Monday, May 25, 2009

There Are Limits...

Isaach De Bankolé is The Lone Man in Jim Jarmusch's latest release, Limits of Control. Paz de la Huerta is The Nude.

She is The Form in the movie.
Mr. Bankolé, The Function.
The Form, and make no mistake about Ms. de la Huerta's ability to display her, ahem, form, follows The Function around through most of the movie, as confused by The Function's distant attitude to her form as we, the audience, is confused by his attitude to, well, just about everything.

This is an intense watch of a movie, measured out slowly in espresso cups, two at a time, to be precise, as that is The Lone Man's preferred method of xanthine alkaloid (Yes, The Loan Man is that exacting). The common and the esoteric all are important as clues to what is happening or what is to happen. Or maybe not; later on that point. The Lone Man takes on qualities of today's Loan Man. He stares, listens, and gives you nary a clue as to your requests. He contacts various people, who all move about the streets of Madrid and other towns and cities in cockroach-like spells of speed and hugging corners. They identify themselves with the phrase, "You don’t speak Spanish, do you?” , spoken to him in...well...not always Spanish. He nods each time in answer to the question, regardless of the tongue it was spoken in. So! A multi-lingual but not too lingual Lone Man, obviously a put-on of Mr Eastwood's Man With No Name early Westerns.

The Lone Man subsists only on espresso and that, only one. He orders a double espresso, one each in seperate cups, but sips only out of the right one (except in the last cafe visit in the movie when he sips form the left! A major indicator of things to happen! Maybe.....) It's good that he does not partake of any foodstuffs, as he may have a problem fitting into the fabulous suits he struts around in more most of the movie. He's the man in blue, then brown, then silver, each suit the same cut and the same emanating from within shininess. I thought the suits were tailored from gabardine, but a friend that kindly accompanied me to the movies assured me it was silk. Very expensive silk. We exchanged glances realizing this metro-sexual moment was unplanned and changed the topic to diesel engines.

But this is what this movie will do to long as you ride it out to the end. The theatre was barely 10% full and became less so as folks that came in as couples left the movie alone. Most of the departees were female, most probably grown tired of seeing yet another movie about a guy who, granted he looks great in suits, seems to have difficulties making commitments to human beings. As we steadily find out in the movie, he does have the ability to make a commitment, but we have no clue as to why he opts for this commitment.

Aside from Paz de la Huerta and her apple-ish derriere, there are short appearances by John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, and the ever delightful Gael García Bernal. Bill Murray also drops in at the end. He is The Man, but labeled The American.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
In his role as The American, Mr Murray speaks for the audience. The American is the target of The Lone Man and since The American represents us, we the audience have also been the target of The Lone Man for the first 110 minutes of the 116 minute long movie. In the 11th minute, Mr. Murray appears.
The American is holed up in a bunker-like building perpetually guarded by armed black-uniformed men and high-beam searchlights. To this viewer, the property seems impenetrable, especially since The Lone Man does not have the proclivity to pack some serious firepower. An AK-47 would ruin the lines of the suits, I guess.
So, in one scene, we see The Lone Man, his high cheekbones reflecting the high beams, on a slope overlooking the compound.
Next scene, he's relaxing on a couch in a bank vault-like room awaiting The American's arrival.
Mr. Murray enters the room, sees The Lone Man casually seated and asks what the audience is also wondering, "Who are you and how did you get in here?". Mr. Murray uses quite a few well-placed adjectives in the F-bomb family here, which I opted to exclude, to correctly reflect his frustration and that of the 110 minutes (and counting) viewing audience.
There's a pause.
The Lone Man responds, "I thought I'd use my imagination."
Mr. Murray is flummoxed; the audience is groaning, crushing candy boxes and chewing and spitting out program brochures.
We have endured looooong glazing pan shots of vineyards, a flamenco song & dance practice signifying something of an esoteric nature that may hit me in my sleep decades from now, The Lone Man's sipping one more espresso contemplatively, too many suit changs for me to count, and now this! Jarmusch is pulling out the ol' Deus ex machina ploy! He has tired of toying with his audience and, with 5 minutes left in the movie, decides to speed things up. The snail becomes the cheetah and we, the audience, are left in the dust.

For those of you first Jarmusch viewers, please, PLEASE stay away. Try something else first. May I suggest Night on Earth, or Down by Law, or Ghost Dog or even Coffee & Cigarettes?

For those Jarmusch zealots and I count myself as one of the stricken, you should see this movie (what am I saying? It's been out 2 weeks; you've gone already)! Then, blog on it or leave your pithy comments here to let me know if I have sinned against the Church of Jarmusch by not being even a tad enthusiastic.
Well, I did enthuse on the suits, right?

A review of Limits of Control and NYT's is here.

Another review of Limits of Control


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