6 October 2014

Jarmusch Collection Blu-ray Review - Mystery Train (1989)

Comedy, Drama
Soda Pictures
BD Release Date:
6th October 2014 (UK)
Rating: 18
Jim Jarmusch
Masatoshi Nagase, Yûki Kudô, Screamin' Jay Hawkins,
Buy:Jim Jarmusch Box Set [Blu-ray]

Mystery Train was Jim Jarmusch’s first truly international film and also his first anthology film, which he would do a couple more later on. It’s all set during a night in the home of Elvis Memphis, Tennessee and a series of characters who all end up in the same hotel that is run by the night clerk played by Screaming Jay Hawkins. It remains one of Jarmusch’s most popular films and rounded up his work in the 1980s quite well.

The first story is titled “Far From Yokohama" and it’s about a young Japanese couple that are making a Pilgrimage to Memphis during their trip around the States. The girl is obsessed with Elvis and her boyfriend states numerous times his preference is for Carl Perkins. It’s probably the film’s funniest segment due to the miscommunication between the Japanese couple and the places and people they meet.

The 2nd segment “A Ghost” is the weakest, but it’s still very enjoyable. It’s about an Italian widow who is stranded in Memphis while she is trying to get her husband’s body back to Italy. She ends up taking a room in the hotel after being conned by Americans and shares the room with another woman. The ghost of the king of rock n’ roll pays her a visit.

The 3rd story is called “Lost in Space” and it concerns a guy called Elvis (Joe Strummer) who has just lost his girlfriend. He is having a drunken night and starts showing his gun as a bar and some friends of his played by Steve Buscemi and Rick Aviles have to come get him before he gets into more trouble. They end up going to a get some more booze and in the midst of everything Elvis robs they place so they need a place to hide for the night.

Mystery Train remains one of Jim Jarmusch’s funniest films and is by far his most successful film that uses the anthology format. The performances from the cast especially Joe Strummer are top notch, it’s a shame Joe never did much more acting because he certainly had a really screen presence. Steve Buscemi is also great but when isn’t he?

Robby Müller again is responsible for the cinematography and he perfectly captures the desolate lonely feel of Memphis at night. It’s also Jarmusch’s first time using colour on anything resembling a budget and he using a nice colour palette, which very nice uses of heightened red throughout. The film was funded by JVC who ended up funding his next 3 films.

It’s nice to finally have a decent version of Mystery Train in the UK market. The original DVD you had to turn on the subtitles in the first segment to understand what they saying. This time they just show up automatically. The disc itself is bareboned without any of the bonus features that were on Criterion’s disc in the US.


Ian Schultz

No comments:

Post a Comment