The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

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RIP Film
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#76 Post by RIP Film » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:20 pm

It's a subtle film masquerading as an unsubtle one. In spite of the genre it puts itself in, to me this feels very much like Limits of Control Jarmusch, with a dash of Coffee and Cigarettes. Whatever preconceptions you have going in are likely to be met, but I think that's to its credit. I don't get the feeling Jarmusch knew what he was saying with many of these scenes, there's a stream of consciousness vibe to it, but it still manages to feel cohesive.

On the not too subtle side this is a cultural haranguing, especially of popular entertainment.
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One of the main characters repeats basic plot exposition over and over; and the lead up to the zombie invasion, which we all know is coming, is done at a comically glacial pace. There's side characters that go absolutely no where, music cues that start and stop with no rhythm... Chloë Sevigny's cop does something so illogical that it's seemingly just the script telling her to do it. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It's funny that people are calling this film "lazy", that's like calling Blazing Saddles racist.
But I did find it very affecting, there's an unnerving way in how it wobbles between reality and unreality. Unlike other reviewers I didn't see the ending as "man yells at cloud".

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#77 Post by Tommaso » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:00 pm

RIP Film wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:20 pm
It's a subtle film masquerading as an unsubtle one. [...] I don't get the feeling Jarmusch knew what he was saying with many of these scenes, there's a stream of consciousness vibe to it, but it still manages to feel cohesive.
Have just seen it theatrically, and I very much agree with these two statements, especially the one about the 'stream of consciousness'; which in this film somehow feels like a stream of apparently unconnected references to all sorts of 'iconic' films (not just from the zombie genre!) running through Jarmusch's 'cinematic mind'. Most of these references however are to films that even the absolute beginners among aspiring young cineastes would know: "Psycho", "Twin Peaks", "Lord of the Rings" (and I don't necessarily mean the obvious references in the dialogue, but also the Tom Waits character), "Star Wars", and a certain Spielberg film which I won't mention because it would mean massive spoilers (but if you've already seen the film: I have Tilda's exit scene in mind). But Jarmusch indeed manages to make all these unconnected references amusing, perhaps because the films referenced may be seen as just the kind of fetishized commodities that the zombies seem to be most attracted to (like coffee, Chardonnay or wi-fi).

I also liked the way the film seems to consciously parody the bad dialogue and wooden acting of so many 50s sci-fi/horror B-movies. The running gag about the "wild animals" is a good example: this is the kind of bad dialogue that would come up in a not-so-great genre film from that time, but the intentionally wooden, deadpan delivery by the actors here and the lines being repeated twice (and later again on TV by the news reporter) creates a very funny effect, simply because as a viewer you know what will be said and you're looking forward to actually hearing it being said again.

The very ending with the 'in the face' political message didn't convince me at all (even though I agree with the message), but it didn't distract too much from a rather enjoyable and entertaining film. Not among Jarmusch's greatest works, but I don't think it deserved those dismissive initial reviews at Cannes.

black&huge
Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:35 am

Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#78 Post by black&huge » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:16 pm

I am severely confused by this film. I took it as satire overall with really transparent fourth wall jabs at the mechanics of assembly line horror but then that seemed way too simple but nothing about this film screamed that it was hard to understand. And it wasn't. I just do not understand the many directions it went in.

What I think overall is that the zombie movie craze has definitely died down. Ghosts and satanic horror have dominated the mainstream horror trend for a while now. I tried to think it was intentional that Jarmusch makes this satire right in this period where no one really cares for zombie movies anymore. Then I tried to think what if he made it while the trend was still hot? And I came to the conclusion that it would not have been effective either way and I rarely say this about a movie, really but in that case this was better off not being made at all.

But I did kinda enjoy it for what it was.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#79 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:20 pm

This feels like Jarmusch’s anti-B-horror (or B-movie in general perhaps), if one views his oeuvre in a series of films trying to undo what’s come before to make way for novel experiences. I don’t like to take that shallow reading too far, but I think there’s some merit to considering Limits of Control an anti-spy film, and even his other features’ takes on the prison, western, road movie, etc. by subverting expectations and narrative schemas to create their own distinctive vibe as much by their omissions as by producing standard actions (one could even see - arguably his best - film, Paterson as an ‘anti-film’ film for its poetic nature turning the most banal moments into wonder, creating a perfect movie out of apparent nothingness, a painting out of air).

However, this is not merely a ‘hipster trick,’ for Jarmusch makes these choices to reveal opportunities in the medium to tell stories through new lenses. With The Dead Don’t Die, he gets off to a good start with Murray and especially Driver digging into the dialogue, characterizations, and plot contrivances of the genre effectively. By seeing them as trappings (not damning, but with love) and treating them with a stream of consciousness, he turns the genre on its head. The dry humor really hits at times, but the problem with this film is that while the space Jarmusch gives to the rest of his films allow for these new perspectives to emerge, this one tilts too far in the aimlessness of the ‘horror-comedy’ and doesn’t take itself seriously or not-seriously enough to work for long, presenting another odd, half-measure joke when it would normally be taking time to breathe and flow smoothly towards its vision. There isn’t a consistent rhythm, something that is one of Jarmusch’s key strengths, and even if he is trying to expose this genre as built around uneven elements, his strengths as an auteur don’t match his goals for the film. It’s unfortunate to watch so many moments fall flat, but I didn’t hate it, and I even laughed out loud alone a lot more than some far better comedies I’ve seen lately. I don’t know what to make of that, but when your worst film is still fine, you’re doing more than a few things right.

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Mothravka
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Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#80 Post by Mothravka » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:06 am

Of all the feature films by Jarmusch, this is easily his worst. I already had my doubts when the trailer came. I enjoy his acid western take with Dead Man (1995) and especially The Limits of Control (2009), which is somewhat of a spy/crime/action film without action and such a brilliant idea. That one is a smart deconstruction of said genres, turning tropes upside down and playing around with conventions to no compromise and not trying too hard to show it off. Maybe it's an unpopular opinion, but I think The Limits of Control (2009) is easily his best film. You can commonly see that The Dead Don't Die (2019) is trying do to a similar thing with zombies (or more of a satire), but it feels cheap, lazy and definitely not fresh when it comes to references, social context, humor and fourth wall breaking. It's a wonder why the film even tries to be self-aware when it is so behind in its context and purpose that it probably would be better off without it.

And I couldn't really care less about the all-star cast, Tilda Swinton's character makes me curl up in shame. It's an ugly effort even on the visual side, with "zombie dust" and flying birds made out of CGI being examples that baffled me a bit. It's more reminiscent of an intended Saturday Night Live sketch than a Jarmusch film. I wasn't that super pleased with Paterson (2016) and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), but this really went down the drain. If he is happy with it, so be it. I guess I'll put it behind me and hope for something better from the man in the future.

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whaleallright
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Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#81 Post by whaleallright » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:44 pm

It's a wonder why the film even tries to be self-aware
My sense is:
a) This is almost a reflex on Jarmusch's part
b) By his own admission, he had nothing (else) to contribute to zombie lore

I thought the movie looked rather nice, and I wasn't precisely bored, except at a few moments, but it's rather transparently Jarmusch's least inventive film. I'm not the first to take its pessimism and exhausted quality at a kind of "meta" level, as Jarmusch's comment on the futility of efforts to "rescue" human civilization given its impending destruction thanks to climate change. That reading makes the film a little more interesting, though I doubt I'll watch it again.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#82 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:08 pm

I don't think it's Jarmusch's worst film because I don't rate him as highly as most, but this still doesn't rank very high by any metric of quality. I think whaleallright nailed it when he described it as watchable but not much more than that.

Here is the film in summation: Countless colorful characters are introduced and then the film does nothing with them. This is most obvious in the Selena Gomez-led "Cleveland hipsters" portion of the film (though this at least results in the film's sole laugh, courtesy of Driver delivering what sounds like an ad lib about why he likes Gomez' character), which goes out of the way to devote like fifteen minutes halfway through the film to set up some new characters and then doesn't even bother to follow through except for an extended bit of dryly executed gore which by that point in the film was already old hat. Though they at least still fare better than the detention center kids, who add nothing and their storyline is literally just abandoned, presumably because they didn't meet a happy ending in the original cut and Jarmusch chickened out? Keeping it in as-is is worse though-- you could excise all of their scenes and not need to change a single thing in the rest of the film, because they have nothing to do with it and add nothing.

Even as a lover of meta jokes and references, I thought the Driver/Murray reiterations of fourth-wall breaking were witless and made no sense within the internal logic of the rest of the film-- this can work in a zany comedy or a smart drama that somehow used these asides and acknowledgements for a purpose. Alas, like the rest of the film, there is no purpose here, and it's not thought out beyond the level of "Sure, let's do that, whatever." And oh lordy, that Tom Waits narration at the end, which hammers away at every cliche of anti-consumerism so thoroughly that Jarmusch comes off as embodying every clueless liberal stereotype. So much second-hand embarrassment... can someone crowdsource buying him a copy of Nation of Rebels?

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swo17
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Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#83 Post by swo17 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:21 pm

I thought the whole "I've read the script; it doesn't end well" element was supposed to correlate to the real-world sentiment of "I'm familiar with the science foretelling the end of the world, but feel helpless to do anything about it." Which doesn't make this a great film, but I think I at least get why Jarmusch made it--we're all gonna die, it's like we're in a bad movie

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domino harvey
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Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#84 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:24 pm

That is the opposite of a defense of those sections for me. Also, how does that reading explain
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keeping in the part where Adam Driver starts improvising and Murray calls him out on it?

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swo17
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Re: The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

#85 Post by swo17 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:40 pm

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Well also remember that right after he reveals that he's read the script Tilda Swinton gets sucked up into the alien spaceship which was also not in the script. So like, not everything will go as expected but the writing is still on the wall
Maybe that's not a very good explanation, but this is also not a very good movie. Or world that we live in

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