Dead Man

Dead Man

As an aside, I think I should keep better track of what I’m reading and watching. I have Flixter/Rotten Tomatoes and Goodreads accounts, and I do use the star ratings which automatically get posted to my Facebook timeline. But I think I should do something a little more, especially since I fancy myself as a writer of some sort.

When I first met Tyler in 1997, we just moved into the dorms at UCSB. When I moved I had no idea who would also be going. I knew Jess was going to be there, but I had no idea where she was going to be living. Somehow I saw her on move in day and we connected. Like fate! We met up with her friend Robby whom I had never met before but she had mentioned many times, and he talked about this mythical Tyler person he met during orientation weekend a few weeks before.

A day or so later we finally met him, and he was a strange cookie. Aside from talk of his acid and other drug experiences, he also raved about this movie — an accountant named William Blake being mistaken for the actual William Blake by an Indian. As our friendship progressed and our base of friends and acquaintances expanded it seemed everyone around us had watched this movie before, and they all raved about how great it was. I was still in the dark.

This is not the only film or book which its greatness have been told to me over and over through the years that I have yet failed to watch or read. And each time I finish reading or watching these works, I always kicked myself in the ass wondering why I haven’t exposed myself to them sooner. Perhaps it’s the way I grew up, taught to just do the work ahead of you and never mind the frivolities (such as they may seem) in movies and sports. I’ve already lost myself in music, so that was bad enough in the eyes of my family.

It wasn’t until late high school that I became peripherally interested in movies. Like serious ones beyond the blockbusters and what we are told are good movies. I would see the articles and film reviews in the LA Weekly, but rarely would I go see these movies. All I remember is renting Lost Highway once, but there was nothing beyond that.

Once in Santa Barbara, I started being a bit more diligent about it. I went and saw Pi, Happiness and a really really awful The Loss of Sexual Innocence. And I started to catch up on old movies I missed like Princess Bride and Dr. Strangelove. I guess it’s easier now with Netflix and the wonders of the World Wide Web, but it still doesn’t lessen the irritation of having been in the dark for so long.

It only took 17 years, but I finally got around to watching Dead Man last night. I’ve recently watched director Jim Jarmusch’s other films Only Lovers Left Alive and Coffee and Cigarettes, and I really love how he breaks up his dialogue with long periods of silence as if he’s trying to force us to process whatever the fuck a character just said.

“The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn from the crow.” Huh?

More than that, though, is a lyrical quality of the dialogue and how its delivered by the actors. It might not be a bunch of verbal diarrhea, but it sure does sound pretty.

Dead Man is a very Jarmusch take on the Western, a chase that drawn out over a long period of time, a buddy film that bonds two from different backgrounds, a bit of subversion with Iggy Pop in a crossdressing/transgendered role (I can’t really determine which one it is though I’m leaning towards the latter).

Of all the comedy that it contains, none is perhaps as big as Cleveland being a better city than where William Blake (played by Johnny Depp) ended up.

So I get it now, why Tyler raved about it in 1997. I guess I will have to continue to catch up on things, what seems to be a recurring theme in my life.