Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thoughts on Dead Man

-A scrawny, wimpy fellow by the name of William Blake (not that one) (Johnny Depp) arrives in the Westiest West town of Machine, having received a letter in Cleveland promising him a job as a clerk. However, by the time he gets there, his job has been given away. With no money to get back to civilization, he shacks up with a former prostitute and seller of paper flowers named Thel (Mili Avital). When her ex-boyfriend catches them, a shootout ensues that leaves all but Blake dead, and himself with a soon-to-be fatal gunshot wound. Stumbling about for a bit, he is discovered by Nobody (Gary Farmer), an American Indian who has been cast out of his tribe awhile ago. Nobody, believing Blake to be the reincarnation of William Blake, is determined to get him to the Pacific so he may take his proper place in the spirit world. And, of course, there are bounty hunters.

-There's much you can say to describe this film. An existential road trip with a refreshingly honest and sensitive portrayal of Native Americans (Nobody is neither Magical nor Savage, and has his own perfectly valid reasons for both helping Blake and insisting that he kill as many White men as possible), a character study on what the Wild West does to a man, a thriller, a ghost story, a love story, a drama, a chase, an LGBT film (Iggy Pop is, indeed, a cross-dressing Bible salesman, but I doubt Association would take too kindly to him, Billy Bob Thornton, and Jared Harris. They do get the best scene, though), a war story, or simply one big metaphor. None would be wrong.

-Crispin Clover is a creepy-ass, coal-covered train boilerman. John Hurt is a rich man's secretary. Robert Mitchum is the rich man. Lance Henriksen is a cannibalistic bounty hunter. Women are limited to Thel, a woman giving a blowjob in an alley, and Nobody's girlfriend, who has a lengthy and probably funny argument with him in either Cree or Blackfoot (I can't tell). Speaking of which, unsubtitled Native American languages. Surely.

-One long death scene.

-My favorite Jim Jarmusch film.

-Blake goes from pussy accountant to badass gunslinger. Johnny Depp, dear, please start doing stuff like this again. I can't take another Tim Burton film.

-Goregously shot.