Monday, September 17, 2012

902. DEAD MAN (1995)

Running Time: 121 minutes
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch
Written By: Jim Jarmusch
Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Lance Henriksen, Michael Wincott, Robert Mitchum
Click here to view the trailer


Man, Netflix is really grinding my gears lately. They ship out "Down by Law" on Friday, which means I SHOULD get it on Saturday. It doesn't arrive on Saturday and I'm pissed, but I realize that things happen and let it go. Today, I expect it to arrive but before I can get to my mailbox, I get an e-mail saying that "Netflix has received Down by Law". What? I haven't even received it! I call them and am given some bullshit excuse that it "looped back" and they'll be sure and send out a replacement first thing tomorrow morning. Geez!! Anyway..."Dead Man"...

The film opens with a guy that looks very much like an accountant, riding a train, briefcase in tow. We later learn that, indeed, he is an accountant, his name is William Blake (Depp) and he's on his way to the town of Machine to accept a job offer at Dickinson MetalWorks. When he arrives at Dickinson, he is told that the letter he received about the job was sent out two months ago and that "his" position has been filled. Blake demands to talk to the head man, Dickinson (Mitchum), who promptly points a shotgun in his face and tells him to get out. Feeling dejected by old man Dickinson, Blake hits up a local saloon, buys a bottle and meets a prostitute, Thel Russell. Back at her room, Blake and Thel bed down, only to be interrupted by Thel's fiance, Charlie Dickinson, who shoots Thel and is shot by William. Before dying, Charlie gets a round off, shooting William in the chest. William flees the scene, stealing a pinto horse and riding until he can't ride any longer. We later learn that Charlie is the son of old man Dickinson, owner of Dickinson MetalWorks. Saddened by the loss of his son, his son's fiance and his prize pinto horse that Blake stole when he fled town, Mr. Dickinson hires a trio of bounty hunters to bring him William Blake - dead or alive. Aided by a Native American named Nobody (Farmer), Blake navigates through the woods, learning invaluable lessons from Nobody and trying to elude the hunters.

You watch "Dead Man" and it's clear that you're watching Jarmusch's masterpiece. "Dead Man" looks better than any other Jarmusch movie, has more stars than any other Jarmusch movie and seems to be more cared for than any other Jarmusch movie. The film isn't like any other Jarmusch movie in that there's much more violence and it's not as real to life as say "Stranger Than Paradise" or "Night on Earth". Cinematographer Robby Muller, who I had never heard of, has got to be at the top of his game here, because it's been a while since I've oohed and aahed as much as I did while watching "Dead Man". I could rattle off dozens of images where I was literally in awe of my television screen. This film was meant to be shot in black and white and color could have only taken away from the beauty that was on display here. The film stars Johnny Depp and features a handful of very talented, often underutilized actors including Crispin Glover, Michael Wincott, Lance Henriksen, not to mention Robert Mitchum (in his final role), Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop, Gabriel Byrne, Alfred Molina and John Hurt. Bottom line: I couldn't find a fault anywhere in the production, which leads me to my next point....

Why didn't I like it as much as I should have? I mean, everything was lined up, this movie should have been an easy candidate for a TOP 5 spot on my next TOP 20, however, I don't think it will make it that far. You know, it's kind of like "The Lady from Shanghai", a movie that totally blew me away visually, but one that just failed to really grab my attention and ultimately was left completely off the last TOP 20. But that was a problem I had with the plot and I didn't have a problem with the plot of "Dead Man". The plot was fine, basic and very easy to follow and sometimes played out like a Coen Brothers movie. The Neil Young score was easy on the ears too, as I couldn't get enough of that lulling, rusty guitar and thought that it provided perfect accompaniment to the images on the screen. This one's going to bug me for a long time and hopefully I come to some sort of epiphany and come to my senses, but as of now I have to say that the film oftentimes bored me and despite the beauty on display, something didn't click. Maybe it was the unusual combination of Jim Jarmusch, Johnny Depp and the western genre that just didn't sit right or something, I don't know. This movie was the cinematic equivalent to a delicious meal that gives you diarrhea; it looked good on the surface, but ultimately it didn't work for me.

RATING: 6.5/10  I'm not saying that it's terrible or anything, I'm just saying that all signs pointed to this one getting a '10' and it didn't work out that way. I'll make sure to keep this one in the front of my mind though. By the way, if you check this one out, be on the lookout for the scene involving Billy Bob Thornton and Iggy Pop - funniest scene in the film, hands down.


September 17, 2012  2:43pm


  1. I can see why someone would love this film, but for some reason it didn't strike a chord with me, either. I think maybe it was a bit too philosophical for my mood tonight, so on another night it might have worked better. I don't have any real complaints (although the guitar score, while great musically and thematically, was kind of loud compared to the dialog, so I was adjusting the volume a lot) and I was interested the entire time, but it never pulled me in and engrossed me the way movies that I love do.

    1. i couldn't agree more. I think it could strike me, at the right time and like you, I can see why people like this one, but this go around, it didn't do much for me.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...