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The Limits of Control (2009)

The Limits of Control (2009)

Isaach De BankoléAlex DescasJean-François StéveninÓscar Jaenada
Jim Jarmusch


The Limits of Control (2009) is a English,Spanish,Arabic,French,Japanese movie. Jim Jarmusch has directed this movie. Isaach De Bankolé,Alex Descas,Jean-François Stévenin,Óscar Jaenada are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2009. The Limits of Control (2009) is considered one of the best Crime,Drama,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

A solitary man who does not speak Spanish is an underground courier. Two men who are both thuggish and philosophical send him to Madrid with cryptic instructions. Over the course of a few days, he receives his instructions from a series of distinctive individuals who provide words of philosophy or of warning and also give him a matchbox with a tiny piece of paper, which he reads then eats, accompanied by espresso served in two cups. He is quiet, self-contained, focused on his work. He has rules. He encounters and at times transmits a violin, diamonds, a guitar, and a map. Is he a smuggler? Merely an independent conduit? Or, something else?


The Limits of Control (2009) Reviews

  • A Zen Masterpiece!


    Sit back, open your mind, watch the magical pictures genius cinematographer Chris Doyle paints and let Jarmusch take you to a new world. This movie is an instant classic, uncompromisingly inviting the viewer to fill in the blanks while being enchanted and entertained. When the lights came up at the end of the screening, I wanted it to go on for hours more. Of course it can be hard work staying with such a quiet, obscure plot, but anyone who walks into a Jarmusch expecting Crank 2 is bound to be disappointed. Comparisons with Dead Man are inescapable, but possibly have been overemphasized... The Limits are a very different animal: Visually, the potent use of color alone, sets it far apart (Theories on the use of dark orange, anyone?) and -despite appearances- I think Limits is a far darker vision. The repetition of the "La vida no vale nada"-poem is a reminder of a deep angst and deliberate struggle with meaninglessness at the heart of the story. Isaach De Bankole's stunning features serve as an anchor throughout, although I found his carefully one-note, almost robotic performance a bit too much in some scenes. This would be my only real criticism. -The fact that the Lone man takes himself so seriously had me longing for a moment of humanity, self-deprecation or exhaustion every now and then, just to keep the audience with him and stop his extreme of cool from sliding off into seeming arch. He presents a superego without an id or an ego- Romance or passion are foreign to him, physical needs don't go beyond caffeine and tai-chi. He doesn't even sleep. Seemingly representing the cinema-goer entering the film, the protagonist enters the foreign world of Spain. Observing, receiving information, never responding, never engaging- except to destroy a cell phone. (Nice hint, Mr Jarmusch!) He is presented with philosophical ideas from every person he meets, but never replies. Just like an audience can only engage with any film it sees internally. The final act -and only real action- of the film could be read as the conscious choice to not submit to the controlling, disillusioned machine of "Hollywood cinema", but to limit it's control and remain true to the potentially illusionary values presented by his matchbox-giving guides. To deliberately choose a subjective path less traveled by. Every conversation -or rather monologue- is left hanging in the air and begs to be continued in the viewers mind. Tilda Swinton, looking futuristically sexy yet classical in her role as a sort of incarnation of cinema, tears open the meta-reality especially far when she lightly observes how much she likes people sitting silently in films. Followed by a spell of the characters sitting silently on screen. Notably, she is the only one who gives Lone Man more than just a note. Her matchbox contains diamonds as well, as if Jarmusch wants to say: "Science, music, sex etc all give me something, but film is where I am given the most precious thing." As his surroundings change from modernist Madrid, to Gothic Seville, to the bare bones of the Andalusian desert it is as if the Lone Man is traveling backwards in time, absorbing, with every encounter, one of the trappings of an artistic/ bohemian life that stands in the against the idea of societal control: Concepts of music, films, sex, hallucinogens are each absorbed with the ingestion of the papers in the matchboxes. His final encounter with the Bill Murray character erases the personification of control itself, in the form of a corporate/political caricature of the ultimate freudian father figure, leaving the Lone Man at a point of rebirth as he finally takes off his silk suit and fades into the embracing mass of humanity... His final matchbox note is blank. -No more control. The poetic sensitivity, originality and sheer ambitiousness of this movie make me want to get down on my knees and thank Mr Jarmusch and Focus Features for making it. We need more films like this!

  • Quickest review you've ever seen


    I'm not going to waste anyone's time with subjective yammering, whether it be positive ("a cinematic tour de force!") or negative ("pretentious artsy fluff!") because, let's face it, those comments don't mean squat to anyone but the person saying it. Instead, just rifle through this list of movies and if you liked any of them, you'll probably like this movie. "Tetro" (director Francis Ford Coppola, 2009), "Broken Flowers" (director Jim Jarmusch, 2005), "Before It Had a Name" (director Giada Colagrande, 2005), "A Scene at the Sea" (director Takeshi Kitano, 1991), "Der Himmel über Berlin" a.k.a. "Wings of Desire" (director Wim Wenders, 1987), "Paris, Texas" (director Wim Wenders, 1984). If you haven't heard of, or seen, any of those then just bear in mind that "Limits of Control", like the movies mentioned above, is very slow, almost uneventful, without a lot of revealing dialogue to carry the story. These stories are told in images, and it can be a real challenge keeping up, not because there are a lot of crazy twists and turns, but because there's almost nothing. I could sum up the plot of this movie in 8 words: "a day in the life of a hit-man". But if you're up for a challenge, give it a shot.

  • A film lover's dream


    This is a tough picture to review, although I can really only come to one conclusion: you have to watch it for yourself. Jim Jarmusch based it on the idea of making an "action movie without action", and I think that's pretty accurate. The film follows a mysterious man around Spain, where he meets with even more mysterious contacts and exchanges secret messages. Clearly he is on a mission, a dangerous and illegal one. But what is his job? Who does he work for? These questions will keep you on the edge of your seat. All the ingredients of a frantic crime thriller are there, yet the film keeps a slow pace. What exactly is going on here? Never has it been so thrilling, beautiful, and entertaining to watch a man walk around. The audience never knows what to expect, everything could be significant. In contrast, the mysterious man never hesitates, everything he does is carefully planned and executed, according to plan. Clearly, someone is pulling the strings. Someone, somewhere, is "in control". The camera, however, focuses on this man, one cogwheel in a large machinery. You're always aware that you only see part of the picture, that everything would make sense if you could just zoom out and know a little more. "The Limits of Control" plays with a lot of established film clichés, and it teases you with your expectations. You are familiar with the form Hollywood movies have converged to over the past decades, how they are put together and what they have in common. Mainstream productions carefully avoid surprising their audience because after all, some of them could be disappointed or irritated. You think you know what you're up against, because you've seen it before. But "The Limits of Control" will fool you. It does not care about conventions, it tells the story it wants to. However, this means that the film actually expects you to have been spoiled by the countless movies you've seen. It helps to know a few things about film genres and eras, but it is downright essential to have seen a number of common spy movies, action flicks, mystery thrillers. If you're not familiar with the narrative conventions used in movies, you will most likely not get the point. This made me wonder whether it is acceptable to recommend a movie if it cannot be thoroughly enjoyed without having that kind of film experience beforehand. But in the end, movies are always about one thing: whether you will have a good time watching it. And I think it must have been years since I last left a theater so delighted. The thing is that this wouldn't be the movie you show your friend who is only just starting to develop an interest in films. For those who have been devouring movies for some time, who know a thing or two about their strengths and weaknesses, and the way they tell stories, this film is an incredible piece of art. In any case, it does however require an open mind because it might initially be hard to "keep up" with the slowness of the movie. But if you can cope with anything more sophisticated than a Michael Bay movie, you should do fine. Just don't expect to have the story and all the explanations shoved down your throat. Half of the movie takes place in your head, because you are trying to make sense of what is happening. In more technical aspects, De Bankolé gives a breathtaking performance. At first it might not seem like he's doing much, but then you realize how perfectly every move, every look, every word, spoken or unspoken, fits the scene. The film's mystery is built on his presence, and it must have been a terrible pressure to carry so much responsibility for the atmosphere of the movie. The result is a lead character that is several times cooler than any babbling wiseacre (à la Pulp Fiction) could ever be. I was also amazed by the appearances of Tilda Swinton and John Hurt. Not only their characters, but also their lines which are symbolic for the level this movie works on. You know how movie reviewers sometimes have to look for that perfect moment for a screen capture? A frame that is beautiful to look at and, without any motion or dialog, is able to give readers an idea of the movie's style? It must be a hell of a task for this film, because you could take such a frame from almost any of the scenes. It is in this consistently high quality, in any area, that the experience of Jarmusch as a filmmaker really shows. Every moment, every scene is carefully set up, perfectly composed and just beautiful to look at, like a picture in itself. Every word spoken is deeply meaningful, almost every sentence is a one-line word of wisdom or food for thought. Sounds are carefully used, as are the minimal musical snippets. Often, there is just a very poignant silence. I suppose that if you are trying to decide whether you are going to watch this movie, having heard what people say about it, you wonder whether you will be disappointed in the end, whether it will just be a succession of pointless scenes. This was also my concern, but I promise that you won't feel cheated in the end. I don't care for posh movies that try to be as "artsy" as possible just for the heck of it; "The Limits of Control" is genuinely entertaining, and it is as much a part of traditional cinema as it is a reflection upon it. It is a minimal thriller, a mystery feature in the true sense of the word. You will think, you will theorize, and you will simply enjoy taking in the sights and sounds. The dream-like feel, the questions, the thoughts will accompany you for a long time after you have left the theater.

  • Brilliant cinematography, but not much else.


    I really enjoy some of Jim Jarmusch's work (Night on Earth, Mystery Train and Dead Man), and I thought that I would like this film based on the story (or lack thereof) and the soundtrack, however, I was quite disappointed. The film is very slow, and while this can work and be beneficial to the plot, I think that it dragged on far too long in this instance. There was a lot going on visually, which made up for the slowness to a degree, but it seemed as if there was too much time to take it all in. I felt myself noticing the same things over and over in various shots/scenes, because there wasn't anything else to do besides look, which made me feel like I was staring at the film more so than actually watching it. As for the soundtrack, I am a fan of some of the artists on it (Boris, Sunn, Earth, etc.), which is part of the reason I wanted to see this film initially. Because these bands can have a very slow, droney sound, I was very interested to see how the mood of the music would work with the tone of the film. I expected the two to compliment each other, but instead, the soundtrack just made everything drag on. Because the film progressed as such a slow pace, I assumed that it was leading up to a grand climax, but the film's culmination barely stood out. I will say that I admired the film from a technical aspect, and I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces from Jarmusch's earlier work, but I don't think I'll ever watch it again.

  • A film of mystery and silence


    It has been said that God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose perimeter is nowhere. In the beautiful and enigmatic The Limits of Control, director Jim Jarmusch puts it this way, "The universe has no center and no edges" and, "everything is subjective", or "reality is arbitrary". Based on a script of only twenty five pages, The Limits of Control is about an immaculately dressed but emotionally frozen hit man (Isaach de Bankolé) who goes from place to place awaiting further instructions. He has no overview of the entire game plan but waits for his next move whenever he meets the next contact. Set in Madrid and Seville as well as some isolated villages in the South of Spain, the cinematography by Christopher Doyle, who has worked extensively with Wong Kar-wai, is filled with elegantly-composed images of dark streets, barren landscapes, city skylines, and world class paintings. Getting his instructions at the airport before leaving for Madrid from Creole, played by the French actor Alex Descas, de Bankolé is told simply to go to a café and look for the violin. Further instructions come from various people he meets along the way in the form of a greeting "you don't speak Spanish, right?" and the exchange of matchboxes, one of which contains a curious code which the hit man simply eats. De Bankolé hardly ever speaks other than to say "yes" or "no." We learn little about him other than he prefers two cups of espresso served in separate cups and that he practices Tai Chi. We also discover that he likes women because we can see that he is tempted by the naked beauty Paz de la Huerta who suddenly appears in his hotel room. Although he openly admires her backside, he tells her that he never engages in sex while he is working (though I've never seen anyone who is working do such little work). As de Bankolé goes from location to location, each scene becomes a variation of the one that came before. Included are some provocative sequences such as repeated visits to an art gallery in Madrid, and a scene inside a bar in which de Bankolé watches a rehearsal of an exquisite flamenco dance in which the singer delivers dialogue from the first scene of the film warning us like some spiritual guru about the limits of ego. "Those who think they are important", he sings, "wind up in a cemetery – a handful of dust". Along the way, we are introduced to some of recognizable stars. Tilda Swinton in a platinum wig, white cowboy hat, and boots talks about film noir, saying how she admires characters that never speak. Luis Tosar talks about musical instruments. Youki Kudoh speaks about molecular reconfiguration and the things that are possible in science. John Hurt tells us about the origins of the word "bohemian". Gael Garcia Bernal talks about how consciousness can be altered by psychoactive drugs like Peyote. Finally, Bill Murray as the ugly American corporatist says that our minds have become polluted by all of the subjects that have been previously discussed. Supported by a soundtrack of electronic music by the trio Boris, The Limits of Control is a film of mystery and silence and unexpected twists that is about the power of imagination and poetry to operate without arbitrarily imposed limits. Sensing that we are in a period of change, Jarmusch says, "I almost feel like we're really on the cusp of an apocalypse of thought because all of these old models that they tell us are reality are all crumbling." What the "apocalypse of thought" will look like is uncertain but the film has a hypnotic, dreamlike quality that challenges the distinction between what is real and what is a product of the mind. In the film's final sequence, de Bankolé surveys a compound guarded by masked security officers with guns. The next minute, we see him inside the compound confronting the object of his search. When asked how he got in, he simply replies, "I used my imagination." If you want to know how that occurs, I would echo the film's message and say – use your imagination. That's all that there is anyway.


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