Most film directors are content to signal boredom, tedium, ennui and the passage of time with a couple of yawns, maybe a fidget or two, and perhaps the chipmunk rotations of a speeded-up clock. (There are exceptions (
http://comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_a_l/philip_hensher/article119385.ece).) Jim Jarmusch is exceptional, and he's also not most film directors. So when he sets out to convey boredom etc, it's exciting. The first five minutes -- before even the titles -- of Dead Man are a thrilling train journey across America, in the company of a beautiful Johnny Depp and a changing assortment of "interesting" types. The sequence is breathtaking, as you wonder what might be about to happen and then wait, and wait, and wait for it actually to happen. The slaughter of buffalo from the train windows is as much of a shock to the viewer as it is to Depp. And then it is over and still nothing has happened. It's a great opening to a great film. As with Mulholland Dr., there's no point in doing a synopsis or anything like that. What Jarmusch has produced is a kind of gritty, hyper-real magic-realist movie, gloriously shot in black and white, full of astonishing dialogue, amazingly wonderful scenery, and superb performances from all in sight. I was a bit disappointed by Broken Flowers. Having finally caught up with Dead Man, I wish Jarmusch would get back to films like this and Ghost Dog. Oh, and the music, courtesy of Neil Young, is superb. As much a part of the picture as Ry Cooder is of Paris, Texas.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
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