Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dead Man (1995)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Starring Johnny Depp and Gary Farmer.

While there are a number of Westerns I love, it's not a genre I find myself drawn too all that often. But then this film is like no vision of the West I've ever seen. Depp stars as William Blake, a newcomer to the West who has a bullet near his heart and a price on his head, and one of the many ways the film subverts its ostensible genre is that the meek Blake is about as far from a cowboy as you can get. Jarmusch, a great filmmaker who has always been attentive to the juxtaposition of cultures, surrounds Blake with memorable supporting characters, notably Farmer's hilarious Nobody, a Native American who believes Blake to be the famed poet. The film feels like a long pre-death vision by Blake (the dead man of the title), and this is heightened by Jarmusch's deadpan style and languid pacing, the shimmering black-and-white cinematography, and Neil Young's jarring guitar score.

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