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The Limits of Control - The Limits of Control(Blu Ray) [Arrow Academy - 2019]

The Limits of Control is a sleek, often puzzling & lightly humor tipped anti-thriller, that blends European & US art house sensibilities. The 2009 film follows  a sullen, moody & barely talking man as he meets a series of strangers across Spain, gaining cryptic clues that may or may not reveal the point of the mysterious mission he’s been sent on. On Arrow Academy here we have a recent Blu ray release of the film, featuring a selection of new & old bonus material.

The Limits of Control( aka No Limits No Control) is the tenth full-length from US auteur Jim Jarmusch- the film locations move from modern architecture of Spanish cities, onto narrow street  of small towns, through to the countryside and desert. The film is soundtracked by a blend of hazed, dramatic & at times doomed guitar work from the likes of Boris, Earth & Sunn – all to make a film that is sending-up & paying tribute to the lone agent type of thrillers, with the point/ mystery of the whole thing seemingly constantly just out of ones reach.

Playing the lead role of the nameless man is Ivory coast born actor Isaach De Bankolé, who is perfect in the role of the largely unemotional & cool-as-a-cucumber loner. The film begins in an airport with the suited & booted loner been given the extremely vague mission- then he goes to Madrid first, then small town Spain, before out into the often barren & desert-like countryside of the country. Along the way he meets a series of often fairly quirky & bizarre characters who give him the next decidedly cryptic clue inside a matchbox, he drinks two expresso, visits a modern art museum, and is constantly asked ‘you don’t speak Spanish do you?’. The people he meets are played by the likes of the late John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, and Luis Tosar. As the days pass each night he returns to his hotel room where the same nude brunet taunts him. The film revels in repetition, deepening levels of puzzlement, and meanings with-in meanings. I’m not sure if I total understood/ grasped the full/ whole meaning of it all- but I was largely fascinating & drawn into the film- enjoy both Bankolé extremely controlled & cleverly nuanced performance, the wonderful shot locations,  the films constant feel of moody mysterious, and the touches of sly humor.


On the extras sides of things we get two new featurettes- first is An American in Europe- this runs thirty-four minutes, and finds an on-camera interview with Geoff Andrew-author of Stranger Than Paradise: Maverick Film-Makers in Recent American Cinema. This finds Mr. Andrew first talking about Jim Jarmusch's history & other films, before going onto discuss the film to hand, it’s theme, and it’s impact. Next, we have The Rituals of Control- a fourteen-minute video essay from author and critic Amy Simmons, here she discusses the films in a lot deeper more scholarly fashion- though like the first featurette she brings up some interesting points/ observations on the film.
Next, we get some archival extras- there’s Behind Jim Jarmusch- a fifty-minute doc about the making of the film, and Untitled Landscapes- which looks at the locations/ landscapes of the film.


The Limits of Control is an intriguing, and often hypnotic film about repetition, mood & mystery- it’s great to see Arrow Academy reissue the film, and let us hope this triggers more re-releases of Jarmusch work.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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