Free ‘Dead Don’t Die,’ with Sevigny as guest, caps four-day Jarmusch series at The Brattle
Of the 13 features by eccentric filmmaker Jim Jarmusch – hard to believe he’s straight out of Akron – The Brattle Theatre will showcase seven for its retrospective, “The Films of Jim Jarmusch” beginning Monday, including a sneak peek of his newest, “The Dead Don’t Die.”
If you’re not a Jarmusch aficionado but have been curious, the series kicks off rightly with “Stranger Than Paradise” (1984) the director’s seminal film about a Hungarian immigrant (John Lurie) whose slacker paradise in New York City gets upended when his teenage cousin (Eszter Balint) pops in from Budapest. The film’s deadpan B&W cinematography (used in four of his films to date) and droll, dry wit would become defining staples. It’s paired perfectly with “Down By Law” (1986), a jail cell comedy that sandwiches Lurie, again playing a slacker, between Tom Waits and Roberto Benigni, making his English-language debut. The comedic energy and crossing of personalities is palpable in every frame.
On the slate Tuesday are the taxi driver diaries from around the world, “Night on Earth” (1991), starring Winona Ryder, Benigni and Gena Rowlands, and personal favorite “Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013) with Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as centuries-old vampires living in the dregs of old Detroit. On Wednesday, the queue fill out with another favorite: “Broken Flowers” (2005), which stars Bill Murray as a rich recluse untangling the meaning of an anonymous letter with visits to Sharon Stone, Julie Delpy and Tilda Swindon. It’s paired with 2009’s elliptical “The Limits of Control.”
On Thursday night, the Brattle screens Jarmusch’s hot-off-the-press zombie comedy “The Dead Don’t Die,” starring Murray (who’s been down this road before in “Zombieland”), Adam Driver (“Girls” and Kylo Ren in the “Star Wars” films), Iggy Pop, Rosie Perez, Selena Gomez (“Spring Breakers”), Balant, Swinton and Chloe Sevigny (“Brown Bunny,” “Demonlover” and “Kids”), who will be in person at the free screening. (Tickets are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.) Given that “Lovers Left Alive” is a vampire black comedy, a zombie apocalypse film from the man with the indie hand seems an apt bookend.
It was “Down by Law” that first pulled me to Jarmusch and “Mystery Train” (1989), with its weaving of three human stories and the spirit of Elvis in a Memphis hotel, that cemented his cinematic genius for me. It’s sadly not in the series, but well worth catching by streaming or any other means – as is Jarmusch’s previous effort with Driver, “Paterson” (2016) about a bus driver obsessed with poetry.
Information and tickets are here.