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Directed by Jim Jarmusch

United States 1989 110 mins. In English

Jarmusch fashions a triptych of stories centered around Memphis’s Arcade Hotel while tapping into the intensely American mythology of Elvis and the birth of mainstream rock ‘n’ roll. Two Japanese teenagers (Masatoshi Nagase and Youki Kudoh) tour Memphis and Sun Studios; a newly-widowed Italian woman (Nicoletta Braschi) prepares to leave Memphis to return her deceased husband’s body to Rome; and a lost, burgeoning rock ‘n’ roll singer (The Clash’s Joe Strummer) goes on a bender with two locals (Steve Buscemi and Rick Aviles). Meanwhile, the Arcade’s desk manager, played by the amazing Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, amusedly looks over these diverse dramas. Beautifully languid and shot through with bursts of deep color (cinematography by longtime Jarmusch collaborator Robby Müller), Mystery Train is a key film of the 1980s and one of Jarmusch’s finest.

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Appears in: Robby Müller Tribute