Jim Jarmusch films at kino Aero

The cult director's latest film is slated for New Year's Eve

So what do you do in that week between Boxing Day and New Year's Day, aside from pretend to work and in between drink some of your presents? Kino Aero in Prague's Žižkov district is having a retrospective of eight films by cult director Jim Jarmusch, starting Dec. 28 and running until Dec. 31.

Jarmusch has long been an advocate of independent cinema made on a moderate budget and not following the standard patterns of Hollywood blockbusters. Most of his films are interesting, though he does take a slow-paced and deliberate approach, and often follow a rigid formal structure. Over the years he has worked with a number of interesting stars, and also often casts musicians in acting roles.

The mini-festival ends with his latest fiction film, Paterson, which has one screening before its wider release Jan. 5.

Paterson screens at 8:30 pm on New Year's Eve for those who want an alternative to going to a bar or the street. The film is quite a change of pace from most recent cinema, as Jarmusch said he wanted to do something based on characters with a minimum of violence, special effects and action. The main character is an amateur poet and bus driver who looks back to the times that poets like William Carlos Williams wrote about New Jersey, where the film takes place.

While the festival is not comprehensive, it does start with Jarmusch's first film, the seldom seen 1980 effort Permanent Vacation, made just after the director while studying at New York University. The film, which won the Josef von Sternberg Award at the 1980 Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival, was shot in New York with a cast of unknowns on a budget of $12,000.

The second film on Dec. 28 is Mystery Train from 1989. The film tells three stories taking place in and around some rundown locations in Memphis, Tennessee. Musicians Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer figure among the cast. The film was a hit with critics and at film festivals.

Thursday, Dec. 29, has two of the director's better-known efforts. Stranger than Paradise, from 1984, brought the director to international attention. The minimalist comedy is about a woman who comes to the US from Hungary and spends time with her irresponsible cousin and his friend. The film won several prizes including the Caméra d'Or award for debut films at the Cannes film festival.

The second film on Dec. 29 is Dead Man, from 1995. It got mixed reviews when it came out but was later hailed as one of the best films of the 1990s. The odd western stars Johnny Depp and has appearances by Iggy Pop and Crispin Glover, and music by Neil Young. It tried to create a more accurate depiction of the Old West by moving away from genre cliches and stereotypes. Depp's character finds himself jobless and without any good prospects after a misunderstanding that caused him to travel across the US for a job that was already taken. He winds up going on a somewhat spiritual journey instead.

The films on Friday, Dec. 30, are a bit lighter in tone. Coffee and Cigarettes, from 2003, is another anthology film, with 11 stories and a large cast. All of the segment involve the two title item. A standout part features Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. This was filmed as short in 1993 and won the Short Film Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Jack and Meg White of the band the White Stripes turn up in a segment about a Tesla coil, and in another segment Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright attempt a conversation.

The second film that night is Down By Law, from 1986. It features Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni as three convicts together in a New Orleans jail who decide to escape into the nearby swamplands. The film was a hit with critics and was also helped launch Roberto Benigni outside of his native Italy.

On Saturday, Dec. 31, aside from the preview screening of Paterson there is Night on Earth, another anthology film with five segments all involving taxi rides in different cities. Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Rosie Perez are among the cast. Roberto Benigni appears in the Rome segment, making an unwanted confession to an unlucky priest.

A complete schedule can be found at www.kinoaero.cz (ENG)

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