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Stranger Than Paradise (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: #22,792 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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Most helpful customer reviews

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Parham on July 6 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this movie about 15 years ago, in Iran, with a bad quality and under a treble cultural condition. Books and publications were censored and watching videotapes were banned by law. We had to hide them under our shirts when we wanted to take them out. All these, could lead you to a kind of mentality that finds the source of all your sufferings in the society and culture you are living in.
I remember watching the movie shocked me because of its simplicity, its concise and beautiful dialogue and its unique visual language. There are a lot ot silences in the movie when people sit there, do something very simple (like drinking beers or watching Tom & Jerry on TV) but the only thing that comes out of the picture is their solitude. The fade-outs and fade-ins of the movie makes watching it like collecting some forgotten memories.
The movie was so tangible for me. Two guys walk on the snowy "wasteland" kind of cityscape of Cleveland saying "you go somewhere new, and you think something is different, but everything is the same." To American viewer the movie may look like a movie about America. To me, however, it was -and it is- a movie about human solitude, about the impossibility of communication among people. Virginia Wolf once said "human experiences can not be transferred to the others, this is the secret of human loneliness" (sorry, ... I translated it from the Persian text I have read. I'm sure the original English is more beautiful!) "Stranger than Paradise" is about this impossibility.
Watching the movie in Iran, reminded me of how the human solitude is coming from somewhere beyond stupidity of political systems.
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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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