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Jim Jarmush's Dead Man, a black and white, slightly surreal picaresque western, leaves a lot to interpretation, and I reveled in its ambiguities. Johnny Depp plays William Blake, not the poet but an accountant who becomes a Wild West outlaw after being shot. Is he as dead as the title suggests and are we witnessing a death of the self through the prism of a western? Likely, as the characters we meet are absurd and their deaths could be seen as either psychological resolutions as one reflects on one's death, or else terminations brought on by brain death (note the death of the film's central duality just at the end). But it's more than that. Creating a confusion between this character and the English poet and painter evokes the death of a certain kind of man. Imperialist England gave us poetry and art. In Imperialist America, the only poetry is gun violence. As we move West in the film, modernism seems to slip away. Slow-paced and reflective, Dead Man still remains an achievement in absurdist humor, and should spark some conversations. It's filled with stars and includes a simple, but memorable soundtrack by Neil Young. And full props too for its realistic portrayal of Natives.
"do you know my poetry?" is one of the coolest lines I've ever heard
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Currently in 12 official lists, but has been in 14