“Paterson” is set in Paterson, N.J., and concerns a bus driver, played by Adam Driver, who is also named Paterson. Already you may be getting a sense of the resonant circular prayer wheel that is Jim Jarmusch’s new film.
Paterson the man is a poet — although most people don’t know it — and he takes his inspiration from the late, great William Carlos Williams, who did not live in Paterson the city (rather in nearby Rutherford) but who dedicated 12 years and five volumes to an epic poem called “Paterson.” If you pick up a copy of “Paterson” the poem, you may come across the repeated line: “Say it! No ideas but in things,” and that may be the best guide to what Jarmusch has achieved here. “Paterson” the movie is about the ordinary slipstream of our days — about all the stuff we touch but never notice — and also about life’s piercing, inexhaustible beauty when we do notice. Coming out at a time when the world seems both upside down and backward, watching this film feels like drinking from a cool, clear lake.