The Limits of Control (2009)

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The Limits of Control: Directed by Jim Jarmusch. With Isaach De Bankolé, Alex Descas, Jean-François Stévenin, Óscar Jaenada. The story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job.

“John Akomfrah has spent his career creating films that are more u0026#39;tone poemsu0026#39; about a subject than literal narrative or documentary. Combining newsreel footage with often surreal new images he shoots, and sometimes an audio collage approach to sound, Akomfrahu0026#39;s films are by turns brilliant,frustrating, effective, sophomoric and just plain unique. Some of the films u0026#39;worku0026#39; better than others for me, but I suspect that is a subjective reaction, and one that could easily change on repeated viewings.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIn short, these are more like films youu0026#39;d see playing as an installation in an art museum than at your local cinema, which probably explains why so little of Akomfrahu0026#39;s impressive body of work is available on home video.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe Nine Muses takes as itu0026#39;s u0026#39;subjectu0026#39; Africans and others emigrating to England after WW II, and the difficulties in assimilating, as shown in numerous and well chosen old film clips. The film combines those clips with gorgeous, slightly surreal newly shot images of two unidentifiable men in parkas against the background of Alaska while on the soundtrack great writers from Homer to Beckett are read aloud by great actors (from Naxosu0026#39; recorded book series, most many years old). u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe reading with the most clear thematic connection is u0026quot;The Odysseyu0026quot; and itu0026#39;s tale of a difficult journey. But all the readings echo the immigrant experience, if sometimes in a very oblique way. At the same time, the score is a mix of all sorts of music, sometimes crashing into and playing on top of each other (another comment on assimilation? Loss of identity?)u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIu0026#39;ll admit, by the end of the 93 minutes, I was starting to burn out a little on the lack of clear, neat connection and context between these images, words, and the eclectic score. But like poetry, this is a film that transcends logic to create a mood more than a story or point. And like poetry it may take more than one go round to u0026#39;get itu0026#39;. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAnd while I donu0026#39;t think it all works, I salute Akomfrah for being willing to challenge his audience with something experimental and different.”

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