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Jim Jarmusch

My quietness has a man in it, he is transparent

and he carries me quietly, like a gondola, through the streets.

—Frank O’Hara, from “In Memory of My Feelings” (1956)

IN 1984 I MADE MY FIRST VISIT to Japan to promote my film Stranger Than Paradise. Well before this trip I had given several interviews in which I cited Yasujiro Ozu as one of the film directors from whom I received my deepest inspiration. After completing several more interviews in Tokyo I realized that among the younger, hipper Japanese film critics and journalists, Ozu was, at this moment, out of fashion. His films were from the “old school”—stylistically conservative and thematically stodgy, middle-class and domestic. When questioned about his influence, it was as though I had committed a blatant act of contradiction.

This attitude toward Ozu seemed strange to me, but it made me aware that I have no real interest

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