Paterson – a review


we don’t have any salt, dear…

Jim Jarmusch sets his directorial brush on fire to paint a wonderfully slow burning portrait of intimate love between two distinctly different but impossibly intertwined human beings in his latest, Paterson.

Thematically not only focused on the challenges of romantic love but also probing the burden that an aspirational society can place upon its citizens and the responsibility that comes with trying to find one’s place in this ever-busy world

Feeling stuck in a small place whilst having bigger dreams is no better conveyed than in Adam Driver‘s character’s name being synonymous with the town that he inhabits. In fact, in case you miss that point, he drives a bus with it writ large on the front. He is simultaneously defined by his profession, his heritage and where he lives. They all somehow become the same thing, calling into question his identity and, more, what that is or could be. Are we defined by what we do or where we come from?

Paterson, himself, seemingly remains unsure but through his poetry he shows his creativity and yearning for something more than his small town life. He appears both deeply stationary and content whilst being sick of everything. The monotony of his daily life is punctuated only by the moments he grabs to write his poems and the interactions with his whimsical girlfriend, played with complexity and charm by Golshifteh Farahani, and her irritating dog, to which he returns home everyday. Even these moments seem confused in Paterson’s world.

We’re all so closely connected with the roles we fulfil, especially in the eyes of others – as evidenced by the question people invariably ask one another when they meet for the first time, ‘what do you do?’ – that being a bus driver becomes so entwined with the bus, and the purpose it satisfies for its passengers, that we barely see the driver as a person anymore, more just a continuation or extension of the bus itself. This affords Paterson an anonymity, allowing him to eavesdrop entirely unnoticed on his passengers, perhaps amusing, even inspiring, perhaps disgusting him, such is the intelligence behind Driver’s performance that a wry smile flickered almost imperceptibly across his large character-oozing face is ambiguous to the point of intrigue.

Subtle, elegant and verging on the mystical, Paterson delivers a wholly enjoyable movie experience within which Adam Driver‘s central performance is allowed to gently glow.


In Pursuit of Silence – a review

Who left that there...

Who left that there…

It’s the impeccably crystalline sound design of In Pursuit of Silence, above all else, that leaves you so very acutely aware, upon leaving the cinema, if only for some residual minutes rather than resounding hours, of all the motion, commotion and sound abounding around you.

Director, Patrick Shen, posits his film as meditative and it is profoundly effective and affecting in that regard. Even if predominantly noticeable only once it has finished then that, perhaps, is largely the point. Maybe, just maybe, amidst everyone leaping for the exits as soon as the credits begin to roll and clawing their pockets for their mobile phones, that in fairness they have been utterly neglecting for the past epoch of all of 90 minutes, you might just sit in silence and take in the experience you’ve just had, rather than instantly disposing of it and rushing headlong into the next.

Forced or, better still, drawn to distraction through a fear that if we’re not immediately experiencing something directly in front of our eyes then we’re experiencing nothing, when actually the inverse is more accurate, by cramming our senses with constant stimulus we prevent ourselves from being able to truly experience any one of the moments within which we truly must exist. And this is the point Shen is making. It may, also, well be that the link between noise, silence and well-being is not merely a spiritual consideration but also a physical one. The correlation between excessive noise in a person’s environment and heart disease, hypertension etc appears, from what Shen presents here, to be one worthy of the study it is currently undergoing but also of our attention.

However, bringing the film itself, and not just it’s message, back into focus, it’s not quite the piece of high art to which it might aspire, a la the work of Godfrey Reggio or 2012’s intensely visceral silent masterpiece Leviathan, but it is superbly well tuned in to what it is trying to achieve. And it achieves it well.

Meditation can make you feel relaxed and, at times, even lull you to sleep, as can Shen’s film. Blending a sensory compliment of voice-over, talking head interviews and roaming ambient soundscape draped over sweeping imagery, the very notion that silence, in its very essence, does not actually exist but is just yet another human made construct born out of a misapprehension of our environment, this documentary poses some probing questions and plants some seeds of doubt as to whether the way we live is the way we are supposed to live.

Uniquely realised, In Pursuit of Silence doesn’t quite defy or transcend its own boundaries but it certainly has a good stab at challenging them.