man became almost the centerpiece film for the discussion. I have been a fan and follower of Jarmusch’s since Down by Law and, for me, Dead Man arrived as a brilliant masterwork. I believe it to be his strongest, most complete work to date. I suppose I have watched it 10 times by now and been rewarded by its richness every time.

    I liked especially that you gave prolonged attention the score as composed and played by Neil Young. His was a bracing surprise. It both compelled you to hear the sound images that you might better see the visual ones and opened doors to engagement with the characters and their stories. Heady stuff and a rare treat in a film filled with them.

    I only wondered at your remark that it was somehow a European seeming film. I can’t really dispute that other than to say that Dead Man seems every bit American to me. It may just be that by its distinctiveness and exceptional quality it is an unlikely product of any cinema tradition and not just that of we Americans.

    That is minor quibble, however, and I send my thanks and congratulations on a job well done.

    James McCarthy
    Los Angles

    P.S. Just placed a hold with the L.A. Public Library on Rosenbaum’s Dead Man. Thank you for the pointer towards that.

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