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Stranger Than Paradise (The Criterion Collection)

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Stranger Than Paradise (The Criterion Collection) + Down by Law (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson, Cecillia Stark, Danny Rosen
  • Directors: Jim Jarmusch
  • Writers: Jim Jarmusch
  • Producers: Sara Driver, Otto Grokenberger
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Digital Sound, Mono, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Hungarian
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 4 2007
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000SFJ4HW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,138 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Rootless Hungarian emigre Willie (John Lurie), his pal Eddie (Richard Edson), and visiting sixteen-year-old cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) always manage to make the least of any situation, whether aimlessly traversing the drab interiors and environs of New York City, Cleveland, or an anonymous Florida suburb. With its delicate humor and dramatic nonchalance, Jim Jarmusch's one-of-a-kind minimalist masterpiece, Stranger Than Paradise, forever transformed the landscape of American independent cinema. Also included in this special-edition release is Jarmusch's legendary debut feature, Permanent Vacation, a time capsule of late-seventies Manhattan, on DVD for the first time in the United States.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Reed on June 7 2004
Format: DVD
I was a lonely GI living in Germany in the early 80's and was in Paris for the weekend. A Parisian couple (Great folks, I've NEVER found Parisians to be anything but nice and warm people!) invited me to the film. We saw it near the George Pomp. (I can't spell...) center and it was marvelous. Enough has been analyzed about the film, but to me it struck a personal nerve/note on items of alienation, lonliness, and finally, warmth and acceptance. Screamin' Jay Hawkins "I put a spell on you" fits so was genius to place it (and the boombox, in black and white on a lonely street corner...) in the film. I even bought his albums (that I could find).
Anyway, it's a slow movie, definitely art house, but if you're in a very expat (American) mood, or halfway intelligent, you'll get it. I think it would be interesting if the director did a more updated film on Imigrants. I have a friend who's parents are from Syria, who was brought up in the U.S. He is your typical (OK, well, we're like that) American, and when cousins visit from the Middle East they're in culture shock. I think if Jim J. did something with a Middle Eastern bent it would be interesting.

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By Porter on Oct. 19 2003
Format: DVD
Brilliant deapan humor, slow timely dialog, low budget distinct look, raw though beautiful black and white production and stunning subtle performances by a small well placed cast. When Willie's (Lurie) Hungarian cousin Eva (Balint) comes to stay with him for a few weeks before retreating to Cleveland to stay with her Aunt, we experience, from a fly on the wall perspective, the boring lives of the two unfold. After Willie grows fond of her, he tracks her down in Cleveland along with his buddy Eddie (Edson) in search for something more in their dull existence. The three decide to voyage to Florida to escape the cold and dark environment, only to find similar dullness only in sunnier shades. Brilliant deapan originality and haunting story of three people looking for "Paradise" or any place that doesn't resemble hell. This is the greatest Indie flick ever made.. simple and honest the film's low budget production looks better than most. This one will stay with you and force you to look at our world differently from here on.
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Format: DVD
This ranks as one of my favorite films of all time. However, I think one's opinion is affected by whether you see it on the big screen or TV. I remember seeing this in a theater when it was first released and thought it was the most strangely humorous, starkly beautiful, nihilistic, melancholy, touching and insightful thing I'd ever seen. Jim Jarmusch basically launched the independent film movement with "Stranger than Paradise" and while the brilliance of this film has caused me to see all his later work, nothing matches it.
It's sort of a hard film to describe - 'ya just have to see it. But try to catch it on a large screen if you can. Visually, it's just gorgeous. I remember reading somewhere that Jim shot it on some special B & W film stock left over from someone else's project. The stark winter scenes on lake Erie are unforgettable - like celluloid art.
On top of all of this - you get Screamin' Jay Hawkins singing "I Put a Spell on You" (the original, good version not the watered-down later version). I mean, what-more-do-you-want?!?
A little known bit of trivia - the chick who played Eva was a fashion model in NYC at the time and also makes a cameo appearance in the documentary of the NYC underground art/music scene called "Downtown '81" featuring Jean Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry, James Chance and Tav Falco.
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Format: DVD
I've seen this film many times in both theaters and at home. I own it, of course. One of the advantages of seeing it in the theater is that some people need an audience to realize how truly funny it is. There are 4 essential characters. John Lurie, the musician, plays the closest we get to a lead character. He lives in dismal circumstances in New York City. He has an incredibly doltish friend, Frank, who is his best friend. They take Lurie's 16 year old cousin from Hungary to Cleveland so she can stay with an old woman relative. The ride to Cleveland is hilarious even but their stay there is even more so. These characters embody what is known as the "full Cleveland," that is, being incredibly dorky by anyone's standards. And where else could they stay but on the near West Side, the epitome of that image? The film's writer-director knows that of which he speaks since is a native of the Cleveland-Akron metro region. One thing about Clevelanders though is that they can laugh at themselves. I saw this film at the opening of the Cleveland International Film Festival, my home town, and the entire audience, including hubby and me, were howling throughout. The film then moves on to Florida with the three younger people(another insider joke as this is Cleveland's favorite home away from home). In Florida, the three manage to get into even more absurd episodes, including scoring money off a drug dealer. Truly, these 3 are the Three Stooges of Deadpan. Jarmusch makes good use of music in all of his films and this, his first, has a wonderful soundtrack which acts as counterpoint to the deadpan.
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