Watch: Jim Jarmusch’s Best Traveling Sequences… In Three Minutes!

Watch: Jim Jarmusch’s Best Traveling Sequences… In Three Minutes!

At first glance, the films of Jim Jarmusch may not seem to have many connections.  For example, what could a samurai-influenced hit man have in common with hard-rocking vampires?  Examining any two of Jarmusch’s films presents us with equally unusual comparisons.  However, all of Jarmusch’s feature films do indeed share a common thread–a journey. The characters in a Jarmusch film share the simple goal of starting somewhere and needing to get somewhere else.  The destination is not necessarily a physical place–most of the journeys are spiritual–but the process is visually communicated via traveling sequences.  There is something unique in the way Jarmusch presents traveling characters.  His camera lingers in confined spaces, communicating a strong sense of significance.  He focuses on facial expressions, which tend to be solemn and focused–they are on a mission, simply to arrive.  Here is a look at characters traveling throughout Jim Jarmusch’s film career.  

Films used:

Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

Down by Law (1986)

Mystery Train (1989)

Night on Earth (1991)

Dead Man (1995)

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Broken Flowers (2005)

The Limits of Control (2009)

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.

Watch: Seijun Suzuki, A Director Who Influenced Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, John Woo, and Others

Watch: Seijun Suzuki, A Director Who Influenced Tarantino, Jarmusch, Woo, and Others

[A transcript follows.]

If you enjoy the films of Quentin Tarantino, Park Chan-wook, John Woo, Takashi Miike, and Jim Jarmusch, then you might want to check out the man who influenced them all—Seijun Suzuki. Suzuki is responsible for some of Japan’s most stylish and sometimes downright insane action movies of the 1960s.
He was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1923. Suzuki failed the entrance exam for the University of Tokyo, so a friend convinced him to try taking film classes at Kamakura Academy. He started working as an assistant director in 1948 for a major studio named Shochiku.
In 1954, Suzuki started working for Nikkatsu—Japan’s oldest major studio. He started out as an Assistant Director at Nikkatsu, but in 1956, he directed his first feature film, a B movie called ‘Harbour Toast: Victory is in Our Grasp.’
In 1963, Suzuki worked with the chipmunk-cheeked Joe Shishido in the lead role of ‘Detective Bureau 2–3: Go to Hell, Bastards!’ about a private investigator who infiltrates a Yakuza clan. He teamed up with Shishido again for his next film, made in the same year, titled ‘Youth of the Beast.’ Even though both of these films share a very similar story and came out in the same year, ‘Youth of the Beast’ represents a turning point in Suzuki’s style. 
Stunning use of color and creative shot choices made ‘Youth of the Beast’ stand out against the many other movies Nikkatsu released. And ‘many’ is an undserstatement—Nikkatsu’s schedule had them releasing two new films every single week.
That style would fully develop in ‘Tokyo Drifter’ where we see a beautiful use of color and modern art production design in a way that appears almost theatrical. This film showcases his western influences and we even see an homage to the Hollywood western in this bar room brawl.
Shishido starred in only four Suzuki films, but despite their short-lived collaboration, their movies would be among Suzuki’s greatest and most well-known. Suzuki’s most well-known film—and let’s face it, clearly his best—was a huge financial failure. Its screenings were sparsely attended and Nikkatsu president, Kyusaku Hori called the film, ‘incomprehensible’ and fired Suzuki from Nikkatsu. It was his 40th film for the studio. The film is called ‘Branded to Kill’ and follows Hanada, the Yakuza’s number three best hitman on the run after a hit gets botched when a butterfly lands on the barrel of his sniper rifle causing him to miss his shot.
Suzuki’s experience and the perfecting of his style shines through in this creative masterpiece that includes everything you could want from an action movie—lots of sex, violence, and general badassery, but there is another level with ‘Branded to Kill’ that didn’t exist in his earlier program pictures. In order to write the film, Suzuki assembled a team of writers he called Hachiro Guryu (or ‘Group of Eight’). Suzuki didn’t spend a lot of time on pre-production and he never storyboarded his scenes, opting instead to come up with ideas as he shot. Since Nikkatsu was releasing two films a week, the shooting schedule was at a breakneck pace—the whole film from pre to post production was only 25 days and all of the editing and looping lines was completed in one day, which happened to be the day before its release.
Suzuki sued Nikkatsu for wrongful termination and won, but he was blacklisted by every studio for ten years. In 2001, he made a sequel to ‘Branded to Kill’ called ‘Pistol Opera’ and his latest film, ‘Princess Raccoon,’ (made in 2005) is a musical based on a folk tale from Japan. He’s still kicking at 92 years old with 54 films under his belt. While his days of filmmaking are over, there is no doubt that his work will continue to inspire others for many years to come.
Clips used:
Reservoir Dogs (1992 Dir. Quentin Tarantino)
Oldboy (2003 Dir. Park Chan-wook)
Hard Boiled (1992 Dir. John Woo)
Ichi the Killer (2001 Dir. Takashi Miike)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999 Dir. Jim Jarmusch)
Branded to Kill (1967 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Harbour Toast: Victory is in Our Grasp (1956 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell, Bastards! (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Youth of the Beast (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Tokyo Drifter (1966 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Youth of the Beast (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Pistol Opera (2001 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Princess Raccoon (2005 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Music used:
Branded to Kill (1967 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Tokyo Drifter (1966 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Youth of the Beast (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Sources used:
Schilling, Mark. No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema. Godalming, England: FAB, 2007. Print.

Tyler Knudsen, a San Francisco Bay Area native, has been a student of film for most of his life. Appearing in several television commercials as a child, Tyler was inspired to shift his focus from acting to directing after performing as a featured extra in Vincent Ward’s What Dreams May Come. He studied Film & Digital Media with an emphasis on production at the University of California, Santa Cruz and recently moved to New York City where he currently resides with his girlfriend.

A Video Essay On Jim Jarmusch: Dead Men & Ghosts, Limited

A Video Essay On Jim Jarmusch: Dead Men & Ghosts, Limited

The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.
trans. by Robert Hass

Of the various Jim Jarmusch films I’ve seen, three have nagged
at me, haunted me, teased me until I came back to them again and again. I
was a student in New York City when Dead Man was released, and I saw it
in the theatre, having read a review, having heard Jarmusch’s name
whispered or echoed somewhere, and I wanted to see what the fuss was. I
didn’t know what to make of it then, but if I knew anything at all about
the film, I knew it was beautiful. Ghost Dog was easier to apprehend on
a first viewing (in Boston, if I remember correctly), a film that is,
for Jarmusch at least, relatively conventional in its narrative
progress, its episodes clearly linked together through cause, effect,
motivation. The Limits of Control is the most abstract of the three, a
film to dream to. Indeed, when I first watched it (late one night at
home in New Hampshire), I drifted in and out of sleep. This seems
appropriate, perhaps the perfect first encounter with such an enigmatic,
oneiric movie.

I began to think of the three films together. They appealed to me
significantly more than Jarmusch’s other works, significantly more than
most movies. The reasons could, of course, be personal and
idiosyncratic, but perhaps there was something there, some line of
thought, some mix of imagery and style. Certainly, they share concerns
and motifs: questions of wisdom and wandering, art and death, repetition
and revision. They let genres become ghosts. They propose that white
men are the scourge of reality. I knew the only way to begin an
exploration would be with a movie of my own, made from pilfered pieces,
because while I could analyze with text, it held no appeal: too dry, too
awkward, too much like a manual on taxidermy. I knew I couldn’t script
it, either; I just needed to dig into the sounds and images, to see what
stuck, to trust a certain intuition in juxtaposition.

“Dead Men & Ghosts, Limited” is the result. Its great flaw is that I was awake when I made it.

Matthew Cheney’s work has been published by English Journal, One Story, Web Conjunctions, Strange Horizons,, Ideomancer, Pindeldyboz, Rain Taxi, Locus, The Internet Review of Science Fiction and SF Site, among other places, and he is the former series editor for Best American Fantasy. He is currently a student in the Ph.D. in Literature program at the University of New Hampshire.