'Travelling at Night With Jim Jarmusch': Film Review
Jim Jarmusch and the vampires of 'Only Lovers Left Alive.'
Acting less like a fly on the wall than a cat stalking the periphery of human activity, Lea Rinaldi's Travelling at Night With Jim Jarmusch observes the artist at work but neither interacts with his cast and crew nor imposes a manufactured conceit onto footage of their labor. Following the director and his Only Lovers Left Alive cast as they shoot both the Detroit and Tangier sections of his seductive vampire tale, it offers insight into the helmer's on-set style. Shown here alongside Behind Jim Jarmusch, Rinaldi's look at the making of Limits of Control, the doc is a treat for fans of the indie auteur.
It will come as no surprise to longtime observers that Jarmusch is extremely attentive to the composition of each shot, often suggesting that a framing would be more beautiful if it captured this or that detail. He notes that the angle of Tom Hiddleston's reclining head "is like a Mantegna painting or something," and elsewhere suggests the actor reposition the oud he's holding, lest it look too much like he's displaying it for the camera.
But fans may be intrigued to see how much of the film is composed on the fly, with scenes being rewritten between takes. Behaving like the musician he sometimes is, Jarmusch advises co-star Tilda Swinton that her delivery in one scene will be "the guide track" setting its pace, with shots of Hiddleston laid into her pauses. We watch as a fluidly moving handheld shot is choreographed, with Swinton seeing how much she can move while remaining beautifully framed, and as crew members repeatedly spill a silver flask of fake blood to watch how it flows out over the carpet.
Rinaldi offers no shots of preproduction; she never asks her subjects to explain anything to the camera. As the title suggests, she's only interested in trailing the filmmaker as he makes his most nocturnal movie since Night on Earth. As with the story's protagonists, who sometimes speak of the sun but never see it, Rinaldi only acknowledges the day obliquely at the end — as Jarmusch's crew wraps the film's final scene, lugging its gear up through the Tangier medina as a hint of dawn creeps into the sky.
Production company: Lea Films
Director-director of photography: Lea Rinaldi
Producers: Lea Rinaldi, Stephane Plat, Juliette Touin
Editor: Aurelien Manya
Composer: Squrl, Jozef Van Wissem, Yasmine Hamdam
Venue: First Look Festival, Museum of the Moving Image, New York City
Not rated, 47 minutes