Jarmusch established himself as a major new talent with this low-budget, black-and-white portrait of three directionless young people: a detached, world-weary New York hipster (John Lurie), his fedora’d best friend (Richard Edson), and his 16-year-old Hungarian cousin (Eszter Balint), who's just landed in the States with an arsenal of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins tapes. Jarmusch was just four years out of film school, but much of his signature style was already on full display: his spot-on sense of place, his poker-faced brand of comedy, his sympathy with foreigners at once deeply attuned to and culturally cut off from their surroundings, his meticulous soundtrack choices, his love for chapter divisions and other rigid structuring elements (each scene is a single take followed by a cut to black), and his willingness to wear his influences on his sleeve (Ozu and Antonioni loom especially large here). With its careful mix of irony and pathos, Stranger than Paradise is one of the watershed American indie films of the 1980s.

Screening with:

Talking Heads – The Lady Don’t Mind
Jim Jarmusch | 4m