Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Ralph Cramden was a bus driver who wore a uniform and carried a lunch box to work. Paterson (Adam Driver) the lead character of Jim Jarmusch's Paterson drives a number 23 bus which emanates from the Market Street garage. Paterson who loves the poetry of William Carlos Williams, a one time denizen of Paterson, is a poet who also reads Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems when he's eating the sandwich prepared by his exotic wife Laura—by the way the name of the beloved object of Petrarch’s sonnets. The film starts off with the creation of an ode to a box of Ohio Blue Tip matches that reside in Paterson’s house and much of the domestically oriented love poetry which appears on the screen as Jarmusch’s character creates it, comes courtesy of Ron Padgett. Paterson lives in a world of connections. His wife who has a free floating design sensibility makes clothes in the same black and white pattern that she does her cupcakes. Everywhere he goes he see twins. Needless to say, Jarmusch is probing the development of a poetic sensibility. As Paterson’s bus travels past industrial buildings in blue collar neighborhoods, he’s a cipher for experience, which is predicated on a good deal of repetition. Everyday he stops at the same watering hole in the course of walking Marvin, his irrepressible bull terrier. The bar itself is a paen to all the locals who have achieved celebrity like Lou Costello of Abbott and Costello fame. Ruben Hurricane Carter another Paterson native is discussed by two kids riding a bus and Allen Ginsberg is another Paterson poet who receives mention.The filmmaker himself demonstrates a good deal of visual poetry; for instance an early profile shot of Paterson renders a point of view that’s not his protagonist’s line of site. But as a repository for all the perception about poets, poetry and reality, the character Driver plays is emotionally dead or deadpan. His poet is disconnected and it’s not clear if this is an affect or something more profound. The movie is also curiously chaste. The are loads of scenes of Paterson and Laura in bed, but there’s neither sex nor sexuality in their encounters. Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Cramden was no poet, but there was more poetry in his Alceste like personality, rife as it was with contradictions and passions, than in the forlorn self-deprecating spirit portrayed in the film, who, through a chain of untoward events, ends up having to bite his own tongue.

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