on 4 October 2013
The movie is slow with very little action, and dialogue which repeats itself with every new matchbox. A quiet unnamed man meets with two guys, at an airport, who give him very little instructions. They send him to Spain to meet people in order to get information which he must piece together. Our loner (De Bankole) carries along a simple carry-on bag but has 3 changes of suits that are never wrinkled. He wears a different colored suit in each city. He drinks espresso with two cups, making him easy to identify to his contacts. He does Tao-Chi at night, most likely to relax from all that caffeine. The airport is symbolic of the gateway where souls pass.
The contact code phrase is "You don't speak Spanish, right?" spoken in Spanish. The counter phrase is "No." Once contact has been established, the contact talks about life and uses a phrase from the original airport conversation. At this point they swap matchboxes. Our loner then opens the box and pulls out a small piece of paper with numbers and letters on it, some sort of code. From what I gather he quickly deciphers the code mentally, afterward he eats it. Symbolic for man getting hints or clues from God, but not knowing what they are. Early on he meets a woman (the one in glasses on the back of the box) who is naked in his hotel room. Her clothes allergy remains for several days as our loner refrains from sex. Symbolic of birth, or maybe the teen years.
The characters he meets get older and give him different advice, eventually he gets a quiet ride (symbolic of the hearse) after a cemetery and dirt speech. Here his death is symbolized in a large building with the furniture covered. He then has his final confrontation (PLOT SPOILER) where he uses his "imagination" to pop into a guarded fortress and kill the "controller" a symbol for God, played by Bill Murray. Or perhaps we are symbolically killing Bill Murray for all the stinker movies he has been in as late.
Our loner returns to the airport where he puts away his bag with 3 suits, exits and steps into the light, most likely symbolic of reincarnation.
There is no real action. There is full frontal nudity, but no sex. Tlda Swinton, one of the more interesting characters talks about movies. This should open up the life metaphor. Later you see her escorted by two men in black suits with sun glasses (they represent grim reapers). God watches over us through a black helicopter.
If this movie isn't a metaphor for life, then it is just a lousy film.
on 17 March 2015
The idea behind this experimental film is the repetition of life but with subtle variation, much like Pachelbel's Canon. Although ’The Limits of Control’ has a simple and linear storyline with a beginning and an end, it becomes almost irrelevant in the way it manifests instead in a complex, fascinating, absorbing and therefore engaging visual narrative.
Like any other Jim Jarmusch film, this is not intended for the thrill seeking audiences, but for those who look for something original in each new film and particularly for those who appreciate a more visual approach to modern film making. In the documentary about making this film, Jim Jarmusch says, “it is hard to get lost if you don’t know where you are going”!
It is easy to be misled by the reviews and trailer for this film. Calling this a thriller is highly misleading, while consistently pleasant to look at, this is arid stuff. Isaach De Bankole is an engaging lead, but is given very little to do, apart from a naked woman, the other roles are little more than short cameos. The film is largely made up of arty shots of a very pleasant looking Spain, and some terse dialogue that is repeated, a lot.
It is like one of those conceptual pieces of art, a white canvas or pile of bricks, whatever meaning there is, you largely have to supply yourself. Oddly for a film about letting go creatively, it is bound in a tight formal structure and seldom takes flight.
The cinematography is stunning, the music is very good too, as a whole it is too derivative of earlier Jarmusch, Wim Wenders and Antonioni to really stand on its own two feet as a great film. There is a half decent idea here, but it really needs more scenes like the young children asking Bankole whether he is an American gangster, to make it generally accessible.
Having said all that, I might well watch again, which is more than can be said for some of the turkeys out there.
on 11 August 2014
This film was neither dramatic nor thrilling. It is, in fact 116 minutes of pretentious nonsense. There is very little plot or action throughout, so if you think things are going to get more interesting or less repetitive after the first 30 minutes or so, I assure you they aren't. It may well be a an arty film with beautiful cinematography, great actors and the usual underlying metaphors for life/death, but if you like you films with a bit more 'meat', pace and substance, then this isn't for you. I persevered until the end but wish I hadn't bothered. I like films that make you think, but with this I couldn't even be bothered to try and figure out the underlying themes and messages, having been virtually bored to tears by the end. If you read reviews before renting, then I urge you to take heed and choose something more exciting and plot driven. The 1 star is for cinematography and the acting/delivery of the few lines that there were throughout.
on 1 March 2016
This film features some beautiful photography, and impressively cool performances from Isaach Bankole and Paz de la Huerta. It is also very slow (like Jarmusch's earlier film Broken Flowers). The DVD is a Scandinavian edition. It has options of four different subtitles (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish) but, unusually, it doesn't have a 'no subtitles' option. Although most of the dialogue is in English, some is in Spanish (the film is set in Spain). There are no English subtitles for the Spanish dialogue, and personally I found the Scandinavian subtitles unhelpful.
on 24 August 2010
This has to be the most stylish and impeccably shot film I have had the pleasure of watching, so much care and attention has been lavished on every scene. It feels like a classic movie from another generation in this sense. However, Jarmusch the artist has triumphed over Jarmusch the story teller, which is a shame. Jarmusch has proven in the past that he can tell a wonderful story, but here, the abstract nature takes over. There are threads that tie together, but it is left to the viewer to do all the work, and I am not entirely sure if it is worth it. The visual and aural style lead to a dream like world, and this is hinted at a few times through the film, things do not apppear rooted in reality. Overall, this is a stunning bit of film making, but it is perhaps not the film I was hoping to see.
on 22 June 2011
Im just glad that I wasnt told anything hinting towards what this film was about before watching-that would've spoilt the film completely for me (amazon doesnt help with its 'man on a dangerous mission' description). Many in the press no doubt were, which arguably to some extent wouldnt have helped their conflicting or mediocre reviews (its either a great 'arty' film with its own individual style, or a slow pointless journey, especially if you have little patience). Both of these comments are arguably true, but personally I didnt find this film slow, despite its 2 hour duration. You should eventually be able to understand its pace and overall mood. What some may argue about however is with the films finale - the movie retains the same style, as it should, but its storyline relating to individual characters does not become much more descriptive, so many may still walk out after watching this thinking "what was that about?", or "who was xxxx". Arguably the movie may have benefited by either doing so, or by speeding up/increasing a great deal in suspense before its final end, but even without this, it still stands out as something different. Many will no doubt argue on the opposite side saying all these unanswered questions leave you with a movie with far more depth. Worth a watch, but because its one of those minimalistic art films that not everyone will enjoy, perhaps not a purchase for the majority, especially not if you are expecting all out action after reading the description, but it still stands out as a result-especially when comparing to alot of the drivel that comes out of the cinema today ;)
on 17 May 2010
The clues are there right from the get go, before the film begins we are told that this is a film brought to us by `Pointblank' films. Jarmusch sets us up for a movie about movies or at least a certain type of movie, can I use the word "cool"? Like Boorman's revenge thriller we have the tonic mohair suit, sharp as a razor, shiny like the smile of a killer. What we don't get is the corkscrew time structure and frenetic pacing `cause in the end this is a film that, as usual with Jarmusch, relies on the episodic ballad structure, like a long Bob Dylan song or a "woke up this mornin'" blues.
`The Limits of Control' is a film about the poetics of space and Jarmusch seems to insist that the cinema itself is marked by this tendency or at least the films he is interested in watching and making. By train, (the favourite form of movie transport, an inbuilt metaphor) and by plane our sartorially elegant, monosyllabic protagonist shifts across the interior of Spain in a movement without end, in defiance of Hollywood road movie conventions there is no telos. Encounters that promise sex end in solitary reverie, encounters that promise information end in similar modes. This is a film of the `drift', there are clear salutes to Guy Debord and maybe even Walter Benjamin(?) All we can be certain about is movies; Godard's `Le Mepris', Ray's "In A Lonely Place', Wells' `Lady From Shanghai', Hitchcock's `Suspicion' all are name checked or alluded to.
In the end what is on show here is Jarmusch's ease with the medium, he drifts, in the best possible way (echoes of Guy Debord or even Benjamin?) through the landscape of the inconsequential stopping only to admire paintings, (can a painting be a non-sequitur?) the texture of bricks, of fabric. There are moments of brilliance, watch the tango sequence for a master class in editing and lighting (the great Christopher Doyle lenses by the way.) If this reminds me of anything it is Guerin's equally contemplative `In The City Of Sylvia'. The difference is of course that in Jarmusch's world desire's arrow aims at a target that is much more difficult to presume. The central character, a typical Jarmusch hero, leads us, without guile, through the calle of Sevilla, towards an inconclusive moment, the screen goes dark, but there is no end, Jarmuch's cinema is just pausing, waiting for the next verse.
on 2 August 2014
I thought Buster was the worse film I would ever see but I was wrong. This is terrible.
on 2 July 2014
very good dvd.