June 15th: Killing the Myth

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127. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)

Johnny Depp is William Blake, an accountant adrift in the American West. Accompanied by sarcastic Native American, Nobody, played by Gary Farmer he embarks on a bizarre journey into the wild after he kills a man and has a bullet lodged near his own heart. On the run from a series of bounty hunters Blake and Nobody encounter the strange and disturbed as they make their somnambulant way to the coast. Beautifully photographed and packed with a brilliant cast of character actors, featuring one of the last appearances from the legendary Robert Mitchum, this is an intriguing, dreamlike continuance of the ongoing deconstruction of the great American myth of the West. Iggy Pop even makes an appearance, as a woman, I think.

Note: Dead Man is listed in the Neon book 1000 Essential Movies on Video under Pop Star Vehicles, which seems a little odd because Iggy Pop is in it for about 5 minutes.

April 12: In Bloom.

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87. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)

The recent phase of Bill Murray’s career has been an odd one indeed. He seems to be doing chunks of cameo/voice-over work to pay the bills and devoting his time to smaller, more introspective films. There’s a mixed reaction to this, some people want him to just be funny but it is really just a continuation of some of the strange and melancholy work that he was doing during the early part of his career in things like The Razor’s Edge. In Broken Flowers Murray is Don Johnston, an ageing lothario whose latest squeeze leaves him as he receives an anonymous letter from one of his exes. The letter states the he has a son who is looking for him and sets Don on a journey to find out who sent the letter. I’ve not seen much by Jarmusch but I really admire his style – it’s very noticeable. There is a patience and stillness to his scenes that would seem to prefigure another of Murray’s directors, Wes Anderson. It is a slightly frustrating film as there is no real sense of closure but it instead offers a wry wink in direction of Don, whilst he seems to have gone on a journey little has changed externally. But internally the journey has affected him. A thoughtful and attractive film with excellent performances from Murray and the supporting cast.