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Monday, May 22, 2017


I saw the Jim Jarmusch film "Paterson," featuring poems by Ron Padgett.  It is sweetly comical and inoffensive, with some cute visual and literary motifs running through, and proposes an easy relation between poetry and everyday life. There's a very sweet little poem written by the character of a young girl the main character, a bus driver named Paterson who lives in Paterson, runs into on the street.  The movie lacks dramatic conflict, and the few times it moves in that direction, the conflict is defused. For example, the gun in the bar scene turns out to be a toy.  There aren't many movies about poetry, and this one is different from all other ones because poetry here is not tragic, pretentious, or stentorian.


Thomas said...

You are right that is lacks dramatic conflict. But it seemed full of dramatic tension. It suggested a series of familiar movies around conflicts that never materialized. There was a gang of thugs. A possible affair. Money problems. And of course the incident in the bar you mentioned. To me, this made the movie "poetic" or "lyrical". Ben Lerner and Kate Greenstreet hint of a definition of poetry = narrative - story = emotion.

Lerner: "The portion of the story that remains after the other components have been dissolved by churning. The woman attends the night game to watch the snow fall near the lights. Only the body of the protagonist is undergoing change. A whistle sweeps the town of meaning." (from Angle of Yaw)

Greenstreet: "A collection of this character's chapbooks form the manuscript case sensitive, my attempt to make the kind of mystery I'd like to read, with all the stuff that I don't need (the murder, etc.) removed." ("Dusting for Prints", fn)

Paterson has that quality. A mystery with the murder (you don't need) removed. Only the body of the protagonist (Paterson) is undergoing change. You feel it.

It's a good question what the actual of emotion of the movie is. Paterson seems mildly depressed. A picture in his house suggests he was once a soldier. Could the underlying emotion be PTSD?

Jonathan said...

I would call that sweet melancholy and wistfulness. He meets adversity with resignation rather than anger. He doesn't lead a life of quiet desperation and the Fugsyou think well Jack his dog turn out to be friendly white kids pretending to be thug's in their convertible. The characters have no past and sweet fantasies for the future. Do you have a cupcake business, A literally sweet dream and to be an Iranian country music star. You feel that one pharmacy will come true and the other want