As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers.
In a vignette called "Strange to meet you," Roberto sits at a small table in a coffee bar. Five cups of coffee and two ashtrays are in front of him; he drinks and smokes. Steven joins him. ... See full summary »
A Japanese couple obsessed with 1950s America goes to Memphis because the male half of the couple emulates Carl Perkins. Chance encounters link three different stories in the city, with the common thread being the seedy hotel where they are all staying. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
I just got done watching "Dead Man" in my Development of Film class at the school, so I was curious about Jarmusch's early work. I saw "Night on Earth" and "Ghost Dog," and I was very impressed with those two films. I wasn't too impressed with "Dead Man," but I still felt curious to check out this movie.
"Mystery Train" moves along at a pace identical to that of "Night on Earth." It has those usual Jarmusch trademarks: characters from a foreign country, culture clashes, episodic rhythm, etc. Jarmusch is a very talented screenwriter, and he's good at engaging his audience with dialogue that is crisp (and sometimes quite funny) but at the same time brutally realistic. You can never watch a Jarmusch film and say to yourself, "Man, people don't talk like that in real life!"
Though highly identical to "Night on Earth," I found that film much more engaging in comparison, and I could've help but ponder that while watching this movie. Don't get me wrong, I liked "Mystery Train," but NOE had a certain quality that made it a lot more entertaining, despite the fact that it was two hours long (give or take). I guess I just found the interactions between the characters in that movie more interesting. In this film, I found them interesting as well, but the scenes would drag out at points. Both films move at a leisurely pace, but the minutes seem to go by slower when watching this one.
Nevertheless, it was well-made, with some nice uses of 3-figure composition. Jarmusch makes good use of the camera, preventing us from feeling like we're watching a photographed play--even though many scenes fixate on one location. The soundtrack is cool, and it's interesting how Jarmusch used The King to tie the stories together. The performances are good, and one of my main curiousities--before viewing the film--was seeing Steve Buscemi in one of his early roles. I love Steve, he's one of our coolest actors.
Overall, I recommend the film. It definitely has its moments. I just thought it dragged at points, and if you had the choice between this movie and "Night on Earth," I recommend you choose the latter.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
11 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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