Saturday, March 20, 2010

Using your imagination

I mentioned in last week's 'Fantasy Girlfriend' post on the wonderful Tilda Swinton that her most recent film appearance has been as the mysterious 'Blonde' above in Jim Jarmusch's determinedly enigmatic The Limits Of Control. It's a film that's difficult to love: the pace is just too darned leisurely (there were a number of times when I became tempted to fast-forward through a sequence), and it outstays its welcome rather at nearly two hours' running time (if Jarmusch could have trimmed 30 or even 15 minutes off that, it would have been a much more accessible experience - but accessibility seems to be not the point here; quite the reverse).

Nevertheless, the film's repetitive structure (and luscious cinematography by Chris Doyle) becomes oddly mesmerising, and there are a number of quirky moments that linger potently in the memory. And, since most of this seems to be on YouTube already, I thought I'd post an example or two, to supplement the café rendezvous I included in the piece about Tilda.

Here's the introduction to the climactic scene in which the nameless protagonist, a taciturn African hitman played by Isaach De Bankolé, finally confronts his victim, a sinister businessman played by the marvellous Bill Murray. The 'joke' here is that this scene follows on from an extended reconnaissance sequence in which the hitman has established that Murray's headquarters is essentially impregnable, a walled compound miles from anywhere in the middle of the desert, swarming with armed guards. As with the jailbreak in Down By Law, Jarmusch cheekily casts aside the conventions of the genre by declining to show how these formidable defences are breached and cutting straight to the next scene - the process of breaking in (or breaking out) is simply assumed. How did that happen?
"I used my imagination."

And, if that has whetted your appetite for more - here's the official trailer for the film. It looks as though you can watch the whole thing on YouTube - if you've got a decent connection speed and a lot of patience.


JES said...

Speaking of using your imagination... I just now had occasion to read your second blog post here, in which you raised the "Why blog?" question, under the title "In dispraise of blogging."

Was wondering if you'd come to feel differently, now that you've been at it for, what?, 3-1/2 years.

Froog said...

I wonder what led you back to my origins, JES - what led you there from here? You may have missed that I pondered the question of my motivations for getting into blogging further in this follow-up post and this one.

I think my feelings are largely unchanged. I have found more bloggers out there who I admire and enjoy reading, and have become better at forgiving or ignoring the myriad awful or mediocre ones that give such a bad impression of the genre. But for myself, I still feel a certain awkwardness about. It has become a habit - a diverting, enjoyable, often cathartic habit - but it's still not something that I feel is really me, and I am constantly on the point of abandoning it.

JES said...

No wonder you're confused. I didn't proceed from here to there. I went there first, encountered the question, and thought, "Hmm. Where's the best place to ask this question where I'll see the answer later?"

Of course: find a recent post, invent an artificial segue ("Speaking of..."), and go straight to the question.

Odd, that "constantly on the point of abandoning it" because "it's not really me." From the outside looking in, your blog-self (or -selves) feels inseparable from your other(s). Especially since you've been blogging a healthily long time -- doesn't seem to have turned out (however first intended) to be just a lark!

JES said...

Oh, and as to the real subject of this post...

I've never quite connected with Jarmusch. Well, that's not entirely true. I think Dead Man has been under-appreciated, and Mystery Train is among the top ten films I keep thinking I should see again, but so far haven't. (Now there's a list for you.)

But I've never felt about his films that I really must see them -- or even want to, very much. I just catch one periodically, not quite by accident but never by intent.

You're a Tom Waits fan, too, aren't you? I saw one of them on a late-night talk show, discussing a loose organization of show-business types united by their resemblance to Lee Marvin. It included those two and a couple others I can't recall at the moment...

Well, I'll be damned. Google actually answered the query, "people who look like lee marvin." It's called The Sons of Lee Marvin, and Jarmusch founded it. Nick Cave's also a member.

An entertaining blog post about it, with a link to the page on Jarmusch's own site, is here.

Froog said...

Oh, wow, more weirdness - thank you. But it's late where I am.

Possibly a perpetual state rather than a mere matter of the o'clock.