Tuesday, February 25, 2014

260 of 1001 Movies: Dead Man (1995)

So I did't know what type of Western Dead Man might be when I put it on to watch. It's definitely different and meshes the aspects of Western well with the unique way that Jim Jarmusch was also trying to convey his film. It also has these smaller stars who pop up throughout the movie who are recognizable faces, but if you're like me you're trying to place what movie you saw them in before, except unless those faces were John Hurt or Johnny Depp. The movie though has some really long and drawn out scenes though, so it could have been shorter.

Summary: Accountant's, William Blake, journey into the west has been anything but simple. After first not finding a good welcome at the place he was hoping to work he meets a lady that lifts some minor hopes, but after her fiance arrives home he finds her in bed with William, and shoots her dead. To defend himself William shoots her fiance, killing him. John though is upset at the death of his son and is determined to find William and bring him to justice. William meets a North American man, Nobody, who helps him though on the run, and guides him into a world unknown.

Acting: Many have said that this is one of Johnny Depp's best roles, and I can see why. Depp was sort of still doing his usual Depp role. He's odd and doesn't say much, but it's suiting for the character of William, and honestly Depp isn't as weird here as he usually is. Plus, there is depth to the role, but I have to say I still am on the fence about Depp's acting. He's been great in some movies like What's Eating Gilbert Grape or Edward Scissorhands, but leaves me feeling a bit empty after other roles like Dead Man. Regardless, I like the fact that he seems to be drawn to characters who are outcast in some ways. There is Greg Farmer who portrays Nobody. Farmer adds some humor and connection for William, but for the first time someone was odder than Depp. Farmer also doesn't give us the usual idea of a Native American from the west. He isn't quiet, and he doesn't have a tribe as he's an outcast because of his mixed heritage. There are also other easy to recognize faces that also don't stick around too long like Crispin Glover who is the man on the train at the beginning, John Hurt who is John Scholfield, and Robert Mitchum as John Dickinson. The cast even involves Iggy Pop who has a short bit as Salvatore, who is in a group that William meets in his travels.

Filming: I know the black and white gives the movie a classic and artsy vibe, but honestly it just isn't my preference. I would much rather see one in color. This one though uses techniques that do work for the black and white scenes. The movie looks low budget, and some scenes would have looked way fake and awful in color, like the night sky scene. The music from Neil Young also seems to be loved or hated, but I thought it really added something to the film that worked. It sounds masculine and gritty, and fits the vibe that has been put together in the movie.

Plot: The plot is one that appears upfront and direct from the outer layer, but by the end you can tell that a journey that is much deeper than William just trying to run away has taken place for William Blake. He seems to have made a spiritual transformation as well. The ending though does have a bit of an epic touch for the movie that was more violet than I expected. Some parts were so violent they were hard to watch, and that is very violent for a movie that was already showing in black and white. Somehow this movie maintained my interest, but there some moments I felt the story was just overextended and I didn't feel close enough to the characters for it to be so.

There are a lot of things that make this movie cool. It has a cool score, the black and white gives it the Western an artsy touch, and it has a cast of odd characters that also add to the roughness and realness of the characters. For Depp fans it's one of his earlier ones to enjoy, and it has enough traits of adventure that maintain interest.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

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