Tag Archives: Memphis

Mystery Train takes me for a ride

“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.

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Cloverfield fulfills

On a quick jaunt to Memphis this week to gather with some like-minded bloggers at Drinking Liberally on Thursday night, Newscoma and I got a chance to check out the first matinee of Cloverfield before heading back to Hooterville on Friday.

The commercials have been enticing me for months with their mystery monster and terror in the streets.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I liked the claustrophia of the handheld camera point of view and the fact they maintained it throughout. I heard a reviewer on NPR Friday say that he felt they should have just used it occasionally. I disagree. The whole conceit of the film necessitates that POV.

I loved that they never really reveal the source/home of the monster.

I’m glad they didn’t use big-name actors. It allowed me to just absorb their efforts without the distraction of a familiar face. The anonymity of the performers allowed you to put aside judgement of their individual performances until later outside the theater. Of course, when you are reflecting back on the flick, you do find a few plot holes, but that’s always the case with movies like this.

I loved the way they played Peekaboo with the monster initially to increase the tension, just giving viewers a flash here or there as it moved between buildings. I liked the way the movie reminded me of the hysteria and fear permeating the streets of NY after 9/11.

I’ve actually thought about going to see it a second time and I don’t ever do that. If you buy a ticket, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I think you will.