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Stranger than Paradise

Jim Jarmusch

A beautiful little independent film that paved the way for the more accessible (but perhaps less exhilarating) Down by Law, this three part road-movie-with-a-difference, is shot in long, static black-and white takes, and features an excellent score that straddies both screaming Jay Hawkinss and Bartok. The story is slight: cool, laconic New Yorker Lurie reluctantly plays host when his young female cousin arrives on a visit from Hungary. When the girl finallydisappears to Ohio to stay with an eccentric old aunt, Lurie suddenly finds himself feeling lonely, and he and his buddy Edson slope off westwards in search of… whatever. It’s an ironic table about exile, peopled by carefully, economically observed kooks who, at least after the first half-hour, are drawn with considerable warmth and generosity. The acting performances combine to produce an obliquely effective study of the effect of landscape upon emotion, and the wry, dry humour is often quite delicious.

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