2 December 2013

Dead Man

Dead Man 1995
  • Director: Jim Jarmusch
  • Based on book: no.
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover, John Hurt, Robert Mitchum, Iggy Pop, Gabriel Byrne, Mili Avital, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Arizona Dream, Benny and Joon, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ninth Gate, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Gary Farmer – Adaption, Swing Vote, Smoke Signals, Skins
    • Crispin Glover - Alice in Wonderland, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Wild at Heart, Racing with the Moon
    • John Hurt – Merlin, I Claudius, Harry Potter, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Brighton Rock, Melancholia, V for Vendetta, Hellboy, Dogville, Manderlay, King Lear, Rob Roy, Elephant Man, Alien
    • Robert Mitchum – who knows? A bunch of old ones probably. He’s just been around for a long time.
    • Iggy Pop – Well, Iggy Pop is Iggy Pop and eternally recognizable but he’s been in a few movies too: The Crow, Trainspotting, Cry-Baby, Sid and Nancy
    • Gabriel Byrne – Jindabyne, Wah-Wah, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, The Usual Suspects, Little Women, Miller’s Crossing, Gothic, Excalibur
    • Mili Avital – The Human Stain
    • Billy Bob Thornton – Love Actually, Intolerable Cruelty, Levity, Monster’s Ball, The Man Who Wasn’t There, A Simple Plan, Sling Blade, The Stars Fell on Henrietta
    • Alfred Molina - An Education, Chocolat, Frida, As You Like It, Prick Up Your Ears
  • Why? Johnny Depp. Eleventh movie of JD marathon.
  • Seen: Three times.  Now: November 15, 2013.

      Poor nerdy, uncool JD. Or William Blake as he’s called here.  That suit!  Those soulful bespectacled eyes. He’s so pathetic.
       But he makes a pretty cool killer. Poor guy. He’s just a simple accountant from Cleveland trying to survive the Wild West. It isn’t easy. Crooked industrial tycoon. Vicious bounty hunters. Vengeful lawmen. Everyone wants him dead except the mysterious Nobody in full Indian regalia spouting the poetry of the other William Blake and a lot of “Indian malarkey,” to quote the JD version of Bill Blake.
       It can’t get much more absurd than that but it does. It’s a road movie on horseback through summer deserts and forests and bleak winter mountains with touches of cannibalism and head squishing. To quote Hal: “This is so grotesque.”
       That it is.  It’s also fascinating, beautifully filmed in black and white and scored with Neil Young’s twangy guitar.
       Superstars (at least in my listings) pop up all over the place: John Hurt, Gabriel Byrne, Crispan Glover, Iggy Pop, and that’s always fun.  Gary Farmer is known to me mainly through the dad in Smoke Signals, one of the world’s best movies which I’ve seen about ten times (yet to be reviewed on this blog however).
       JD. Yes.  If not his best, then this one is right there at the top.  He, and the film, must be seen. Repeatedly.

5 * of 5



  1. At the end of the movie the thought came up that maybe the whole thing was a nightmare JD had while on the train so long. It's absurd enough!

  2. Who knows, you could be right!