Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wobbly Times number 17

The Limits of Control (2008)

A Bohemian conspiracy!

"Life has no value if four people are being killed every minute and in the final analysis, abuse wins the day." That is a rough translation from Spanish of a phrase very relevant to "The Limits of Control" which IMDb won't let me reproduce in the original because of 'spelling errors'. The great Mexican director,Pedro Infante filmed "La Vida No Vale Nada" in 1955. Might be worth checking out that film after watching "Limits of Control".

"Those who think they are important wind up in a cemetery – a handful of dust". Numerous characters repeat this sentence in Jarmusch's "Limits of Control". In fact, many sentences are repeated in "Limits...". "You don't speak Spanish." The answer is, "No." if you are on a secret mission and sitting at a café table with two cups of espresso. This is the intro you get in the assassin's game. Like Jarmusch's "Ghost Dog" our assassin is in to martial arts exercises. Like "Ghost Dog", he doesn't like mechanical, robotic like abusers.

Maybe abusers are CIA agents in Spain. More likely, Jarmusch's secretive base operatives symbolize worldwide power mongering abusers of life. Maybe, just maybe, there are people out there in the world, some maybe even who have taken psycho-active drugs like peyote, who want to demonstrate to these power mongering dominators that they aren't so powerful at that. 'Life is arbitrary" as the anonymous protagonist of the film played by Isaach de Bankolé says before he strangles the CIA Station Chief, played by Bill Murray, with an old guitar string.

Maybe, the limits of control are human beings! Oh, not human beings who use the various electronic trappings of identity of the modern world. Those human beings can be tracked and controlled. "No cell phones", says Jarmusch's protagonist. And what happens to those in the assassin's conspiratorial loop who use them? They are found dead or kidnapped by authorities who travel by black helicopter to secret bases in the Spanish bush. Yes, murder as a political weapon, human beings killed, even if they are beautiful and naked.

"How did you get in here?" Murray asks Isaach de Bankolé. "I used my imagination." And after all, as the French Situationists used to say, "Imagination is revolution." Imagination is also unpredictable, even arbitrary, so unlike machines or uniformed humans attempting to morph into androids in service to their rulers.

This movie is a secret operation. Think of it as an imagination-trip. Take it and be wary. Sometimes, it's not that you're paranoid, it's that they really are out to get you. Have a care. Don't let your guard down, even for one blissful second with a gorgeous woman. You're working now with Isaach de Bankolé. Let it happen. Let it wash over you. But remember the signs: two separate cups of espresso at one time at the café table;matchboxes (the ones with the boxer on the cover) swallow the coded paper which you'll find inside said matchbox after you've memorized the instructions for the next stop on your way towards ending abuse.


  1. Liberation from wage slavery! The animal lawyer says so:

    p.s. I'll put this movie down on my list of movies to check out from the library. I just saw Snow Angels (totally GROSS.)

    "Have a care. But don't stare because they're still there." (Morrissey)

  2. The film is really slow and boring if you don't have a clue about what it is about. Lots of people who 'like it' like it because it has nothing to say...because it's an empty abstraction. I'll never understand the 'art for art's sake' thinking. ;p "Limits of Control" is still playing in theatres in Australia. It may be on dvd now in the USA, I don't know. I do know "Ghost Dog" is on dvd, that and "Dead Man" are two Jarmusch directed movies which compare well with this one, his latest adventure.