The first thought that struck me after viewing the film is that Mr. Jarmusch must hang around these types of people in order to write about them. By that I mean people in sleazy joints, alcoholics who carry guns and wave them around low-lifes. Just an observation. There is a lot of material on this DVD, not just the movie. There's a Q&A section that's interesting. I listened to 1/3 of them. There's a LOT more. Jarmusch seems to be a very learned man. There is a booklet inside the jacket that I missed untill I put back the DVD. This is my third Jarmusch film and I can easily say that I liked it as much as the others. In fact, I liked it from the first scene. I enjoy his slow-paced story development. Now I'll have to see all his others. Most of the characters in this film were fans of Elvis. So am I. If you think you're going to see some footage of the King, forget it. You will hear part of one of his songs. As far as the other comments, I don't think this film is quirky. This is a film about our America: rundown neighborhoods, people from different countries in our airports, shysters trying to hustle tourists, people getting accidentally shot and people getting deliberately shot. People going to Graceland. I don't see quirkiness in any of that. The Japanese couple in the first part of the film got it right.
This is total Americana... And part of a disappearing world. There's a hotel (creepers!) like I might have stayed in 30 years ago & a lot of green. Counters of magazines & papers... Payphones !
Looking over all of this, there's Elvis.
It is mostly a continuous joke, with a bit of sad drama to emphasize that this is the real world where we all are the clowns. We are the hitchhikers, the dreamers and the riders on the Mystery Train. And America is that big, grimy stage where the act goes down.
The film tells three stories, basically unconnected except that the characters all check into the same hotel in Memphis. The hotel is a flea trap with just the most minimal furniture in tiny rooms; at check-in "No TV."
There are just the barest necessities: a bed, two chairs, a night table, a portrait of Elvis on the wall.
The director Jim Jarmusch takes his time with almost every shot, lingering on the minimalist scenes and in no hurry to move the story along. As Roger Ebert writes: "Notice how some of his traveling shots in "Mystery Train" seem to dictate the movements of characters, rather than following them. See how he isolates a portion of an interior rather than "establishing" a whole location. Notice the unobtrusive manipulation of time when the drunks are riding around in a pickup."
Each of the three stories are interesting; the two clerks in the hotel provide comic relief and a bit of tissue connecting the stories. I enjoyed the stories, but found the director's decision more interesting, so much so that I watched three times, once for the stories, once for the technique, and once just to enjoy an off-beat movie in which the seedy side of Memphis becomes a character in its own right -- and ties everything together.
A quirky film from the late 80's ...interesting and different!
A quirky, non-linear, black comedy for those that can appreciate something a little different.
Being a Jarmusch film, patience is called for by the viewer. You will enjoy this if you are open to movies that take their time to tell the story. There are 3 independent plots related to each other by the location in Memphis.
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