Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Written, edited, and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Permanent Vacation is the story about a man wandering around New York City meeting many people in the course of his journey talking about everything from life and such. The film marks Jim Jarmusch’s debut as it explores life in late 1970s New York City all told by a young man. Starring Chris Parker, Sara Driver, and Frankie Faison. Permanent Vacation is an extraordinary debut film from Jim Jarmusch.
The film is the simple story about the day in the life of a young New Yorker wandering around the city where he talks to various people in the course of the day. There, he meets people where he just talks about everything from life to jazz music as he does a few things every now and then and ponder his existence in late 1970s New York City where it’s a world that is changing. Jim Jarmusch’s script doesn’t have much of a plot as it keeps the premise very simple as it’s largely told by its protagonist Allie (Chris Parker) who meets different kinds of people while musing about the changes that is happening in the city. Among the people he meets are an assortment of characters ranging from a shell-shocked soldier (Richard Boes), a man at a cinema lobby (Frankie Faison), and a saxophonist (John Lurie).
Jarmusch’s direction is pretty simple but also loose and freewheeling in the way he presents late 1970s New York City where it looks like a place in ruins but still lively and wild. The city is a character in the film where it is this place where Allie wanders around in the ruins meeting many characters as he keeps the presentation simple and to the point. Even as Jarmusch infuses some style in the compositions to present Allie’s loneliness in his surroundings where he is able to get an amazing performance out of Chris Parker along with the rest of the cast that includes his longtime partner Sara Driver as a nurse as well as Frankie Faison, John Lurie, and Richard Boes. Jarmusch’s approach to the editing is also simple while he does infuse some style in the presentation that plays into Allie’s own curiosity in his surroundings as well as his alienation. Overall, Jarmusch crafts a very engaging yet stylish portrait of a young man finding himself in late 1970s NYC.
Cinematographers Tom DiCillo and James A Lebovitz do brilliant work with the colorful yet grainy 16mm look of the film to maintain that air of grittiness in many of the locations in NYC as well as in the use of lights for some of the nighttime interior scenes. The sound work of Kevin Dowd is excellent for its naturalistic approach to sound in capturing the atmosphere of the locations that Allie encounters. The film’s music by Jim Jarmusch and John Lurie is fantastic as it’s a mixture of Lurie’s jazz music with the more avant-garde approach of Jarmusch with its percussions and xylophones.
Permanent Vacation is an excellent film from Jim Jarmusch. While it’s lack of plot or conventional storylines wouldn’t be for everyone as it does get a bit boring. It is still a compelling film that explores the life of a young man living in late 1970s New York City in a world that is ever changing. In the end, Permanent Vacation is a superb film from Jim Jarmusch.
Jim Jarmusch Films: Stranger Than Paradise - Down by Law - Mystery Train - Night on Earth - Dead Man - Year of the Horse - Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai - Coffee and Cigarettes - Broken Flowers - The Limits of Control - Only Lovers Left Alive - The Auteurs #27: Jim Jarmusch
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