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The Grime and the Glamour: 'Permanent Vacation' at the Barbican

At a glance
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Time 20:45
Date 29/09/17
Price £9.5
  • Produced by Barbican
  • Price £9.50
  • Get ready for the lower east side circa 1980
  • Bring along a drifter
  • Surf to Barbican
  • See you at Barbican

Jim Jarmusch’s first feature is a remarkable time capsule of the landscapes of the Lower East Side circa 1980, and its fashion, culture and attitude.

We follow lanky teenage jazz fiend Allie (Chris Parker) as he hangs out in his scuzzy tenement flat with girlfriend Leila (Leila Gastil), and drifts through a crumbling Lower East Side landscape that’s half war zone, half deserted playground. Along the way, he reads some French poetry, catches a Nicolas Ray film, steals a car… and bumps into a variety of morbid eccentrics and glamorous psychotics. John Lurie also stars and provides the soundtrack.

Famously, when Jarmusch was filming in a flat on East Third Street, the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat took to using the set as a crash-pad. 'Every time we did a reverse angle, I’d have to drag Jean-Michel in his sleeping bag under the camera so he’d be out of the shot,' reported the director. 'He’d grunt and go back to sleep.'