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Stranger than Paradise

Director: Jim Jarmusch

U.S.A.-W. Germany| 1984. Black and white. 89 min.


Begun as a short ?lm and completed using end cuts of ?lm stock donated by kindred soul Wim Wenders, Stranger than Paradise won the prestigious Camera d’or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. It immediately established Jarmusch’s international reputation and provided the blueprint for a unique cinematic journey that now stretches over two decades. Laconic New Yorker Willie (John Lurie, who also composed the score) whiles away his days knocking about with goofball buddy Eddie (Richard Edson). Fresh from Hungary lands Lurie’s cousin Eva (Eszter Balint), a feisty young lady with an insouciant attitude coupled with an insatiable appetite for cigarettes and the music of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (as she memorably puts it: ‘He’s a wild man, so bug off’). Each scene here simply plays itself out, then fades to black (the editing process, Jarmusch later admitted, consisted of stitching the individual scenes together), creating an amiable hipster elegance that many have struggled— and, by and large, failed—to emulate.

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