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Saturday, May 20, 2017

PATERSON (2016)

Jim Jarmusch has been stealthily releasing a film every three or four years for decades; a dozen since 1980. But it’s been a while since one has seemed to matter this much. (Along with a welcome reduction in hipster quotient.) Simply shot, and beautiful in Jarmusch's minimalist style, it tackles an unusual topic (poetry & the mystery of creation) from an unusual proletariat angle. Traversing a week in the life of Paterson, N.J. bus driver Adam Driver (a bus driver named ‘Driver,’ and his film character named Paterson), the film closely observes his life habits with its small variations of regular hours, daily chores & duties of domesticity; a very routine routine. Yet, rather than dull artistic spirit, quotidian repetition feeds creative process, opening mind & thoughts experientially. A pretty tough concept to verbalize, let alone organize & pull off as film where time moves at the same pace for every viewer. Driver, a nearly perfect vessel here, fascinating in repose, is cinematically blessed with a forehead that ‘reads’ as thought. (Something of a Native American cast to his profile, though apparently not in his bloodline.) As his wife, Golshifteh Farahani (a name to stymie SpellCheck) is spacey & sweet, an eccentric homemaker, but a fine receptacle for his literary longings (the poems are charming & believably his). While the rest of a smallish cast, largely bar & work acquaintances, work gracefully as backstop to his still forming ideas. Jarmusch can’t quite maintain his design, giving in to questionable dramatic incidents to pump up the third act. And though you can see why he does it, the film has to land somewhere, you may wish he hadn’t. Still, a lovely piece.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Frederick Elmes’ cinematography really brings out a found bleak beauty in the streets & buildings of Paterson’s on-its-heels working-class town, even without the forested train trestle that pictorially bridges a ravine, a waterfall & the film.

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