Director, Jim Jarmusch, Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Carter Logan, Written by Jim Jarmusch. Cast, Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Cliff Smith, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper, Masatoshi Nagase, Cinematography Frederick Elmes, Edited by Affonso Gonçalves. Duration, 118 minutes. Country. United States, Germany, France. Language, English. Cert.15. Poems by Ron Padget. Music by Squire.
Adam Driver as Paterson, Golshifteh Farahani as Laura, William Jackson Harper as Everett, Chasten Harmon as Marie, Barry Shabaka Henley as Doc, Rizwan Manji as Donny, Masatoshi Nagase as Asian Man, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman as Male Student, Method Man, Sterling Jerins.
I think it was Con Houlihan who once he witnessed a match, seen a play, had watched a film felt obliged to let it settle in his mind. Go for a pint or read a paper on the daily affairs. That great journalist, former Kerry teacher, Castleisland, took everything seriously but with an unusually precise vision having grown up with learning through experiences and reading voraciously he became a foundation stone of critical appraisal in Ireland. This film has to be separated from the usual hubris trailing a film from a renowned acclaimed Director. The sophrosyne requires laid in singular isolation away from a chorus of any type. Better to infuse the critique from a sole perspective and learn from it. That is typical Con.
Disembarking the Bus
I was thinking halfway through Paterson there was a telling of the ordinariness of life in the trivialization of tedium which may explain Jim Jarmusch – whose Jim Ostenberg (Iggy)/The Stooges rockumentary was far removed from what is appreciated as a typical Jim Jarmusch film tale. This is a unconvincing work despite the homage to New Jersey, the turnpike of a life that may delineate, polarise a Directors vision of what a heaven state, what life with little relative struggle – other people have struggles Paterson does not – his Bus Garage Manager Donny is the conveyor of troubles that inhabit, his life. Paterson awakes each morning to the pulse of avibrating watch telling him at 6.10am its time to get up, pick up a set of clothes for work set neatly on a Lloyd loom chair in the bedroom and down a bowl of Cherrios. While he goes through this routine, and it is quite utterly uninteresting, he hums in meter the rhythm of a poem he is in the process of composing. Take this and multiply by five and you have a start to the day. Monday through to Friday. Only on a day partly through this week; I won’t spoil it otherwise you will be willing it’s arrival too early, a minor incident breaks the monotony. Twins moderate the story telling as a sideline effort at normality = everyone is this interesting/boring. They are in various age groups. Even colour cast.
The focus of Paterson is his poetry and it is release occupying him and one he is encouraged by Golshifteh Farahani as Laura (more appraisal in Home and her indoors) to open up his poetry to a wider public from the neat notebook handwritten version. It is something he kind of agrees to while she is encouraged by him to Cary on creating with her own particular B/W fixation which takes many sometimes very funny manifestations.
The film streams the poetry in pretty notation of the spoken word as it emerges from Patersons cranium as he walks, drives his bus, or walks Marvin to the bolt hole of the Bar. Marvin is toed to a coat hook/bolt outside as the customers inside treat drinking and hanging out as a necessary part of everyday. Jim Jarmusch uses it as a crossover with the real world though in the bar the reality is choreographed into more groundhog similarity. Similarity with things, the essence of familiar seeming to be another level of directors message relay. The streets are clean the rubbish bagged and most people keep themselves to themselves and neighbourhoods are simplistically a non threatening place even at night.
With another piece of turgid storymaking Jim Jarmusch makes race relations a complete non issue as everyone is non-racial. He borrows early on an early cerebral marker for the local black Bar manager, (Doc, Barry Shabaka Henley) who as the opening of A Night train to Lisbon, in which Jeremy Irons, gravitas implanted in an empty flat competes with himself on a chess board, likewise the Bar manager. The bar is a frequent haunt, immediately sometimes post work, or more regularly, groundhog regularly, is the mid dog walk stop off. Doc raises the prospect of relief from the tedium as he in true behind the bar style, is the loadstone of community advice. He has a wall gallery of ‘escapees’ from Paterson which he attends to behind the bar. Lou Costello of Abbot and Costello is a famous evacuee. Along with Sam and Dave, Poet William Carlos Williams the wall gets quite full of former Paterson residents. Lamely Jim Jarmusch introduces his aforementioned rock heroe who of course has nothing whatsoever to do with Paterson into the wall of fame. Lame fame get it! My jokes are as bad as his, so I could make it as a script writer. Michigan lays claim to that ‘hero’ and you will see the looseness of the attempted connection for yourselves.
Whose on next?
Paterson in Paterson New Jersey
Paterson is an analogue town in the 21st century. Telephone cables lace the high telephone rigs in the backwaters of Paterson and the streets driven by Paterson are a mix of five storey complexes and two storey shops flat over old town footprints. Basically it is a place in limbo in the eighties. There is if you look closely – the eye is invited to shift as you are unlikely to miss anything up front and central – you may notice a tower (two adjoining – relevance unknown) some twelve or more storey’s and the larger modern residential blocks. To this slow emerging environment of NJ the film is placed very much in these architectural idioms. When Paterson leaves home every morning; their home is a raised timber clad bungalow with a basement garage, it’s a man dungeon, his writing office, he walks down the gentle slope to the garage. It takes him through ‘the old factories’ and here I see the architecture a sense of retention. It is retaining the embodied energy of earlier generations graft and as a tribute, Jim Jarmusch focuses our vision and mind to the undestroyed, or partially intact, as it is remaining, if memory alone, a productive sense of place possibly capable of a resurrection. If this is a sense of an errand of his own desire it is fairly lightweight. The genus loci is visible through modifications to doors, bricked up to window cill height replacing the adjoining, as at the Market Street Bus depot. There are upper level blocked up windows and also versions of changing interior uses. On one little encounter, when a day allows Paterson external reflection, I noticed modern cement block infill to a couple of doorways. While admitting to being an architectural pedant, I also admit to observing the Directors subtle approach in remaining long enough in this environment in a scene to allow us should we feel it necessary or otherwise as another pointer to lost things or of us loosing things. There is also a reading this scoping out of a scene has intentionally or not shown a drop in ‘reinstatement – infill’ standard which goes with the 21st century attitude seen everywhere disrespecting the past.
Home and her indoors.
There is a complete homelife existance occupied by the brilliantly liberal and imaginative Golshifteh Farahani as Laura. Her liberal self is as a free spirit alongside Paterson who only wishes he allows himself bigger scoping of his poetry by attempting to encourage its publication. There is no enforced wishful thinking just a broadening of Patersns own perceptions of his own work and worth. Laura is the intensive artistic multifarious sometimes subtle art. Wall pictures are in colour in complete contrast to everything else. The apartment as well as Laura herself becomes a black and white world – her need for clarity being overvexing. It is a constantly increasing motif intent being carried over with a neat insert of a complete segment of yesteryear courtesy of another stroke of good fortune which befalls Laura. Paterson is gracious and accepting of all successes and there is no contest of ego’s as inspiration or pressure. The spotlight of home life is shared by British bulldog Marvin (Gaye? Seldom in good humour) and he steals some of the best comedic moments. The humour is there as mostly implied rather than directly shared jokes. In fact Adam Driver despite his seemingly contented state is rarely if ever seen laughing. Another purposeful direction which is neither informative or implicit. Adam Driver is very coherent and a good projector of the everyman character he s required to inhabit. He gives it his best shots. His relationship is also not spirited lovemaking but platonic and carefree with touch and feel rather than intimate lovemaking which bottoms out the story again to the apparent design of the film. Internal monologue of addressing the lovely Laura are deployed. Laura lies showing the outline of her figure as Adam Driver talks and sometimes they exchange mild love talk as he readies to leave the bed. These conversations, Monday, are initially incoherent with awakening breathing unadjusted. It simply doesn’t work or is a struggle through the film with not much reward when understood.
There is a minor natural tourist attraction in the form of a scenic waterfall vista (the Great Falls of the Passaic River) There is a Japanese visitor (Masatoshi Nagase) he engages with at this viewing spot. In the foreground is an arched iron railway bridge, with an aqueduct above it. This is a place where poetry streams through the atmosphere moving and shaping far away themes and astranged subjects. It’s where the words of the poetry are untrodden and allowed to flow and where similar types are drawn.
Paterson’s favourite poet is, William Carlos Williams, who wrote a book of Poetry in minutiae on the ‘spell’ Paterson himself wishes to inhabit. Adam Drivers angular frame and tuft of hair, even the ink spots on his face, (moles) along with his nose which is like a fountain pen nib is sheer serendipity as far as casting is concerned. Never closer to resembling a pen can an actor become.
Far from being a story or engaging narrative even as a non-story this film while looking marvelous, enjoying the good health of a Paterson – real place – New Jersey, entering the phase of winter with the leaves yet to fall, the full pelt of nature to disturb. This past year New Jersey did not escape the brutalities of hurricanes and coastal floods and climate change threw up many challenges for the south of New York communities of New Jersey. Jim Jarmusch is hopeful. He portrays a place were very few of life’s problems arise and while Paterson is unusually alone in being in an eighties cocoon where very little change affects him, his closer associates have moderate immersions in the reality. Laura’s starts of as a supernatural artistic haven of an existence but it is perhaps true to say she eventually becomes open and positively engaged with the world we exist in – the moving changing vexing one – and is a benefactor of the engagements she makes. Likewise peripheral characters whose challenges, mostly concerning relationships are comfortably turbulent and gratifyingly akin to kin and ones own experiences. The trouble is are you entertained or have you just inserted yourself in a Jim Jarmusch joke where he takes you in and entrap you to the tedium and resulatant Ricky Gervais like bibliographical content of an auteurs worst nightmares. Go see conflictingly and report your findings to a consultant.
25 November 2016
On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from 25 November to 8 December 2016 inc.
for a good Poem occasionally – I make a point of making poetry challenging to anyone prepared to indulge in it – my own are here – adailypoemblog.wordpress.com