James Roberto Jarmusch (born January 22, 1953) is an American arthouse film writer, director and actor.
His work tends to be very existential, examining questions of the purpose of life - and never, ever, answering them. He tends to favour long, slow takes, and pays such attention to the scores of his works that they're practically characters. He's also done some acting, notably as the Frostee Cream Boy in Sling Blade and the car dealer in Leningrad Cowboys Go America. He also played Raoul Duke / Hunter S. Thompson in a radio play version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and appeared as himself on The Simpsons and Bored to Death.
His filmography as a director includes:
- Permanent Vacation (1980)
- Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
- Down by Law (1986)
- Mystery Train (1989)
- Night on Earth (1991)
- Dead Man (1995)
- Year of the Horse (1997)
- Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
- Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
- Broken Flowers (2005)
- The Limits of Control (2009)
- Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
- Paterson (2016)
- Gimmie Danger (2016)
- The Dead Don't Die (2019)
Tropes pertaining to the man and his oeuvre:
- Acclaimed Flop: Most of his movies have bombed (with the exception of Ghost Dog and Broken Flowers) yet he is praised to high heaven with each one (excluding The Limits of Control and The Dead Don't Die ).
- Cool Old Guy: As his appearances on The Simpsons and Bored to Death can tell you.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Several of his films are in black and white.
- Doing It for the Art: For example, it took him seven years to get funding for Only Lovers Left Alive.
- Establishing Character Moment: While in college as a student of Nicholas Ray, he wrote a script that was criticized by the latter for not having enough action. Jarmusch went back and promptly rewrote the script so that it contained even less action than before. Ray, impressed by his student's disobedience, hired him as his assistant.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While he has a cult following here in the states, he's absolutely adored in Japan and Europe. Along with his movies doing better business there, major Japanese conglomerate JVC funded all his films from Mystery Train to Ghost Dog.
- Minimalism: His films are generally considered to be cinematic versions of this style.
- The Oner
- Playing Against Type: Broken Flowers, while still keeping some of his pet themes, albeit in a one-off scene, can be identified as a Romantic Dramedy.
- Pop-Star Composer: He's worked with John Lurie, Neil Young, The RZA, and Boris.
- Production Posse: There's editor Jay Rabinowitz, Tilda Swinton, John Lurie and John Hurt
- Scenery Porn: All of his films have gorgeous shots in them. Taken Up to Eleven with The Limits of Control. And if you like swamps, Down By Law is the movie for you.
- Signature Style: Stark, beautiful images, along with a minimalist style, dry, offbeat humor, cultural mixing and the concept of outsider(s) in America.