Sunday, January 15, 2006
Ohio-native and fellow NYU alumnus, writer/director Jim Jarmusch has been able to carve out a 25-year career of truly independent films, despite the fact his films have never had huge (or sometimes any) boxoffice. He has consistently worked outside the Hollywood system, and still been able to attract top talent such as Roberto Benigni, Johnny Depp, and most recently, Bill Murray. His films have become touchstones for much of the independent filmmaking community (even as Jarmusch has gone from maverick to old guard within that community). His works include Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law, Mystery Train, Night on Earth, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Coffee and Cigarettes and last year's Broken Flowers. His most recent film -- essentially, a one line concept (a man sets out to discover the mother of his son after receiving a mysterious letter informing him of his fatherhood) -- manages to be real in ways most films don't know how to be. Jarmusch doesn't mind silence, or a minimalist approach, or endings that don't neatly tie things up. In other words (his own words), he attempts to make films that experience the present moment as fully as possible. Broken Flowers is quite an amazing film in that regard. Murray's character Don Johnston, may be searching for something from his past that may in fact impact his future, but the film reveals his quest in series of moments that examine his present state, and doesn't allow Johnston (or us) to easily resolve that quest. I have great respect and admiration for Jarmusch's ability to stay true to himself for more than a quarter century and maintain the high integrity of a truly unique body of work.