Very Secret Movie club ratings

movie rating
The Child 4/5
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie 4/5
The Son's Room 3.5/5
Stranger Than Paradise 3/5
Dancer in the Dark
ChungKing Express
Happy Together3.5/5
My Blueberry Nights
Wild at Heart4/5
Summer Hours2/5
Blue Velvet
Inland Empire

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stranger than Paradise: Reviews

Stranger than Paradise’s style is not really the type I enjoy to watch, however I find the subject of the human identity it touches very interesting. Trying to learn more about this work, I searched the web for the reviews and here are a little information I found. It was Jim Jarmusch’s second movie which originally was shot for 30 minutes from the leftover stocks of his film school thesis. Later on he added more scenes and made it into a feature film with three acts , “the New World”, “One year Later”, and “Paradise. The movie won the Cannes Golden Palm award in 1984, and was recognized as one of the early pioneers in the American independent film movement.

…the effect is disorienting until you recognize what Mr. Jarmusch is up to - that is, discovering the ludicrously sublime in the supremely tacky….''Stranger Than Paradise'' is a ''Marty'' that Jean-Paul Sartre might have appreciated, about hanging out, not in hell but in a permanent purgatory. This world sometimes looks like an eerily underpopulated New York City, a rundown but genteel working- class section of Cleveland or that scrubby part of the east coast of Florida that has yet to be transformed into a vacation paradise, where the motels always have vacancies, even at the height of the season, and where the swimming pools are filled with weeds, not water.” – The New York Times

An article in Cutlure Cartel discusses how according to Mulvey there are 2 narratives in cinema: masculine and feminine. Masculine oriented films gradually build a climax and find a fast resolution, whereas feminine films will be more circular and open ended. Jarmusch; on the other hand has introduced a more gender neutral, less sexist, racists narrative in his works.

Stranger than Paradise merges American and Hungarian culture in a way that doesn't make overt statements about multiculturalism so much as it presents scenarios and lets them work out their own conclusion. sometimes not much more than letting Aunt Lotte serve goulash. Yet what makes Stranger than Paradise such a joyful postmodern romp is not its alternative narrative or its multicultural tendencies. Stranger than Paradise is groundbreakingly alternative in its skeletal formalism.


Jarmusch constructs an America of isolation. Whether it is a tracking shot of Eva walking through an eerily vacant city street while listening to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell On You," Eddie and Willy on a long drive with nothing to think about, or eating TV dinners, smoking Chesterfields and watching football in a 15'x15' apartment, (and the even more blatant visuals of standing alone watching airplanes take off, and sightseeing at Lake Erie), Jarmusch's juxtaposition of solitude and community would be poignantly depressing if the film weren't so deadpan. “ –Culture Cartel

Here are also a few other interesting reviews:

Boredom and loneliness are ever-present in this Paradise, an absolute lack of goals or potential that makes Willie, Eddie, and Eva's experience of America so disturbingly bleak. Theirs is an America of featureless cities and plains, rundown apartments and hotel rooms, donut joints, and highways that lead to nowhere in particular. There is hope for better times ahead. But before luck has the chance to turn, human nature intervenes, and it's back to square one for these restless, listless misfits.” – Film Critic

Here, characters not talking reflect a broader failure of communication, characters sitting around doing nothing reflect a more general lack of direction, and characters replaying the same scenes in different milieux reflect an inability to escape the rigidity of their own personalities. This is a film about narrow-mindedness, folly and a lack of initiative (in the Land of Opportunity) – as well as the impossibility of ever entirely leaving one's roots behind. It is also, after its own bone-dry fashion, devilishly funny.

Willie may lecture Eva on the 'American' way to eat, speak and behave, but while he is a single, work-shy loser with no ambition and few prospects, she is a resourceful, driven winner, quick to acquire a job and a boyfriend (Danny Rosen). In other words, she embraces the American Dream far more than her cousin ever will, and while the film's twist ending may at first seem merely an ironic gag that has come out of nowhere, in fact it crystallises the difference between this odd couple: Eva is open enough to seize the opportunities serendipity offers and to make a new life in the new world, while aimless Willie is in fact always going backwards. Paradise, it turns out, is not a real place to which you can travel, but more a state of mind which seems to be ever slipping away from the arrested Willie.” – Eye for Film

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