Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blind Spot: Dead Man (1995)

Jarmusch and Depp are a wonderful odd couple.

Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Produced by Demetra J. MacBride
Written by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer and Lance Henriksen

Plot Summary: A wounded accountant (Depp) with a price on his head journeys to the spiritual world with the help of a Native American (Farmer).

Significance: Often cited as one of the best westerns in recent years, this film was featured in the latest Sight and Sound Poll (#322 in the 2012 directors’ poll), and it was even nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Also, it was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature.

Thoughts: Jim Jarmusch’s films always have an off-kilter atmosphere, and Dead Man makes great use of it. The black-and-white cinematography really sets the mood, while the performances all have a certain endearing oddness to them. Naturally, Johnny Depp is the perfect lead casting, particularly at the time this film was made. There are also several great cameos, including Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina, and Robert Mitchum. The film does drag towards the end, but it’s a fascinating, bizarre postmodern western with Jarmusch’s daft sense of humor at its finest. It’s definitely worth a look, especially for Depp or Jarmusch fans.

Rating: B+

This is the tenth film in my 2015 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil.

8 comments:

  1. I always see this DVD cover and think...B-Movie...and I had no idea it was a Jarmusch film! I'll have to actually put this in my Netflix queue now!

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    1. Haha, you should definitely check it out!

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  2. I think this is one of the great westerns of the past 30 years. It is unlike anything and if Andrei Tarkovsky ever did a western, it would look like that. It's really a film about atmosphere and identity as it showcases why Jarmusch is so fucking revered.

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    1. Yeah, I like the Tarkovsky comparison, but this is lesser Jarmusch for me.

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  3. I had never heard of this before Josh. Depp as an accountant in a Western? Hmmm interesting. I like Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, but haven't got around to checking out his other work.

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    1. Broken Flowers is an underrated Jarmusch film, but he's made even better ones. Maybe you'd like this one. ;)

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  4. Agree the b/w photography sets the mood. To me, the music by Neil Young fits well, and the friendship between Blake and the Indian was memorable.
    I liked the movie, but I didn't love it, so I think we are more or less on the same page with this one.

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    1. Yeah, Neil Young's music worked well in the film, too. Jarmusch has been better, but I liked this one well enough.

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