Tag Archives: Indie Films

Down by Law


Recently I discovered the world of torrent downloads thanks to my friend Naun Amable. We were camping in the jungle as part of an expedition doing research on birds. Every night when it got dark he went to his tent and I could hear him laughing out loud, so I asked what was he watching and he showed me his film collection. There I learned about film downloads. I also copied all the ones I liked from him.

I started downloading films I really like that are hard to get pirate. For those of you who don’t know it in Peru you can get movies way before they hit the screen on a pirate DVD for 1$! But this applies to big Hollywood films mainly. Even though there are a few pirate places that specialise on “weird” films, indie films. But even there is hard to find what you are looking for. I remember once I went to El Hueco (the Hole), a huge market of pirate DVDs in downtown Lima, 2 blocks from the Congress. I was looking for Apocalypse Now! and as I asked around I was lead to the Religious film alley where they showed me other films about  apocalypse I wans’t really interested on. Funnier than that might be the fact that the Religious alley was right in front of the Porn alley, as in a confrontation to see who wins the battle. But what battle?

Oh my, I drifted…

Yesterday I downloaded “Down by Law”, a film by Jim Jarmusch that is very hard to find. I hadn’t seen it in a long time so watching it was like discovering it again. The film is from 1986, is shot in black & white by cinematographer Robby Muller (Buena Vista Social Club, Dancer in the Dark, Dead Man) and stars Tom Waits (yes, Tom Waits the musician), John Lurie and Roberto Benigni (who most people remember from “Life is Beautiful”).

The movie is set in New Orleans and is a slow paced story, a constant in Jarmusch’s films, about 3 strangers (Waits, Lurie and Benigni) who end up in the same prison cell. Waits plays a bad luck disc jockey with a “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop” attitude who is dumped by his girlfriend and later is set up by the police. Lurie plays a coming-up pimp with a tendency to “fuck-up things”, who is also framed. The only thing both have in common is that they are innocent. And Benigni is a tourist with a very limited english vocabulary and a need to talk a lot which contrasts with his 2 jailmates who are very quiet. Ironically he is there for killing a man.

The movie focuses on the relation of these 3 characters and their escape from prison.  But I don’t wanna give the story away (which makes me think how do real film critics do on their reviews to tell you about a film without giving it away?). But I guess I just wanted to say what a wonderful film this is, it makes me laugh so hard in some scenes (specially Benigni’s if you understand a little italian) and the photography is wonderful and the story is like life. I love how Jarmusch finishes his films, without the need for a big wrap up as in Hollywood films, it’s just the end. It’s not the kind of films that tries to leave a moral with you, what matters is the actual story. And the story is one of friendship I guess.

If you don’t know Jim Jarmusch he is regarded as one of the fathers of Independent film making in the US for Stranger than Paradise (1982). Other films that I love of his are Night On Earth, Dead Man, Coffee and Cigarettes and Ghost Dog: The way of the Samurai.


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