Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Overstreet

Broken Flowers - new Jarmusch

Recommended Posts

Ooh! Ooh!

w00t.gif


"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now the trailer... "in" as they say "glorious Quicktime."

WOOOO HOOO, this looks fun. Murray, with Jeffrey Wright, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Frances Conroy... faaaaaaantastic. Oh, and Sharon Stone.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a pleasure... but of course it is.

The following might be considered MILD SPOILERS, but not if you've seen the preview. The preview spoils more than these comments.

And this isn't a review. These are just a few comments for the eager Jarmusch fans who already know that nothing will stop them from seeing his latest.

As usual, Jarmusch is interested in observing characters in spontaneous and thoughtful moments, making unlikely connections and navigating subtle coincidences. His fixed gaze on seemingly ordinary situations compels you to be watchful as well, and eventually you start to detect the subterranean stories unfolding.

Bill Murray plays Don, a guy who made his money "in computers," but has no life to show for it. His meddling neighbor Winston (Jeffrey Wright with an Ethiopian accent) is obsessed with detective fiction, and wants so badly to employ some of the standard p-i tactics that he jumps at the opportunity to help Don solve a mystery ... namely, which of Don's ex-lovers penned the letter revealing that he has a son? Winston can't wait to track down the woman whose typewriter pounded out the message. In fact, he really cares more about making that "forensic evidence" connection than he does about helping Don find his mystery family.

It's an episodic journey from one ex to the next, an understated odyssey, that is basically the reverse of Groundhog Day--instead of having Bill Murray walk through the same circumstances in each episode, behaving differently every time, THIS time, Bill Murray remains the same scene to scene while everything around him changes.

But that's the problem with the film. We've seen Murray play understated and lost a lot lately. We've seen long shots of him sitting center stage, calmly and glumly staring into space. We've seen him awkwardly take a bite of something during an uncomfortable silence. We've seen those moments of supremely stifled astonishment. We've seen the wistful gaze of "Am I really worthy of being a father to anybody?"

The emotional territory that Murray travels here is so similar to that of Life Aquatic and Lost in Translation that it's a bit frustrating. If there's any difference at all, it's that Don is even more introspective, more buried deep within himself, more numb to everything around him. This allows him to do some of his most delicate acting, and it's a wonderful performance. But I think that, following so closely on the heels of these other two performances, it blunts the effectiveness of his work.

Having said that, the film's well worth seeing, with excellent performances by everyone involved (If Tilda Swinton's White Witch is scarier than the character she plays here, look out!) and it has a wonderful final moment. I expect it will improve with repeated viewings.

But, doggone it, I'm not going to be able to rave about its strengths in CT without also posting a billboard-size disclaimor about nudity.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't stop thinking about this film, and that's a good thing... puts it right up there with Millions and Born into Brothels at the top of my list. There are a few moments... one in particular... that stay with me and stir up powerful emotions whenever they come to my mind. I think that, years from now, it's likely that this film will rival Lost in Translation when people argue about Murray's greatest performance. They are similar in many ways, but there are a few moments here that are unique in Murray's career... moments I wouldn't have known he could pull off.

Crikey... I can't wait until we can discuss this.

In the meantime... what's your favorite Jarmusch film... and why?

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've gone hot and cold on Jarmusch over the years, but never too hot, or too cold -- and that's the problem. His work leaves me ... lukewarm. I see no reason to praise it for its minimalist style, although that approach is admittedly refreshing. But it wears off quickly.

I have fond memories of Down By Law and, to a lesser extent, Stranger Than Paradise, both of which I saw while a student. By the time I saw Mystery Train, I was looking forward to something a little more mainstream from Jarmusch -- which Train reportedly was. I do remember enjoying it, but I can't recall a single thing about it.

Then there's the movie about the taxi driver who has Giancarlo Esposito as a passenger. Or was it Roberto Begnini, talking (manically) about the pope? Maybe that was Mystery Train. It was episodic; part of a larger collaboration?

You can see that some of his work blends together for me.

What puzzled me most, and angered me, was Dead Man. Isn't this Leary's favorite film, or something? I'm a huge fan of revisionist Westerns, but whatever poetry is in this film escaped me. I was bored by it -- and I hate that more than anything. I expect acclaimed films to hold my attention on some level. "Slowness" is just fine. But boredom goes to another level.

I really do hope to eat my words one day on Dead Man.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've gone hot and cold on Jarmusch over the years, but never too hot, or too cold -- and that's the problem. His work leaves me ... lukewarm. I see no reason to praise it for its minimalist style, although that approach is admittedly refreshing. But it wears off quickly.

I think that sums up nicely how I feel about the man's films. I had a roommate that was a huge Jarmusch fan, so that was my introduction to the man. However, I've only seen a small sampling of the man's work, so I might not have seen his best work. What is generally regarded as Jarmusch's "best" film?


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've gone hot and cold on Jarmusch over the years, but never too hot, or too cold -- and that's the problem. His work leaves me ... lukewarm. I see no reason to praise it for its minimalist style, although that approach is admittedly refreshing. But it wears off quickly.

I think that sums up nicely how I feel about the man's films. I had a roommate that was a huge Jarmusch fan, so that was my introduction to the man. However, I've only seen a small sampling of the man's work, so I might not have seen his best work. What is generally regarded as Jarmusch's "best" film?

That's a tough question, but I'd go with Stranger Than Paradise, if only because it's received the "Criterion" treatment pre-DVD.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jonathan Rosenbaum thinks Dead Man is the best American film of the last twenty-or-so years, FWIW.

Mystery Train is a favorite for a lot of people.

My favorite is Down by Law, I'm never bored by Dead Man, and I have a soft spot for Strangers in Paradise and Ghost Dog.

By the way, Down by Law is a Criterion DVD release as well.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm certainly willing to give Dead Man another shot. I realize my boredom is not the be all and end all, and I happily acknowledge that films I once found boring have grown into favorites of mine.

But not this one. Yet.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dead Man is a very slow-moving, thoughtful film. Most people I know would be bored by it. I just happen to like movies that give you a lot of space for reflection... movies where things aren't always happening but sometimes just are.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just happen to like movies that give you a lot of space for reflection... movies where things aren't always happening but sometimes just are.

But so do I, so I'm not sure what that says about Dead Man.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only seen three Jarmusch films: Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and Coffee and Cigarettes. As I am a Bill Murray fan, I'll definitely be seeing this one.

MILD spoilers1.gif

As for Dead Man, it's one of those films that I actually found really fascinating, but it didn't stay with me the way some films do. I really enjoyed the beginning on the train. I truly felt as if I had been travelling for days and days. And Crispin Glover is profoundly creepy with only a few words. I loved the American Indian character who is into William Blake's poetry. It really is a good movie, and definitely agree with Jeffrey that it gives you space for reflection.

However, Rosenbaum's assertion that it's the best American film of the past 20 years? Sorry, no. That simply isn't true.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Broken Flowers' conclusion will send audiences out talking about what it means. But

: take note: Only the watchful will perceive the subtle significance of that final shot. It

: finally resolves the central tension of the story. Some critics are missing it, concluding

: that Don is doomed to the doldrums of disillusionment. But there is a crucial difference

: in the "hero" during our final, poignant glimpse of him. To say more would be telling,

: but it could be the key to his redemption.

Care to flesh this out, Jeff? I assume you're not referring to the (blinking?) red light on the back of the car (or SUV) way off in the distance. Gad, it was distracting. smile.gif

Seriously, I'm pretty sure I knew what you're referring to, namely

the fact that Murray's character turns around and looks the other way while the camera spins around his head

. But is there anything more to it than that?

FWIW, I note that Catholic critic Thomas Hibbs was actually disappointed in this film's ending:

Although
Broken Flowers
runs out of energy and ideas in its final scenes, the film is genuinely amusing and endearing -- a welcome relief from the rubbish Hollywood is churning out in this its summer of box office discontent. . . .

Not long into Johnston's journey, viewers will begin to wonder, how are they possibly going to end this thing? And the conclusion, with multiple suggestions as to what the answer to the mystery letter might be, falls flat. In this respect,
Flowers
is inferior to
Lost in Translationp
, which faced a similar dilemma in its final frames, where the dramatic question concerns what do with the aging Murray's burgeoning affection for a much younger woman. That film managed to find just the right way of framing the uncertainty, of formulating the question in concise and dramatically satisfying way. Although
Broken Flowers
runs out of steam, Murray's mesmerizing performance is still enough to make this film the most captivating of the summer.

I find Hibbs's dissatisfaction with the ending fascinating, in light of Jim Jarmusch's own comment that he spent weeks editing the film's ending BEFORE he even started looking at the beginning, because he didn't like this character -- and he certainly didn't like where this character is at the beginning of this story -- but he WANTED to like this character when the movie was over.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the beginning, Murray has no volition, no ambition, no drive, no curiosity, no question of his own. He's shoved into action by someone else's drive. But in that closing moment, battered, bruised, and beaten, he suddenly is possessed of his own volition, and his eyes are alive with the zeal of the Question. He's moving forward, Winston be damned. There's no single concrete detail... it's just a matter of his expression. He's looking at the world as if it's an opportunity again instead of a void.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure I agree with Jeffrey's reading of the end. I can just as easily see it as that

there is nothing more to goad him on. He took one initiative buying the kid a sandwich, and it failed. Now he is standing in the middle of the intersection with no clue.

I watched Down by Law earlier this week to get a feel for Jarmusch. (Only other I'd seen by him was Coffee and Cigarettes, which is an entirely different animal.) So I was much more prepared for this film than my wife, who was (judging from her read of the trailer) looking for a more Lost in Translation story. And the people sitting behind us really hated the ending (but then, judging from their comments through the film angry.gif) they were probably looking for a simple Murray comedy - not an ending that will have you talking about what it means.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Darrel Manson wrote:

: . . . they were probably looking for a simple Murray comedy - not an ending that will

: have you talking about what it means.

Does anybody really have a right to expect that any more? This isn't like Adam Sandler fans walking into Punch-Drunk Love after Mr. Deeds or Eight Crazy Nights -- Murray has been doing the serious-melancholic-actor thing at least since Rushmore in 1998, and possibly since Wild Things earlier that year (was he funny in that film? I don't remember him being in it at all).

(Exceptions: Charlie's Angels, a 2000 film he notoriously hated and refused to appear in the sequel of; and Osmosis Jones, a 2001 film that reunited him with the Farrelly brothers, where the real attraction was the animation; and Garfield, the 2004 film in which all he did was provide the voice of the titular cat.)

In other words, Murray has not been the leading man in a conventional comedy since 1997's The Man Who Knew Too Little.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...and, actually, I'd say that he began to prove himself as a dramatic actor even before that, with Groundhog Day and possibly even Mad Dog and Glory. Sure, both are comedies, and Murray is funny in both films, but I think they both show that he's capable of much more than his earlier comedies ever hinted at.

Incidentally, I wonder if Broken Flowers will generate any Oscar buzz for Murray? I saw the film yesterday, and while I still think he was slightly better in Lost in Translation, there are a few moments in Flowers that may be his strongest ever.


Partner in Cahoots

www.cahootsmag.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Josh Hurst wrote:

: ...and, actually, I'd say that he began to prove himself as a dramatic actor even before

: that, with Groundhog Day and possibly even Mad Dog and Glory.

Oh, even before THAT. Or at least, he was TRYING to prove himself even before that. I remember being in high school and reading about The Razor's Edge (1984) and how Murray had agreed to make Ghostbusters earlier that year only if he could then tackle a more serious, dramatic role. I've never seen the film, so I can't say whether he was any good in it; but he was certainly TRYING to pull himself out of that ex-SNL shtick from a relatively early point in his career.

Interestingly, in one of the reviews of Broken Flowers that I've read, someone made the point that an actor like Steve Martin can do funny, and can do serious, but not at the same time; Murray, on the other hand, can do both at the same time.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The jagged edges of Broken Flowers

As a long-time Jarmusch fan, from Stranger Than Paradise (1984) to Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), I found Broken Flowers painful. It's a road picture with no destination, no points of interest, and no resolution.

Robert Fulford, National Post, August 30


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like this film more, the more I think about it.

Interesting perspective sent in to Ebert by a reader -- http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.d...tegory=SCANNERS (go about 1/3 of the way down to "Broken Flowers, Human Mystery")

I thought this review was quite good and helped my appreciation -- http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/broken_flowers.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked this film, too, even though I don't care for Murray's acting (in this persona).

Spoilers

I don't know if I buy the possibilitiy that Don worte the first letter, not until I hear some other evidence for this anyway. It's an interesting idea, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...