|Page 1 of 9:||        |
|Index||82 reviews in total|
One of the most frequently heard criticisms of Jarmusch's work is that the pace is slow. I would like to make a case for patience. After all, if true beauty and grace were delivered in one massive hit, our poor brains and hearts would not withstand the blow. In Down By Law, Jarmusch invites us to take some time, some real time and devote it to getting deeply involved with his characters. Men in crisis. Misfits, jailbirds, heartbreakingly human. We accompany them on their journey, their escape from their confines. It is a truly epic journey on a small geographical scale. We watch as they begin to mirror one another, as their individual egos become inextricably enmeshed in one another. We watch a friendship form. And how can we begrudge the time Jarmusch takes for this glorious exposition? How can we do anything but marvel at the fine detail in which the scenes are drawn, at the subtle movements of our heroes? Every gesture signifies worlds of meaning and consequence. And Jarmusch does it better, with more skill and with more compassion than anyone. If you are prepared to get involved, if you are brave enough to commit to the journey, you will be rewarded with a kind of epiphany that few films can offer.
Wow, what a movie. Far away from Hollywood, Jim Jarmusch creates a world where you don't need drama, pathos and action to fascinate the watcher. Because fascinating is exactly what this movie is. A plot in the classical sense is almost completely missing; the scenes, in their simplicity sometimes reminding of theater, follow each other without ever creating real suspense; neither griping action nor complex dialogues are there to excite the spectator. And still, with ease Jarmusch fills more than a hundred minutes with a story you won't take your eyes off. It is hard to tell what the atmosphere of the movie is really based on, the characters, the setting, entirely in black and white, the music - probably all of it. Again, like in Jarmusch's later movie "Dead man", speed is an important factor: everything moves slowly, without haste, as there is no dramatic climax you could hurry towards; yet, boring is a word that certainly doesn't fit this piece of cineastic art. On the other hand, though some of the scenes seem quite surrealistic, it is not a really artistic movie breaking with all the traditional concepts of filmmaking; it is more a movie in classic shape with an unconventional story, not trying to shock, to confuse or even to make you think so much; this movie doesn't need all this to get your complete attention. You could probably speculate a lot about the meaning of the movie; to me, this seems highly unnecessary. Just let it unfold its atmosphere. Judge yourselves, but I was excited in a very special way by every scene of this motion picture, giving me one of my best cineastic experiences of the recent time.
This movie was a total surprise to me. I'm sure it's very famous, but somehow had never seen it before. From the beginning scenes, I was expecting a gritty low life, wind up in the gutter, down and out kind of crime movie and that was fine with me, especially if set in New Orleans. At the same time there was a surprising freshness about it, that caught my attention, like a wake up call. Literally, there was writing on the wall that signaled "this is not that kind of movie!" The opening scenes reminded me of the opening of Sopranos -- the rolling shot of a neighborhood with an ominous sounding song in the background. (Were the Sopranos producers inspired by this film?) But once Roberto Benigni appeared on the scene, announcing that "Life is Sad and Beautiful" the whole story began to feel more like a strange fairy tale. Throughout the film, I appreciated the way the director took his time, letting the story evolve slowly, giving the characters time to develop their tenuous bonds. I could watch this again and again, knowing I would keep discovering hidden meanings, references, and ironies. Loved it!!!!
I first saw Down By Law when it first came out, and loved it. I watched it again recently, and it really hasn't aged at all. In fact, it has gotten even better. I'm not sure there's another movie like it (unless the other Jarmusch ones are -- I haven't seen them). There are very few movies that spend so much time on character development that still have great plots. Like the "Big Easy" where it is filmed, this one takes its time but has an easy charm once the plot gets where it was going. The dialogue is wonderfully written, and better acted. Each scene is like a work of art in how it is staged. The soundtrack uses one of the best albums ever recorded, "Rain Dogs" by Tom Waits, who stars. One of my all time favorites.
Jim Jarmusch trusts his camera, his directing, his writing, and most of all his performers. This is a gem of a film, without pretense. The story and film just move, sluggishly chugging forward to an ending that is really more of a dissolve. The story is ultimately of little importance, just enough movement to show us a bit of the big jokester in the skies irony. I was struck by the similarity's to Dead Man, similarities quite aside the black and white photography. The enigmatic character at the center, the drifting in and out of the main characters, the use of the boat, the disposal of the usual plot devices, the cutting away of obvious scenes (like the "how' of the escape) I wish more films displayed this sort of ease with themselves. Great stuff, 8/10.
Down by Law is a film that has mesmerized me for years. The first time I
saw it, it sunk into me like the smile from a homeless person. It told me
something I should've already known.
I've heard people use the word "quirky", when drawing comparisons to a Jarmusch character, but, I like the phrase: "Spot On". He has captured man's fear within himself, and, the ability to hide that fear. It takes a director of great courage and knowledge of self to pull that one off without boring you.
If you're a fan of Joel Schumaucher or James Cameron, this is not the film for you. But if your a fan of people, and, the human condition, the mirror reflects back, 2 hours at a time, and Jarmusch is right behind it.
One thing that I have always liked about Jim Jarmusch is that a lot of
times he seems to use people whom you've either never heard of, or
wouldn't expect to see acting in a film. His 1986 film "Down by Law" is
no exception. The film tells the story of three men, Zack (Waits), Jack
(Lurie) and Roberto (Benigni) who meet when they are put in the same
jail cell at a New Orleans prison. All three men are different in terms
of background; Zack is a serially employed radio DJ who is kicked out
of the house by his girlfriend, only to run into a shady acquaintance
that offers him $1,000 to drive a hot Jaguar to an undisclosed location
in the city. Along the way he is stopped by the police and
unfortunately, a body is found in the trunk of the Jag, which spells
bad news for Zack and a quick trip to prison. Jack is a pimp who is set
up by an associate of his; when he goes to meet a prospective "worker"
in a hotel room, the police bust in, the lights go on and it turns out
the woman is actually a young girl. Roberto's background is a little
shadier, though murder factors into it. Roberto's command of the
English language is comical and his naiveté and good mood are
infectious, but the other two come to near blows either with each other
or Roberto on more than one occasion, particularly after they manage to
escape from prison, when they are forced to rely on one another to
survive the swamps of Louisiana so they can escape prison, and one
another, for good.
"Down by Law" is shot in wonderful black and white, which gives the film both a starkness and bare-bones feel. The music is also fantastic, with the instrumentals being performed by John Lurie and the songs by Tom Waits. Thirteen years before winning Best Actor for "Life is Beautiful", Beningi gives a great performance in this film; his charm and humor were incredibly apparent in this, his first American film. Tom Waits, a personal favorite of mine, most musically but also for his various movie roles, is a natural actor and did a great job in this film. John Lurie, whom I don't remember from other Jarmusch films I've seen, but apparently was in them gave a decent performance, though at times it was fairly wooden. I suspect that there was a good amount of improvisation throughout "Down by Law", but that didn't help some of its pacing problems. Though the photography of the film was wonderful, it couldn't help divert from the fact that there were times when the film really dragged for me, like Jarmusch had left the camera on and the principals were just kind of doing their thing, though not in a compelling manner.
Overall, however, I did enjoy "Down by Law" and it is a must-see for any Jarmusch fan. I would also recommend it for those who enjoyed Beningi's more recent performances, because he really seemed to have a lot of fun with this film, as did I, for the most part. 6/10 --Shelly
While his later and more acclaimed works such 'Night on Earth' and
'Dead Man' may well be better films, this is the one that catapulted
Jim Jarmusch to the forefront of obscure American cinema in the 1980's,
and aside from that fact; it's a hell of a lot of fun, and fans of
Jarmusch, and just fans of obscure cool cinema in general will find
lots to like about it. Treading a line between a classic prison movie
and an odd comedy, Down by Law works on several levels. The premise of
the film is simple, as we follow three rather different convicts that
end up in the same cell in a penitentiary. Despite this being a simple
base for a movie, Jim Jarmusch really makes the best of his premise and
the three characters he has created to inhabit the jail cell are all
unique enough to each other in order to make sure that the film is
always interesting, and that the characters have a good chemistry with
one another, so that the dialogue flows freely and that it's quirky
nature is able to be revved up to the top.
Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni take the lead three roles and although the former two actors are no doubt good in their roles, as usual it is Benigni that steals the show. His over the top style fits his over the top character like a glove and although Benigni isn't the sort of actor that can adapt to many different roles; when he's got one that fits him, he's pretty much unbeatable. The film's plot starts out slow, and the first half hour in which two of the three leads are introduced isn't all that exciting. It's when the three men get put inside that Down by Law really starts, and every minute from then on is a pleasure. Like he would with Dead Man nine years later, Jarmusch has opted to film Down by Law in a very stark black and white, which, also like Dead Man, increases the surrealism and also helps the film in it's bid to beat the thin plot line with a very potent visual complexity, which will delight fans of this sort of movie. On the whole, Down by Law is an excellent example of offbeat US film-making and I don't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
I've seen a couple of Jarmusch movies and except for Dead Man (which I
thought was an incredible bore), they were all great.
Down By Law is probably one his best known flicks and is a very good low budget movie. It features Tom Waits, who's not only a fine musician but proves to be a decent actor as well; John Lurie, who also wrote the excellent soundtrack (Waits delivered the opening and end-credits track btw); Roberto Benigni, who nowadays is most famous for directing the Oscar-winning Italian film "La Vita E Bella".
The movie deals about three guys who meet in prison and escape. It reminded me of "O Brother Where Are Thou?" and, perhaps because of it being filmed in black and white, of old 40's movies about escaping prisoners (can't think of a good example, but you get the picture).
Three things I liked very much about this movie:
1. It's incredibly funny, especially Benigni made me laugh every time he opened his mouth - He irritated me highly in "La Vita E Bella" so that must mean something....
2. The frame of the camera is very well used. Look at the scene where Lurie counts the money and a hooker is laying behind him on the bed and the scene after that. Another example is when Benigni is dancing with a lady and the other two guys are continuing their breakfast in the back.
3. It's very hard to pinpoint when the story takes place; it's timeless in more than one way, obviously helped by the lack of color.
All in all, this one comes highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This isn't your normal prison movie, nor by any stretch your normal American comedy. Make no mistake if your favourite movies are Hollywood by numbers, you will be confused and bored by this great piece of cinema. Tom waits stars as Zack, a DJ who ends up in jail for murder after being set up. John Lurie is Jack, a pimp who also gets set up. They bond uncomfortably in a Louisiana jail, before Italian comedic genius Roberto Benigni comes in and changes there world. Waits and Lurie are brilliant, they both completely become low level hoods, but its Benigni as usual who is the colour of this Black and White film. He is the heart and soul that these two losers never knew they had. They eventually escape and are then lost in the bayou for too long. The movie is less about what they do, and more about the journey that these two hoods have following this effervescent Italian. This is so different to the normal Hollywood comedy, that I can understand most people will not like it, but the gruff demeanour of Waits and Lurie are in beautiful contrast to the stunning black and white cinematography and the great Robert Benigni. Jim Jarmusch takes his time, and as usual delivers something worth waiting for.
|Page 1 of 9:||        |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|