director Jim Jarmusch
It was 1992, I think, the last time I saw Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. Such a cool movie. Such a cool director/guy.
My favorite part of the film originally was still my favorite, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Cinqué Lee (who I always remembered as “Spike Lee’s little brother”) as the stylish hotel manager and bellhop, respectively. I thought they were so good that they could have had their own TV show. Hawkins is just amazing, his comic timing, slow and utterly in step with the film. And Lee. He’s terrific.
For the time it was made, the film was all that much more cool. The 1990’s had yet to come and the explosion of the Indie film had yet to make its impact. As much as it has gone on to popular cult film status, like much of Jarmusch’s work, it’s important to realize that this is an artifact of the 1980’s, a film all the more remarkable as being of its time (and arguably way ahead of it “cool-wise”).
Jarmusch and cinematographer Robby Müller capture the rundown Memphis is its tarnished beauty. It’s funny, but my kids thought it looked like a terrible place. I yearn to travel back in time to Memphis of 1988. I often yearn for the places and times that movies have captured. I often note that watching older films is a way of traveling back to them.
Jarmusch is one of my favorites. And Mystery Train is a good example of why.