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

It was made easier for me to appreciate when I read a critical review that said, basically, that the soundtrack was just the sound of Neil Young repeatedly dropping his guitar. :smiley: Goes with the weird humor of the film.

I always get het up when people say things like this. It’s not a dichotomy-either “BANG BANG” movies or deeply artistic movies. Both action-y movies and artistic movies can actually have plots and character development.

But more to the point, just because an artist has a vision, that doesn’t mean he can actually pull it off. I thought Dead Man was a horrible bore, but I loved Ghost Dog, of which I own a copy. Night on Earth was a fine movie, but not one I’d own, nor likely see again. I liked most of Broken Flowers, but didn’t really like the end. So for me, Jarmusch is neither hero nor villain. I neither go to a movie because he directs, nor avoid a movie because he directs.

Did you intend to come across like a hipster stereotype? There are lots of us rubes out here in flyover country that like Styx AND The Sex Pistols. We’ve heard of weed (and other things), and we can take them or leave them. We don’t think were better for it, but we’re not worse because we don’t hang out with artistes. Same with Jarmusch films. If he is attempting to speak to those “who have experienced the surroundings and lifestyles he depicts, who have studied filmmaking” is it still OK if those of us that haven’t can still judge them on their individual merit?

It was merely shorthand to point out one of the main differences between films being made today, and films that were made earlier. Audiences today expect a much faster pace. Imagine if The Exorcist were released as a new film today. People would say it was too slow.

I think he does pull it off. He makes the films he wants to make, and they work for me.

I own all of those, but I haven’t gotten round to watching Broken Flowers yet. I think Dead Man is the most hilarious film he’s made. It’s a hoot… and also beautiful.

Of course not. I am not a hipster. Ask anyone. My point was that as someone ‘who has experienced the surroundings and lifestyles he depicts, who has studied filmmaking’, Jarmusch’s films strike a chord. I didn’t say that I thought I’m better for it, nor imply that you were worse. Only that my life experience is such that I appreciate what Jarmusch says in his films.

Certainly. But understand that his films are aimed at a particular audience that might have different sensibilities. The Star Wars prequels were aimed at children, so a lot of people here hate them. Some demographics liked The English Patient. Others of us were like, ‘Just die, already!’ The comic book movie craze that’s been going on for the last couple of decades. Some think they’re great, and some think they’re silly. Again, they’re aimed at a certain demographic. Jarmusch’s films are as well.

I appreciate your response, Johnny L.A.

And I enjoyed the forth as well as the back.

You say that like it’s a bad thing. Those are all reasons WHY I like him. And I’m not a hipster or college kid.

Actually, I think that’s a terrible adjective. “Bleak” suggests a pessimistic worldview, and his films are far far too funny to have that description fit. Are his films often about losers or outcasts or people who really don’t adjust to their surroundings well? Sure. But most of them are OK with that, or figure out a way to float along, doing their own thing. His films are visually spare, often narratively minimalist, but hardly bleak (B&W is used to great affect for texture and emotional counterpoint).

That said, I have been frustrated that he never really seemed to mature or grow as an artist. He has a particular POV and it’s quite fun, IMHO, but he hasn’t shown the development of a Sayles or Lynch or Linklater. Certainly, Broken Flowers was a gutsy and provocative film, but what I hoped would be a springboard into more adventurous material has not happened. For better or worse, he’s also the only person to use the otherwise insufferable Roberto Benigni well.

But I love his earlier films and Dead Man is the finest western of the last quarter century (at least) and a genuine masterpiece.

Oh come on! You can think he’s an independent film genius, but let’s not go overboard. Dead Man is a better western than Unforgiven, Pale Rider, Josie Wales, True Grit, Tombstone, let alone Stagecoach, The Searchers, High Noon? Not even Jarmusch would say that.

Genuine masterpiece is a good debatable point, I’ll grant, even if I personally can’t stand it.

You’ve got some pretty goddam long quarter centuries, pardner.

…at least…

Just for a neat and clean conversation, I will choose to stick with the films you listed that are within the quarter century mark:

(Assuming you’re talking about the remake of True Grit)

I happen to like ALL of those films, and I like Dead Man better than all of them.
Really anyone who I know who likes Dead Man at all is going to be in agreement with this. The only people I can imagine who wouldn’t think Dead Man is better than those other three films would be people who do not like Dead Man at all (and, of course, I know MANY people who do not like Dead Man at all).

As to the first part, I posit that anyone that likes Dead Man is predisposed to think it is awesome. In this thread, for example, there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground-it was the best of films, it was the worst of films.

As to the second point, I, too can’t imagine that anyone that doesn’t like Dead Man at all would think it was better than a movie they liked.

You know where I am coming from. I couldn’t stand it. But I can appreciate that other people do. I can see the things people could like about it. But to argue that it is better than more widely liked, successful, award winning films is arguing a different form of ‘better’ than most people would use.

Remember it was MovieMogul that said it was the finest western of the last quarter century (at least) (emphasis added). I assumed he meant the last quarter century or longer rather than say the finest western or other genres. To argue it is a finer film that the older films I mentioned is just independent film snobbery.

Very few people who discuss the arts on this messageboard define “better” as “most widely liked/successful/award winning”.
And nobody defines “better” that way when they’ve discovered something that they like that was not widely liked/successful/award winning.

There are Westerns, and there are Westerns. Dead Man is a Western, but it is a very different one from ‘traditional’ Westerns.

Personally, I like Dead Man better than Unforgiven, Pale Rider, Stagecoach, The Searchers, and High Noon. I was disappointed the first time I saw Unforgiven, but I’m warming up to it. I liked Pale Rider from the first, but the ‘Preacher! I love you!’ bit at the end makes me cringe every time. Of course the films I think Dead Man is better than are classics that are worthy of study. And they’re not unenjoyable. It’s just that I like Dead Man better than them.

So is Dead Man better than The Outlaw Josey Wales, True Grit, and Tombstone? I like each for its own merits. TOJW had a different sensibility for its time, and I appreciate the time-accurate firearms instead of everyone carrying Model 1873s. And Chief Dan George was great. TG is a good story and has lots of funny bits. ‘Everything happens to me. Now I’m shot by a child.’ Tombstone was quite enjoyable, even though Dana Delaney was horribly miscast. How about Silverado? Great film. And you know what? I like Heaven’s Gate. Great cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond, excellent props and costuming, you get to see a young Isabelle Huppert naked a lot, and it was based on actual characters and the Johnson County War. (I didn’t like the Harvard scenes, or the roller skating dance.) Dead Man had a very unusual story, mistaken identity, hilarious characters, tribal culture from where I now live, and Transformation of the main character, in addition to being beautifully shot. I can’t say that it was better than the other films I’ve mentioned in this paragraph, but I can see how some people would consider it a masterpiece.

Well, that’s kinds what I’m saying. Although using widely liked/successful/award winning smacks of arguing from authority, I submit for purposes of cinema analysis it is the correct definition of “better”. The largest number of people liked the movie, or understood it. A movie that people don’t ‘get’ is not a better film. It was not successful at conveying the artist’s intent.

The details of ‘getting’ a movie are where the disagreement comes from. **Johnny L.A. **is saying you have to be ‘in’ with the director’s world view to enjoy the film. I think that is fine from the point of view of liking that film, but a film which resonates with people who do not share that director’s experience is arguably a ‘better’ film. Even if JLA dismisses making an popular film with a derisive putdown of it having “‘Hollywood’ sensibilities”.

In the second point, people that like things that are ‘unliked’ have to have something to prove to themselves that theirs is the correct viewpoint. When their favorites are met with widespread dismissal, they fall back on ‘you just don’t get it." I get it-I just don’t like it.’ (note this is a general comment, not directed at DM)

coughPearl Harborcough coughMemphis Belleahem**Independence Day

Where do Avatar, Titanic, The Artist, Chicago, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Hugo, Star Wars, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, GWTW and many others fit into your pantheon of ‘coughin’ films? Some are ‘Hollywood sensibilities’ films, some are not. Yet all are Academy award winners, nominees, box office blockbusters, or just plain perennial ‘everybody’s top film list’ films. Are the collected films of Jim Jarmusch better than these as well?

Do I have to be an antebellum slaveholder to ‘get’ GWTW? Do I have to be a film studies major to ‘get’ Citizen Kane? If not, then why do Jarmusch’s films get classed as ‘better’ films because you have to be ‘in the know’ to appreciate them?

If anything, Jarmusch makes films with “independent film sensibilities.” Which to me is, ‘the fewer people that like my film, the better.’ Like, I am a big Neil Young fan, but I swear he hates his audience, and his own success. What was his comment at the success of Harvest? Something like, “I couldn’t stand the middle of the road, so I headed for the ditch.” But, I take his metaphorical middle finger and keep liking his music in spite of him.

I found Stranger than Paradise and Down by Law deeply existentially hilarious. I have great affection for both of these films.

That’s fine.
You’re wrong, but it’s totally o.k. with me that you are wrong.

Speaking of Jarmusch, anyone here seen Fishing With John (a tongue in cheek fishing show with John Lurie)?