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Jim Jarmusch


James Robert Jarmusch (born January 22, 1953) is an American film director, screenwriter, actor, producer, editor, and composer. He has been a major proponent of independent cinema since the 1980s, directing such films as Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Dead Man (1995), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Broken Flowers (2005), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), and Paterson (2016). Stranger Than Paradise was added to the National Film Registry in December 2002. As a musician, Jarmusch has composed music for his films and released two albums with Jozef van Wissem.
After graduating from high school in 1971, Jarmusch moved to Chicago and enrolled in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. After being asked to leave due to neglecting to take any journalism courses – Jarmusch favored literature and art history – he transferred to Columbia University the following year, with the intention of becoming a poet. At Columbia, he studied English and American literature under professors including New York School avant garde poets Kenneth Koch and David Shapiro. At Columbia, he began to write short "semi-narrative abstract pieces" and edited the undergraduate literary journal The Columbia Review.
The film was not released theatrically, and did not attract the sort of adulation from critics that greeted his later work. The Washington Post staff writer Hal Hinson would disparagingly comment in an aside during a review of Jarmusch's Mystery Train (1989) that in the director's debut, "the only talent he demonstrated was for collecting egregiously untalented actors". The bleak and unrefined Permanent Vacation is nevertheless one of the director's most personal films, and established many of the hallmarks he would exhibit in his later work, including derelict urban settings, chance encounters, and a wry sensibility.
Following artistic success and critical acclaim in the American independent film community, he achieved mainstream recognition with his far-East philosophical crime film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, shot in Jersey City and starring Forest Whitaker as a young inner-city man who has found purpose for his life by unyieldingly conforming it to the Hagakure, an 18th-century philosophy text and training manual for samurai, becoming, as directed, a terrifyingly deadly hit-man for a local mob boss to whom he may owe a debt, and who then betrays him. The soundtrack was supplied by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, which blends into the director's "aesthetics of sampling". The film was unique among other things for the number of books important to and discussed by its characters, most of them listed bibliographically as part of the end credits. The film is also considered to be a homage to Le Samourai, a 1967 French New Wave film by auteur Jean-Pierre Melville, which starred renowned French actor Alain Delon in a strikingly similar role and narrative.
Jarmusch is ascribed as having instigated the American independent film movement with Stranger Than Paradise. In her description of the film in a 2005 profile of the director for The New York Times, critic Lynn Hirschberg declared that Stranger than Paradise "permanently upended the idea of independent film as an intrinsically inaccessible avant-garde form". The success of the film accorded the director a certain iconic status within arthouse cinema, as an idiosyncratic and uncompromising auteur, exuding the aura of urban cool embodied by downtown Manhattan. Such perceptions were compounded with the release of his subsequent features in the late 1980s, establishing him as one of the generation's most prominent and influential independent filmmakers.
Dutch lute composer Jozef van Wissem also collaborated with Jarmusch on the soundtrack for Only Lovers Left Alive and the pair also play in a duo. Jarmusch first met van Wissem on a street in New York City's SoHo area in 2007, at which time the lute player handed the director a CD—several months later, Jarmusch asked van Wissem to send his catalog of recordings and the two started playing together as part of their developing friendship. Van Wissem explained in early April 2014: "I know the way [Jarmusch] makes his films is kind of like a musician. He has music in his head when he's writing a script so it's more informed by a tonal thing than it is by anything else.