Posts tagged ‘Neil Young’

June 13, 2013

DIY Cannes 2013: Dead Man

Dead Man 3To stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way?

And yes, I know it’s over, but 2 week long trips in the middle of this project set me back very far. I’m going to finish it up anyway BECAUSE I CARE. Or I’m still unemployed.

Movie #16: Dead Man

Director: Jim Jarmusch

His Cannes 2013 Movie: Only Lovers Left Alive

Whatever I was expecting, this was not it. Dead Man is the very bizarre story of a man named William Blake (Johnny Depp) who moves out West to take over a position as an accountant in a boomtown. When the position falls through, he finds himself on the run with a local Native American who is called Nobody (Gary Farmer). If I just told you the plot, you may think this was pretty straightforward.

But Jim Jarmusch casts all importance of plot aside to focus on the weird existential crises at play.

Existential Crisis #1: William Blake is the name of a very famous poet. Depp’s Blake has never heard of him. Nobody (the native) loves his poetry and recites it frequently, thinking he is accompanying a literary genius. Our protagonist then struggles with his name and his identity.

Existential Crisis #2: William Blake can’t seem to stay conscious for longer than 5 minutes. He’s constantly passing out or falling asleep. This makes the movie a series of 1 minute scenes with a blackout in between each and everyone. The effect is at once disorienting and almost comical. But what does this mean for Blake? What is real and what isn’t? What is he meant to see and what is left unseen?

Existential Crisis #3: He meets an Indian named Nobody. I rest my case.

I could talk on and on about these things, but I would just be wandering in circles, as it seems Blake may actually be doing as well. What I can say is that while I am up for any movie that tackles existentialism, it’s not always the most narratively compelling theme. If I were to compliment the pacing of the movie, I would say it  is bizarre and uneven, which further hurts an already dry topic.

I can’t let my discussion of Dead Man end without mentioning how absolutely crucial Neil Young’s score is to the successes of this film. His wild Western twang on a grungy electric guitar make every scene of the movie ooze violence and excitement. And at it’s best Dead Man can be an exciting, yet existential film. And if you can name another movie that is at all those two things, sign me up. They are hard to find.