The Dead Don't Die (2019)


Direction: Jim Jarmusch
Country: USA

In recent years, acclaimed director Jim Jarmusch showed his versatility by successfully changing the themes of his films. He cleverly explored the world of vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), documented the American punk band The Stooges in Gimme Danger (2016), and offered one of the smartest and most engaging stories from 2016 with Paterson. His new movie, The Dead Don’t Die is a George A. Romero-inspired zombie-comedy pastiche whose connection with the previous three films are the actors. Tilda Swinton is the character who fascinated me the most, yet Jarmusch also convened Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, and Iggy Pop, who makes a brief yet authoritative appearance as a zombie.

When radio signals repeatedly fail and the days become inexplicably longer in the small town of Centerville, the local police force - represented by the easygoing Cliff (Murray), the suspicious and cerebral Ronnie (Driver), and the super sensitive Mindy Morrison (Sevigny) - starts to think about Hermit Bob (Waits), an apparently aggressive caveman that lives in the forest for years without never hurting anyone. The cops immediately drop the suspect when an unexpected zombie attack takes place at the local bar (the pair of blood drinkers and flesh eaters are Iggy Pop and Sara Driver), leaving a general sense of fear in the air.


If the apathetic police officers behave passively, a local gas station owner, Bob Wiggins (Jones), and the fearless Scottish sword master, Zelda Winston (Swinton), are pretty committed to fighting the walking corpses. The latter, even enjoys a close relationship, sort to speak, with the dead since she works as an undertaker at the Ever After Funeral Home. In the film’s most imbecilic scene, she is teleported into a UFO.

There’s nothing we haven't seen before in The Dead Don’t Die, with the aggravation that its course is predictable and slow, the deadpan humor only works intermittently, and its action scenes are dully bland. Jarmusch has definitely the passion, but he didn’t have the brains to take this caricatural experience to the next level. Unfortunately, that contagious, nightmarish side we hope to find in a film of this nature is missing.


Paterson (2016)


Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Country: USA

If you haven’t had your good doses of weird reality and gratifying laughter for the day, “Paterson”, the sensational new comedy-drama from the hip American writer-director Jim Jarmusch, can assure you both. 
The quality of his work is patented in cult films such as “Ghost Dog”, “Broken Flowers”, “Dead Man”, “Only Lovers Left Alive”, “Mystery Train”, and the black-and-white classics “Stranger Than Paradise” and “Down By Law”.

Jarmusch takes you to the city of Paterson, New Jersey, and introduces you to… Paterson, a local bus driver and poet, brilliantly played by Adam Driver, who experiences the same routine every day.
The amiable and often-lost-in-thought Paterson, who hates cell phones and is able to write a mind-blowing poem just by looking at a simple box of matches, lives with his girlfriend, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), and her jealous English bulldog, Marvin.

Every evening he takes Marvin for a walk and stops at the local pub to have a beer with the owner, Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley), his best friend and a chess aficionado. 
Despite the casual conversation, the bar always reserves exceptional surprises. Firstly, he has a sort of encounter of the third kind when he meets two twins, Sam & Dave (alluding to the soul/R&B duo); then it’s Everett (William Jackson Harper) who pulls a gun from his pocket to claim love from Marie (Chasten Harmon); finally it’s Doc, censured by his angry wife whose saving money vanished from the cookie jar.

Surprises also happen at work and home.
Laura, a sensitive night dreamer, is trying to earn some extra by baking cupcakes to sell, a business with strong probabilities of success. However, she just found out she wants to become a singer and guitarist. Her plan is to buy a Harlequin guitar and learn how to play it. The price is not cheap but she counts on Paterson to help her financially.
Paterson's good nature reflects a passive calmness that is never shaken. Not even when Marvin tears his poem notebook into pieces or when his bus suddenly breaks down in the middle of the street due to an electrical problem.
For the finale, Jarmusch reserved us a hilarious encounter between the title character and a visiting Japanese poet. The scene still makes me laugh whenever it pops up into my mind.

Relying on the amazing editing of Affonso Gonçalves, the director has planned everything smartly with a languid composure, controlled pace, and refreshing sincerity. He has this very peculiar sense of filmmaking – nonchalant, highly artistic, and still unpretentious – that makes him one of the most cherished indie filmmakers from our times. 
I love the fact that he always assures room to breathe while the story keeps flowing in a naturalistic way. 
Chaining simplicity to irony is part of the secret.