Cannes Film Fest 2019: Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die–Preview

In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The
moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming
unpredictable, and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behaviors. No
one quite knows why. News reports are scary and scientists are concerned.
But no one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will
soon start plaguing Centerville: The Dead Don’t Die — they rise from their
graves and savagely attack and feast on the living, and the citizens of the
town must battle for their survival.

From writer-director Jim Jarmusch comes a star-studded horror comedy featuring an ensemble cast of Jarmusch regulars (BillMurray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits) and newcomers to the fold (Selena Gomez, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Carol Kane) in a raucous, rueful and satirical glimpse at American habits and desires at the end of the world–a comically terrifying state of the nation addressed in a true cinematic original.

THE DEAD DON’T DIE (Lyrics by Sturgill Simpson)

Oh the dead don’t die
Any more than you or I
They’re just ghosts inside a dream
Of a life that we don’t own
They walk around us all the time
Never paying any mind
To the silly lives we lead
Or the reaping we’ve all sown
There’s a cup of coffee waiting on every corner
Someday we’re gonna wake up and find the corner’s gone
But the dead will still be walking ‘round in this old world alone
After life is over
The afterlife goes on
There’ll be old friends walking ‘round
In a somewhat familiar town
That you saw once when you looked up from your phone
Nobody bothers saying hi
And you can save all your goodbyes
Stop trying to pretend that we’re all not at home
And the streets will look so empty in the morning
There’ll be no one out at night
For the lights to shine down on
But the dead will still be walking ‘round in this old world alone
After life is over
The afterlife goes on
Hearts break when loved ones’ journey on
At the thought that they’re now forever gone
So we tell ourselves they’re all still around us all the time
Gone but not forgotten
Just memories left behind
But the dead will still be walking ‘round in this old world alone
After life is over
The afterlife goes on
After life is over
The afterlife goes on

From Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Gimme Danger, Only Lovers Left Alive) comes
the his unique take on the zombie apocalypse, imbued with the
deadpan tone and gentle comedy that has made him an iconic voice in independent filmmaking across the decades. Bringing together a multi-
generational, multi-cultural cast and crew of familiar faces from productions

past as well as new converts to the Jarmusch fold, including Danny Glover,
Selena Gomez, Caleb Landry Jones, The Dead Don’t Die is a family affair — a
timely and at times poignant slice of life arriving at a crucial point in the
American story, when it feels like the times we are living through are eating
us alive.

The Dead Don’t Die marks Jarmusch’s tenth trip to the Croisette, having last
appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in competition with Paterson in 2016,
the same year he premiered Gimme Danger, a documentary on Iggy & The
Stooges, out of competition. The filmmaker has been at Cannes with most of
his previous features including Only Lovers Left Alive, Broken Flowers(winner
of the Grand Jury Prize), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Dead Man,
Mystery Train, Down by Law, Stranger Than Paradise (winner of the Camera
d’Or), and “Coffee and Cigarettes,” which won the Best Short Film prize in
1993.

Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloë Sevigny star as police officers in the
three-cop town of Centerville, forced into action when flesh-eating zombies
invade their tiny hamlet. In this writer-director’s hands, The Dead Don’t Die
is both gruesome bloodbath and droll metaphor for America’s current
predilection.

“The Dead Don’t Die happens in a version of our world that’s singular to this
film, but that feels very expressive of the current moment,” says producer
Joshua Astrachan, who also worked on Paterson. “In Jim’s narrative, the U.S. is conducting polar fracking, the earth has slipped off its axis, the ice caps
have melted, the sun stays up during the night, the moon stays up during the
day — and the dead start coming out of their graves.”

Adding a poignant, comedic touch, Jarmusch’s undead lurch back to life in
search of a past hobby or fixation, capable of uttering only a single
beseeching word. GRAMMY-winning country singer Sturgill Simpson, who
composed the film’s theme song, appears in a cameo as an undead musician,
stalking the streets of Centerville with an acoustic-electric in tow, gutturally
croaking “Guitar!”

“Pretty much all of humanity’s zombiedom is here,” says Tilda Swinton, who
returns to the Jarmusch fold for the fourth time, playing scene-stealing
Scottish-accented mortuary owner Zelda Winston. “We have cell phone
zombies, fashion zombies, every kind of zombie imaginable. There are so
many different ways of not being awake in our current climate — for Jim it’s
like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Larry Fessenden, the cult horror director (Depraved) and longtime
Jarmusch compatriot, who appears in The Dead Don’t Die as motel owner
Danny Perkins, says: “Jim’s movies always have this episodic quality, featuring
people going through life trying to negotiate the peculiarity of the world. Add
zombies to that and you get something deliciously whimsical—and quite
nasty. There’s violence almost to the point of insanity, another thing Jim has
to say about humanity right now. But there’s also this reserved melancholy,
which has cropped up in his last couple of movies. I don’t know if it’s going
to work out for the species, he seems to be saying; I don’t know how we can
fix this.”

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