Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BMFI Manager Alexis Mayer: Why I Love DEAD MAN

BMFI Theater Manager and film preservationist Alexis Mayer writes about why she loves Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, which is being shown tonight in conjunction with BMFI's Film Education Spotlight series and four-week course on Jarmusch's films. Her take on the "acid western" is the latest in a series of posts began this summer about the movies that BMFI's staff and community members love.

Why I Love Dead Man
By Alexis Mayer, Theater Manager

The first time I saw Dead Man was sometime in 2009 in Rochester New York. I was lucky enough to catch it in 35mm. Something terrible had happened that day and so I went in a daze and came to at the end when [SPOILER ALERT] William Blake (Johnny Depp) is in the canoe staring up at the sky as it floats away from the shore. It's a powerful moment and I realized, "Wow, this is an amazing movie, and I just missed the entire thing!" 

The film is full of these moments. When I actually saw it (on DVD this time), I had to watch it a second time the very next day. It's one of the few films that I can say I enjoy watching over and over and over again. My favorite thing about this film is it's tone. It's a fantasy western shot in black and white with stunning scenes, an incredible original score by Neil Young, and weird characters played by actors like Crispin Glover. 

I find myself lingering on every bit of dialogue; it's purposeful, clever, and funny in a way that is nothing short of perfect. One of my favorite lines is when John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum) tells Conway Twill (Michael Wincott), "You're a real good killer, but be sure you keep that goddamn trap shut." Another is during my favorite scene in the woods when Big George Drakoulious (Billy Bob Thornton) asks his friend Salvatore 'Sally' Jenko (Iggy Pop), "What's a Philistine?" and Sally responds, "Well, it's just a real dirty person." 

Dead Man is full of cameos, like Iggy Pop's cross-dressing
Salvatore "Sally" (left), shown here with star Johnny Depp.
This movie is so good! Don't miss the chance to see it today in 35mm at Bryn Mawr Film Institute!

Theater Manager Alexis Mayer is a film handler and projectionist with a B.F.A. in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College and a professional certificate in the Preservation and Restoration of Motion Picture Films from the L. Jefferey Selznick School of Film Preservation.

See Dead Man tonight, Tuesday, November 1 at 7:00 pm. Film critic and author Chris Long, M.A., will introduce the screening. Watch a trailer and buy tickets here.

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