Mystery Train – Far from Yokohama

Mystery Train Jim Jarmusch’s 1989 classic was the movie I watched into the night with the sound low, as my daughter slept.  I haven’t seen this in years, I remember being under impressed with it the last time I saw it.  I am sure now in retrospect it is an unsettled picture, there are questions which go unanswered.   Its ok, this flow I believe is more reflective of life than of the “hollywood Formula.”  I can say now that it blew me away. Of  course the idea of centering a picture in Memphis, the home of Elvis would be enough to hold my attention, not to mention the pompadours.  In this movie the Pompadour is definitely king.

The story is broken into 3 chapters, the First one is entitled Far From yokohama.  It’s the one I’ll focus on, it is a celebration of the Japanese youth celebration of Rock and Roll.  I remember hearing about from Eric Kish the late Singer of the biggest Rock a Billy band in Chicago about how they toured Japan and what response they received.  He described how in the 80’s Rock a Billy was alive and well there.  You could imagine that the couple at the center of the first story came from that subculture.  Two things that stood out to me about this couple, 1. being the ongoing debate about who was better Carl Perkins or Elvis.  That will always be the argument in Rock a Billy.   2. The male character, is stylistically perfect, his grease boy pompadour, down to his creepers.  Its becomes a source for  a funny bit, where his girlfriend asks him to smile, and he says with a straight face, I am happier than I have been.  His stone face,and his attention to stylistic detail, reflects the Japanese obsession with style.  This obsession drives people to do everything to achieve ,”perfection.”  This episode is done really well.  The couple are played masterfully.

The next chapters are equally appealing for different reasons.  The last episode has Joe Strummer playing a character called Elvis.  Even when he is called Elvis he says,” Why don’t you call me Carl Perkins?”  Joe Strummer a musical and acting icon, who brought life to every thing he was involved in.  He is enough to make somebody go see the movie.  Having said that this film was really well done, in that odd Jarmusch pace.  His films all move on a different clock that is for sure. This one is worth seeing.


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