“It’s cool to be in Memphis.”
That’s what Japanese teenager Jun says, and I wholeheartedly agree.
I took a trip to Memphis this morning while watching Jim Jarmusch’s “Mystery Train.” I haven’t seen this flick in years and it didn’t disappoint me after our long separation.
It’s films like this from the 1980s that turned me into a movie fan. The quirky characters, the settings that could be encountered in nearly any town if you knew which street to turn down, the actors and their performances. Throw in the ghost of Elvis and some “Lost in Space” TV trivia and you can’t go wrong.
Jarmusch mixed the music, the DJ, some moans and a gunshot to tie together a non-linear story that intersected in three arcs. One review of this movie that I read described it as “An experimental film that went ‘pulp’ before ‘fiction’.”
The melancholy, muted colors and rusted signs told the tale of an economy and relationships in decline.
Elvis’ “Blue Moon” comes across as pretty mournful playing behind all three tales. The spectral King comes across both aurally and visually.
But there is humor here as well. Watching Mitsuko spark a zippo with her feet. The lipstick smeared kiss between young lovers. The tale of Elvis’ comb and its providential delivery (although the deliveryman turned out to be a bit menacing), Sam and Dave, the complimentary towels, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Room 22.
It’s all good stuff. Roger Ebert has a solid review.