Elvis may not be alive, but his spirit continues to permeate the American cultural landscape. Jim Jarmusch pays tribute his legacy in his funky third feature, Mystery Train. The name comes from the great bluesy recording Elvis made for Sun Records in 1955, but the stories of wandering tourists and lost souls drifting through Memphis come from the mind of Jarmusch. Three different tales play out in a single 24-hour period, a loose trilogy spinning around a fleabag hotel manned by a sleepy Screamin' Jay Hawkins and his eager bellboy Cinqué Lee. A young Japanese couple arrives in Memphis to take the Elvis tour, an Italian woman (Nicoletta Braschi of Life Is Beautiful) takes possession of her dead husband's ashes and gets a surprise visit from a wandering spirit, and three Memphis lowlifes (including indie stalwart Steve Buscemi and Clash guitarist Joe Strummer) take an aimless and ultimately fateful midnight cruise around town. Jarmusch lazily unfolds his tales at the speed of life, the unhurried rhythms lending the deadpan mix of quirky Americana, pop culture, and cinematic poetry a quietly lived-in quality, while he juggles timelines in a trick Quentin Tarantino borrowed for Pulp Fiction. The offbeat interweaving is just another pattern to the crazy quilt, lovely examples of the mercurial playfulness of life in Jarmusch's America. --Sean Axmaker
Hi! Good night!
Good night. How may I help you?
Umm... We would like most cheap room please do you have?
All our rooms for two people are the same rate.
(speaking in Japanese) What'd he say?
(speaking in Japanese) I'm not exactly sure. (In English) I'm sorry, that is too expensive.
What can I do you for?
I would like to buy this newspaper.
Well now, you should buy this one here as well. The Tri-State Defender.
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Well, you know, you only need one leg to get around on if that's all you got. But it sure helps having two, now, doesn't it?
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How about some magazines?