This week’s Fandor Criterion streaming selection was American Independent Films, and I have only just now looked at the date and realised why. I watched two of them and rather enjoyed both.
The memory of Elvis is ever-present, as this broken-down town keeps reminding itself of its most famous son. He’s present as photographs on the wall, and as the subject of tall tales. His ghost even makes a brief appearance, which works no matter how little sense the scene makes. The stories meander, allowing us to bask in the personality of the location. We see why people would visit, and why they might not stay. Nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere in this film, not even the criminals on the run, yet the film’s pace feels just right. That’s a tough line to walk, but Jarmusch’s characters are fun to be around, and their personalities make it work. I really liked this one.
I guess I’m struggling to describe the film’s tone. The wandering, poetic narration by a young girl reminded me very specifically of the voiceover in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978), a film I truly love. Green wasn’t simply mimicking Malick here, though; he made something unique with this, his first film as a director. This makes much of his output since a little confusing, since he’s responsible for some of the worst mainstream comedies in recent years (The Sitter, Your Highness). Still, he made at least one very good film.