The feeling estrangement from one's surroundings, of being foreigner wherever one goes, haunts even Jarmusch's most comic scenarios and threatens his characters with a fate worse than death: isolation. The disaffected movie star played by Chloe Sevigny faces this prospect in Jarmusch's short Int. Trailer. Night. (made for the 2002 multi-director feature Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet); her break from shooting contains wall-to-wall interruptions from crew members who only stay long enough to check whether she has what she needs. Isolation also fills several of the most stinging moments of the sketch film Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), whose ensemble of celebrities playing lonely, paranoid, and miserable versions of themselves falls onto so many wrong sides of fame that the film sometimes seems to suggest that there's no right one. A late Only Lovers scene of the vampires watching a Lebanese singer in Tangier is weighted with the dangers of what could happen if they find her too lively; in Jarmusch's films, fame depletes people by turning them into beings off of which others feed.

The rhythm of his latest changes entirely during the time spent on this singer, Yasmine Hamdan, as the camera writhes and glides so close to her that her act separates from the film's story to become a setpiece. This shift befits Jarmusch's background as a director of music videos, one of which is slated to screen before each of the Lincoln Center retrospective's features. They find the filmmaker (and musician -- his band, SQÜRL, composed Only Lovers' score) playing with techniques and themes. Jarmusch's videos for the Talking Heads' "The Lady Don't Mind" and the Raconteurs' "Steady as She Goes," paired with Permanent Vacation and The Limits of Control, respectively, present musicians and actors that appear and disappear from sight in ghostly ways much like people do in his existential features; his video screening with Night on Earth, for frequent collaborator Tom Waits's "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," offers a frontal view of Waits kneeling on a small stage playing a tiny guitar as he growls that he doesn't want to leave his room.

Mystery Train
© 1989 - Orion Classics
Mystery Train
Coffee and Cigarettes
© 2003 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Coffee and Cigarettes

Location Info


Film Society of Lincoln Center - Walter Reade Theater

165 W. 65th St.
New York, NY 10023

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: West 60s


"Permanent Vacation: The Films of Jim Jarmusch"
April 2–10, 2014
Lincoln Center

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Two longer musical works round out the retrospective. The feature-length concert film Year of the Horse (1997), made on commission from Neil Young (who composed Dead Man's score), features interviews with Young and members of Crazy Horse amid several full-length performances from the group's 1996 world tour. The 30-minute Joe Strummer-When Pigs Fly Score (1993) screens before Mystery Train (in which the Clash frontman acted as a Memphis-stranded Brit) and shows Strummer in a Wales studio recording the soundtrack for a film by Sara Driver, Jarmusch's longtime partner. Strummer appears singing with headphones on as well as taking advantage of downtime to smoke and joke with friends. He says at one point, "What we've lost in the modern world is that people don't want to put a sound loud," as though he were Jarmusch's version of the world's original man.

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