Only Jarmusch Left Alive


I often feel like I’m the last one to know anything. The latest case in point: Jim Jarmusch’s film “Only Lovers Left Alive.” Though it was released in 2013, I only just watched it this weekend. Late at night. By myself. Isolated in the basement pending the results of a COVID test – negative, it thankfully turned out.

Though I’ve been a devout Jarmusch fan from the “Night on Earth” days, even though at the time of “Lovers” release part of my day job responsibilities included overseeing film classification in the province, I only just saw what is now one of my favourite movies of all time and perhaps the best film ever made. Okay, well, you have to agree that it is at least the best vampire film ever made.

I guess I wasn’t that devout. To be fair to 2013 Paul though, our kids were smaller and busier at that time. I was also pretty focussed on using what little spare time I could scratch out to work on my own writing, creating in the margins, a theme to which we will return.

As with all Jarmusch films, there is a lot going here for a movie in which very little happens, and the whole thing is going about its nothingness in the most gorgeous fashion. From the writing on down, “Lovers” is perfect. The acting: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, John Hurt, the late Anton Yelchin, all are magnificent. The set design. There are only a couple of interior locations in this film and I would love to spend time with stills of each, so much detail. The lighting and photography. It’s a vampire movie, it all takes place at night, sometimes in a car.

But the mostest of the most with this one is the music. It is one of the lead characters in the film. It is….stunning. The first thing I did after the film was over was look up who did the music. And wouldn’t you know it, Jim’s own band Squrl did the music.

Now, I had heard that Jim made music with his pal Carter Logan, but I had never tracked down any of their stuff. Call it prejudice from the ’80’s, scarring from having to hear Bruce Willis’s band on the radio when I was a teenager, but digging in to a crossover side-hustle project like I assumed Squrl to be just didn’t seem like a priority. Mistake.

The first thing that greeted me when I visited the website (http://www.squrlworld.com) was this amazing little sentence: LIVE SCORES TO FOUR FILMS BY MAN RAY. Yup. How cool would that be?! They did a bunch of shows in museums and art galleries in 2020 and in early 2021 they’re taking the experience to northern Europe. Anyone want to go to Belgium with me in February?

And because of course things resonate, I’m sitting outside a Zara in our local mall this weekend waiting for my daughter to spend out the rest of a gift card she got from her uncle last Christmas (thanks Dave!) idly scrolling through the New York Times on my phone when I run into this headline: “Jim Jarmusch’s Collages Are Ready for Their Close-up.”

So not only does the guy make great films, but he also makes great music and, apparently, has been making great little collages in the margins. In addition to some physical shows, there is also a book published by Anthology Editions.

So, what’s driving my creativity this week? Jim Jarmusch. Keep creating.

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