.. waiting outside, in a line of people, on a blustery chiaroscuro day at the cinema. I am here to see the film Patterson, which is the latest by director Jim Jarmusch.
I was first drawn to Jarmusch’s film work with his 1991 film Night on Earth. The film features four simulating vignettes about interactions between a taxi driver and their passenger during a cab ride. The conversational exchanges are intimate, thoughtful, spontaneous, and most importantly, real. His 1989 film, Mystery Train, is a gritty and idealistic homage to Memphis that is conveyed through three eccentric storylines. In his 2004 film, Coffee and Cigarettes, several face to face encounters, one on one exchanges, occur over coffee and cigarettes; the results are startling, comic, insightful, and sometimes poignant.
Jarmusch has directed 14 films in the last 35 years; fortunately I have seen nine of these. I sort them into three categories. He has three early formative films, which I have not seen, from the first half of the 1980’s. There are two documentaries, featuring two different American music icons, which I have not seen. And his main body of work is an eclectic minimalist collection of quiet iconoclastic studies on the nuances of human existence.
Perhaps his most well-known and striking work occurred between 1995 to 2005. Dead Man featured Johnny Depp and Robert Mitchum in a black and white disturbing revisionist western. In a later film, Forrest Whittaker appears as a spiritual warrior/mob hitman in Ghost Dog. In Broken Flowers, a penitent Bill Murray appears with Jessica Lange and Sharon Stone in a roving story about redemption.
The surreal 2009’ The Limits of Control and the evocative 2013’ Only Lovers Left Alive are refreshing and innovative takes on two over-worn genres, respectively the hitman on assignment (this hitman is a psychic) and vampires in love (the images of a deteriorating Detroit cityscape are evocative).
.. jockeying for seats in the theater auditorium. I always sit on the end of the aisle (to stretch my legs). The overhead lights are dimmed and commercials/previews are expended. The first scene, of Paterson, unfolds. Two people are in bed, just waking up, and facing each other. She says ‘I had a wonderful dream last night’. And he listens. He listens to her dream.