Jim Jarmusch

He talks his Broken Flowers.

What you see is what you get with director Jim Jarmusch, who visited town recently to discuss his Broken Flowers (see review). Just as his movies, from Down by Law to Ghost Dog, have been dry and deadpan, so is he. That's also a sensibility that meshed nicely with the droll minimalism of Bill Murray, he explains, who appeared in a chapter of his 2003 anthology film, Coffee and Cigarettes. "I think he's continued to hone two different sides of himself," says Jarmusch. "He's an incredibly focused and precise actor, capable of doing things very minimally. And that seems contradictory to that kind of broad side of him. But he's a walking contradiction; even his face is contradictory to me—melancholy and kind of mischievous. I think he's been honing them both all along. Although that's been happening for quite a long time, starting with The Razor's Edge . . . Mad Dog and Glory, and choosing things like being in Ed Wood and working with Wes [Anderson] and Sofia [Coppola]." The movie was written specifically for Murray after having the general outline described to him, says Jarmusch, but "I'm not still fully convinced that he ever read the script. Because he always wanted me to tell it to him" during the film's production. "It's not really any particular genre. I don't wanna make a clichéd character or situation. At the same time, I was embracing a lot of clichés in this film intentionally to see if I could, not subvert them, but use them." Witness the French girlfriend (Julie Delpy) named Cheri, a stereotypical gang of bikers, the references to Lolita and Don Juan, and the rather musty device of a letter putting the plot into motion. Of Murray's character, Jarmusch notes, "He's very passive. He's not really motivated by anything. He seems sort of on his own island in that house of his. His life is very static. I didn't want him to be that kind of active guy. I don't even like the guy in the beginning in the film. I don't care about him. Which is maybe . . . one departure for me. Because [in past films] I either identify with the characters or have some kind of love for them. And that's why it was great to write it for Bill"—meaning the inherent goodwill he brings, which carries the audience along on the following road trip through "this nebulous Generica." Jarmusch concludes, "Even my very first film, Permanent Vacation, was a road movie. And my other films have a lot of traveling and road-movie elements to them. But then again, that's one of the oldest archetypes to the narrative form, starting with The Odyssey if not before. It's the most obvious metaphor for life." bmiller@seattleweekly.com

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