Cinema: Adam Driver is the driving force in Paterson

Something is wrong. It’s January, but the movies coming out aren’t awful. In fact, if they’re anything like Paterson, they’re pretty good. Great, even. Starring Adam Driver, Paterson is a film with no conflict or struggle, but proves to be an intriguing watch anyway. Elsewhere, two new trailers for upcoming “superhero” movies (that term being used loosely) in March have dropped. For these stories, read on:

Film release: Paterson: Adam Driver is hungry. One year after taking over as the villain of the main Star Wars series, he’s starring in two simultaneous drama releases; Silence, Martin Scorsese’s religious passion project, and Paterson. The two projects could not be more tonally different. In Silence, Driver plays a Christian priest who risks his life by traveling to Japan in the 17th century, where Christians are tortured into denouncing their faith. The film is intense, almost suffocating to the viewer, and Driver exhibits his dramatic acting chops.

Paterson is a polar opposite. In it, Driver plays Paterson, a man who drives a bus in the small town of Paterson, New Jersey. Driver drives as Paterson in Paterson in Paterson. Unlike Silence, Paterson is almost completely void of conflict on its surface level. Driver plays a secretive poet who recites his poetry in a voiceover that keys the audience in to his private world, but he won’t let anyone else, even his girlfriend, read his work. He doesn’t believe in his work, though his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) encourages him to make copies of his notebook.

As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but wonder why such a simple concept was so intriguing to watch. Whereas Silence progresses scene by scene by confronting its characters with a new challenge, Paterson pitter patters along with an enjoyable stroll of a pace. We follow Paterson through a week of his life, during which time he becomes obsessed with twins, shares poetry with a young girl, and witnesses the unhealthy breakup of a couple at a bar. It’s meandering, but never gets distracted. Especially when the pieces start coming together at the end in ways I didn’t even know I wanted to happen toward the end.

The ultimate conflict at the bottom of Paterson is something unseen, and something everyone can relate to; man versus time. The first thing Paterson does every day when waking up is to check his wristwatch, which he uses in place of a smartphone. His girlfriend encourages him to get his poetry copied by the upcoming weekend, after he spent his entire life writing but never sharing his work. Paterson is ultimately a film that encapsulates a struggle almost any average audience member could relate with. Driver represents a person satisfied but complacent with his life. In his early 30s, Paterson has fallen into a routine. He is struggling to push himself to achieve something more.

The film is directed by seasoned director Jim Jarmusch. Like Kenneth Lonergan did with Manchester by the Sea, Jarmusch creates a lived-in atmosphere that completely entrenches the users in the film. When directors are able to accomplish this, it becomes not just a film, but an experience. Manchester outclasses this movie because of its emotional strength and Casey Affleck’s performance, but Paterson is a worthy companion release. The film was released by Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street.

Coming soon: Power Rangers: Nobody ever asked for a live action Power Rangers movie. Based on the trailer, though, it doesn’t seem too bad. It seems to Frankenstein together pieces of other successful action movies; it plays up the superhero angle to hopefully attract the Marvel movie audience, and also utilizes their humor, which comes across as much cornier here. It also uses some Transformers-worthy CGI and enemy designs. With an early March release, it’s trying to be a summer blockbuster without competing against actual summer blockbusters.

Whether that strategy pays off is yet to be seen. Many analysts have voiced a lack of confidence in the film, but it definitely has potential to be a worldwide blockbuster, in a similar vein of the Transformers films. What it really comes down to is quality. Will this be a good movie? Based on the trailer, it’ll be brainless, competent entertainment that you won’t think of the second credits roll. There’s a worldwide market for that.

Logan: Hugh Jackman’s swan song in the role he’s played for a whopping 17 years looks like his best. The standalone Wolverine movies have been generic and lackluster, but Logan seems to be exchanging that for a highly personal look into Wolverine’s life beyond his claws. The final trailer for Logan reveals something fans have long speculated: the film will feature the introduction of X-23, the Wolverine’s comic book replacement. It may be building her up to fill Wolverine’s role in future X-Men films.

I have no idea what’s going on in the X-Men film universe, and I have no desire to try to piece it together. The films seem to sprawl across at least two completely separate timelines by now, with Wolverine showing up and disappearing on a whim. They’re best taken one film at a time, presented without any connection to any of the others. Days of Future Past is an excellent action film that is bogged down by trying to make sense of the franchise’s timeline(s).

Now, it appears Logan takes place long in the future, when Wolverine’s so-called immortality starts to fade away. The trailers have adopted a completely different tone from previous Wolverine movies – and most superhero movies in general. It looks somber, introspective, emotional, and western. “You still have time,” Patrick Stewart tells Logan, in whatever timeline Dr. X is involved in now. There’s a sense of finality to the trailers. If Wolverine is going to have a good standalone film, this will be it.