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Stranger than Paradise


“You know it's funny, you come to someplace new, and everything looks just the same"

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Jim Jarmusch's second feature that really kicked off his career when it won the Caméra d'Or at Cannes plus the Special Jury Prize at Sundance and many others, Stranger than Paradise is a drifting deadpan comedy starring jazz musician John Lurie, former Sonic Youth drummer-turned-actor Richard Edson, and Hungarian-born actress and violinist Eszter Balint. Small-time gambler and hustler Willie’s (Lurie) life in Brooklyn is upended when his cousin Eva (Balint) from Hungary comes to stay while her mother is in hospital. He begrudgingly abides and teaches her about American culture. Years later, Willie and his pal Eddie go to Cleveland to visit Eva and, bored with New York as a whole, decide to embark together on a road trip down to Florida. But a spell of race-track chancing complicates the trio's plans, leaving them in listless disarray.

Why See This Film

Cited as a favourite by no less than Akira Kurosawa, Stranger than Paradise is a milestone in American independent filmmaking, rocking cinematic preconceptions to their core with its quiet long takes, minimalist style, shoe-string resourcefulness and effortless aura of cool that would go on to influence generations of filmmakers and audiences alike. Working as a personal assistant to Nicolas Ray and catching the attention of Wim Wenders, Jarmusch made a short film version with some spare stock the german filmmaker had left over with the complete feature evolving later. And what a feature it is. Theres truly nothing quite like its sparse, enchanting and isolating desolation, rendered in stark black and white and sweetened by Jarmusch and his casts’ inherent wit and dry charm.

Jim Jarmusch
John Lurie, Richard Edson, Eszter Balint
89 minutes

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