Rituals Paterson Rituals

The Red Wheelbarrow*
(William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963)

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.


Jim Jarmusch
used William Carlos Williams as his muse for the movie Paterson. And if you’re going to see a movie without any action, based on poetry, one would think you would not want to take a rugged retired fireman.

But wait!

Jarmusch would say that’s exactly who would appreciate such a film, just as the main character-Adam Driver-is the bus driver poet, why couldn’t there be the fireman poet? And in fact, didn’t Guy Montag, the main character and fireman in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, have such poetic leanings, ‘her dress was white and it whispered’?

Perhaps a firemen would alter WCW’s poem to:

The Red Firetruck
(ghost written by Roxanne Baker 1963-)

so much depends
on a red
fire truck

blackened by smokey
soot

beside the white
two story.

Paterson was an ode to the poet in us all, and in this movie, everyone is a poet: a laundry mat rapper, a 10 year old girl, a Japanese tourist. The film could also be seen as an ode to director Chantal Ackerman, specifically her film Jeanne Dielman, an epic film where the housewife goes through everyday routines repeatedly.

The habits of Adam Driver and his girlfriend made me miss the predictability of coupledom and paradoxically, made me glad I have the freedom as a single gal to do whatever the heck I want. The fact that Jim Jarmusch can evoke opposing emotions is a feat unto itself.

His eye for art is also appealing, and in this film black and white patterns fill the home courtesy of actress Golshifteh Farahani, the unemployed, but dream filled love interest. Their pug, in his gloriously bored expressions, mirror the mundane life most of us live. The most fun aspects of our lives are the tiny surprises that interrupt the predictability of the rest of our lives. For instance, when you meet someone on a bridge walk and end up going to a movie.

Thought provoking messages about yin and yang, and the idea that the world eventually gives us what we need, also supplied and required reflection. The shadow within every person was found in a talented poet beaten down by the drudgery, the shadow in every relationship in an unrequited love affair, or the shadow in many life moments as two guys on Paterson’s bus share similar stories of the promise of a dating opps, only to let them slip away. The world giving us what we need was seen in a bar incident on the verge of violence and a gift of an empty notebook.

Paterson doesn’t hold it’s power in action, but in its ability to make you ponder. The film’s equally enjoyable for poetry fans and for the dreamer in us all.

*1985 Ft. Lauderdale

Jim Jarmusch: Only Lovers Left Awake (Alive)

Despite being somewhat disentranced through much of Only Lovers Left Alive, I did enjoy the film.

Jarmusch made darkness and despair look attractive, proof of his early trainiing at Columbia, NYU and Cinematheque Francasie. The sets were gorgeous even in their centuries old accumulation of books and instruments. Romance exists even in dimly lit disorganization which is excellent news for my bulging clothes closet.

The film also made me glad for my day job as vampires lack thereof might be partially why they are so bored and lethargic. The burden of being immortal is what to do with all that time. How much sight seeing can one do for eternity?

In fact, they were so bored (here’s where you shout: HOW BORED WERE THEY?), that stars Tidla Swinton (Eve) and Tom Hiddleston (Adam) took a sightseeing tour of Detroit! Yet even ruined cities can look majestic by night.

The plot was weak to say the least which leads me to believe there is a new film genre in its nascence. Similar to Inside Llewyn Davis, not much happens in Only Lovers Left Alive. But as I told my English students recently when they complained about their apathy at the lack of action in the film Wadjda (mind you, they’re 12, Wadjda was far from boring) that life is a journey with more moments of slack than static. Inside Llewyn Davis and Only Lovers Left Alive highlight life’s daily grind. In addition, both films dealt with the characters’ interior minds tough to depict visually, a wrestling within about finding new challenges to embrace based on years of previous rejections and disappointments.

And given Jarmusch’s quips within the film about our dependency on technology (though hypocritically sporting Eve’s Apple I-phone in several scenes), the dysfunction of self-promotion and fame, our ruination and disregard for the environment; perhaps Adam’s depression comes more from overload, where the years (century years) are merely a metaphor for our informational and consumerism excess.

Last, perhaps the vampire motif has come full circle. We are now back to kinder gentler Counts, like Chocula and Sesame Street’s von Count, empathic guides for people’s chocolate satisfaction and math skills. According to Only Lovers Left Alive, the new vampire rule is only bite and amorous souls whose cells will live on generating positive vibrations throughout space and time. Count Chocula