Acclaimed filmmaker Jim Jarmusch delivers a stylish and sexy new thriller about a mysterious loner (De Bankolé) who arrives in Spain with instructions to meet various strangers, each one a part of his dangerous mission. Fe... more »aturing an all-star international cast that includes Isaach De Bankolé, Gael García Bernal, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray, it?s a stunning journey in an exotic Spanish landscape that simmers with heat and suspense.« less
I agree with the last reviewer that this could have been a 15 minute short. It had it's moments and there were a couple enjoyable scenes. One word - Speed Watch at 120X Fast Forward on the non-talking parts, which was the majority of the movie and you will probably enjoy this one. If you are a Bill Murray fan, then you should probably watch this but don't have if you can't handle the make believe violence in movies.
Daniel B. (MooVJunkE) from KIMBALL, MN Reviewed on 5/8/2013...
Booooring. I can definitely appreciate films that have beautiful cinematography, but I couldn't keep from checking the clock to see how much longer they were going to drag out some of those scenes. I love the ideas, but this should have been a 15 minute short. Oh, and the wife actually fell asleep during this one. ouch.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Minimalist's Noir; For Jarmusch Fans Only
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 11/28/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I am not a big fan of Jim Jarmusch. I really liked two of his films, though - "Night on Earth" and "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai." The story was thin, but I really liked those fascinating characters he portrayed in them, especially Winona Ryder's taxi driver and Forest Whitaker's hitman. And the soundtrack is always unique.
In "Limits of Control" you meet "Lone Man," a mysterious unnamed man (played by Isaach De Bankolé), who is, it is suggested, about to do something criminal. The film is set in Spain and the man meets other mysterious characters, sometimes exchanges matchboxes, and continues to travel.
You may call Jarmusch's new film experimental. Or something like, "a mystery film without mystery" or perhaps a minimalist's noir. I like the idea itself. A certain film genre has a set of rules that have been repeated so long, and it is good to see those rules played out in an unexpected way, like some great European film directors such as Aki Kaurismäki.
Having said that, I must say the results of the cinematic experiments don't have to be boring. I know the film is not about story or characters, and I think I know some of the references to other films, but sorry, to me, quite honestly, "Limits of Control" was just dull. The cinematography by Christopher Doyle is certainly worth seeing, and it is good to see many familiar faces in Jim Jarmusch films (including Kudoh Yuki), but the film is strictly for avid Jim Jarmusch fans. "
avoraciousreader | Somewhere in the Space Time Continuum | 05/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Limits of Control dir Jim Jarmusch 2009
5* Haunting neo-noir
I just saw a preview of this film last night, and ... wow. Very Jarmuschian, very Doyle'ish. Yes, legendary Wong Kar-Wai cinematographer Chris Doyle shot this, and it was an inspired fit. Visually, the film is beautiful as we tour Spain from the cities to the remote country, yet at the same time brooding and ominous.
Which was suitable, since the overall effect of this film is definitely noir. Mysterious goings on, presumably unlawful; suspenseful music; a morally ambiguous central character; the aforementioned brooding and ominous landscape; even a flamenco rehearsal reminiscent of the almost obligatory nightclub scenes in classic noir.
Structurally, the film is simple. A Lone Man (played with impeccable detachment by Isaach De Bankole') arrives in Madrid. He is contacted, given brief and cryptic instructions, and goes on to make the next contact. At each stage, he orders two espressos, "in separate cups", opens a matchbox to find a folded square of paper with a few numbers and letters on it (coordinates?), which he memorizes and destroys; he has some task such as "find the violin"; he hangs out for a while, always ordering two separate espressos, until he is contacted, given a pass phrase; has a few cryptic words and exchanges his matchbox for a new one, and sets off on the next phase. At each stage there is a small cast of sharply drawn characters, cameos really ... the flamenco performers; or a cafe waiter impatient with his habits; or the beautiful, naked, and seemingly very willing (though we're never sure just what game she's playing), young woman (Paz de la Huerta) who shows up in his hotel room. Few, if any, characters other than the Lone Man are here for more than a few minutes.
This structure seems like it should quickly get tedious, but instead the tension builds palpably. What, we wonder, is really going on, even as we are presented with a few clues. Why all the complex charades? Is this criminal, political, or...? Fortunately, we eventually do get to resolution of sorts, although a suitably ambiguous and head scratching one. I know I'm definitely looking forward to a chance to view this one again."
The Limits of (your) Patience and Perseverance
Robert B | toronto | 12/27/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Well. An important hint is given in the supplementary feature by director Jim Jarmusch. When asked about the movie, he explains it in terms of everything it's not (except the naked babe): action, explosions, chases, naked babe etc...in reality, the movie could be described as the anti-action-mystery-movie. I would have to conclude that it is intended as a parody of the type of movie he describes, or possibly as the inverse of such a movie. A stone-faced, mostly silent mystery man wends his way through Spain, exchanges mysterious matchboxes with various characters who spout banal juvenile philosophical observations approximately equivalent in depth to, for example, 'How long is a short string?' or 'How many bubbles in a bar of soap?', even though these specific examples are not used. (Jarmusch is free to use them if making a remake - I do not claim copyright). The Silent Traveler receives cryptic notes in each matchbox he receives; he glances at these notes and then eats them. I presume they give instructions to reach his next meeting - and he must be a really quick read, because I would find them very difficult to remember - where he will exchange matchboxes again, etc etc. At each of these many meetings, he is asked (in Spanish) if he speaks Spanish. Between such meetings, big black helicopters occasionally pass over or hover nearby. And yes, there are Corporate bad guys. Now what all this means, other than being an anti-movie I will not speculate, other than to make the observation that it is paralyzingly boring, rather like the Warhol movie entitled, I think, Sleep, whereupon a man is photographed sleeping for 8 hours, or 24 hours, or whatever. I bought this movie because of some terrible opinions I heard about it (I'm like that), or maybe just because of the naked lady, and I must say I can't say I was misled. The single star granted is for the cinematography (Christopher Doyle - he never disappoints), which is excellent and would have been worth more stars in itself but for the fact that the 'story' negated any extra stars due for the camera work. "
The intervals between events, the thriller minus the thrills
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 12/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Limits of control is fascinating to watch. A delightful merging of the elliptical minimalism of Jim Jarmusch and the dreamlike fascination of Chris Doyle's camera. Both mundane and surreal. Restrained and frenetic.
The lone man gets a message. He follows up and waits. He gets another message. Same thing twice, and then again; repetition with variation.
Some messengers ruminate on art and life and meaning. Another strips bare. The lone man says nothing, or not much, and does everything always the same way. He wears monochrome suits. Tai chi, every morning. Sits in an outdoor cafe. Two espressos, separate cups. He visits a museum, and contemplates a single painting. The art of waiting.
We know nothing. There may be nothing to know.
Not for everyone. Elliptical and elusive. Still, beautiful strange. I liked, a lot.
Note: there are a few intriguing extras on the dvd, but the little documentary following Jim Jarmusch around as he makes the film was a bit of a disappointment. He's a brilliant filmmaker, who says a lot by saying very little. When he is pressed to speak, however, for the purposes of the short documentary, he ends up saying nothing very interesting. If he could say it, I guess, he wouldn't need to make a film of it - but, more likely, you can't expect much of anyone on the spot when you shove a camera in their face, and he doesn't seem the type to like sounding profound. The documentary is more interesting when instead of asking Jarmusch or Chris Doyle to speak, it shows them in action, doing their thing. It did, also, convey the satisfying impression that the "waiting around, not doing much, only occasionally acting, or being struck by an idea" that characterizes most of what Jarmusch tries to depict in his films is in fact what mostly happens on his sets."
The Limits of Visual Narrative
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 05/09/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Limits" DOES tell a story. It has a plot, almost the same plot really as many films about assassination. An impassive, relentless,'professional' hit man is commissioned by a syndicate to kill a big shot of another syndicate. The 'hit' requires him to make contact witha series of strangers who present him with crucial info, presumably about the location of his target. The strangers are bizarre. The mission proceeds to its climax, as it has been obvious that it would from the first scene.
However, there's no explication. No context. We have no idea who wants whom killed, or for what reason, and we never learn. Likewise, we have no reason to care, no favorites as it were, no complicating empathy for the killer or sympathy for his target. The whole verbal script for this film could be typed on a single flash card, and if its insistent repetitions were deleted, half the flash card would be blank. There is nothing in this film to engage the viewer's involvement. It's a pure ballet of cinematography, a narrative as abstract as a painting by Mondrian.
In other words, it's a tour de force by director Jim Jarmusch, a manifestation of his "limits" of cinematic control. An experiment in which the viewer is the arbiter of success, as of course the viewer must be. If it works for you, it works. Period. I rather suspect that the vast majority of viewers will denounce this film as boring beyond belief, and for them, it surely is. I stayed the course, as cold-bloodedly as the killer did. I've given MYSELF five stars for perseverance in the quest for artistry."