As I’ve written before, I once asked Jim Jarmusch about the notion of grace and whether Bill Murray was searching for it in “Broken Flowers.” Jarmusch replied that he didn’t believe in grace and that he stopped going to the Catholic Church when he was 12. At the time, his cat had just died, and he was mourning and asked his priest whether the cat would go to heaven. And the priest said cats didn’t have souls, infuriating Jarmusch.
I was talking to Jarmusch on Wednesday in Cannes because he has a fantastic new movie, “Paterson,” starring Adam Driver.
I explained that I realized I was probably wrong to think about Catholic notions such as grace and that I’d probably have been more correct if I’d used a Zen Buddhist term, and that’s certainly an undercurrent in “Paterson.”
This brought back memories for Jarmusch, although he said he couldn’t remember whether it was his cat or his dog that died. At any rate, he confirmed that he’s more of a Buddhist, although not a strict, practicing one.
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He said he does tai chi, and that he’s currently reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead because his mother is old and ill, and he’s trying to prepare himself for her death, at least mentally.
And then he launched into a reverie about his respect for life and energy in all living things, including plants and animals, and said he thinks our big problem is that we have become to “human-centric.”
He does not, however, have a similar attitude toward inanimate objects. “I have a terrible time with them. I’m always breaking a teacup or something, and I have to stop and do tai chi so I can accept that my house is full of broken things,” he says.
He also spoke glowingly of Nellie, the English bulldog who stars in “Paterson,” saying that the initial impulse was to go with a Jack Russell terrier. “She was adorable and looking out for the film,” he says. Nellie passed away two months ago, and was in what Jarmusch considers to be a groundbreaking transgender role as Marvin in “Paterson.”
And, that folks, is the essence of Jarmusch’s droll wit.
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