“You’re bleeding all over the place, but you never die.”
Watched this directly after That Day, in which a semi-insane man stabs lots of people, often with little reaction by his companion. Same exact thing happens here, making this movie seem like a retread of the one he made thirteen years later.
In foreground: a knife sticking out of Austin:
Ruiz movies are easily distinguishable from his Euro drama contemporaries such as Oliveira or Chabrol though his distinctive use of deep-focus shots, the stagier-than-usual dialogue, and the nothing making any dramatic sense at all. In this one a crazy street dweller named Austin (Michael Kirby, who showed up in a couple Woody Allen movies and The Atrocity Exhibition) enjoys stabbing people and seems to be searching for his son. But when college student Israel helps the guy out and tracks down the son, the man is cagey about whether Austin is his dad. Then that plot thread is dropped so Austin can go about stabbing more people and making Israel confused. There is some talk about God’s will, and lots of shoes. I think all the shoes mean something.
Or maybe not… here are some of the plot points I’ve written down:
– Jim Jarmusch plays a hooded miscreant, bangs Israel’s head against a wall, surprisingly threatening given that he is Jim Jarmusch.
– Some guy who is in love with Amelia holds them all hostage.
– They are at the beach digging a hole looking for Austin and people keep bringing them sandwiches.
– Swiss guy shoots Israel as he’s trying to kiss the girl who claims she killed her husband.
It was an amusing movie, but since nothing seems connected by a sensible story, it’s not very memorable. IMDB says it was shot 16mm, so the 4:3 picture I’ve got on VHS may be just fine. I was excited at first about the soundtrack by John Zorn, one of his first, but I didn’t notice it much once the talking started.
Rosenbaum: “In effect, New York’s downtown punk coalition meets Ruiz’s dreamy doodling, and a certain amount of querulousness on both sides grows out of the brief encounter.” The Times loved it, called it a “slight, gleeful work” and noted that “many people get killed but few stay dead.”
Barbet Schroeder gets killed in the first scene:
Ruiz, of course, explains it better than anybody:
I began to watch television in order to study the iconography of American TV. Then I started watching Mexican soap operas on the cable channels. One day after watching two or three soap operas, I decided to write something using the rhythms of soap operas about some experiences I had many years ago while living in New York. I tried to use the dialogue of soap operas as a kind of music.