Permanent Vacation ★★★★½

In jumping from one decade to another, for what feels like the very first time for me (I was only 9 at the beginning of 2010), I can't think of any image better to mark the occasion than with the final shot in this, which has been etched into my mind ever since I first saw it some three years ago. Held in that single image of the New York skyline, as it slowly drifts away from view, is the exact melancholy found in departure, of leaving one place and entering another, of watching a world once familiar to you slowly fade away and become alien.

Throughout the film Jarmusch does nothing but render New York into a foreign wasteland devoid of beauty or excitement. Every image is teeming in grime and rubble and overgrown foliage through the sumptuous blur of 16mm, removed from all semblance of iconography that instantly comes with our ideas of the city. We're so hung up on this concept of the place as a final destination for people who dream, a place of commerce and success and self fulfillment, of awe and wonder. And yet for 70 minutes Jarmusch does nothing but make you want to escape from it, to flee from it's empty streets and alleys. It's the dissociation of urban spaces that Jarmusch will employ for the rest of his filmography.

The last image then is an odd sigh of relief. It's only when we leave that we finally see the city's artifice for the first time. The high rise offices, the twin towers, the iconic skyline that permeates everyone's mental impression of New York, suddenly appearing the moment it's disappearing from us into obscurity. This is what memory is. It's a perfect representation of how we recollect the past, how it grows alongside you like a separate person, how it's real and fantastical at the same time. In that single shot there's an emergence of the dreamy rose-tinted longing that can be found with every nostalgic thought you've ever had. And it's probably how I'll remember the 2010's.

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