Directed by Jim Jarmusch’s

  Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Bill Murray



The Limits of Control



The good news is, The Magic Lantern, Spokane’s art house, reopened last week.  The bad news is that they opened with Jim Jarmusch’s new film “The Limits of Control.”


“The Limits of Control” reminds me of the films I used to see by would-be filmmakers in the 1960s, in which endlessly repetitive scenes were repeated ad nauseum, from each of which you were supposed to get more and more information from each repetition, until, I believe, the filmmaker had given you everything you needed to make the connection between the person on screen and you.  It was like filling a page with the same words, page after page, and calling it a novel.


“The Limits of Control,” Jim Jarmusch’s new film, who in fact has made some films that I actually like, including

Ghost  Dog” (1999) and “Night on Earth” (1991), has evidently decided to remove anything in “The Limits of Control” that might intrigue us or appeal to us in any way, so that what he ends up with is absolutely unendurable.


A gorgeous young man (isaach De Bankolé), sits at a cafe in Madrid, orders two espressos in two different cups, and waits.  And waits.  And waits.  Until someone comes along, sits down and asks him in Spanish, “You don’t speak Spanish, do you?”  and hands him a matchbook.  Isaach then hands him a similar matchbook filled with diamonds.  The person leaves.  Isaach opens his matchbook and finds a note folded inside it which apparently tells him where to go next.  He swallows the note.


He goes there, sits at a cafe, orders two espressos in two cups, waits for someone else to come along, ask him “You don’t speak Spanish, do you?” they exchange matchbooks and the same thing happens.

Occasionally he goes to the Prado, for relief I guess, to look at certain paintings, then it’s off by plane or train to his next assignation.  Each one takes him to a smaller city, then to an isolated villa, then by foot to, I believe, a gangster’s own well-guarded lair.


He is not interested in sex, he speaks only when spoken to, for some reason he has enlisted A-list actors who are seen in episodes here, including Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Bill Murray, but the fact is no one can save this movie.  He’s even got the great Hong Kong cinemtographer Christopher Doyle to shoot the film.  However, nothing can save this movie, even the ability to speak Spanish.