• An accomplishment for its Jarmusian qualities: first and foremost a three-part structural film—New Orleans, then prison, then the escape/swamp. Shot in crisp b/w (Robby Muller is the dp from Paris, Texas– the remarkable Kings of the Road, after this he’d do Dead Man, Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark), deadpan ironies, a fish out of water language barrier (Roberto Benigni character) with a meditative and dreamlike editing vibe/atmosphere
  • From Camby NYT “the excitement (of Down by Law) comes from the realization that we are seeing a true film maker at work, using film to create a narrative that couldn’t exist on the stage or the printed page of a novel”
  • scored by John Lurie and songs by Waits- both star in the film
  • Series of tracking shots to Waits’ uniquely poetic music- 3 times before the credits
  • Graffiti on the wall in Waits’ apartment, graffiti in prison, the film reeks of bars, cigarettes and bourbon
  • Garbage art- Wenders an influence—beautiful shot on city streets
monochrome photography by Muller, perfection in the urban squalor garbage art
  • Waits and Lurie as so believable as a down and out DJ and a pimp
  • The jail middle section is a bit of a touch stretch—I could get some crap for this or being accused as a Jarmusch-fanboy but I think Jarmusch wants you to feel the claustrophobia here and wants you to feel that stretch of time even if it’s a bit agonizing
  • The beautiful trees in the swamp could be from Kalatozov’s Letter Never Sent
breathtakingly beautiful use of reflection, trees— wall art
  •  Very Louisiana- city (he’s an urban filmmaker) is so important to Jarmusch (name of his town in Paterson– or Memphis in Midnight Train)
  • He told each scene a beat long- again I believe this is Akerman and Ozu’s influence
  • The finale is sublime- the fork in the road stunner
symmetry — a brilliant ending
  • Must-See