0718. Stranger than Paradise (1984)

Excerpt: The film’s three acts coincide with the three places the trio visit: New York, Cleveland, and Florida.  But Jarmusch is careful to never really show any of these places.  The only thing that sets Cleveland apart from the other two places is the snow, and Florida is distinguished only by the beach.  We never see anything that looks like “classic New York.”  In fact, most of the film is shot in interiors, in drab motel rooms or grimy apartments, depressing living rooms that close in on you from all angles.  The only exterior shots we get could not be more nondescript, to the point of having to take Jarmusch’s word for it that yes, this indeed is Cleveland, because it might as well be Budapest as Eddie says.  The bland interiors and indistinguishable exteriors are external manifestations of Willie and Eddie’s meandering life.  They travel but do not see; they live, but not meaningfully.

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