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Stranger Than Paradise

Stranger Than Paradise

5.0 3
Director: Jim Jarmusch

Cast: John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson


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DVD owners have come to expect good movies from MGM, but not the best discs. Stranger Than Paradise is no exception. Most are just glad to see it released on DVD. This isn't the kind of film that is going to appeal to any sort of mass audience, so MGM should be praised for simply releasing it at all. The picture quality is as good as viewers are going to find


DVD owners have come to expect good movies from MGM, but not the best discs. Stranger Than Paradise is no exception. Most are just glad to see it released on DVD. This isn't the kind of film that is going to appeal to any sort of mass audience, so MGM should be praised for simply releasing it at all. The picture quality is as good as viewers are going to find and since the film is very low-budget, imperfections show. There is a lot of grain from the original film stock. For the most part though it doesn't look too bad, and it's never really distracting. Kudos do go to MGM for presenting this film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and even more praise for the new anamorphic transfer. The sound, which uses a split two-channel mono track, is decent, but certainly suffers a little due to what the filmmakers had available to them. It's still clear up front, which is what matters most. MGM has decided to include an odd extra this time. Instead of the usual trailer, they have silent behind-the-scenes footage shot in the cold of Cleveland. It's about ten minutes long and has no purpose since viewers don't know what's really going on. All that's left is a series of short pieces that show director Jim Jarmusch and cast walking around in the snow and setting up shots. Is this a great disc? No, not really, but it's almost a miracle that a film like this would even be released when it seems like everyone is looking for the big-budget spectacles to show off their systems.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Deadpan humor and a sense of hip aimlessness pervade Stranger Than Paradise, the breakthrough feature of indie auteur Jim Jarmusch. The film's skeletal story follows three proto-slackers -- Willie (John Lurie), his best friend (Richard Edson), and Willie's Hungarian cousin (Eszter Balint) -- on a road trip from New York to Cleveland to Miami. Beautifully filmed in black and white, Stranger Than Paradise uses wide shots, a static camera, and minimal editing to give scenes an almost improvised quality, with plenty of awkward silences alternating with some distinctly non-dramatic dialogue. All three members of the tiny cast give low-key performances that are touching without being overly emotive. The story itself is marvelously episodic, a series of conversation fragments and slice of life moments punctuated with fades and cuts to black. A spare string quartet score by Lounge Lizard Lurie accents the introspective tone of this road movie to nowhere. Jarmusch's signature style -- a mixture of understated humor, formal elegance, and metaphorical richness -- works to perfection here, making Stranger than Paradise an offbeat masterpiece.
All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
An exercise in minimalist hipster cool that entertains less because of its nothing-happens plot than its comic, avant-garde style, Stranger Than Paradise (1984) also ranks high on the list of the late twentieth century's most influential and historically important films, representing an early example of the low-budget independent wave that would dominate the cinematic marketplace a decade later. The second film from New York director Jim Jarmusch, Stranger Than Paradise was first produced as a short called The New World with stock that was donated to the filmmaker by Wim Wenders, one of his two mentors (the other was Nicholas Ray). After touring the festival circuit, the short garnered enough attention for Jarmusch to adapt it into a feature, using The New World as the first of clearly delineated thirds. At times playing like a series of pointless vignettes, Stranger Than Paradise has certain generational themes in common with later indie films like Slacker (1991) in its preoccupation with the disaffection, aimlessness and inability to communicate of its central characters. Defying the hard-working immigrant stereotype, the Hungarian-born New Yorker Willie (John Lurie) is a gambler who is selfishly does not want to put up his teenaged cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) when she arrives in America from Budapest on a brief stopover before continuing on to her new home with an aunt in Ohio. Willie grows to admire Eva, however, when she commits petty theft. Together with Willie's pal Eddie (Richard Edson), also a hustler, the three seem more preoccupied with what to avoid (a boring winter in Ohio on the shore of Lake Erie where they go to visit Eva a year later) than with where they're going (once they flee Ohio for sunnier, more exotic Miami, life doesn't really change for them: Eva can't decide what to do there and the two men lose all their hard-earning poker winnings betting at the track). Each character harbors a desire to arrive in a paradise of sorts (for Eva, it is the America that spawned the rebellious Screamin' Jay Hawkins, for Eddie it is where Eva is living in Ohio and for Willie it is Florida). In the circular world of Stranger Than Paradise, however, they each end up frustrated, confused and ultimately, back where they began. Jarmusch's use of long takes and slow fades to black punctuates the humor of his characters' boredom, ennui, and frustration; his trademark usage of parallel tracking shots makes its first appearance here. In 1984, Stranger Than Paradise was named Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics and was awarded the prize for new filmmakers, the Camera d'Or, at Cannes.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital, monaural]

Special Features

Behind-the-scenes featurette

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Lurie Willie
Eszter Balint Eva
Richard Edson Eddie
Cecillia Stark Aunt Lottie
Danny Rosen Billy
Rammellzee Man with Money
Paul Sloane Motel Owner
Richard Boes Factory Worker
Harvey Perr Poker player
Brian J. Burchill Poker player
Sara Driver Girl with Hat
Tom Docillo Airline Agent
Rockets Redglare Poker Player

Technical Credits
Jim Jarmusch Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Guido Chiesa Production Designer
Tom DiCillo Cinematographer
Sara Driver Producer
Sam Edwards Production Designer
Otto Grokenberger Executive Producer
Tom Jarmusch Production Designer
Drew Kunin Score Composer
Melody London Editor
John Lurie Score Composer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Main Title [1:39]
2. Straight from Budapest [1:34]
3. The New World [2:17]
4. English Only [1:49]
5. "I'm His Cousin" [3:31]
6. TV Dinner [1:31]
7. "He Bugs Me" [2:57]
8. TV Marathon [2:41]
9. Choking The Alligator [2:05]
10. Eva Shops [1:26]
11. An Ugly Dress [2:16]
12. Packing Her Bags [3:44]
13. Willie Is Sad [2:13]
14. The Card Game [3:41]
15. Which Way To Cleveland [1:48]
16. Rich American Men [4:44]
17. At Aunt Lotte's [3:43]
18. Surprise! [3:56]
19. Kung-Fu Movie [3:30]
20. A Good Joke [1:25]
21. "I Am The Vinner" [1:39]
22. Lake Eric [2:42]
23. Kidnapping Eva [2:22]
24. Her Main Man [2:16]
25. Real Tourists [3:36]
26. Two Beds And A Cot [3:48]
27. Ditched [3:27]
28. Losers [4:39]
29. Free Money [3:32]
30. "Definitely Horses" [2:09]
31. Flight To Budapest [3:31]
32. End Credits [2:30]

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Stranger Than Paradise 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
TVProfessor More than 1 year ago
Jim Jarmusch of the ultra hip jazz group "The Lounge Lizards" begins an incredible body of work with this Black and White story of two losers and a foreign cousin one has to entertain. The story is good but what makes this film great are the deadpan performances, the subtleties, stunning shots and the fact that most of this movie is shot with long shots (thus eliminating the cutaways and close ups that cost money). Released to independent film houses in 1984, this movie revived the American Indy in many ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago