A stunning achievement and the announcement of Jim Jarmusch as a major force in world cinema—deadpan comedy, formal master
so few films are ambitious in their structure- and I don’t mean complicated
the film is a series of single take long duration shots, elliptically edited with few seconds of blank black screen— set in three cities (NYC (really NJ), Cleveland, Florida) with title cards
hilarious use of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You”
a fish out of water comedy with language barriers (Hungarian here)—Jarmusch would do this over and over again along with the three part rigorous formal narrative structure
b/w 35mm like much of his work
bookend airport opening and closing
“Daring in its conception but made with a watchmaker’s care”- Washington Post- love this
John Lurie is not only the lead but does the music (like he does for Permanent Vacation, Down by Law and Mystery Train)
The washed out color is brilliant- it sets the tone, keeps consistency (repetition is incredibly important when understanding Jarmusch) even when going from freezing Cleveland to Florida (that trip from NYC to Florida reminds me of Midnight Cowboy of course)
Ironic music (Hawkins), titles (“new world”)
The editing is a crucial choice/structure- huge—sets the film up as a series of vignettes
Names of the horses in the race- “Passing Fancy” and “Tokyo Story” (“yeah that’s a good one” from Lurie in the film)- haha from Ozu. Static camera- from Ozu. The vacuuming has to be from Akerman.
The vibe the film creates- we’re watching them watch tv, play solitaire, sleep, drive, go to the movies— it’s hypnotic with the way the film is edited with the ellipsis — it’s not realism
NJ for the first 30 mins, Cleveland, Florida- it’s split evenly of course. Ends with “what the hell are you gonna do in Budapest?” irony — you go someplace new and everything looks the same
Graffiti in the mise-en-scene, small apartment, small house, fleabag motel in Florida—stark, minimal, garbage art – Gilliam, Wenders
Some of the jokes are great. “Did she just call you ‘Bela’ outside?
[…] Stranger Than Paradise – Jarmusch […]
Fascinating film, puzzling in a good way.
I can’t remember another film with characters so ambitious to do nothing, it’s not even like an Antonioni film where the characters are experiencing ennui, his characters at least are looking for something in their lives even if they are having trouble finding it. The characters in this film don’t even seem to be doing that. And yet as you’re waiting for something to happen the film just pushes along with its dry humor and intriguing repetition.
Similar to the other Jarmusch films I’ve seen there is definitely a Godard like quality in the film’s effortlessly cool aura (although the characters in this film certainly are not as cool as Belmendo or Delon)