December 9, 2009

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There are films that are enjoyed for their entertainment, and those that provoke the mind. But on the latter end of the spectrum, there are features that don’t quite work as films, but still manage to provoke thought and discussion. That is where Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control falls.  Hit the jump for the review:

The_Limits_of_Control_movie_image (1).jpgThis is one of those projects designed for a small group of moviegoers. Without the reach of previous efforts like Dead Man and Coffee & Cigarettes, The Limits of Control thrives in very silent and measured subtlety. That technique can make for a myriad of laughs (like Joss Whedon’s Buffy episode “Hush”) but when serious and philosophical, it will only appeal to the moviegoer who wants to be active – who wants to think about each scene, and how each subtle, beautifully shot moment matters in the greater whole, while also being comfortable with sitting in the silent moment.

The film is stunning, both because of how Jarmusch sets up links between “reality” and environment, and the settings he chooses for the journey. The film stars Isaach De Bankole as a loner on a dangerous, unknown mission. He travels from city to city, following the guidelines of mysterious strangers, all who lead him one step further on his journey. Paz Vega, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Bill Murray — one by one, they dash in and out of his experience, relaying brief thoughts and discussions before leaving the loner to continue on. In the many silent moments in between, he’s a paragon of control, refusing the overtly sexual advances from Vega, sitting silently, practicing tai chi. He’s like a statue, only encouraged into life by those around him before digging back into his completely controlled existance.

The DVD offers two bonus features:

Behind Jim Jarmusch: Just over 50 minutes, this featurette really digs into Jarmusch’s directorial style, featuring on-set discussions with the director and cast members like Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray. Like Jarmusch himself, this featurette is measured and casual, rather than one of those fancy, heavily edited and quickly paced extras.

Untitled Landscapes: “Inspirational footage” from the locations and the production of the film. In other words, a myriad of shots set to music for just under 3 minutes.

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