The Limits of Control (15)

Film

Thrillers

709.fi.x491.limitsof.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>2</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Dec 8 2009

Let nobody claim that Jim Jarmusch isn’t a grand master of the ironic Zen shaggy-dog caper, in that every one of his eccentric films features bewildered men (rarely women) ambling down the road less travelled to locations of unclear significance. With ‘The Limits of Control’, his ode to John Boorman’s stark 1967 revenge thriller ‘Point Blank’, he has delivered a work of dazzling formal discipline that riffs on the simple notion of repetition and variation.

The film’s succession of cryptic encounters – involving Isaach de Bankolé as a steely, Melvillian lone gunman on a ‘mission’ in Spain – feel more like painstakingly sculpted stanzas of a poem than they do twists in some contrived yarn. Certainly, some will find Jarmusch’s convention-bending games a little testing, but in craftily withholding  so much information about where we’re headed (or, indeed, where we’ve come from), he forces us to work harder to find meaning in the film’s ambiguities. Why does De Bankolé keep visiting that gallery? Why does he always order two single espressos? What do the absurd outpourings of the supporting players – a white-haired Tilda Swinton musing on films and dreams, a scraggy John Hurt discussing the derivation of the term ‘bohemian’, etc – actually mean?

Jarmusch takes great pleasure in daring us to suppress our expectations of where pulp genre films are supposed to take us and the emotional cues they’re supposed to house. Being black, celibate and monosyllabic, De Bankolé’s criminal operative inverts all the usual trappings of the traditional screen gangster, and once you apply that rule to everything within the film’s exotic, strangely logical world (beautifully photographed by Chris Doyle), then its point will become clear.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Dec 11, 2009

Duration:

116 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|28
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Nas rose

One's reaction to and opinion of art (or anything) changes with age, mood, and expectation. Were I in the mood to be explicative, I would clarify why I use those 3 nouns, but at my age my expectation of readers of this type of site is that less words are more likely to be read and reflected upon. I could postulate on the intentions, references, homages that informed the director's film, but doing so is an exercise left to the young and analytic lovers of film; this film stands on its own - the viewer need not be informed to enjoy it. I glanced at the vitriol in other's reaction to this film. My comments are directed to them. The colors, contrasts, settings, character archetypes, physical movements of the characters, music, mysterious plot, action, scenery, emotion, and tempo are what makes this film great. For me it is the combined beautiful use of the above nouns, perhaps unexpected for many viewers, that I loved. Figuring out the motives and plot are not a mystery to be pondered such as in an emotion driven Lynch film. For me this film is free of the elements that shackle American studio movies, which have become mere product investments. The main character returns repeatedly to view works of art. I will do the same with this film.

Nas rose

One's reaction to and opinion of art (or anything) changes with age, mood, and expectation. Were I in the mood to be explicative, I would clarify why I use those 3 nouns, but at my age my expectation of readers of this type of site is that less words are more likely to be read and reflected upon. I could postulate on the intentions, references, homages that informed the director's film, but doing so is an exercise left to the young and analytic lovers of film; this film stands on its own - the viewer need not be informed to enjoy it. I glanced at the vitriol in other's reaction to this film. My comments are directed to them. The colors, contrasts, settings, character archetypes, physical movements of the characters, music, mysterious plot, action, scenery, emotion, and tempo are what makes this film great. For me it is the combined beautiful use of the above nouns, perhaps unexpected for many viewers, that I loved. Figuring out the motives and plot are not a mystery to be pondered such as in an emotion driven Lynch film. For me this film is free of the elements that shackle American studio movies, which have become mere product investments. The main character returns repeatedly to view works of art. I will do the same with this film.

Rod A

Hideously boring waste of time. Do yourself a favour and spend the evening looking at your neighbour's holiday snaps instead - I guarantee they will be more interesting................. I think that 99% of the budget must have been spent on John Hurt & Bill Murray's cameo appearances - what were they thinking of?

Rod A

Hideously boring waste of time. Do yourself a favour and spend the evening looking at your neighbour's holiday snaps instead - I guarantee they will be more interesting................. I think that 99% of the budget must have been spent on John Hurt & Bill Murray's cameo appearances - what were they thinking of?

Mark Pavey

Don't bother! I agree with all the one star raters here. The five star raters must be morons.

Mark Pavey

Don't bother! I agree with all the one star raters here. The five star raters must be morons.

az

one star - minus 1 star = the most tedious film I have seen in a long time.

az

one star - minus 1 star = the most tedious film I have seen in a long time.

Liv

This film thinks that it's intelligent.... it's not. If it's script had been more subtle it could have worked but the writing was like getting a brick to the face. Don't bother if you like 'mood and atmosphere' films as even though that's what it is the script will make you want to tear your hair out. Such a pity as the rest of it works but as the script is so in your face you can't let yourself be involved as readily as Jarmusch wants you to be. I left feeling irritated and twitchy.

Liv

This film thinks that it's intelligent.... it's not. If it's script had been more subtle it could have worked but the writing was like getting a brick to the face. Don't bother if you like 'mood and atmosphere' films as even though that's what it is the script will make you want to tear your hair out. Such a pity as the rest of it works but as the script is so in your face you can't let yourself be involved as readily as Jarmusch wants you to be. I left feeling irritated and twitchy.

Will

It's one of my favourite Jarmusch films to date. But it simply doesn't cater to mainstream tastes, hence the vitriolic responses on this site. As Jarmusch states quite clearly in the Time Out interview, this film is intended for a far smaller audience, who will find it extremely satisfying. There are many other directors whose work explores similar themes of perception and subjectivity, and are also unafraid to allude directly to other works of art in order to expand on their own preoccupations - directors whose films are finally more about mood and tone than prosaic meaning, and do not encourage the reductive psychological interpretations that perhaps resonate with the majority of viewers. José Luis Guerin and Eugene Green are two other contemporary directors whose films exemplify this, and they owe as much to literature and the visual arts as they do to their cinematic precursors. It is a film to be appreciated intuitively, not analytically, and I'm surprised that so few people were seduced by Chris Doyle's beautiful camerawork, along with the wonderfully sensual atmosphere. Of course, many critics have derided the derivative nature of some of Jarmusch's concerns, but the film's appeal lies in its expansive imagery, connections and variations; its atmosphere, not its conceptual originality.

Will

It's one of my favourite Jarmusch films to date. But it simply doesn't cater to mainstream tastes, hence the vitriolic responses on this site. As Jarmusch states quite clearly in the Time Out interview, this film is intended for a far smaller audience, who will find it extremely satisfying. There are many other directors whose work explores similar themes of perception and subjectivity, and are also unafraid to allude directly to other works of art in order to expand on their own preoccupations - directors whose films are finally more about mood and tone than prosaic meaning, and do not encourage the reductive psychological interpretations that perhaps resonate with the majority of viewers. José Luis Guerin and Eugene Green are two other contemporary directors whose films exemplify this, and they owe as much to literature and the visual arts as they do to their cinematic precursors. It is a film to be appreciated intuitively, not analytically, and I'm surprised that so few people were seduced by Chris Doyle's beautiful camerawork, along with the wonderfully sensual atmosphere. Of course, many critics have derided the derivative nature of some of Jarmusch's concerns, but the film's appeal lies in its expansive imagery, connections and variations; its atmosphere, not its conceptual originality.

PT

GFriend made me go and we both hated it. We walked out. I wanted my money back but didn't get it - really annoyed. Huge waste of time and money. GF should start grovelling now.

PT

GFriend made me go and we both hated it. We walked out. I wanted my money back but didn't get it - really annoyed. Huge waste of time and money. GF should start grovelling now.

MillE

This film portends to reach the great heights of the metaphysical plane and fails miserably and incredibly unspectacularly. The psychological and memory tricks, and general 'artiness' are shoved down your throat with about as much intelligence as possesed by the standard lump of clay. Unlike a lump of clay this film has no potential for entertainment or intellectual stimulation whatsoever. Seriously, don't waste your time or money.

MillE

This film portends to reach the great heights of the metaphysical plane and fails miserably and incredibly unspectacularly. The psychological and memory tricks, and general 'artiness' are shoved down your throat with about as much intelligence as possesed by the standard lump of clay. Unlike a lump of clay this film has no potential for entertainment or intellectual stimulation whatsoever. Seriously, don't waste your time or money.

Kate

Saw this at the festival; well, I saw maybe half of it. This was so bad that I fell asleep. I can't believe that this try-hard drivel has been honoured with general release. Watching paint dry would be MORE exciting than this -at least then you \can get high off the fumes. If I could give this negative stars I would.

Kate

Saw this at the festival; well, I saw maybe half of it. This was so bad that I fell asleep. I can't believe that this try-hard drivel has been honoured with general release. Watching paint dry would be MORE exciting than this -at least then you \can get high off the fumes. If I could give this negative stars I would.

Dido Blench

I saw this film at a preview screening in Sheffield. It was like watching beautifully crafted paint dry. Very slowly. The general concensus from the audience (all film programmers) was that it was pretentious bollocks. I agree.

Dido Blench

I saw this film at a preview screening in Sheffield. It was like watching beautifully crafted paint dry. Very slowly. The general concensus from the audience (all film programmers) was that it was pretentious bollocks. I agree.

Gerald

Simply brilliant such a masterpiece. If you enjoy deeply psychological and metaphysical films (or art for that matter), this will appeal to you. Far from a waste of time as the other reviewers have felt. Then again, its all subjective, many people will not be stimulated by this, since its a 'revolving door' sort of film. I personally found it to be a masterpiece on time, memory, expectation and the age-old rivalry between the expressive arts and a increasingly instrumental and logical world.

Gerald

Simply brilliant such a masterpiece. If you enjoy deeply psychological and metaphysical films (or art for that matter), this will appeal to you. Far from a waste of time as the other reviewers have felt. Then again, its all subjective, many people will not be stimulated by this, since its a 'revolving door' sort of film. I personally found it to be a masterpiece on time, memory, expectation and the age-old rivalry between the expressive arts and a increasingly instrumental and logical world.

Lauren

This film is well named, it does test the limits of your control. I saw this during the festival and was sitting in the middle surrounded by people- if I hadn't been surrounded I would have left- truly dire. This film is self-indulgent and plain old boring. No, the script isn't clever. I felt like I was watchig something a uni student had turned in with the hopes they could fool their tutors into thinking they'd made something meaningful (this being achieved by too much exposition, too much silence and too much spelling out of the 'meaningfulness'). Bad bad bad. Save yourselves and just look at a screen cap of Tilda Swinton looking swanky- it's the only half decent thing. The comments I heard afterwards were: I fell asleep, that was terrible, that was so boring and I can't believe I just sat thrpugh that. This is just a bad script and poor direction masquerading as 'art'. How is it Time Out coninuously misjudges films?? I've never know a source to be so consistently wrong.

Lauren

This film is well named, it does test the limits of your control. I saw this during the festival and was sitting in the middle surrounded by people- if I hadn't been surrounded I would have left- truly dire. This film is self-indulgent and plain old boring. No, the script isn't clever. I felt like I was watchig something a uni student had turned in with the hopes they could fool their tutors into thinking they'd made something meaningful (this being achieved by too much exposition, too much silence and too much spelling out of the 'meaningfulness'). Bad bad bad. Save yourselves and just look at a screen cap of Tilda Swinton looking swanky- it's the only half decent thing. The comments I heard afterwards were: I fell asleep, that was terrible, that was so boring and I can't believe I just sat thrpugh that. This is just a bad script and poor direction masquerading as 'art'. How is it Time Out coninuously misjudges films?? I've never know a source to be so consistently wrong.

Mark M

Having attended a Time Out preview screening, may I suggest that Time Out need to reappraise David Jenkins suitability as a critic. Every comment I heard from the audience was negative. Typical was a woman who said ‘well that is two hours of my life I can’t get back’. My recommendation to anybody foolhardy enough to pay to see this was pretentious drivel ( my tickets were free), don’t. Mind you, the director Jim Jarmusch did miss one trick, he should have got sponsorship by "Dulux". That would have been a partnership made in heaven!

Mark M

Having attended a Time Out preview screening, may I suggest that Time Out need to reappraise David Jenkins suitability as a critic. Every comment I heard from the audience was negative. Typical was a woman who said ‘well that is two hours of my life I can’t get back’. My recommendation to anybody foolhardy enough to pay to see this was pretentious drivel ( my tickets were free), don’t. Mind you, the director Jim Jarmusch did miss one trick, he should have got sponsorship by "Dulux". That would have been a partnership made in heaven!