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Cinema Quickie: Jim Jarmusch

Check out the films of American independent cinema mainstay Jim Jarmusch. After dropping out of the NYU graduate film program, Jarmusch turned his final academic short into his first feature, Permanent Vacation. Clearly seeing the talent that Jarmusch had to offer, German filmmaker Wim Wenders gave the young director 40 minutes of film stock to get him started on Stranger Than Paradise, a film that would go on to win the Camera d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and subsequently be credited for instigating the modern American independent film movement.

Jim Jarmusch's working method consists of extensive pre-shoot rehearsal time often focusing on scenes that are not intended for the screen in order to develop believable characters with real idiosyncrasies. His films are expertly methodically paced and exhibit a droll, wry humor. His characters, always the impetus for plot and not vice versa, are those that live on the margins of society and who find themselves organically pulled into adventure usually structured around “the road.”

The crown jewel in Jarmusch's ouvre is the expressionistic post-Western, Dead Man. Working with arguably the most talented collection of collaborators of his career, including actors Johnny Depp and Gary Farmer (among countless other stars in small roles and cameos), Neil Young to provide the film’s minimalist score and longtime cinematographer Robby Muller, the director created what is easily one of the best American films of the 1990s.

While Dead Man may stand alone, Jarmusch has three more masterpieces in Down By Law, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and Broken Flowers, but the director’s unique sensibilities make each and every one of his films worth watching.

Feature Filmography:

  • Permanent Vacation (1980)
  • Stranger Than Paradise (1983)
  • Down By Law (1986)
  • Mystery Train (1989)
  • Night On Earth (1991)
  • Dead Man (1995)
  • Year of the Horse (Neil Young & Crazy Horse documentary)(1997)
  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
  • Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
  • Broken Flowers (2005)
  • The Limits of Control (2009)

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