Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Greyness of Depression

Jim Jarmusch is a film-maker, apparently. No, I had not heard of him either, but in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago I spotted a series of his films, including one with the lovely Roberto Begnini. Which I took home.

Jarmusch, the above website tells me, is interested in people on the margins of society. Right enough. He makes Art House Cinema. This film, shot in black and white (in 1986) starts extremely depressingly with a couple of drifters, in unhappy relationships with their women. The neighbourhoods are extremely poor (clapboard houses, do they call them in the US?). The conversations are full of cliches - 'what are you doing to yourself', 'you are ruining your life'. The two guys, Zack and Jack, don't do much, but sit around and ...maybe... think. An Italian character briefly passes one of them sitting on a porch and has a short conversation, mostly with himself.

Then both Zack and Jack get themselves arrested on trumped up charges, and guess what - the Italian (Begnini), also appears in their cell. At that moment the film begins to become bearable (up to that moment I was still doing stuff on the computer while the film was going on). Begnini, who does what he does best in all films - anarchic problem solving - is the only one of the three who actually committed a crime. He completely changes the atmosphere in the cell, and of the film, and helps Zack and Jack (and himself) to find a way out of their situation. This second half of the film is worth waiting for, though, unless you are a Jim Jarmusch fan, I am not sure you should rush out to buy it. Maybe rent it first....

Apparently the actor playing Zack, Tom Waits, is a bit of a singer, and he does some of the sound track.

It was interesting but I am glad I only bought one of his films.