When: Thu., Dec. 21, 7 p.m. 2017
On a pilgrimage to Memphis, a young Japanese couple stay in a run-down hotel and argue over who was more important to rock and roll. “Elvis!” cries the woman, while the man keeps insisting “Carl Perkins!” They aren’t the only people having a bad night in the joint. An Italian widow finds herself saddled with an unwelcome guest (not counting a ghost), while three losers in another room (including Joe Strummer and Steve Buscemi) discuss the 1960s-era TV show Lost in Space. These are the bizarre ingredients of Jim Jarmusch’s 1989 cult classic Mystery Train, an anthology of three stories that happen simultaneously but present themselves one after the other. It’s kind of like an existential and melancholy episode of The Twilight Zone linked by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins as the desk clerk in a glaring red jacket. The McNay revives the film this week as part of a series inspired by “All This and Heaven Too,” a stark, poignant and nearly all-encompassing look at the work of late San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez, who zoomed in on human detritus but presented it in a context devoid of humans. Jarmusch’s poetically cluttered movie, dusted with the mythology of American music, offers us the mixed-up humans who generate the junk left behind.