New York-based filmmaker Jim Jarmusch continues his deadpan Cook's Tour of America with MYSTERY TRAIN, a trio of tangentially related stories set in Memphis, Tennessee.
All three tales center on the run-down Arcade Hotel, where every room is a shrine to Memphis's favorite son, Elvis Aron Presley. A candidate for the wrecking ball, the Arcade is staffed by two dedicated souls (legendary rhythm & blues performer Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Cinque Lee, Spike's younger
brother) who seem to have no existence beyond the front desk. As the film's first episode, "Far from Yokohama," opens, Jun (Masatoshi Nagase) and Mitzuko (Youki Kudoh), two teenaged devotees of American culture, check into the Arcade, where they argue over rock 'n' roll favorites, make love,
listen to Elvis on the hotel radio, and remain undisturbed by everything that occurs--even the gunshot they hear near checkout time. The Arcade also plays host to Luisa (Nicoletta Braschi), an Italian woman visiting the States to bring her dead husband back to Italy. The focus of the second
episode, "A Ghost," Luisa is harassed by a low-life who promises her she will be visited by visions of Elvis. The third episode, "Lost in Space," involves Dee Dee (Elizabeth Bracco), her alcohol-crazed lover (Joe Strummer), her nervous-wreck brother (Steve Buscemi), and their fast-talking pal
(Rick Aviles) as they get involved in a shooting. At checkout time, all the characters go their separate ways.
As with STRANGER THAN PARADISE and DOWN BY LAW, Jarmusch focuses his offbeat sensibility on urban iconoclasts, small-town oddballs, and bewildered strangers. Not surprisingly, MYSTERY TRAIN will work best for those who share Jarmusch's fondness for America's pop culture junkyard; he's a true
original, but Jarmusch's originality lies in a quirky viewpoint that may leave some audience members cold. Others who abandon themselves to his deadpan drollery and Robby Muller's witty cinematography, which makes squalor look festive, will be rewarded with a cockeyed valentine to the cradle of
rock 'n' roll.
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- Released: 1989
- Rating: R
- Review: New York-based filmmaker Jim Jarmusch continues his deadpan Cook's Tour of America with MYSTERY TRAIN, a trio of tangentially related stories set in Memphis, Tennessee. All three tales center on the run-down Arcade Hotel, where every room is a shrine to M… (more)