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Posterized: Jim Jarmusch

by Nathaniel R

The Ohio-born indie auteur Jim Jarmusch first made waves in the cinematic landscape with his black and white sophomore feature Stranger Than Paradise in the mid 80s . It was a big critical success and arthouse sleeper hit. He was suddenly the "cool" new director. His career since then has been, like most critical darling careers, full of small waves of audience popularity versus indifference, sometimes not in relation to the critical fates of whichever film arrived. For example, Paterson (2016), his most recent picture prior to the brand new zombie comedy The Dead Don't Die (opening today) was a huge critical succcess in its year, but grossed just $2 million at the US box office.

Through it all critics have mostly been loyal and actors with more eclectic taste have become his regulars: Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, and Bill Murray have all made 4 pictures with him.

How many of his pictures have you seen? The posters are after the jump...

Chapter 1 - The Hot New Indie Director

STRANGER THAN PARADISE (1984) - the breakthrough
DOWN BY LAW (1986) 

Chapter 2 - Still Indie in Spirit, but Now He Gets In-Demand Actors

DEAD MAN (1995)

Chapter 3 - The Recent Stuff



Bonus List - Very Rough Estimate of Audience Popularity by Box Office
(taking inflation into account)
It's hard out there for indie directors now. Their movies used to stay in the arthouse theaters for months if a film was critically acclaimed or the director was a "name" as Jarmusch is, hence the popularity of his early titles. 


  1. Broken Flowers
  2. Stranger Than Paradise 
  3. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai
  4. Mystery Train
  5. Night on Earth
  6. Down by Law 
    those were, roughly and arguably speaking, the arthouse "hits" and the rest were lower grossers despite buzz or acclaim
  7. Coffee and Cigarettes
  8. Dead Man
  9. Only Lovers Left Alive
  10. Paterson 
  11. Limits of Control

There's no data available on his first picture and The Dead Don't Die is too new. How will audiences respond? Are you a Jarmusch fan? 



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Reader Comments (19)

Jarmusch was one of the first directors I knew by name after Spielberg and the Coens. Found him at a very young age and have been first in line to see his every movie ever since. Love his deadpan characters and meandering narratives. Caught The Dead Don't Die last night and couldn't stop laughing. I can't imagine a lot of his fans will be crazy about it, but the broad political commentary and forever forward momentum of the story - inherent to the genre but often absent from his features - along with that impressive cast will, I think, help this one put up some at least modest box office numbers.

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDevin D

I liked Ghost Dog, but I hated Dead Man so much that I kind of crossed Jarmusch off my list.

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

10 - I haven't seen the first one or Dead Man, because I don't like Johnny Depp.

I'm sure I'll see the new one eventually, but the reviews are so rough I'll probably skip seeing it in the theater unless someone asks me to go with them.

Top 5:
1. Broken Flowers
2. Paterson
3. Ghost Dog
4. Night on Earth
5. Mystery Train

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

So far, everything but Gimme Danger and The Dead Don't Die so far. No Year of the Horse?

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

thevoid99 -- i didn't include the docs

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Almost everything, with two embarrassing exceptions: "Ghost Dog" and "Mystery Train." EEK! Will get to them soon.

My favorites are "Stranger Than Paradise," "Paterson," and "The Limits of Control." The latter in particular is massively underrated.

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I wouldn't describe myself as a fan but I've seen them all.

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue


Guess I have some work to do.

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson are the greatest 1-2 of this decade. If it weren't for Mia Wasikowska, the former would be perfect.

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

"Only Lovers Left Alive" and "Paterson" are both in my top three of their respective years. I found both incredibly moving, full of longing for artistic ways of seeing and being in the world that are rapidly going out of style.

"The Dead Don't Die" looks minor at best, by comparison, but will give it a go...

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterER

I don’t think of myself as a fan of his, yet I’ve seen most of these and I think 3 of them are especially good - Only Lovers Left Alive, Ghost Dog, and Down By Law. So I guess I am a fan.

June 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

@Peggy Sue - ditto.

I'll be seeing the new one as well.

June 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Same with Peggy Sue -- except for The Dead Don't Die, I've seen all of Jarmusch's films but could not honestly call myself a fan of his films although I love Only Lovers Left Alive, Stranger than Paradise and Mystery Train.

June 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

I’ve only seen his three most recent. I’m clearly no Jarmusch expert, but I really enjoyed The Dead Don’t Die! I was at the premiere in Cannes and most people who I talked to about it afterward seemed to be reading too much into the story, trying to figure out the mechanics of why the world in the film is so messed up. To me, it was besides the point. The viewer can read whatever they wish into the story— the point still stands that the world is a mess and it’s largely our doing. Once I accepted this generality, I thought the comedy really flowed. (At least to me as an American; I do think some of the nuances in the characters’ speaking probably didn’t translate to international audiences.) I still chuckle thinking of Driver concluding that zombies were behind everything or Carol Kane’s scenestealing moment.

June 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I have seen 4: Night on Earth, Dead Man, Broken Flowers and Coffe&Cigarettes.
I really liked them all, but surprisungly Coffee&Cigarettes is my favorite so far.

June 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Really like this guy. Seen 7 of them.

1. Broken Flowers
2. Paterson
3. Dead Man
4. Only Lovers Left Alive
5. Night on Earth
6. Mystery Train
7. The Limits of Control

June 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEoghanMcQ

Have seen 9 Of tem

June 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLuiz Carlos

Also I acknowledge that as a person who can attend Cannes and the like, I’m less picky and just enjoy the privilege and have fun.

June 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Not a single one- well I might had caught scenes from some of them

June 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

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