Starting this past weekend at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the first comprehensive career retrospective ever in Toronto of the famed director Jim Jarmusch. Jarmusch has been hailed for his insightful and brooding tales, films that show the audience different sides of everyday life and take the time to explore and roam around in the cinematic universes he creates. The film series started off with some of Jarmusch’s early works with screenings of Down by Law and Stranger than Paradise, but it really starts to pick up steam this week.
Mystery Train is the first film of Jarmusch’s to explore multiple narratives and really incorporate his love of music, kickstarting one of his trademarks of hiring musicians he admires to play alongside actors. Jarmusch had already used Tom Waits in Down by Law, but here he has Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joe Strummer of the Clash as well as Waits playing other pivotal roles. The film may have done more to establish the quirky and engaging side of Jarmusch’s later works than any of his previous films.
The series continues with the taxi cab confessional Night on Earth, Neil Young and Crazy Horse-based rock doc Year of the Horse, the criminally underrated pseudo action flick Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, the Bill Murray vehicle Broken Flowers, Coffee and Cigarettes and the Johnny Depp starring Dead Man.
The series wraps up with two films featuring Jarmusch’s latest muse, Tilda Swinton, the first of which is the star-studded mystery/thriller The Limits of Control. The last is the fantastic Jarmusch entry from last year’s TIFF Festival, Only Lovers Left Alive., which screens on August 16th. This pairs Swinton with the equally adept Tom Hiddleston as a pair of old lovers that alternates between centuries spent apart and torrid love affairs together. This unique and skillful take on Vampire mythology is more about decay and the slow, creeping passage of time than any of the violent and blood-filled rampages that other vampire films tend to be filled with. It’s a brilliant character study lead by two excellent actors that definitely should not be missed.
For more information of the retrospective, check out TIFF’s online website here.