Who's Jim Jarmusch?

For those familiar with the man, Jim Jarmusch is unmistakable. You’d never miss him strolling down a street in Manhattan with his gravity-defying shock of white hair, ample sideburns and mirrored sunglasses. 

His work announces itself just as unequivocally with a contemplative pace and a stripped-down aesthetic that allows the viewer to really live with the characters. Jarmusch isn’t afraid for audiences to feel his characters’ boredom, lack of motivation, uncertainty or malaise. You half expect the onscreen character to break the third wall and wordlessly offer you a smoke, then ignore you for several minutes.

It’s this bridging of the gap between viewer and story that makes Jarmusch’s films so engaging. It’s all so familiar, even down to the awkward silences. His characters want more out of life, they’re restless and itinerant, but are held back by habit and personal limitations. They strive to stand out from drab surroundings, but struggle to figure out how. They take chances and often fail. They look an awful lot like us, but wear better hats.

There’s a casual, flawed mysticism to life in a Jarmusch film. His stories are moody, philosophical, episodic – often somber and pensive, but full of personality. Cigarette smoke, poetry and gritty music permeate everything. Music often means one song on repeat. His characters have their jam and it seems to serve them well. 

Most of all, Jarmusch knows there’s as much ennui in the city as anywhere. You see his characters on a slow day, even if it’s one of the more eventful days in their life. We’re right there with them, and just as in our lives, significance becomes clearer with time.

Boondocks Film Society