Reviews

The Limits Of Control

3

Too cool to rule…

“Everything’s cool,” we’re told in Jim Jarmusch’s latest exercise in pared-down genre-dismantling. What else would it be?

To paraphrase a David Mamet script, this mofo’s so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him. There’s a point, though, at which ‘cool’ becomes self-conscious, a void of self-absorption that The Limits Of Control verges on.

Leading and embodying the bare-bones plot is Isaach De Bankolé’s ‘Lone Man’, a hitman of habit, with a lifestyle of sharp suits, abstinence and repetition. He practises tai chi, orders “dos espressos” in European cafes where he meets marks, swaps matchboxes and exchanges gnomic asides, and rejects the nasty with the absurdly over-sexed babe in his room (Paz de la Huerta).

Coffee-shop two-handers? Think Coffee And Cigarettes, sans ciggies. Zen calm? Think Ghost Dog or Dead Man.

Jarmusch toys with conceits of repetition and variation, replaying dialogue with subtle emphasis shifts, so his self-regurgitations have an in-built excuse. His question seems to be, what do you get when you extract cause, effect and action from thrillers? The answer comes as repetition, variation… and a sense of chasing your own tail.

Incidental pleasures are plentiful, mind. Cinephiles will relish shades of Jean-Pierre Melville’s monk-ish anti-heroes. Chris Doyle’s lush cinematography is up there with his work on Wong Kar-wai’s films. Rock trio Boris’ droning score is terrifically hypnotic.

The casting offers pleasures, too: Bill Murray cameos, Gael García Bernal struts, John Hurt talks bohemian and Tilda Swinton bigs up Orson Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai.

Sure, Limits’ lack of overstated drama offers reprieve from too many flash-bang flicks. But this much self-consciousness can take its toll. Dos espressos advised.
 

Verdict:

Jarmusch’s film captivates stylistically, and at least some credit’s due to his less-is-more plotting. But extensive introversion leaves it gasping for air, almost vanishing up itself.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • ADCfilms

      Dec 9th 2009, 21:14

      1

      The fact that this film will see a limited release in art house cinemas and the like only reassures that people en masse will not be subjected to such a weak effort and that the ‘wannabe intellectuals’ can look down their reading glasses and compare notes about obscure references while the rest of humanity is blissfully oblivious to such c**p, blissfully unaware and happily making hay in the bushes. Some nice locations and nice cinematography do not a film make. The irony is, for all its pseudo intellectualism, this film suffers the same fate as the average big budget special effects Hollywood blockbuster — nice visuals, nice design, no story. I was disappointed with this film. No doubt many journalists will give it glowing reviews to disguise the fact that they didn’t understand it; for fear of looking uneducated, uncultured or missing the intellectual beats. Fact is, the film is a pretentious mess: two hours of the stoned art school student let loose with the failed artist c*m lecturer’s philosophy of something so nonsensical it surely must be genius. Which means it will appeal to anyone who believes a pile of bricks on the Tate gallery floor is also genius or conveys a message of importance. This film was made without a script, no storyboarding, no shot list — and it shows. It is the only time in a cinema I have ever strained to stay awake. I only stayed the course hoping the pay off would be worthwhile. It is two hours of my life I’ll never get back. It’s not that I didn’t understand this film. Please – it’s not that clever. The film is nothing but self indulgent art for arts sake. It is boring, rarely imaginative and in no way entertains. Jarmusch needs to take his head out of his anus and put it straight on the guillotine.

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    • ADCfilms

      Dec 9th 2009, 21:20

      Um, what's up with the formatting on this site? My review is jumbled up. I'll try again below.

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    • ADCfilms

      Dec 9th 2009, 21:21

      1

      I was disappointed with this film. No doubt many journalists will give it glowing reviews to disguise the fact that they didn’t understand it; for fear of looking uneducated, uncultured or missing the intellectual beats. ----- Fact is, the film is a pretentious mess: two hours of the stoned art school student let loose with the failed artist c*m lecturer’s philosophy of something so nonsensical it surely must be genius. Which means it will appeal to anyone who believes a pile of bricks on the Tate gallery floor is also genius or conveys a message of importance. ----- This film was made without a script, no storyboarding, no shot list — and it shows. It is the only time in a cinema I have ever strained to stay awake. I only stayed the course hoping the pay off would be worthwhile. It is two hours of my life I’ll never get back. ----- It’s not that I didn’t understand this film. Please – it’s not that clever. The film is nothing but self indulgent art for arts sake. It is boring, rarely imaginative and in no way entertains. ----- The fact that this film will see a limited release in art house cinemas and the like only reassures that people en masse will not be subjected to such a weak effort and that the ‘wannabe intellectuals’ can look down their reading glasses and compare notes about obscure references while the rest of humanity is blissfully oblivious to such c**p, blissfully unaware and happily making hay in the bushes. ----- Some nice locations and nice cinematography do not a film make. The irony is, for all its pseudo intellectualism, this film suffers the same fate as the average big budget special effects Hollywood blockbuster — nice visuals, nice design, no story. ----- Jarmusch needs to take his head out of his anus and put it straight on the guillotine.

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    • ADCfilms

      Dec 9th 2009, 21:22

      Ok, so you can't have a line space in a talk back? That's rubbish. Get your HTML monkeys to work, TF!

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    • AsheleyG

      Dec 13th 2009, 18:51

      4

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