14 December 2009

Film: The Limits of Control

Jim Jarmusch - I've seen his Ghost Dog, Coffee and Cigarettes (part of it), Mystery Train (pers. fave) and now The Limits of Control. I didn't "get" this one without help, but that's o.k. If I told you this movie was like "dark chocolate" and ran off without filling you in on that abstraction, maybe you'd be dismissive, maybe you'd wonder why. Hopefully, you'd provide your own explanation and anticipate that not everything will be laid bare in the telling. Our expectations for resolution in literature (nuance) and cinema (full exposition) vary to a large degree. If nothing else, you should love the sheer beauty of Spanish landscapes in this movie and the mythology of the protagonist, "Lone Man."

Mary Pols, Time Magazine:

As Lone Man makes his way from Madrid to Seville and then into the countryside toward his wealthy target, American, aka the Man (Bill Murray, who starred in Jarmusch's lovely Broken Flowers), he encounters a cast of characters who trade boxes of matches with him and pass on more tidbits of instruction along with commentary on art and culture. There's Guitar (John Hurt), Mexican (Gael Garcia Bernal) and the most helpful of all, Blonde (Tilda Swinton), who is a fan of Jarmusch-style cinema.
"The best films are like dreams you're never really
sure you've had," she tells him.

The rest of the review (and spoilers) are here: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1894879,00.html

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about Flamenco, castanets, and a dark bar.

- Thinking about the visceral and sparse "Passengers: Original Movie Soundtracks Vol. II" http://www.amazon.com/Passengers-Original-Soundtracks-Brian-Eno/dp/B000001E8

- Thinking about "Killer 7."

- Thinking about "El Mariachi" and people that make you wonder whether that guitar case holds an ametralladora ...

We were exposed to and savored Jarmusch's rich mise-en-scene in Mystery Train. Here, staring bleakly at Spanish landscapes, you begin to feel part of them. What better place for cool, dark-shades intrigue than the sepia desert and thrumming guitars of La Madre Tierra?

Interpretation of "Limits" can be challenging; a camera following Mr. Jarmusch, His manner of dress makes him look like somebody you might find at the side of a road in Nevada. In the bonus features as he shares some revealing points, clues.

"There are only a few stories, but limitless ways to tell them."

"I know many things about film history, art, etc. What fascinates me are not the things that are known, but the things that are unknown to me."

The Limits of Control is an extended metaphor for intrigue and the unknown - it invites the viewer's imagination. The landscapes are stunning and make me embrace Spain again. The elements of scene are built to a fever pitch, and when the mystery of our "Lone Wanderer" is revealed, it comes suddenly but is not an "Aha." You really need an attuned eye & ear to unite the abstract cues and draw out the meaning, and could return many times to find more.

Unfortunately, western audiences will not enjoy having to work to make their own interpretations. No matter the common criticism, there's no denying that Jim Jarmusch is highly talented and artistic. 6 or 7/10. I'm on the fence.

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