Permanent Vacation opens with a moving crowd of New Yorkers, still dressed '70s groovy. It might be a camera trick, but no one appears to be rushing. The music is slow, diffuse horn and bells. We meet 16-year-old Aloysious Christopher Parker, already dressed '80s rockabilly cool. His body is like a marionette's — all long limbs and loose joints. His voice is like an oboe, and his delivery is like slow air out of a tire. He dances to Earl Bostic's Up There in Orbit, on a toy phonograph, on the floor, in a narrow Lower East Side tenement room painted thickly yellow-white.
He says every person you meet is like a new room, and these rooms tell the story of how he got from here to there. Or really, from here to here. Permanent Vacation was Jim Jarmusch's first film, and, as Luc Sante put it, "...something we all rooted for," in a neighborhood "...nobody else seemed to want." It's the story of here to here, where here is Avenue C in ruins, with no two buildings standing together. Here is solitary streets and random lunatics. Here is winding and drifting like the sound of Allie's voice — like the sax of John Lurie's score, like a mournful oboe, like a yo-yo walking the dog.
The slow, bemused dialogue and long steady street shots are all classic Jarmusch. See if you can't find PERMANENT VACATION in his later films. Does Ava dance by herself in Stranger than Paradise? Does someone nonchalantly steal a car in another? Come see where and how it all began for Jim Jarmusch, on gorgeous, grainy, twilight-lit 16mm.
We are pleased to offer the following film on Tuesday evening, June 19, 2012, at 6:30 p.m.
Second part in the series:
Permanent Vacation (1980, 75 min., 16mm)
Jim Jarmusch directs his first feature: 16-year-old Allie searches for meaning as he wanders a Lower East Side landscape of blind alleys, rubble-filled lots, and abandoned buildings. Along the way he meets his schizophrenic mother, a possibly psychotic war veteran, an hysterical Spanish-speaking Ophelia, and a junkie who recounts the sad life of Charlie Parker. Starring Chris Parker, Leila Gastil and John Lurie. With music by John Lurie.
This is a FREE monthly series held at Seward Park Library. Feature-length films (16mm, VHS, and DVD) shot on location in lower Manhattan are presented the third Tuesday of every month.
Previously: LES Heritage Film Series: The Eighties, Part 1
Follow us on Facebook: Lower East Side Heritage Collection