I watched Down By Law tonight. Many people have told me that this is Jarmusch's best movie. I'm not convinced of that yet (still some I haven't seen), but it's a good one. There is less tension in this film than there is in Coffee and Cigarettes or Mystery Train, where the stretches of silence can really get to you if you're in an impatient mood. For one thing, there's just a lot more dialogue I think.
And it's great dialogue. I admire writers that can do the absurdity of everyday conversation. People say crazy things, and they say it in a perfectly normal tone of voice. Sometimes they are just trying to be funny, sometimes they are trying to fill the silence, sometimes they lose their train of thought, sometimes they are in their own world. Often the jumbling sentences include cliches. This is common but it's very hard to write.
Two of my favorite bits from Down By Law:
"America is a melting pot, because when you bring it to a boil, all the scum rises to the top." (paraphrased a bit)
"Cigarettes won't help with hiccups, not in this country."
The second line was said to Roberto Benigni, whose character doesn't speak much English. He speaks a lot of Italian. I wish I knew Italian. Watching this film knowing Italian would be a different experience.
Hang on, I wonder if there are supposed to be subtitles and I just can't see them because I'm using mplayer to play the DVD? I'll assume not.
I think the Coen brothers borrowed a bit from this movie for O Brother. I'm not sure why I think that. Prison escapees on a journey, I guess.