Thursday, December 28, 2006

Broken Flowers


Okay I had to write this after seeing Jim Jarmusch’s film "Broken Flowers" starring Bill Murry as Don Johnston. It is a very little odd tale of a man who gets a letter supposedly from one of his many girlfriends that tells him that he has a son. The women’s identity is unknown, and there lies the mystery and the adventure that our hero takes. I can’t say I’ve seen many of Jamusch’s films, and the ones that I’ve seen I’ve either been impressed or just plain confused. To say Jarmusch is an acquired taste is an over simplification of his films. You either love it or hate it. There seems to be no middle ground with the Jamusch’s films.

I was turned on by Jamusch’s first film "Strangers in Paradise". Basically it was telling of a story all in master shots. There are no real close-ups in the film, and the film is heavy on dialogue. "Strangers in Paradise" was the film we talked about in film school. It came out in 1982, and it was just at that time as I started film school. The one thing that it proved is that you could make a film outside of the system and get noticed, and Jim Jarmusch certainly got noticed. "Broken Flowers" is as close to a Hollywood film as Jamusch comes to ever making. There are the films "Mystery Train", "Night on Earth" & Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" which are films that had a sizeable budget, but they were steered more to the art crowd, and didn’t get a sizeable distribution which is unfortunate because some of those films are Jarmusch’s best work.

Back to "Broken Flowers". I just saw this film on one of the cable channels, and I came away from it wondering what I had just seen. The film is an interesting character piece. Bill Murray plays down his character, and you get the feeling that he’s an ordinary guy with a lot of issues, but there are some interesting performances from various actors in it that really make the film stand out. The film is slow to move and I believe Jarmush does this on purpose. There is really no resolution in the end and the film leaves you guessing. I know that Jarmusch likes to do this. After all life isn’t really so neat, and a lot of conflicts never get resolved in real life. I even watched the film again after seeing it only a few days after the first viewing. I must say I caught a lot of little nuisance that Jarmusch put into the film. Sometimes silence can be more powerful then dialogue and Jarmusch isn’t afraid to do just that.

I need to re-visit some of his other films, and see how I feel about them again. Jarmush puts a lot of stuff in his films, and they do feel like slice-of-life vignettes strung together in a film that as a whole tells a story. Like I said if you like to see some interesting performances pick up the film, but be prepared to sit through some slow pacing. At a 106 minutes the film isn’t that painful to sit through, and the cinematography by Frederick Elmes is stunning to watch. One thing for sure is that I need to take a closer work on Jarmusch’s other films.

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