Over the course of a single night in pale Memphis--the home of Sam Phillips' legendary Sun Studio--a vivid triptych of romantic Rock n' Roll pilgrimage; sad nostalgia; emotional Americana, and forgotten, decrepit places unfolds. Pivoting around the low-rent and almost dilapidated Arcade Hotel, the strange stories of four visitors unwittingly intertwine, as the aloof couple of Japanese teenagers--Mitsuko, who yearns to visit Graceland, and Jun, a sad-faced die-hard fan of Carl Perkins--arrive in the Tennessee ghost town, in "Far from Yokohama". Likewise, the recently widowed Italian, Luisa, who's come to town from Rome to take her deceased husband's body back to Italy, winds up in the same hotel, sharing a room with the garrulous Dee-Dee, in "Ghost". Then, elsewhere in the city during the same endless night, the neighbourhood's barber, Charlie, reluctantly goes on a boozy binge with the unemployed British immigrant, Johnny, and, eventually, they both end up in the Arcade, in "Lost in ...Written by
"Mystery Train" is a witty look at different aspects of one of the crazes of our time, the worship of Elvis Presley. The cast includes cult performers like Tom Noonan (the serial killer in Michael Mann's "Manhunter"), Steve Buscemi, and singer Tom Waits (heard on the radio), and it is directed by one of America's leading independent directors. "Mystery Train" is possibly Jim Jarmusch's most immaculate film, and though the movie gets steadily darker in its comic tone, it is his least bleak work to date. The patterning is precise, the film growing richer as the three strands are finally woven together, or perhaps unwoven, as the characters go their separate ways. Robbie Muller, the great Dutch cameraman who shot Alex Cox's "Repo Man" and Wim Wenders' "Paris, Texas", once more brings an outsider's perspective to the American landscape, giving the night scenes and hotel interiors a Hopperesque look and endowing a dilapidated section of Memphis with an elegaic sadness.
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