Can anyone explain why so many people like the films of Jim Jarmusch?

Jim Jarmusch is a film director. I would call him a controversial figure although many people will probably disagree with me.

The first film that I ever saw which he directed was, Stranger than Paradise (1984). I just couldn’t understand why so many people seemed to like it. The story just went nowhere. It seemed to me that nothing much ever happened and watching that movie just seemed to me to be a colossal waste of my time. But many people disagree. They talk about the bleak landscape and the beautiful photography. But I can’t see the value in any of that if there is no story.

Other films he has directed that you may recognize are:

Down by Law (1986)

Dead Man (1995)

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Broken Flowers (2005)

I never saw Dead Man or Ghost Dog. However, they both had some very famous actors. Broken Flowers starred Bill Murray. Ghost Dog starred Forest Whitaker. Dead Man starred Johnny Depp.

I did see Broken Flowers and once again, I just couldn’t see anything interesting happening in that story.

I must admit to being very confused. I really love watching Johnny Depp and Bill Murray and can’t imagine that major stars like them would appear in movies that had zero action and zero entertainment.

So, clearly there must be something I just don’t understand about this man or the films he makes.

I would be very happy if anyone could explain just what it is they see in his films and why so many people seem to like them.

Am I the only one who can’t see any value in his films?

I’ll never get it. I suffered through Dead Man hating every goddamned second of it (of which there were plenty.) Well, except when Iggy Pop was on screen. And I’m not afraid of difficult or long or slow movies; I just hate Jim Jarmusch.

You cannot imagine my dismay when I heard that Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton were going to be in a vampire movie… directed by Jim Jarmusch. That’s like being told that your mother-in-law has driven off a cliff in your new car.

First, how old are you, Charlie Wayne?

I love Jim Jarmusch’s films. I’ll have to compose a better answer after I wake up a bit (and get some work done), but for now…

Yes, the bleak landscapes and the beautiful photography. I lived in the Mojave Desert during my teen years, so I know bleak. The thing is, once you get past the bleakness you notice the details. The desert is really a beautiful place. So if I see a frozen lake or blighted landscape, I look for the beauty in them. I love B&W photography. I know some people who refuse to watch a B&W film, but it can be an excellent directorial choice.

The first JJ film I saw was Night On Earth. What struck me about it was how he set up the camera and just let the actors act. This is where age comes in. Many younger people, in addition to not wanting to watch a B&W film, also expect fast editing. Before the 1980s, stories unfolded at a more leisurely pace. There was actual story development instead of ‘bang-bang-bang!’ IMO, Jarmusch allowed the stories to unfold on their own, but without a lot of the ‘filler’ that earlier films often had. Another thing is that his films are ‘slice of life’ stories. Think about your life, and the lives of people you know. Day to day, they’re not very exciting. But few people croak themselves out of boredom. I like his characters because I can relate to many of them.

I think Jarmusch’s films are not so much about tory-telling (though I like the stories), but more about the Art of Filmmaking. Viewers are expected to appreciate the craft as well as the story. And as for the stories and characters, they are aimed at a certain type of viewer. I grew up in ‘Middle Class Suburbia’. But my tastes run toward the seamier, underclass side of things. As a young adult, the people I hung out with were artistic types. Parties had weed and alcohol (and other things), and music was more likely to be The Sex Pistols or Throbbing Gristle than Rush or Styx. I didn’t live in a ‘city’, as one thinks of New York for example, but I appreciate the lifestyle. I love New Orleans, but hang out with the artists and musicians there instead of going to the ‘tourist attractions’.

So I think Jarmusch’s films resonate with people who have experienced the surroundings and lifestyles he depicts, who have studied filmmaking (I have a couple of IMDb entries) and know about the technical and artistic decisions he makes, and who appreciate films outside ‘Hollywood’ sensibilities.

FWIW, I loved Dead Man. The SO liked the story well enough. (Pretty hilarious film, IMO.) But she hated Neil Young’s soundtrack.

I also love Jarmusch’s work. I’ve seen everything he has directed, enjoyed it all. Dead Man is probably my favorite, Broken Flowers my least favorite.

I haven’t seen a lot of Jarmusch’s films, but Mystery Train is one of my favorite movies.

I used to write film reviews for the Berlin Film Festival.
During my stint doing this, I got to meet many new, up and coming directors; Pedro Almodovar, Gus van Sant and Derek Jarman, to name a few. Jim Jarmusch was also considered in the same group of young filmmakers to watch out for.

At film festivals they are more willing to cut some slack for the “newbies” that seemed to have some promise. Films that were obviously done on the cheap, stories that may meander, films that had little or no hope of wider distribution other than the film festival circuit - that made little difference if the general consensus was that this filmmaker had promise. It was always interesting to see how some new directors with pretty good films would be ignored, whereas others with (in my opinion) less quality work would be “hyped” as the next big thing.

I found Jarmusch to be a bit tedious and didn’t understand the hype. He certainly wasn’t the worst filmmaker at the festival, by any means. Trust me, for every jewel of a film you see at such festivals, you are wading through tons and tons of crap to find it. Somehow he seemed to be the darling of the press - I guess it was his looks, his attitude, quirks - but mostly it was the hype. There was “buzz” about him before he even screened his film.

My own opinion is that he really didn’t grow much. Not that you need to be a huge commercial success later in life, but his films all seemed to still be the work of a promising new director who just never quite fulfilled the promise. I think it is safe to say he has his cult followers, and certainly nothing wrong with that, but he sort of stuck to a style of filmmaking that made all of his films look like first-time works by a promising new director. At some point, you can’t be the promising new director anymore - at some point you have to make the leap.

Pedro Almodovar made the leap, Gus van Sant made the leap - but Jim Jarmusch is, in my opinion, still making the equivalent of student films.

I agree that he had potential and failed to realize it. I think this is pretty much the standard take now.

I did like Broken Flowers quite a bit, the rest not so much.

For me, “Dead Man” is one of the best movies ever made. It’s one of those movies that you can watch every few years. I’d agree that not all of his movies hit the spot but, then again, I couldn’t finish watchimng a single Almodovar movie. I guess, it could be personal, too.

I really enjoy Night on Earth, Ghost Dog and Broken Flowers (I just watched that again a few weeks ago).
I think his movies, while bleak are really about characters–not showy character parts but just interesting characters.

Why do so many people like Adam Sandler movies? Why do so many people like Honey Boo Boo? Obviously, there is something in those movies and TV shows that resonates with the fans.

I don’t know. I’ve never liked any of the movies I’ve seen by him.

There is a playfulness to Jim Jarmusch movies, he often plays with timelines, like in Mystery Train, or Night on Earth that I like. What I also like about his movies is that there is a sense that there is both an underlying magic and sadness to the world that often seems just on the edge of our awareness; the two are intertwined and you can’t have the magic without the sadness.

It is a sad and beautiful world.

I’ve only seen Ghost Dog. It was very much a straight-to-video affair loved by the type of early 2000s college kids who have a Boondock Saints poster and a Scarface t-shirt.

I scream. You scream. We all scream. For ice cream. :smiley:

Yeah, it’s a sad and beautiful world… that’s a good one. Yeah, yeah… buzz off.

I believe you have hit the nail square on the head.

Everything you say about him feels exactly right to me.

The very title of this thread is wrong.

“So many” people like Jim Jarmusch? Really?

Did*** Ghost Dog ***rake in $300 million? Did Down By Law spawn several sequels? Did ***Stranger Than Paradise ***play on 5 screens at every multiplex in your home town, or on one screen at a single arthouse?

Jim Jarmusch has SOME rabid fans, certainly, but nowhere near as many as Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. Heck, even if we stick to indie directors with sizable cults, he’s not huge.

I haven’t seen many but did really enjoy Broken Flowers. Is it typical of the rest of his work?

I don’t think it is very typical of his other work, Bob.

He likes to make B&W films. I’m pretty sure Down by Law was B&W as was Stranger than Paradise.

But B&W is typical of the kinds of films he makes. “Bleak” would be the best adjective IMO. There is not much action. Usually his films are character studies of people who are put into situations they are not used to and their reactions when they expect some events to happen and those events do not happen. AAMOF, in most of his films that I’ve seen, hardly anything ever happens.

I must be clear that this is only my opinion and in the past, whenever I have discussed his films, many people seem to strongly disagree with me. Many people have expressed the opinion that he is a great film maker and there is much to be gleaned from his style.

I would be tempted to say that I don’t agree. But I can’t say that because I really just find myself confused by his films. I just don’t understand them well enough to make any strong opinions. I think it would be stupid for me to express a strong opinion about his films when the truth is that I really just don’t understand them. I just don’t get the point of his films and so I don’t think it would be reasonable for me to slam them - even though that is my feeling about them.