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June 16, 2012

Movie Review: Dead Man (1995, Blu-ray)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Starring Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer and Crispen Glover

A few of the things we have come to expect from the average Johnny Depp movie is plenty of eccentric characters, lots of wry humor and somewhat oddball story-lines. Depp stays true to form in that sense with Dead Man. At its core it's a western, with plenty of gun fights, cowboys, native Americans and gun-slinging bounty hunters. But Dead Man manages to separate itself from the genre within the first few minutes of the film, as it displays a dream-like quality to it that portrays a world that is slightly off-kilter and just plain old weird.

Depp plays the role of William Blake, an east coast milquetoast who has used his last dollar to buy a train ticket to a filthy little drove of a town called Machine. Armed with a letter of intent to hire him as an accountant at the local iron-works factory, upon his arrival he is shocked to find that the position has already been filled and he is unceremoniously tossed from the premises by the factory’s owner, John Dickinson (played to curmudgeonly perfection by the legendary Robert Mitchum) Penniless and wandering the streets, he soon runs into a beautiful girl, and finds himself in bed with her not long after. (He may be playing a geek, but its still Johnny Depp)

While “enjoying each others company” the door to the girls room is kicked in and her old boyfriend shows up, slightly pissed as one would expect. Harsh words are exchanged as well as a few pistol shots and when the smoke clears, the girl and her ex are dead and William is seriously wounded with a gunshot near the heart. Stealing the mans prized pony, he makes his escape into the night, but unbeknownst to him, the man he killed just happens to be John Dickinson’s son, and Mr. Dickinson is now looking for vengeance at all cost.....and of coarse he wants the pony back as well.

Passed out and near death lying in the hot sun, William’s life is spared when he is stumbled upon by an oddball native American recluse who goes by the name of Nobody, (Gary Farmer) who simply refers to William as Stupid Fucking White Man. Their friendship deepens as the two wander the wild and bizarre western landscapes, all the while with bounty-hunters, lawmen and an entire cast of other bizarre, utterly insane characters hot on their heels.

Depp's transformation from pacifist city-slicker to iron-willed killer was a total hoot to watch, and Gary Farmer’s portrayal of the nutty Indian side-kick should have won him a supporting-actor Oscar nomination. They were magnificent together and the subtle, dry humor of their dialog exchanges were absolutely hilarious at times, while being sad and poignant at others.

Another highlight was the performance of Lance Henriksen as the psychopathic, cannibal bounty-hunter Cole Wilson. In fact, this movie is just littered with fun characters and great performances by actors such as Crispen Glover, John Hurt and Iggy Pop. (just to name a few) Every character is just so off-kilter and outlandishly over-the-top.

Trying to sum this movie up is tough, its a western-comedy but just has the feel of being something much deeper then that. Its not quite like any other movie I’ve ever seen.

Kudos are in order for director John Jarmusch, he does a great job of transporting you to his version of an alternate universe of old west insanity.

The electric slide-guitar musical score was fun as well, and worked great at helping to propel the story along. In fact, there's really not a single thing about this movie that I found flawed, aside from being about 10-15 minutes longer then I felt it should have been, at about 2 hours, (but that's strictly a personal pet-peeve I have about movies).

Being a blu-ray transfer didn't really do much to enhance the look of Dead Man in my opinion. Being a black and white movie, you just don't get the visual pop that you would see from a shot in color film. No worries though, its still an absolutely awesome flick and one that I would highly recommend to anyone.

Special Features included deleted scenes and a music video.

8 out of 10 Reviewed by KennyB

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