This month, The Academy of Motion Picture arts and Sciences will host legendary film composer Ennio Morricone in a rare public conversation with writer/director Quentin Tarantino; Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton in a Q&A moderated by Henry Rollins after a special screening of her new film, “Only Lovers Left Alive” (written and directed by Jim Jarmusch); and a series highlighting other films by Jarmusch, a seminal figure in American independent cinema, all drawn from the Academy Film Archive. Tickets will go on sale at 11 a.m. February 28, $5 General admission is $3 Academy members, LACMA Film Club members and students. All the screenings and special events will be at the Bing Theater (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles).
Jim Jarmusch: DOWN BY LAW
March 7 | 7:30 pm Buy Tickets
Writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s third feature is a stylish and mordantly comical take on the classic prison drama. Small-time pimp John Lurie, loafing disc jockey Tom Waits and excitable Italian tourist Roberto Benigni wind up sharing a jail cell on the outskirts of New Orleans Parish after each commits, or is set up to commit, crimes of varying degrees of pettiness. Benigni – with his handy notepad of American idioms such as “buzz off” and “I scream, you scream, for ice cream” – is an electric foil to laconic Lurie and Waits. But despite their differences, this trio of misfits bands together and breaks out. Working for the first time with Jarmusch, cinematographer Robby Müller (“Paris, Texas,” “The American Friend”) graces the film with masterful black-and-white imagery. Whether framing lone figures on the desolate streets of the French Quarter or shadow-latticed swamplands, the sumptuous look of “Down by Law” pays homage to the Southern Gothic while infusing it with beatnik wit. Bookended by a pair of smoky Waits gems and scored by Lurie with noirish moods, “Down by Law” remains a cult classic of idiosyncratic comedy.
1986, 107 minutes, black and white, 35mm | Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch; with Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Ellen Barkin, Billie Neal and Rockets Redglare.
Raised in Akron, Ohio, and a student of Nicholas Ray in the NYU Film School, Jim Jarmusch has written and directed 11 features over three decades. Jarmusch’s body of work is one of the most singular in the American independent scene. Cinephilic and deliberate, Jarmusch’s films combine wry humor, modernistic compositions, languorous edits and cross-cultural characters to render the itinerant drift of life’s outliers and vagabonds. A member of the no wave band The Del-Byzanteens in the early ’80s, Jarmusch has also begun writing and recording with Dutch lutenist Jozef van Wissem and his own band SQÜRL.
Jim Jarmusch: STRANGER THAN PARADISE
March 7 | 9:45 pm | 30th anniversary Buy Tickets
Piddling New York City gambler John Lurie unwittingly plays host to his wayfaring Hungarian cousin, Eszter Balint, in his cramped studio apartment. He introduces her to such touchstones of American life as TV dinners, Monday Night Football and Chesterfield cigarettes…not to mention his unflappable sidekick, Richard Edson (Sonic Youth’s original drummer). But after Balint splits for Cleveland to live with Aunt Lotte (Cecillia Stark), Lurie and Edson decide to use their poker winnings for an impromptu road trip to the Midwest and beyond. Punctuated by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put a Spell on You” and crisply shot by future director Tom DiCillo (“Johnny Suede,” “Living in Oblivion”), Jarmusch’s minimalist comedy swept awards throughout international film festivals: winning a Special Jury Prize in Sundance, the Camera d’Or in Cannes for best first feature (Jarmusch’s true debut, the short film Permanent “Vacation,” was little seen outside New York), and the Golden Leopard in Locarno.
1984, 89 minutes, black and white, 35mm | Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch; with John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson and Cecillia Stark.
Jim Jarmusch: DEAD MAN
March 8 | 5 pm Buy Tickets
Johnny Depp is a man lost in the sublime and surreal American frontier in Jim Jarmusch’s ‘acid Western.’ Landing in the town of Machine to start a new job at Dickinson Metalworks, Cleveland accountant Depp winds up with a slug in his chest and a group of bounty hunters on his tail. Led by a Native American who goes by the name Nobody (Gary Farmer), Depp embarks on a mystical journey through the woods and, perhaps, yonder to the afterlife. Along the way, a cross-dressing Iggy Pop and gun-toting Robert Mitchum (in one of his final screen roles) pop up. Scored by Neil Young in varying shades of electric guitar fuzz and splotch, “Dead Man”was hailed by The Village Voice’s J. Hoberman as “The western Andrei Tarkovsky always wanted to make….a visionary film.”
1996, 121 minutes, black and white, 35mm | Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch; with Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover, John Hurt; Robert Mitchum and Iggy Pop.
Jim Jarmusch: MYSTERY TRAIN
March 8 | 7:30 pm Buy Tickets
In a tumble-down Memphis hotel run by rock ‘n roll royal Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (with bellboy Cinqué Lee, brother of Spike Lee, in tow) three stories unfold: a pair of Elvis-obsessed Japanese tourists make the rounds of the King’s hometown, a woman stranded en route to Italy is met by an apparition, and a greaser (played by Joe Strummer) goes an all-night bender that turns perilous. “A meditation on nighttime and transience, on rhythm-and-blues and the city of Memphis, that comes camouflaged as a deck of three stories. Like its predecessors, it mixes high and low comedy, sadness and high jinks, and extracts a subtle, limpid beauty from the rawest of materials”—Luc Sante.
1989, 110 minutes, color, 35mm | Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch; with Masatoshi Nagase, Youki Kudoh, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joe Strummer, Steve Buscemi and Cinqué Lee. Continue reading