Thursday, August 30, 2007


Yesterday I saw Jim Jarmusch's pared existential buddy movie Stranger Than Paradise (1984),* a low-cost eighties independent nod to nouvelle vague, combining a chilled French art house atmosphere with some warmhearted wonkiness out of mean street anti-intellectualism. Stranger Than Paradise began life as a short subject by the same name. Willie (Lounge Lizard John Lurie) must open his dank NY single-bedroom flat to his Hungarian cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) on a stopover for the duration her aunt’s post-surgical recovery. Willie fancies himself a member of the City's hipster scene; he won't let Eva cramp his style or remind him of his immigrant reality. Eva rises morosely to the challenge of insinuating herself into Willie's admiration, a feat she accomplishes by watching TV all night and shoplifting smokes from the neighborhood grocery. This short film, re-titled "The New World", is the first of three chapters in the feature-length anthology Stranger Than Paradise. Chapter two, "A Year Later", finds Willie and his friend Eddie (Sonic Youth Richard Edson) raising money stiffing poker buddies. Before long they reach their monetary goal and borrow a car to visit Eva in Cleveland. Willie and Eddie stay at Eva's aunt's, eternally taxed by her disinterest in speaking English to her guests. The third chapter, "Paradise", comes immediately after the events of the second: Willie and Eddie decide to spend their remaining money taking Eva south to Florida where it's warm and there are dog races. This movie is an assault of moribund tedium: minutes pass between actions in simultaneously under- and over-exposed grainy contrast that bleeds value into one-point perspective. Jarmusch makes use of the old vague construction, two boys and a girl, as desexualized points of a triangular interaction becoming increasingly divorced from its background, its plot, then itself as the movie proceeds. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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