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MacGuffin

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The Limits Of Control
« on: March 05, 2009, 12:43:44 PM »
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Trailer here.

Release Date: May 22nd, 2009 (limited)
 
Starring: Isaach DeBankole, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal, Jean-Francois Stevenin 

Directed by: Jim Jarmusch 

Premise: Set in contemporary Spain, the story of a mysterious loner--a stranger--whose activities remain meticulously outside the law. He is in the process of completing a criminal job, yet he trusts no one, and his objectives are not initially divulged.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2009, 02:07:07 PM by MacGuffin »
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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 01:09:42 PM »
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Sounds and looks really good.
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MacGuffin

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2009, 12:03:35 PM »
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Jim Jarmusch on 'The Limits of Control'
The filmmaker's making movies his way for a quarter-century. What do they mean? Your guess is as good as his.
By Mark Olsen; Los Angeles Times

If there were a hall of fame for the super-cool and perpetually hip, Jim Jarmusch would most certainly have already been inducted. For more than 25 years, he has been making movies that function as travelogues through the cultural underground, and in many ways still sets the standard for American independent filmmaking.

"To me, independent film is just the people creating it being able to make it the way they want," Jarmusch said in his recognizable deadpan drawl during a recent telephone call from his office just off the Bowery in New York City. "There's a history of that in Europe. It's called 'filmmaking.' "

His career began with "Permanent Vacation" in 1980 but really gained attention with the broader breakthrough of the one-two of 1984's "Stranger Than Paradise" (winner of the Camera d'Or prize at Cannes) and "Down by Law" in 1986.

Over the years, Jarmusch has seen the indie film world expand, mutate, balloon, contract; meanwhile, he has continued to do his own thing behind the camera. "Sometimes I feel more sequestered than buffered from the prevailing winds of what is independent film," he said.

Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers," released in 2005, won the Grand Jury Prize at that year's Cannes Film Festival and went on to be his biggest box-office success by far, reportedly grossing more than $40 million worldwide. It starred Bill Murray in a gently comic tale of a man retracing his romantic life by visiting past paramours played by Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Tilda Swinton and Jessica Lange, and there was undoubtedly something in the film that felt, if not more commercial, at least more accessible.

His latest film, "The Limits of Control," opening in theaters on Friday, seems in some ways like the pendulum swinging back in the other direction -- a Jarmusch fan's Jarmusch film.

Starring Isaach De Bankolé in his fourth outing with the director, it follows an inscrutably disciplined "Lone Man" (the only name his character is given) moving through a series of contacts in contemporary Spain. He may be a messenger, a bag man or an assassin, moving ruthlessly closer and closer to his final stop.

"The Limits of Control" may have the spine of an espionage thriller, but it also plays like a notebook of ideas and influences spilled to the wind. The film's production is credited to PointBlank Films, a nod to John Boorman's 1967 existential hit man picture starring Lee Marvin.

The soundtrack is dominated by droning pieces from the "doom metal" groups Boris and Sunn O))), while the Lone Man frequently drops into the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid to admire works by noted Spanish painters (all of which are lovingly photographed in the film by cinematographer Christopher Doyle).

Along his travels, the Lone Man meets characters played by a veritable United Nations of actors, including Swinton, John Hurt, Paz de la Huerta, Hiam Abbass, Youki Kudoh and Gael García Bernal, with a final showdown with Murray.

Jarmusch was able to find financing for the film by showing Focus Features a 25-page prose story that outlined the film's characters and story but contained no dialogue. This allowed him to keep his "antennae," as he calls them, up throughout the production process, continuing to gather influences while writing the dialogue as he went, weaving and layering ideas and motifs.

"I work probably in an erratically backwards kind of way," Jarmusch said of his writing process. "I start with some actors I would like to create characters for, and I have some characters in mind, and then I just start collecting things that inspire me, and they come all over the place, from music, from poetry, from literature, from architecture, from just the design of things, from conversations I overhear, from the quality of light in a room that I notice. The story is often somewhat secondary to me, even in importance somehow. And this film certainly worked that way."

If the title of the film, "The Limits of Control" -- which comes from a 1975 essay by Beat writer William S. Burroughs -- may be thought of as a question, Jarmusch perhaps tips his hand to his answer with the title card at the end of the final credits that reads, "No Limits No Control."

The filmmaker is resistant to discussing the meaning of his films, and initially responds to a request to do so with a lighthearted, "Oh no, let me reach for my revolver." He prefers things be left open for each viewer to interpret, and delights at hearing what other people find in his works.

"In my films, I'm not trying to hit you over the head and say, 'Here's what it means,' " Jarmusch said. "I love cinema as a form so much because it incorporates all these other forms that I love. So when I make a film, what I want to say is what I put on the screen. It throws me when people say, 'Can you now talk about what you wanted to say, can you say it now with language?' And in a way, I can't."

Originally from Ohio, Jarmusch was a denizen of the legendary late-'70s scene around the New York City nightclub CBGB. In many ways, he is still living by the same ethos. "Back in those days, we all thought of ourselves philosophically as criminals," he recalled, "in that we weren't going to get a real job if we could avoid it, we were going to live our lives how we chose, and if we could, we were getting over. And I'm still getting over in a way.

"It's not necessarily a choice I made, like I despise the Hollywood system and therefore I reject it. It's not really like that. It's just that maybe I belong in the margins."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2009, 02:50:12 AM »
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A Director Content to Wander On
By DENNIS LIM; New York Times

THIRTY years ago, when he was a student at New York University, Jim Jarmusch used some scholarship money meant for tuition to make a movie called “Permanent Vacation.” Like many first films, it is a little awkward and more than a little precious. But viewed today this imperfect debut also sums up the themes of his career: it gets across the sense of being a stranger at home and the empathy for life on the margins, and it even offers a kind of manifesto about the art of storytelling. “What’s a story anyway?” its protagonist muses, “except one of those connect-the-dots drawings that in the end forms a picture of something?”

The largely plotless movie ends with an image that now seems neatly symbolic: its hepcat hero is on a boat pulling out of New York Harbor, the Manhattan skyline receding into the distance. Since then Mr. Jarmusch has found his place as a poet of travel and a global ambassador for downtown cool. His protagonists are typically solitary adventurers, and his stories are usually mere clotheslines on which chance encounters and running gags are hung. His career, while not exactly a permanent vacation, has been consecrated to the romance of wanderlust and the possibilities of cross-cultural exchange.

A true independent who insists on final cut and who even owns all his negatives, Mr. Jarmusch has long been a world-cinema brand name, especially popular in Europe and Japan. Except for parts of the taxicab anthology “Night on Earth” (1991), however, his films have been set in the United States, which he has a particular knack for depicting through the eyes of outsiders. But with his 10th feature, “The Limits of Control,” which follows an impassive man of mystery (Isaach De Bankolé) on a lethal mission through Spain, Mr. Jarmusch, no less than his protagonist, is the stranger in paradise.

“Being in a place where you don’t understand certain things is really inspiring for your imagination,” Mr. Jarmusch said in a recent interview in the Manhattan office of Focus Features, the distributor of “The Limits of Control,” which opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

“Maybe it’s because I grew up in Akron, Ohio, and never thought I would get out,” Mr. Jarmusch said, reflecting on the importance of travel in his films. It could also be, he added, because his first trip abroad, as a college student in Paris, reading André Breton and watching movies at the Cinémathèque Française, had such a mind-expanding effect.

Mr. Jarmusch has made a specialty of the deadpan odyssey, starting with his breakthrough film, “Stranger Than Paradise” (1984). “The oldest narrative in the world is the journey,” he said. “I don’t really believe in originality. Art and human expression are about variations. There’s an ocean of possible ways, but they don’t ever come in the same configuration.”

The road movie is certainly not the only genre Mr. Jarmusch has tailored to suit his needs. “Dead Man” (1995) is a western with both cosmic and political dimensions. “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” (1999) cross-pollinates the rituals of the samurai film with those of the Mafia movie.

“The Limits of Control” harks back to the existential crime films that enjoyed a golden age in the late ’60s with Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Samourai” and John Boorman’s “Point Blank.” Mr. Jarmusch summed up his intentions with typical dry perversity: “I always wanted to make an action film with no action, or a film with suspense but no drama.”

In keeping with his fondness for repetition and episodic structures, “The Limits of Control” takes shape as a series of interactions and transactions. The lone man runs into a series of colorful types (Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael García Bernal, Bill Murray and others, making the most of minimal screen time), most of them envoys of a sort, who dispense gnomic instructions and presumably less pertinent ruminations. Matchboxes branded “Le Boxeur” are exchanged. Some contain a piece of paper bearing coded inscriptions, which the De Bankolé character dutifully folds up and swallows, washing down the clue with a gulp of espresso.

Mr. Jarmusch’s previous film, the melancholic “Broken Flowers” (2005), in which Mr. Murray played a graying lothario who goes in search of his former flames, seemed like the product of a mellowed middle age. But “The Limits of Control” affirms that at 56 he remains open as ever to experimentation, perhaps even to new ways of making and seeing movies.

There are obvious affinities between “The Limits of Control” and Mr. Jarmusch’s most adventurous film, “Dead Man,” which received mixed reviews when it was released but found its way onto many critics’ lists of the best movies of the ’90s. Each film undertakes a journey that is as much metaphysical as literal: a trip in more than one sense. By opening with a quotation from the Rimbaud poem “The Drunken Boat,” with its hallucinatory visions of being lost at sea, “The Limits of Control” even picks up where “Dead Man” left off, with Johnny Depp’s character being pushed out to sea and into the spirit world.

The title comes from an essay by William S. Burroughs about mind-control techniques. “I like the double sense,” Mr. Jarmusch said. “Is it the limits to our own self-control? Or is it the limits to which they can control us, ‘they’ being whoever tries to inject some kind of reality over us?”

But the title also registers as an acknowledgment that control, while unavoidable in the messy collective endeavor of moviemaking, runs counter to Mr. Jarmusch’s free-form approach. He starts with specific actors, gathers up seemingly unrelated ideas and settles on situations and moods before filling in what passes for a plot. “I work backwards,” he said. “That can be dangerous, and it can take a while.” For “The Limits of Control” he had even fewer starting points than usual: an actor, a character and a place, the curving Torres Blancas, a Madrid apartment tower that he first visited in the ’80s.

Location scouting was critical, since the movie, as Mr. Jarmusch saw it, was very much a matter of finding evocative spaces and landscapes and responding to them. The film came together as a connect-the-dots exercise. He sketched out the character’s itinerary, beginning in the cosmopolitan capital, Madrid, then heading south to the Moorish city of Seville on a high-speed train that traverses the olive groves and almond orchards of the Andalusian countryside. The eventual destination is the southeast, the lunar desert terrain near the coastal town of Alméria (where many spaghetti westerns were shot).

Mr. Jarmusch started filming without a complete script; instead he had what he called “a minimal map,” a 25-page story. The dialogue was filled in the night before a scene was shot. “With Jim it’s always about what’s between the lines,” said Mr. De Bankolé, who has appeared in three of Mr. Jarmusch’s previous films.

The odd little totems and fetishes embedded throughout the movie may seem arbitrary, but mention any one of them and Mr. Jarmusch will riff at length about its personal significance. He had received the Boxeur matches, which are common throughout Africa, as gifts, first from the musicologist Louis Sarno, then from Mr. De Bankolé, who was born in Ivory Coast. The black pickup truck that transports Mr. De Bankolé’s character to his ultimate destination, down to the slogan emblazoned on it (“La Vida No Vale Nada,” the title of a song by the Cuban singer and revolutionary Pablo Milanés), is modeled on one owned by Joe Strummer of the Clash, who appeared in “Mystery Train” and, before his death in 2002, lived part time in the south of Spain.

The clearest sign of Mr. Jarmusch’s commitment to a looser way of working was his decision to team up with the cinematographer Christopher Doyle, best known for his seat-of-the-pants collaborations with Wong Kar-wai. “I wanted Chris’s wild side to find things I might not find,” Mr. Jarmusch said.

Music was the most important key to the rhythms and textures of the film. Mr. Jarmusch’s soundtracks are the height of hipster connoisseurship: Neil Young’s feedback-choked guitar vamps on “Dead Man,” RZA’s sinuous hip-hop on “Ghost Dog,” Mulatu Astatke’s Ethiopian jazz-funk on “Broken Flowers.” For “The Limits of Control,” which called for a soundscape that he described as “layered, big, sort of damaged,” he relies on distortion-heavy epics by ambient-noise bands like Boris and Sunn O))).

Mr. Doyle, who has worked extensively in Asia, said there are ways in which Mr. Jarmusch’s methods are more East than West. “There are certain aspects of Asian filmmaking where you’re always looking for the essential in the picture,” he said. “We’re not sure what the film is until we find it.”

Like Forest Whitaker’s urban samurai in “Ghost Dog,” Mr. De Bankolé’s character is an apparent adherent of Eastern philosophy. The lone man practices tai chi and has a deliberate, Zenlike air to him. (At museums he takes in only one painting per visit.) Mr. De Bankolé said he got into character by reading the Japanese martial-arts manual “The Art of Peace.”

“It would slow me down,” he said. “He should be almost floating when he walks.”

Mr. Jarmusch is not a practicing Buddhist, but he said, “it’s a philosophy that speaks to me more clearly than others.” He does tai chi and qigong and has come up with a concentration exercise — “a cross between meditating and taking a hallucinogenic drug” — that requires him to pay close attention to all noises within earshot. (In a lovely sequence Mr. De Bankolé’s character lies on his bed in a Seville apartment as the light changes and the sounds of the neighborhood wash over him.)

To the extent that “The Limits of Control” is a puzzle, Mr. Jarmusch said he drew inspiration from Jacques Rivette’s films, where the pleasure often lies in disorientation in the accumulation of cryptic clues and resonances rather than in solutions. Accordingly, he was more eager to hear interpretations of the film than to offer his own.

“It’s not my job to know what it means,” he said, adding that the Juan Gris painting seen at one point could be taken as a hint to the movie’s Cubist nature. “It’s interpretable in different ways, and they’re all valid.”

The other day his friend the actress Ingrid Caven told him she had assumed the little pieces of paper that Mr. De Bankolé’s character swallows are tabs of blotter acid. “She said each time he eats one of those, he gets perky,” Mr. Jarmusch said. “I hadn’t thought of that, but I’ll take it.”
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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cinemanarchist

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2009, 09:08:08 AM »
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Saw it late last night and so many thoughts to process but I will say that it's better than Broken Flowers (which I loved) and it seems like Jarmusch is getting more obtuse as he gets older. I'm fairly certain that there will be some very divided opinions of this film on here and as I piece through it in my head I'll add to my post. 
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hedwig

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2009, 09:50:01 PM »
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too bad that awesome bit about the end credits was spoiled in the article. this sounds amazing, though. jarmusch is king.

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 01:45:56 PM »
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i'm as devout a jarmusch-head as anyone else here but this was profoundly disappointing.  at best, it's a failed experiement in formalist cinema, punctuated by facetious self-awareness and jarmusch-isms, some cool, some goofy bordering on self-parody.  it plays like the euro-trash remix of ghost dog with a generous slathering of ass-backwards philosophical-sounding bullshit.  the cast is generally wasted save for bill murray and paz de la huerta, who completely own the screen time they get.  (while mentioning highlights, the flamenco rehearsal scene is one of the best scenes jarmusch has ever done.)  chris doyle's images are rapturous and as beautiful as anything he's done but it's entirely at ends with jarmusch's style, lending the film a very disagreeable kinetic energy. 

cinemanarchist, i'm curious as to what it is that you loved about it.

Pas

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2009, 02:29:43 PM »
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The fact that only 6 posts for a new Jarmush film speaks volume about the state of this place  :yabbse-shocked:

modage

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2009, 02:31:49 PM »
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The fact that only 6 posts for a new Jarmush film speaks volume about the state of this place his movies :yabbse-shocked:
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Kal

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2009, 02:33:58 PM »
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Yeah I've been wanting to see this but the lack of enthusiasm from everyone makes me forget. It got zero hype. Must be bad.



Pas

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2009, 03:12:09 PM »
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Yeah I've been wanting to see this but the lack of enthusiasm from everyone makes me forget. It got zero hype. Must be bad.

Yep same here. Yet I can't believe how this would be bad. Some reviews I read say : ''Even worst than Broken Flowers''... a movie which I loved so..... but still I can't get the enthusiasm to go and see this. I try to find a torrent every now and then but nothing so far... anyone ?

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2009, 05:50:27 PM »
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Yeah I've been wanting to see this but the lack of enthusiasm from everyone makes me forget. It got zero hype. Must be bad.

Just to be clear: you only get around to seeing movies that get relentless praise rather than attending movies by established filmmakers which you then in turn presume must be bad because of the lack of attention it got.

This is how sleepers are formed.
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JG

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2009, 06:00:05 PM »
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yea, this is not that good, but its still worth seeing. it sort of felt like an accumulation of the interstices from a more exciting video game.

Kal

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2009, 06:34:43 PM »
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Yeah I've been wanting to see this but the lack of enthusiasm from everyone makes me forget. It got zero hype. Must be bad.

Just to be clear: you only get around to seeing movies that get relentless praise rather than attending movies by established filmmakers which you then in turn presume must be bad because of the lack of attention it got.

This is how sleepers are formed.

Not always, but when it comes to finding a theatre where they show this and probably convincing somebody who does not care to go with me, I need some motivation. Especially during the summer months as there are several things out there that I enjoy watching.

I can always watch the DVD later on. I like Jarmush but he is not my favorite filmmaker, so I don't care if this is a sleeper or what. If I was interested in people watching my film I would try a bit harder than he does for sure.

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Re: The Limits Of Control
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2009, 08:48:39 AM »
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There's a lot of good stuff going on in this film: echoes of existential crime films like Le Samourai, the terrific face of the lead actor, a statement (I imagine a deeply personal one from Jarmusch) about the world of art and cinema in the current reality. The whole film feels like a love letter to independent spirit, in cinema and otherwise. However, all these are IDEAS which sound great on PAPER. Watching the film can be excruciating.

The pace is deadly slow. Intentionally. And I must admit that wasn't really bothering me at the beginning. I was willing to go with the flow, specially with the nice cinematography (just nice, not fantastic, as some critics are claiming) and locations. But when the supporting characters started entering the picture just to blabber philosophical paragraphs the film, to me, crossed the line from idiosyncratic to pretentious. And lazy at it. All these actors are obviously trying their hardest to make some fucking sense of the terrible dialogues and come out of it with something resembling a character, a human being. But it's impossible. They're just there to lecture the hero, who we must assume, is a stand in for ourselves as an audience. In any case, no tone of all those actors can get out of that bear trap, they all seem to be just the reading bad lines. Some do it less worse than others, but they all definitely suck. Jarmusch could have made this less boring in so many ways without betraying the pace of the picture, but it seems he was too in love with the boldness of the moves as they were and went with it. It's a bet, and it's impossible not to be thankful for someone who bets this high, but man, this feels like it's way too long in the first ten minutes. Something could be done, right?

There's also the problem with the "jarmuschisms": The main character is shown practicing tai chi so many times it becomes almost funny, as if it's some sort of ultra deep revelation each times he does it. Some nude girl shows up every once in a while. Let me clarify, some really hip looking nude girl shows up here and there. All actors have very cool clothes and detailed looks. It all seems so precalculated and stale. Chris Doyle talks in an interview about how the approach with Jarmusch could be very eastern, he talks about getting the film to it's bare essentials. Well, there's a lot of fat in this. Having a minimalist approach doesn't...well, it shouldn't translate into tedium. The film gives the impression of being all attitude and pose. It isn't, but this is a film. Impression is most of the effect.

As a movie in the tradition of Melville this falls short. As a philosophical statement it feels light. Jarmusch has repeated himself, but this time he seems to be taking himself too seriously. The freshness of the main character in Ghost Dog becomes a parody here, with the main man not speaking more than two words the whole time, showing no signs of humanity at any time; quirky characters feel over thought and underwritten; he even rips himself off from one of his best twists in any of his films when he steals something from Down by Law in what passes for the film's climax.

It must be mentioned, however, that with each film Jarmusch keeps evolving in a very clear way. I just hope his style becomes less of an obstacle. Limits of control is too informed by movies, literature, concepts and ideas. The great film it could have been seems trapped in references, nods, inconsequential statements.

 

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