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The Travelers Guide to Jim Jarmusch
Updated March 24, 2009
Permanent Vacation: Jarmusch's first feature, Permanent Vacation, almost wasn't one. Originally born as the director's NYU thesis short, the film became Jarmusch's debut when he dropped out of school and then expanded it to 77 minutes. Recently reissued by Criterion on the Stranger than Paradise DVD, Permanent Vacation is a poetically rendered and sparsely populated ode to a late 20th century urban bohemia, a time in which culture was creative while our cities crumbled. Writes Nick Pinkerton at Reverse Shot, "The movie's puffed-up melancholia and unabashed love affair with being a hip, unattached, good-looking young guy is winningly straight up. It's enamored with the simple acts of turning on a record player, going to a repertory house, or walking around the city and seeing some crazy shit—enamored enough to make a movie out of all that stuff." And while Permanent Vacation is a time capsule to the Gotham bohemia of the time, the writer Luc Sante saw instead in the film's downtown cool something almost timeless: "Permanent Vacation… drew its style from the Italian neorealists and presented an archetype of questing youth that harks back all the way to the early 19th century romantics. In the face of a dominant posteverything cynicism, it sought poetry and transcendence and romance, even if it could acknowledge such things only with a deadpan stare that superficially looked like indifference."