Friday, 9 November 2012

Mystery Train (1989)

Tom:
Mystery Train,1989,USA
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Masatoshi Nagase, Youki Kudoh & Steve Buscemi

Mitzuko: Jun, why do you only take pictures of the rooms we stay in and never what we see outside while we travel?
Jun: Those other things are in my memory. The hotel rooms and the airports are the things I'll forget.

I love anthology films, I love the aspect of exploring different characters and different predicaments, if only for a short amount of time. Director Jim Jarmusch has basically mastered the art of the anthology film, producing films such as 'Down by Law', 'Night on Earth' and this film, 'Mystery Train', the latter tells a day in the life of the home of rock and roll, Memphis Tennessee, a retro hotel and the spirit of ''The King'' Elvis Presley.

The film features three interwoven tales, the first titled "Far From Yokohama" revolves around a Japanese couple who've arrived in Memphis for a pilgrimage of rock heros. The second, titled ''A Ghost'' features an Italian women who is stranded for the night in Memphis, she is confronted by a man in a diner who tells her an Elvis ghost tale. The final segment ''Lost in space'' is about a newly single and unemployed Brit who gets in criminal troubles with his reluctant companions.

A vital part of creating a successful anthology film is having the same motifs throughout each tale, weather it be recurring characters or places, 'Mystery Train' does that as well as any film i have ever seen. Its hard not to appreciate Jarmusch's attention to detail throughout the film, you can really sense this was a personal project and one he was very passionate about.

The film is bound together by a glorious hotel, in which all stories wind up at, the place is ran by a night clerk and a bellboy, played by 'Screamin' Jay Hawkins & Cinque Lee who are both very funny together. The film also heavily features 'The King of Rock & Roll' Elvis Presley whos spirit is a driving force through the film and hes song 'Blue Moon' is a recurring motif throughout.

Jarmusch's Direction here is really quite incredible, he captures such a unique and vibrant atmosphere that it just makes this film that more special. This is also a beautiful looking film with some gorgeous cinematography, the tracking shots of characters of walking down pathways is fantastic, this was the first film of Jarmusch's to not be presented in black and white instead he opted for bright primary colors, which was definitely the right choice in my view.

There are some very entertaining performances throughout the film, as I have already mentioned both Hawkins & Lee were good, Masatoshi Nagase & Youki Kudoh are fantastic in carrying the early section of the film, and arguably give the very best performance of the film. Elizabeth Bracco & Nicoletta Braschi were both fine aswell, and Tom Noonan great in a small role. Also, it was a joy as always to see one of my all time favorite actors, Steve Buscemi, in one of his earlier roles, before even 'Miller's Crossing' and 'Reservoir Dogs', needless to say the man was great as usual.

I was expecting to like this film, but I ended up loving it. The film boasts beautiful craftsmanship from Jarmusch whom really does a superb job, and features entertaining and enthralling tales. 'Mystery Train' is nothing short of a great film.

****1/2

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