any good movies lately?
and recommend it.
an unlucky night in New Orleans, deejay Zack, currently unemployed,
makes the bad decision to take on a seemingly simple job from a shifty
acquaintance, and finds himself framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
Small-time pimp Jack finds himself in similarly unfortunate
circumstances, when he arrives at a dingy motel to meet a new girl
who’s been referred by someone who owes him, only to find that it’s
a set-up, and the police are waiting there to arrest him. The two men
find themselves sharing a cramped prison cell, and take an immediate
dislike to one another. A petty battle of ludicrously macho posturing
begins, as each feigns that they’re too cool to talk to the other.
Until Jack and Zack find themselves joined by a third prisoner, whose
arrival changes the cell dynamic. Roberto is a cheerful, loquacious
Italian man who introduces himself as “Bob,” and speaks in broken
English consisting primarily of awkwardly-employed idioms (he keeps a
small tattered notebook of his favorites in his pocket, and frequently
rifles through the list in search of the perfect cliché for a given
moment). Bob valiantly tries to engage in conversation with his new
cellmates, but to no avail – if Jack and Zack are too cool to
acknowledge each other’s presence, they’re certainly not going to
deign to speak to the odd little Italian guy, who’s such a bumbling
idiot that he’s constantly getting their (very similar) names
confused. Eventually, though, Bob’s exuberance wears them down, and
something resembling a friendship is born. When Bob figures out a way to
break the three of them out of prison, the oddball threesome embark on
an adventure through the Lousiana bayou.
Jarmusch’s Down by Law rambles along like a gravelly-voiced
Southern drawl, taking its good old time to get you from beginning of
story to end, slowly sucking you in with its quirky, wry, low-key sense
of humor. This is surely one of the least eventful escaped
cons-on-the-run stories every created on film, more a character study
than a plot-centric crime caper; there’s never any real tension
regarding whether the characters are going to make it out of that swamp
and away from the authorities or not. It’s the genius of Jim Jarmusch
that a movie in which we see so little actually happening on-screen
manages to be so damn entertaining to watch nonetheless. Both Tom Waits
and John Lurie, musicians-turned-actors, do fine jobs as Zack and Jack
respectively, but it’s Roberto Benigni who steals the show as the
irrepressibly goofy, adorable Bob. Bob not only injects a good dose of
the funny into the film, but also serves to teach the two loner
Americans – both Zack and Jack begin as the prototypical
trudge-through-life-alone stoic tough guys of classic film noir – a
little lesson about what it means to connect with other human beings, to
drop the cool façade and just be who you are. This isn’t your usual
movie about prisoners on the lam. Down by Law feels effortlessly
unique, a completely matter-of-fact, wholly un-self-conscious, oddball
original. Unlike so many art-house/indie flicks, in which “weird”
seems like the primary goal, Jarmusch’s film never feels like it’s trying
to be different. It just is. Which is what makes it the quintessence of
by Yee-Fan Sun
lounge . nourish
. host .
. home .