Tag Archives: Robby Muller

Repo Man (1984, Alex Cox)

For such an “odd” movie, Repo Man is incredibly precise. Writer-director Cox has four or five subplots–depending on if Emilio Estevez becoming a repo man and his journey as one is considered the plot, as Cox downgrades it to subplot status about three-quarters through the picture. Sometimes these subplots become so intense they jumble–I had to pause it and turn to the wife to ask her why Harry Dean Stanton was in the hospital, for instance.

Cox is just as precise with his composition and the film’s technical side. From the first scene, it’s clear he and editor Dennis Dolan are going to excel at cutting the film. Robby Müller’s photography is good, but it’s nowhere near as essential as Dolan’s editing. Repo Man just flows; great integration with the soundtrack too.

Estevez, though second billed, is the lead. He just has to be a disaffected youth–even when he becomes self-aware, it’s nothing compared to the lunacy of his new life in car repossession; Cox handles that scene beautifully (even if I lost track of Stanton in it).

As for Stanton, he has the film’s biggest arc. He’s the traditional Western hero who learns his code isn’t going to get him through life. Cox doesn’t exactly mix genres, just borrows people from other ones and drops them in the film. Stanton’s utterly fantastic.

Great supporting work all around, particularly from Tracey Walter, Sy Richardson and Tom Finnegan.

Repo Man is strange, hostile and wonderful.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Alex Cox; director of photography, Robby Müller; edited by Dennis Dolan; music by Steven Hufsteter and Tito Larriva; production designer, Lynda Burbank; produced by Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Harry Dean Stanton (Bud), Emilio Estevez (Otto), Tracey Walter (Miller), Olivia Barash (Leila), Sy Richardson (Lite), Susan Barnes (Agent Rogersz), Fox Harris (J. Frank Parnell), Tom Finnegan (Oly), Del Zamora (Lagarto), Eddie Velez (Napo), Zander Schloss (Kevin), Jennifer Balgobin (Debbi), Dick Rude (Duke), Miguel Sandoval (Archie), Vonetta McGee (Marlene) and Richard Foronjy (Plettschner).


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Coffee and Cigarettes II (1989, Jim Jarmusch)

Coffee and Cigarettes II stars twins Cinqué Lee and Joie Lee as twins having coffee in Memphis. Why are they in Memphis? They don’t know, but it seems like it’s Cinqué’s fault. Jarmusch le’s the twins bicker though most of the short, which is funny enough but then there’s Steve Buscemi too.

Buscemi’s playing the annoying (local) waiter. His Tennessee accent is shaky but his rant about Elvis is awesome. Cigarettes feels tailor-made for a film class, with white Buscemi physically separating the black Lee twins. The banter could also be plotted as to how it goes back and forth.

But spending too much time on Jarmusch’s process distracts from the short. The twins are great–particularly Joie–and the short’s rather a fun time.

There are some outstanding shots too, which Jarmusch uses both for comic relief and narrative pacing. Cigarettes is a fabulous use of eight minutes.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch; director of photography, Robby Müller; edited by Melody London; produced by Rudd Simmons and Jim Stark.

Starring Joie Lee (Good Twin), Cinqué Lee (Evil Twin) and Steve Buscemi (Danny the waiter).


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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999, Jim Jarmusch)

I’m having a hard time thinking of something to say about Ghost Dog. It’s perfect. Jarmusch doesn’t just do a bunch of good things or a bunch of right things. Every single thing he does is perfect. And Ghost Dog is perfect pretty early on too–in the first five or ten minutes, I was completely lost in the film. I’ve seen it before, but not since the theater, and I didn’t remember it being so unspeakably great. It’s impossible to describe the film. I could list aspects of it, I suppose. It’d be a long list and I’d forget something anyway, because Ghost Dog creates an experience quite unlike anything else, even from Jarmusch, because with Ghost Dog, he’s dealing with familiar genres. Ghost Dog is a gangster movie. It’s a Japanese gangster movie, except with Italian gangs, and a black hit man. I suppose one could interpret it as being about the uselessness of violence and while Ghost Dog isn’t hostile to such interpretation, I find thinking about the film unpleasant. I want to remember the way I felt watching it, sure, but I don’t want to analyze it too much. I don’t want to examine Jarmusch’s use of humor, his frequent theme of people separated language, or anything else. Yes, I want to remember Cliff Gorman rapping along with Flavor Flav, but I really think examining that scene and trying to deconstruct it… might ruin the fact Gorman’s got a great voice and hearing him rap and seeing him dance is really funny.

I was about to say listing the film’s best supporting performances would essentially be a cast list, but I think I will take a second to mention John Tormey. Tormey’s really the film’s second lead, after Forest Whitaker, who’s amazing. While Ghost Dog has a constrained set of emotions–ways of the samurai code–Tormey gets to go through an incredible range of emotion. Whitaker runs the film, however. Everything he does is done with such precision, it’s impossible to imagine him doing anything else in the scene, much less someone else playing the character.

There are some major contributing factors to Ghost Dog‘s excellence (well, Jarmusch hired everyone, so I guess he’s ultimately responsible), such as the location–Jersey City, which has a perfect mix of urban decay and bright green trees–and the music (by RZA) and, obviously, cinematographer Robby Müller.

It’s an amazing film.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch; director of photography, Robby Muller; edited by Jay Rabinowitz; music by RZA; production designer, Ted Berner; produced by Richard Guay; released by Artisan Entertainment.

Starring Forest Whitaker (Ghost Dog), John Tormey (Louie), Camille Winbush (Pearline), Cliff Gorman (Sonny Valerio), Frank Minucci (Big Angie), Isaach de Bankole (Raymond), Victor Argo (Vinny) and Damon Whitaker (Young Ghost Dog).


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