Stranger than Paradise. 1984. USA. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. With John Lurie, Richard Edson, Eszter Balint. 35mm. 90 min.
Jim Jarmusch’s second feature, made in the years following his time at NYU film school, was jumpstarted with a gift of 40 minutes of leftover 16mm film stock from Wim Wenders, who had just completed Der Stand der Dinge. Jarmusch turned this celluloid encouragement into a 30-minute short film and soon after completed a longer script, expanding the short into a minimal, deadpan road movie in three acts, about a desultory immigrant New Yorker (John Lurie), his friend Eddie (Richard Edson), and teenage cousin Eva (Eszter Balint). In the press notes, Jarmusch described the film as a “semi-neorealist black-comedy in the style of an imaginary Eastern-European film director obsessed with Ozu and familiar with the 1950s American television show The Honeymooners.” The film went on to win the Camera d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, ultimately becoming one of the most influential independent films of the decade.