on 29 December 2011
Jim Jarmusch has created a body of work that has attracted a variety of interesting people. His visions are unconventional, personal and are not always easily appreciated. It is because his movies are not formulaic that I find them interesting.
Dead Man appeals to me because it is striving to be an authentic Western. I think its the only Western I've seen where a horse relieves itself. Everybody is desperate for a smoke. The town of Machine is an iron-works out in the sticks. I don't remember seeing a cow...
The haunting music by Neil Young compliments the spare plot and barren backwoods. Nature is not forgiving here and there are moments of quite shocking violence.
I love the way the Indian village has been researched and represented. Again, apart from Mohicans almost every Indian in the movies has been a Plains Indian living in teepees. Using a Macah village is really quite different and authentic looking.
This is a movie that's worth buying. I have watched it about three times over 5 years or so and it stands repeated viewing. The aura of mystery and Johhny Depp's innocence work.
on 24 September 2008
I simply cannot understand the published Amazon review of this movie by Tom Keogh. He describes the soundtrack as 'noodling' and the theme as 'endless shtick'-What is such a bonehead doing reviewing films? Has he been born to endless night?
Let me be clear; this is one of the most beautiful westerns I have ever seen with a brilliant rasping guitar soundtrack by Neil Young that captures the film's essence entirely. The black and white photography and camera placement and eye for natural beauty laced with desperate ugliness reminds me of the clarity of the Japanese cinema of Mizoguchi, and particularly the waving bamboo leaves in Shindo's 'Onibaba'.
In addition to the brilliant direction and a cracking script from Jim Jarmusch and the photographic genius of Robby Muller we have a cast that includes Johnny Depp (hey, just think how hard it is to die over an entire film!). The great Robert Mitchum, John Hurt and even a comic Shakepearean cameo with Billy Bob Thornton and Iggy Pop, as well as the beautiful Mili Avital as Thel Russell-the ultimate femme fatale with the paper roses!
Equally the three doomed killers provide lots of bizarre comic moments.
The arrival of William Blake (Johnny Depp) into town and the scene leading to his meeting with Dickinson (Robert Mitchum) is one of the best depictions of the dystopia of the alleged Wild West I have ever seen as well as one of the few insights into the horrors of the American Industrial Revolution. I highly recommend this film if you enjoy watching literate, subtle, well crafted and intelligent films.
on 18 May 2009
Who is this Tom Keogh (the Amazon reviewer)? Whoever he is, he has completely missed the point. It is not an "earthly journey". It is a journey through the Bardo. He fails to mention William Blake completely! I loved this film. It is one of the most interesting and memorable films I have seen in many years. It works on a number of different levels -- you don't need to know anything about the Bardo or William Blake to appreciate the film (but it helps to know a bit).
on 20 January 2012
A fantastic homage to the western genre, Dead Man is most certainly Jim Jarmusch's best film and probably Johnny Depp's defining performance. One of the better modern westerns, Dead Man uses it's huge, versatile cast to it's utmost potential. What the film does so well, is have a normal city boy, place him in the Wild West, have him shoot a guy in self defence, and from there, this normal guy is no longer a city boy. He must use his wits and little experience in combat to survive the plains, with help from his Indian friend Nobody and his spiritual guidance. He'll be facing bounty hunters, lawmen, cannibals, shop keepers, you name it. I lost track how many times the lead character shot someone. It's filmed in black and white, but with an accessible tone to it reminiscent of Johnny Depp's classic "Ed Wood". It gives off a perfectly eerie vibe, which symbolises the character as alone, and must outlive his foes. The film is also experimental, and takes huge risks. For example, extended scenes which seem to drag on, but help with character progression and almost uses it to show off the excellent score. Not to mention characters who seem to be a focus to the main plot are killed off so quickly it hurts. It's offbeat humour, sheer intensity, and a magnificent score by none other than Neil Young, Dead Man perfectly captures the situation if an innocent, hard working guy is dropped into the wild west, and how far he is willing to go to survive. The atmosphere to every single scene makes the viewer unsure of how and where the movie may conclude, unlike your typical Hollywood flick. It makes a very straightfoward story into a complex, thought provoking excercise. One of the most underrated films of all time, don't avoid this essential, hypnotic masterpiece.
on 24 February 2008
This film is incredible, a truly outstanding piece of film making (ignore the crazy French women who thinks its 'TOO weird'). Its a beautifully shot western (of sorts) filmed in Monochrome adding to the dark air of the whole movie.
Its a simple story about a man (Johnny Depp/William Blake)who after travelling west across america, to the frontier for work, finds the job has been taken and he is alone in a strange land. After getting involved in murder he is on the run (wounded/dying)in the big expanse of the American Wild West.
He is befreinded by 'Nobody' a native American who will be his spirit guide from this world to the next! (Far out!) - from this point onwards the film just gets better and better. Its funny, Strange, well acted, has a stella cast including Iggy Pop, John Hurt, Robert Mitchum (yes - ROBERT MITCHUM!)and many others.
Its the perfect vehicle for Johnny Depp and Neil Young who is in charge of the soundtrack (I'm listening to it now!)its haunting, beautiful, angry and sparse. This film is a must see for anyone with a soul, who is sick of Hollywood big screen crap. This film is intelligent and moving. Though maybe i'm biased as I enjoy, westerns, johnny depp/jim jarmusch movies (most of them) and Neil Young - i'm in heaven. Go on try it... 'Some are born to sweet delight... some are born to endless night.'
on 22 May 2011
One of the best films ever made.
Shot in monochrome ( black & white.) with an amazing sound track from Neil Young ( acoustic & electric guitar.)
Stunning performances from all concerned with a cameo appearance from Iggy Pop.
I do not know as I was not there but it really captured what I imagined the times to be like.
No stylised gun fights but guns that do not shoot straight and total lawlessness ( if that is a word !!.)
The performance from "Nobody" ( he who talks loudly but say's nothing.) is excellent and adds real homour to the film.
There is other really funny parts to the film like Iggy Pops part and when the Marshals take off their hats among plenty of others.
Also there is some dark moments to the film...Mr Depp is wonderful as always but Gary Farmer steals a lot of the film and he speaks my favourite line in the film.
( my favourite line I can not type here I think.) but if you watch it , it will become apparent.
The music is bleak and fits the film very well.
Quite a long film but every sceen is needed.
If you do not like this film then I suggest you watch "bob the builder" it will be more your style.
on 17 April 2009
I have to say that Dead Man isn't a total success and won't appeal to everyone.
It's a quirky mix of art house, black comedy, gothic horror and sometimes even manages to be a western.
If it had stuck to just 2 of these genres it might have been a masterpiece, but because it jumps from genre to genre, it is a little uneven.
The story is also rather slight (most of the film consists of Depp wondering along gut shot, looking dazed, or people sitting around having bizarre conversations)
The performances are also variable. Gabriel Byrne & Alfred Molina are great, but both have only cameo roles that don't last more than a couple of minutes.
Johnny Depp seems less comfortable in the early scenes, but improves later on. Whilst Gary Farmer never really convinced me as the spiritual Native American (though I'm sure others will find him hilarious)
But despite this, the film is far from a disaster.
At times it's genuinely atmospheric or funny.
As for the DVD itself, The black & white (with a slight green hue)photography is often georgeous. It is very sharp, with good black levels & no grain or dirt.
Neil Young's haunting guitar soundtrack is just great (probably the best thing about the film) It is only stereo (and I can't help thinking it would have been even better in 5:1) But there's plenty of action between left/right speakers with no noticed hiss or crackling.
In summary, I've no doubt that some people will find this film too quirky and/or too boring. But if you enjoy unusual film making, or perhaps enjoyed Ghost Dog then I would strongly recommend checking this out.
on 11 July 2012
This is my favourite film of all time. It is so beautifully produced and filmed, flowing poetically from one scene to another.
However, nearly all my friends are not with me on this, much to my frustration, finding it too slow. I really believe its one of those films that you either really get or you don't.. I have the cd too, guitar is so cool..
on 6 September 2007
I could write for hours about this film, but I'll spare you and state that the Neil Young soundtrack is an outstanding feature of this movie. Moving, haunting, violent (yes, it's loud and invasive - watch the fim, it is perfect!), and most of all as brutally beautiful as the film itself. I'm no Neil Young fan - but this is no simple Neil Young song.
Depp is outstanding in a cast enjoying evey poetic line. Jarmucsh's best.
on 16 May 2010
One of Depp's "weird" films - a kind of supernatural western adventure - full of wit and reminiscent of Carlos Castenada with a hint of the camp pirate that was to be Captain Jack Sparrow. Very enjoyable and one to watch again and again. Features John Hurt in a memorable cameo as a clerk and last performance of Robert Mitchum.