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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

274 of 1001 Movies: Down By Law (1986)

I've watched a few Jim Jarmusch movies by now, and while I can appreciate it I also can't help but feel something is keeping me from getting into them as I would hope. Broken Flowers was great, and I can see the value in Dead Man, but once you watch Down By Law then you may be less enthused with Dead Man. I know about I'm about to sound "film dumb", but I can't get into black and white very well after the method of using black and white became an artistic choice, and not just an automatic default. Jarmusch though chose a great cast to lead this film, which keeps it alive with characters at least.

Summary: DJ Zack and Jack, a pimp, both end up in prison. They were framed, but didn't really care enough to fight it. It seems they feel their lives were bound to catch up with them. When an Italian immigrant, Roberto, gets locked away with them they begin plotting how to escape. Roberto has some distracting eccentrics they utilize. Anyways, their journey from the prison to their escape will be a learning experience for these guys as well.


Acting: I've seen Tom Waits in several movies and he is a compelling actor, and it's impressive he is a talented musician as well. Waits plays DJ Zack who is down on his luck, and I think if you're a Waits fan in general then you'll enjoy the performance. John Lurie is the only actor in the movie of the three that I hadn't seen in a movie, or don't remember seeing in one, and he is Jack the pimp. Now Lurie was less memorable for me, but his character fits in with a balance to the other personalities. There is also Roberto Bengni who is Roberto. The only other thing I remember him from is To Rome to Love, and he did have on of the more interesting parts in that movie. I think he's very quirky, and for me the most entertaining to watch in the movie.

Filming: Obviously the most obvious thing will be this is filmed in black and white after black and white wasn't being utilized really anymore. Perhaps it was because this was indie and a low budget, or because the director just had a thing for black and white in a time you could make it more your own thing. There are a lot of other trademarks of Jarmusch though. He has this very still way of filming. Scenes seem to lull on forever as we watch scenes that seem to want to be more insightful of characters than carrying the story.

Plot: Well the plot mainly centers around these guys and their lives. I don't even know that the prison part is the main aspect considering the beginning is just as a lengthy, and the after their escape is as well. We get a lead up to show how crummy these guys' lives are. I just don't get what I'm supposed to be feeling when I watch this. Perhaps it's just a guy movie and that is where my disconnect lies? Why are these characters seeming so apathetic? Maybe it's because it's just a more common guy reaction? By the end perhaps that is supposed to be the change. Some excitement finally for them. Otherwise I was just a bit lost on the point.

Down By Law hit with audiences though and critics. It is even in the Criterion collection as well. For me though I really do like a lot of emotions in my movies however lame that might be. Sometimes there are movies that don't call for much reaction, especially if their channeled more through males, which is understandable. I want some tears though, or just laughs. Whatever it is I like emotions.


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