The Rogue's Gallery: Movies I Should Have Already Seen

I don't know if you knew this, but I watch a lot of movies. More than that, I own a lot of movies, at last count somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 plus. Most of them are classics, favorite films of mine that I can't wait to share with friends or my children one day. Some of them are old friends that I like to visit when I'm feeling blue or particularly put upon by the outside world. Some were impulse buys, some were comfort purchases and some were methodically planned and budgeted.

Anytime you have a DVD shelf that big, you're bound to have a few that you haven't gotten around to watching yet. I've got a bunch. Since my new job allows me a good bit of free time (all during the day when I have the house to myself), I'm making an effort to work through these screen gems that I have thus far avoided (not intentionally of course). I thought it might be fun to throw a short review of each (or a long one if I feel like it) up here for the world to see. Maybe you haven't seen it yet either and this will be just the push you need to pick it up at Blockbuster or Wal-Mart. Whatever the outcome, I'll watch and tell you what I thought. This is MY blog after all.

Broken Flowers

Jim Jaramusch's body of work is a gaping hole in my cinematic experience. Well, that's not entirely true. I have seen the aforementioned "Flowers" now, and several years ago (on a night I'd rather forget) I saw "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai". Why Jimmy thought a slow think piece about an urban samurai played by Forest Whitaker would be a good idea I don't know, but let's suffice it to say I was not impressed. Since then, I had almost forgot that the guy existed until a little film starring Bill Murray was making the rounds last awards season. Andrei, a dear friend of mine (and avid Jarmusch fan) was as excited about this film as just about anything else coming out. He suggested that I try other great Jarmusch films like "Coffee and Cigarettes" (incidentally, Dre, I am on the lookout for "Dead Man" starring Johnny Depp after reading its synopsis). The point is Jim has been out there making these great little independent films (and some not so great ones) for some time, completely off my radar.

Bill Murray on the other hand is right in the middle of my radar. While I love his early work and consider a lot of them (Caddyshack and Ghostbusters in particular) to be some of the funniest movies ever made, it's his last decade and a half or so that have cemented him as one of the best actors of his age. From films like "Groundhog Day" to his real breakout, "Rushmore" he has been honing a persona that I can't get enough of. His performances in "Lost in Translation" and "Life Aquatic" were so perfect for me that I knew I wasn't going to let another one of his films slip by me.

But then I did. "Broken Flowers" spent about a week in our local theater (people in north Louisiana have very little patience for Bill Murray if he's not chasing ghosts or talking to groundhogs) but I picked it up on DVD almost as soon as it came out. I brought it home, put it on the shelf, and it stayed there. Months passed and the time never seemed right for it. So, a few days ago when I decided to make the effort to finally watch all these films I owned, "Broken Flowers" was at the top of the list.

It's first and foremost a beautiful film. Jarmusch has an eye for composition and most of the film would look just as good in a picture book as it does as moving images. The story concerns Murray's character, Don Johnston, (a well-off Casanova-type) being confronted with the idea that he fathered a son some twenty years ago, and deciding (truthfully, being pushed into) seeking out his old flames to find the boy. It sounds like a mystery, maybe even a neo-noire and the film implies that's what it's going to become with a beautiful soundtrack and Don's neighbor (the one doing the pushing) referencing detective stories. But this is film not about answers or mysteries, but about a journey and questions. Don doesn't know whether he's pleased with what his life has become, and until his quest to find his son begins, he hasn't even thought to ask the question.

It's not laugh out loud funny. There are no ghosts, groundhogs or obvious answers to be found here. There are wonderfully drawn characters portrayed by talented actors at the top of their games. It probably won't join "Caddyshack" in my list of favorite movies, but I'm proud to have it on the shelf, and glad I finally gave it a chance.