Ty Burr's Watch List
Ty Burr's Watchcast
Classics of the New Millennium: "Paterson" (2016) with guest critic Glenn Kenny

Classics of the New Millennium: "Paterson" (2016) with guest critic Glenn Kenny

The New York Times critic and I take the Jim Jarmusch comedy about a poetic New Jersey bus driver for a ride.

If you have never seen Jim Jarmusch’s 2016 film “Paterson” (⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐), now would be a very good time to watch it, with the world falling to pieces on a daily basis and your frazzled soul in need of a balm. If you’ve already seen “Paterson,” now would be a good time to watch it again. In fact, it would be entirely within the philosophy of this movie to watch it every day, as part of the cycle of quotidian events that turns like a bus driver’s steering wheel from morning to night. When I reviewed “Paterson” for the Boston Globe in January 2017 — two days before the Presidential inauguration of a certain orange-hued megalomaniac — I wrote:

“Paterson” is set in Paterson, N.J., and concerns a bus driver, played by Adam Driver, who is also named Paterson. Already you may be getting a sense of the resonant circular prayer wheel that is Jim Jarmusch’s new film.

Paterson the man is a poet — although most people don’t know it — and he takes his inspiration from the late, great William Carlos Williams, who did not live in Paterson the city (rather in nearby Rutherford) but who dedicated 12 years and five volumes to an epic poem called “Paterson.” If you pick up a copy of “Paterson” the poem, you may come across the repeated line: “Say it! No ideas but in things,” and that may be the best guide to what Jarmusch has achieved here. “Paterson” the movie is about the ordinary slipstream of our days — about all the stuff we touch but never notice — and also about life’s piercing, inexhaustible beauty when we do notice. Coming out at a time when the world seems both upside down and backward, watching this film feels like drinking from a cool, clear lake.

So maybe there’s never a time when the movie is not necessary. To talk about “Paterson,” I enlisted my old friend Glenn Kenny, who currently reviews films for the New York Times and RogerEbert.com, was one of the tent-poles of the sorely missed movie magazine “Premiere,” has written an excellent book on “Goodfellas,” and pens one of the more erudite movie blogs out there, “Some Came Running.” Glenn brings a wealth of knowledge about Paterson the city — he went to college there — and I bring an obsessive interest in Jarmusch the semi-intentional Zen filmmaker, which this particular movie (and “Broken Flowers”) (and “Dead Man”) (and “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai”) go a long way to making a case for.

You can stream “Paterson” on Amazon Prime or, with ads, on Amazon’s Freevee service. This podcast is also available in video form, with film clips, at the Watch List YouTube channel. I do hope you enjoy the discussion.

Thanks for listening! Have any thoughts? Want to suggest a movie for this series? Don’t hesitate to weigh in.

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Ty Burr's Watch List
Ty Burr's Watchcast
Lively, provocative conversations about movies and popular culture with former Boston Globe/ Entertainment Weekly film critic Ty Burr and friends.