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Mystery Train (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Elvis haunts Japanese tourists, an Italian widow and a British outlaw at a Memphis hotel. Directed by Jim Jarmusch.

Amazon.com

Every Jim Jarmusch film involves a journey into a foreign culture. Mystery Train, in which three journeys intersect, marks one of his more diverting efforts. In the finest ("Far from Yokohama"), a Japanese couple makes a pilgrimage to Memphis. Playful Mitzuko (Youki Kudoh) worships Elvis Presley, while sad-faced Jun (Masotoshi Nagase) prefers Carl Perkins. They stay at a haunted hotel overseen by a sharp-dressed clerk (R&B wild man Screamin' Jay Hawkins) and a quirky bellboy (Spike Lee's brother, Cinqué) in a broken-down city that recalls the New York of Jarmusch's debut, Permanent Vacation: filled with rust, weeds--and character (Dead Man cinematographer Robby Müller finds the beauty in every blemish). In the following chapters ("The Ghost" and "Lost in Space"), two other foreigners converge at the same locale: Italian widow Luisa (Nicoletta Braschi, wife of Roberto Begnini), who drops by during a layover, and heartbroken Brit Johnny (the Clash's Joe Strummer), who seeks a hideout. If these sections are less engaging, Hawkins and Lee are consistently amusing ("You look like a damn mosquito-legged chimpanzee" the former quips at one point). Other highlights include Tom Noonan as a sleazy hustler, Steve Buscemi as Johnny's straight-arrow brother-in-law, Tom Waits as an unseen disc jockey, and a savory score from sax player John Lurie.

The supplements start with an audio-only Q&A, in which Jarmusch answers 35 questions from fans, including one about Hawkins, whose signature song figures prominently in Stranger Than Paradise, explaining that he cast him, in part, because he saw no profit from the use of "I Put a Spell on You." This essential release concludes with excerpts from a film about the late performer, a fine featurette on the locations, two photo galleries, and essays by critic Dennis Lim and Elvis biographer Peter Guralnik. --Kathleen C. Fennessy


Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Q&A with Jarmusch in which he responds to questions sent in by fans
  • Documentary on Mystery Train's locations and Memphis's musical history
  • On-set photos by Masayoshi Sukita, and behind-the-scenes photos
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by writers Peter Guralnick and Dennis Lim
  • Collectible poster

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Screamin Jay Hawkins, Nicoletta Braschi, Steve Buscemi, Joe Strummer
    • Directors: Jim Jarmusch
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      R
      Restricted
    • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
    • DVD Release Date: June 15, 2010
    • Run Time: 110 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B003D3Y64W
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,463 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Mystery Train (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD
    I recently got this DVD and was dismayed to find that the English subtitles were missing (as the last reviewer pointed out.) I just found a fix that may work for some people. The "Subtitles" screen lists only French and Spanish as choices. But the remote for my Toshiba 3109 player has a "Subtitles" button that can be used while the movie is playing. With "Mystery Train" this button brings up four choices: "1 Fre", "2 Spa", "3 Fre" and "4 Spa". The first two will bring up French or Spanish subtitles as expected. But choosing either "3 Fre" or "4 Spa" will cause English subtitles to appear for the Japanese portions of the film! So the disc is indeed bungled, but this workaround made it watchable for me. And yes, it's a great movie!
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    Format: DVD
    Mystery Train is a fascinating snapshot of Memphis through the eyes of foreigners and the disenfranchised. The stories in this film run the gamut from romantic to touching to amusing but all with a humanistic streak running through them. Jarmusch would follow this film with Night on Earth - Criterion Collection which would adhere to the same structure but on a much more ambitious level.

    In the way of special features, there is a "Q&A with Jim." As he has done for past Criterion editions of his films, Jarmusch answers questions submitted by fans in lieu of an audio commentary. They are by no means restricted to the film but the bulk of them do pertain to it. Jarmusch confirms that Tom Waits' D.J. heard in the film is in fact the character he played in Down by Law - Criterion Collection. He talks about how he worked with the Japanese actors and the origins of their segment title. He also talks about his favourite Elvis era and addresses the barren and bleak look of Memphis in the film.

    "I Put a Spell on Me" features excerpts from a 2001 documentary on Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Jarmusch is interviewed and talks about when he first heard Jay's signature song, "I Put a Spell on You," how he used it in Stranger Than Paradise - Criterion Collection and then cast him in Mystery Train. Jay talks about working on the film and shares some amusing anecdotes on this fantastic extra.

    "Memphis Tour" revisits many of the locations used in the film.
    Read more ›
    Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    A delightful trudge through Memphis with a couple of jaded Japanese tourists. The fact that they speak practically no English just adds to the charm and surrealism. It's actually a collage of three or four more or less independent stories, a form that I am particularly partial to, sort of like waking up from a dream into another dream several times.

    This is one of those movies I saw "cold," having no idea what it was about. It turns out that that's the only way to see a movie. It is said that Gene Siskel would never read about or discuss a movie before seeing it, wanting to absorb its full impact (or lack thereof) completely free of prejudice. The only problem is that we civilians can't afford to see every movie and we need to perform a modicum of triage to avoid wasting our limited resources on the clinkers.

    Seeing Mystery Train "cold" was an experience I won't forget, though I've watched it many times since.
    Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    A quirky minimalist movie by Jim Jarmusch that is well thought out and cleverly devised that will leave viewers either fascinated or cold. It takes place during a single night in Memphis, and revolves around three unconnected storylines: a Japanese couple on a "pilgrimage" to Elvis shrines, an Italian woman whose flight back to Rome has been delayed, and a trio of young sleazes who get drunk and shoot a liquor store owner. They all spend the night at a fleabag hotel (The Arcade, run by Screamin' Jay Hawkins!). Jarmusch's use of flashback, a la RASHOMON, is clever and inspired. But Jarmush also likes to use long takes of scenes in which virtually nothing happens, which can make the movie feel long and ponderous. It's still the best of his movies, though.
    Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    What a very strange but intriguing movie experience. If you like any of Jim Jarmusch's films than you will definitely like this film, otherwise, you might be in for a movie that your either going to really like or really hate. I personally like this film alot, it's set in Memphis Tennessee, and has alot of Elvis Nostalgia in it. The film has three stories that are all different than the other, but all weave and interconnect to each other in the film as it goes on. It is a slow paced movie, with a little humor and a little darkness and also a little tired feeling. If your a fan of Jim's work than I would say you would like this film alot. Otherwise, you might have a difficult time watching the movie and feel a little wrestless in between.
    Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    I go to two or three movies a week and have for many years. Netflix and other such sources also keep my movie obsession fed. This is my all time favorite movie.
    I particularly like very original movies with amazing photography. This has some of the best photography I have seen in a movie. It's just beautiful and artsy.

    It's far out, different, funny and exhilarating. Japanese Elvis freaks touring Memphis,
    complete with eerie night photography of neon Memphis, the lonliness, the mystery of it,
    shadowy, off kilter, spooky, things are not what they seem, but hauntingly beautiful.
    Gave me some delicious goosebumps. Sex in the night in a fleabag motel, the very idea of Japanese imitating Elvis, getting so into it, wandering around soaking up the atmosphere,
    like aliens from another planet trying to fit in. The clash of cultures so subtle here,
    ups the intensity, the strangeness.

    This movie is a masterpiece of modern film making.
    See my list on Amazon of best movies ever made that you may not have heard of.
    This is number one.
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