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Jim Jarmusch

Jim Jarmusch (born January 22 1953 in Akron, Ohio; ) is an American independent film director.


Jarmusch obtained his B.A. from Columbia University. Before graduating from New York University's school of film, Jarmusch decided to drop out of the program and funnel his scholarship funds into his first feature. His advisor at the time, Thaddeus Sebena, helped to support the release. This resulted in his first film, Permanent Vacation, which introduced audiences to the deadpan style that he would later develop in Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law. Jim had worked as a teaching assistant to American director Nicholas Ray while at NYU. Through Ray's efforts, Jarmusch became a production assistant on Wim Wenders' tribute to Ray, "Lightning Over Water" (1980).


Jarmusch's first major film, Stranger Than Paradise, was released in 1984 to much critical acclaim. Recounting a strange journey of three disillusioned youths from New York to Cleveland to Florida, the film broke many conventions of traditional Hollywood moviemaking, and to this day is still considered a landmark work in modern independent film. In 1986, Jarmusch wrote and directed Down by Law, a film about three convicts in a New Orleans jailhouse. As a result of his early work, Jarmusch became an influential representative of the trend of the American road movie. His next two films each experimented with parallel narratives: Mystery Train told three stories, one after the other, set on the same night in and around a small Memphis hotel, and Night on Earth involved five cab drivers and their passengers on rides happening simultaneously in five different world cities, beginning at sundown in Los Angeles and ending at sunrise in Helsinki.

In 1995, Jarmusch released Dead Man, a film set in the American West in the 19th century starring Johnny Depp and Gary Farmer that has been called a Western movie, an "acid western," an "anti-Western," and a "post-Western" by various critics. The film has been hailed as one of the few films made by a Caucasian that presents an authentic Native American culture and character, and Jarmusch stands by it as such; however, critics have both praised and decried the film for its portrayal of the American West, violence, and especially Native Americans. The film was shot in black and white by Robby Müller, and features a score composed and performed by Neil Young.

Following artistic success and critical acclaim in the American independent film community, he achieved mainstream renown with his far-East philosophical crime film shot in Jersey City, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, starring Forest Whitaker as a young inner-city man who has found purpose for his life by unyieldingly conforming it to Hagakure, an 18th-century philosophy text and training manual for samurai, becoming, as directed, a terrifyingly deadly hit-man for a local mob boss to whom he may owe a debt, and who then betrays him. The soundtrack was supplied by the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA. The film was unique among other things for the number of books important to and discussed by its characters, most of them listed bibliographically as part of the end credits.

In 2004 he released what is possibly the final version of Coffee and Cigarettes, a collection of short film vignettes the first of which had been shot for and aired on Saturday Night Live in 1986, featuring actor-filmmaker Roberto Benigni and comedian Steven Wright, followed three years later by Coffee and Cigarettes: Memphis Version with actors Steve Buscemi and Joie and Cinque Lee, then Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere in California in 1993 with musicians Tom Waits and Iggy Pop. In 1993, Jarmusch said, "I've shot two more which are waiting to be edited, and I've scripted two or three more. Although the intention is for them to work separately as short films, I plan to shoot around 12 to 14 and put them together for a video release." The film was eventually released to selected theaters consisting of 11 installments featuring, among others, Jack and Meg of The White Stripes, Cate Blanchett, RZA, GZA, Bill Murray, Steve Coogan and Alfred Molina.


Many of Jim Jarmusch's films include some foreign actors and some (at times substantial) foreign-language dialogue, usually subtitled although intentionally not so in the Cree and Blackfoot exchanges in Dead Man, which were left untranslated for the exclusive understanding of members of those nations. Jarmusch has experimented with a vignette format in three films either released or begun around the early nineties, Mystery Train, Night on Earth, and 2004's Coffee and Cigarettes. In his two later-nineties films, he seemed fascinated by different cultures' views on violence, and by textual appropriations between cultures: a wandering Native American's love of William Blake, a black hit-man's passionate devotion to Hagakure.

Sons of Lee Marvin

Jarmusch is the founder of The Sons of Lee Marvin, a humorous 'semi-secret society'. Members of the society reportedly include musician Tom Waits and actor John Lurie, both of whom have worked with Jarmusch on several occasions. Richard Boes, Nick Cave, Thurston Moore, Iggy Pop (who has also worked with Jarmusch), Josh Brolin and Neil Young are also rumored to be members. The entry criterion for the club is that the person must have some physical resemblance or plausibly look like a son of the actor Lee Marvin — as such, women are not allowed to join. Most current members also share what seems to be a beat mentality in that they represent and express the lives of the down and out.

The club supposedly meets occasionally to watch Lee Marvin movies together. Its members perpetuate the joke in the media.

"I'm not at liberty to divulge information about the organization, other than to tell you that it does exist. I can identify three other members of the organization: Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Richard Bose. You have to have a facial structure such that you could be related to, or be a son of, Lee Marvin. There are no women, obviously, in the organization. We have communiques and secret meetings. Other than that, I can't talk about it."
—Jim Jarmusch: Interview: Vol. XIX - No. 11, 1989: pp 146-150.

The real son of Lee Marvin is said to have objected to the existence of the organization when he encountered Waits in a bar.


Jarmusch was the keyboardist and one of two vocalists for the No-Wave band The Del-Byzanteens, whose sole LP Lies to Live By was a minor underground hit in the US and Britain in 1982.

Jarmusch is also featured on Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture quoting Bach and Yehudi Menuin.

New film

Jarmusch is currently set to start production in February 2008 on his new film, The Limits of Control. The film will star Isaach de Bankolé and be set in Spain. The film will also star Hiam Abbass, Gael García Bernal, Paz De La Huerta, Alex Descas, John Hurt, Youki Kudoh, Bill Murray, Jean-François Stévenin, Tilda Swinton and Luis Tosar.


Jarmusch divides his time between New York City and the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

Although Jarmusch does not frequently make public appearances, in early 2003 he signed the Not In My Name declaration (along with people such as Noam Chomsky and Susan Sarandon), opposing the invasion of Iraq.

Stated in his The Golden Rules of Filming: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination”



Other production credits

  • Lightning Over Water (1980) - Observer
  • You Are Not I (1981) - Producer/Cinematographer
  • Der Stand Der Dinge (The State of Things) Portugal (1982) - Composer
  • Burroughs (1984) - Sound Recordist
  • Sleepwalk (1986) - Camera Operator/Cinematographer
  • When Pigs Fly (1993) - Executive Producer
  • Clerks (1994) (special thanks)
  • Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) (special thanks)

Acting credits

  • Underground U.S.A. (1980) - Sound recordist
  • American Autobahn (1984) .... Movie Producer
  • Straight to Hell (1987) .... Amos Dade
  • Helsinki Napoli All Night Long (1987) ... Barkeeper #2
  • Candy Mountain (1988)
  • Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989) ... New York Car Dealer
  • The Golden Boat (1990) ... Stranger
  • In the Soup (1992) ... Monty
  • Iron Horseman (1995) ... Silver Rider
  • Blue in the Face (1995) ... Bob
  • Cannes Man (1996) ... Cameo
  • Sling Blade (1996) ... Frostee Cream guy
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Book on Tape) (1996) ... Raoul Duke (voice)

Appearances as himself

When Jim Jarmusch appeared on "The Simpsons," he claimed to be able to eat an onion without crying. Homer Simpson challenged him to prove it so he proceeded to bite into an onion. As he did so, he cried profusely. Homer pointed out that he was crying but Jim said he was crying about something else. When Homer asked Jim what he was crying about he said he was crying because it was the last time they would be together.

Stated:“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination” in The Golden Rules of Filming


Further reading

See also

External links


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