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2005-08-06 - 11:50 a.m.

"I almost feel like if too many people like the film, it might freak me out. I might think I did something wrong," sez Jim Jarmusch about his latest film, Broken Flowers.

Well, Jim, there's at least one former fan whose positive opinion you needn't worry about, because your new movie is the laziest slab of reputation-coasting I've ever had the misfortune to sit through. There's deadpan minimalism--which you used to do with humor and style or at least gorgeous cinematography--and then there's lifeless, pointless meandering with the ever-comatose Bill Murray doing his expressionless Bill Murray thing, without a comic sidekick to at least provide contrast. (One could argue that the "Winston" character provides the puppy-dog enthusiasm that someone like Roberto Benigni or Richard Edson has done in the past, but I didn't find him amusing, or his part convincing.)

I keep reading about how Bill Murray "doesn't do much, but there's so much going on under the surface," and I think--but is there, really? Or is he just an OK actor who keeps getting work because he's been branded as cool by a younger generation of filmgoers? Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton and to a lesser degree Chloe Sevigny have some subterranean volcanic activity in their performances but Murray's just doesn't register, and you have to wonder if the guy is even capable of emoting onscreen.

I dunno, this film had some brief, lyrical moments, but it's just so sketchy and underwritten and underacted that it feels more like a late-night idea for a movie than an actual movie.

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