ANDPOP’s Sarah Khan hopes to expand your film repertoire as she tackles some of the best little known films in the new bi-weekly column, “Blink And You’ll Miss It.” This week, she tells you why jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train is one film you shouldn’t overlook.
What It Is: Jim Jarmusch’s homage of sorts to Memphis, Tennesse, where Elvis famously lived and died. Starring a crop of foreign stars as well as beloved American actors like Steve Buscemi, the movie follows a number of people on the course of a couple of days in Memphis in the eighties.
There’s a Japanese couple (Youki Kudoh and Masatoshi Nagase) who are making their way across the south to the haunts of their favourite fifties singers, a stranded Italian widow (Nicoletta Braschi) who has a ghostly encounter and a group of friends (Steve Buscemi, Joe Strummer and Rick Aviles) trying to cheer up their depressed friends. The characters all cross paths while staying in a fleabag motel and features the legendary Screamin’ Jay Hawkins as the hotel’s night clerk.
Jim Jarmusch is notorious for his passionate relationship with music which he makes blatantly clear in almost all his movies, but perhaps this one especially.
Why You Probably Missed It: For some reason, despite massive critical acclaim, Jim Jarmusch just doesn’t get much of an audience outside of festivals. He also manages to cast the coolest people in his films (see: Johnny Depp in Dead Man, Tom Waits and Iggy Pop in Coffee and Cigarettes, Bill Murray in Broken Flowers and most recently, Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive), so I really can’t understand why more people aren’t rushing to watch every movie he makes.
It’s a pity because Jarmusch is an amazing and wildly creative filmmaker who deserves much more attention than he receives (though I think Jarmusch may prefer it this way). However, this is probably is his ambitious film, but it’s my favourite (mostly because I’ve been obsessed with Elvis and the Deep South for as long as I can remember).
Why You Should See It: If, unlike me, you’re not crazy obsessed with all things Elvis then you should see this movie because it’s creative, adorable, spooky and downright fun. The characters in all the stories are so vivid and so different, yet more alike than they realize. The conversations (especially those between the hotel night clerk and the busboy) are hilarious and the movie romanticizes Memphis (which is not really a romantic town at all) without leaving out the gritty bits of the city.
Also, Joe Strummer is a surprisingly talented and funny actor and the mostly mute interactions between the Japanese couple are endearing, amusing and moving all at once. Plus, you can never go wrong with a soundtrack of ‘50s rock and blues!
Watch the trailer for Mystery Train below: