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Jim Jarmusch

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James R. "Jim" Jarmusch (pronounced /ˈdʒɑrməʃ/;[2] born January 22, 1953) is an American independent filmmaker.[3] Jarmusch has been a major proponent of independent cinema, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s.[4]

Contents [hide]
1 Early life
1.1 New York
2 Feature films
2.1 First features and rise to fame: Vacation and Paradise
2.2 Cult following, critical darling: Law, Mystery, and Night
2.3 Late nineties, experiments in genre: Dead Man and Ghost Dog
2.4 Late period: Cigarettes, Flowers, and Control
3 As a filmmaker
3.1 Style and characters
3.2 Themes
3.3 Impact and legacy
4 Personal life
5 Selected filmography
6 See also
7 Footnotes
7.1 References
8 Further reading
9 External links


[edit] Early life
The key, I think, to Jim, is that he went gray when he was 15 ... As a result, he always felt like an immigrant in the teenage world. He's been an immigrant – a benign, fascinated foreigner – ever since. And all his films are about that.

Tom Waits, as quoted in The New York Times, 2005[5]Jarmusch was born to a European American family of middle-class suburbanites in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio in 1953.[4][6][7] His mother, of Irish and German descent, had been a reviewer of film and theatre for the Akron Beacon Journal before marrying his father, a businessman of Czech and German descent who worked for the B.F. Goodrich Company.[1][8][6] She introduced the future director, the middle of three children,[5] to the world of cinema by leaving him at a local cinema to watch matinee double features such as Attack of the Crab Monsters and Creature From the Black Lagoon while she ran errands.[9][10] The first adult film he recalls having seen was the 1958 cult classic Thunder Road (starring Robert Mitchum) the violence and darkness of which left an impression on the seven-year-old Jarmusch.[11] Another B-movie influence from his childhood was Ghoulardi, an eccentric Cleveland television show which featured horror films.[10]

Despite his enthusiasm for film, Jarmusch, an avid reader in his youth,[4] had a greater interest in literature, a pursuit in which he was encouraged by his grandmother.[1] Though he refused to attend church with his Episcopalian parents (not being enthused by "the idea of sitting in a stuffy room wearing a little tie"), Jarmusch credits literature with shaping his metaphysical beliefs and leading him to reconsider theology in his mid-teens.[11] From his peers he developed a taste for counterculture: he and his friends would steal the records and books of their older siblings – William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Mothers of Invention.[4][12] They made fake identity documents which allowed them to visit bars at the weekend but also the local art house cinema – which though it typically showed pornographic films would on occasion feature underground films such as Robert Downey, Sr.'s Putney Swope and Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls.[4][12] At one point, he took an apprenticeship with a commercial photographer.[4] "Growing up in Ohio", he would later remark, "was just planning to get out".[12]

[edit] New York
After graduating from high school in 1971,[13] Jarmusch moved to Chicago and enrolled in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.[7][14] After being asked to leave due to neglecting to take any journalism courses–Jarmusch favored literature and art history–he transferred to Columbia University the following year, with the intention of becoming a poet.[11][14] At Columbia, he studied English and American literature under professors including New York School avant garde poets Kenneth Koch and David Shapiro.[1] At Columbia he began to write short "semi-narrative abstract pieces",[1] and edited the undergraduate literary journal The Columbia Review.[7][15]

During his final year at Columbia, Jarmusch moved to Paris, for what was initially a summer semester on an exchange program but turned into ten months.[4][13] There, he worked as a delivery driver for an art gallery, and spent most of his time at the Cinémathèque Française.[4][7]

That’s where I saw things I had only read about and heard about – films by many of the good Japanese directors, like Imamura, Ozu, Mizoguchi. Also, films by European directors like Bresson and Dreyer, and even American films, like the retrospective of Samuel Fuller’s films, which I only knew from seeing a few of them on television late at night. When I came back from Paris, I was still writing, and my writing was becoming more cinematic in certain ways, more visually descriptive.

—Jarmusch on the Cinémathèque Française, taken from an interview with Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times, October 21, 1984.[1]

Broke and working as a musician in New York City after returning from Paris in 1976, Jarmusch applied on a whim to the prestigious Graduate Film School of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts (then under the direction of Hollywood director László Benedek).[1][4][14] Despite his complete lack of experience in filmmaking, his submission of a collection of still photographs and an essay about film secured his acceptance into the program.[1] He studied there for four years, meeting fellow students and future collaborators Sara Driver, Tom DiCillo and Spike Lee in the process.[7] During the late 1970s in New York City, Jarmusch and his contemporaries were part of an alternative culture scene centered on the CBGB music club.[16]

In his final year at New York University, Jarmusch worked as an assistant to the renowned film noir director Nicholas Ray, who was at that time teaching in the department.[7] In an anecdote Jarmusch has recounted of the formative experience of showing his mentor his first script, Ray disapproved of its lack of action, to which Jarmusch responded after meditating on the critique by reworking the script to be even less eventful. On Jarmusch's return with the revised script, Ray reacted favourably to his student's dissent, citing approvingly the young student's obstinate independence.[17] Jarmusch was the only person Ray brought to work – as his personal assistant – on Lightning Over Water, a documentary about his dying years on which he was collaborating with Wim Wenders.[4] Nicholas Ray died in the summer of 1979 after a long fight with cancer.[7] A few days afterwards, having been encouraged by Ray and New York underground filmmaker Amos Poe and using scholarship funds given by the Louis B. Mayer Foundation to pay for his school tuition,[1][18] Jarmusch started work on a film for his final project.[3][7] The university, unimpressed with Jarmusch's use of his funding as well as the project itself, promptly refused to award him a degree.[13]

[edit] Feature films
[edit] First features and rise to fame: Vacation and Paradise
Jarmusch's final year university project was completed in 1980 as Permanent Vacation, his first feature film.[13] It was made on a shoestring budget of around $12,000 in misdirected scholarship funds and shot by cinematographer Tom DiCillo on 16 mm film.[19] The 75 minute quasi-autobiographical feature follows an adolescent drifter (Chris Parker) as he wanders around downtown Manhattan.[20][21] The film was not released theatrically, and did not attract the sort of adulation from critics that greeted his later work. The Washington Post staff writer Hal Hinson would disparagingly comment in an aside during a review of Jarmusch's Mystery Train (1989) that in the director's debut, "the only talent he demonstrated was for collecting egregiously untalented actors".[22] The bleak and unrefined Permanent Vacation is nevertheless one of the director's most personal films, and established many of the hallmarks he would exhibit in his later work, including derelict urban settings, chance encounters, and a wry sensibility.[21][23]

Jarmusch's first major film, Stranger Than Paradise, was produced on a budget of approximately $125,000 and released in 1984 to much critical acclaim.[24][25] A deadpan comedy recounting a strange journey of three disillusioned youths from New York through Cleveland to Florida, the film broke many conventions of traditional Hollywood filmmaking.[26] It was awarded the Camera d'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival as well as the 1985 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film,[27][28] and became a landmark work in modern independent film.[29]

[edit] Cult following, critical darling: Law, Mystery, and Night
In 1986, Jarmusch wrote and directed Down by Law, starring musicians John Lurie and Tom Waits, and Italian comic actor Roberto Benigni (his introduction to American audiences) as three convicts who escape from a New Orleans jailhouse.[30] Shot like the director's previous efforts in black and white, this constructivist neo-noir was Jarmusch's first collaboration with renowned Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller, who had been known for his work with Wenders.[31]

His next two films each experimented with parallel narratives: Mystery Train (1989) told three successive stories set on the same night in and around a small Memphis hotel, and Night on Earth (1991)[32] involved five cab drivers and their passengers on rides in five different world cities, beginning at sundown in Los Angeles and ending at sunrise in Helsinki.[17] Less bleak and somber than Jarmusch's earlier work, Mystery Train nevertheless retained the director's askance conception of America.[33] He wrote Night on Earth in about a week, out of frustration at the collapse of the production of another film he had written and the desire to visit and collaborate with friends such as Benigni, Gena Rowlands, and Isaach de Bankolé.[34]

As a result of his early work, Jarmusch became an influential representative of the trend of the American road movie.[35] Not intended to appeal to mainstream filmgoers, these early Jarmusch films were embraced by art house audiences,[36] gaining a small but dedicated American following and cult status in Europe and Japan.[37] Each of the four films had their premiere at the eminent and discerning New York Film Festival, while Mystery Train was in competition at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.[27] Jarmusch's distinctive aesthetic and auteur status fomented a critical backlash at the close of this early period, however; though reviewers praised the charm and adroitness of Mystery Train and Night On Earth, the director was increasingly charged with repetitiveness and risk-aversion.[13][27]

In 1991 Jim Jarmusch appeared as himself in ...
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