(aka 'LANewYorkParisRomeHelsinki' or 'Une nuit sur terre')
France / UK / Germany / USA / Japan 1991
Five cities. Five taxicabs. A multitude of strangers in the night. Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Beatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for this hilarious quintet of tales of urban displacement and existential angst, spanning time zones, continents, and languages. Jarmusch's lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat makes for one of his most charming and beloved films.
LA, 7.07 pm: chain-smoking Ryder gets movie agent Rowlands in the back of her cab, and inadvertently persuades her she'd be right for a role Rowlands is casting. At the very same time, taxi drivers across the world are also having seemingly inconsequential encounters with passengers: in New York, inept East German exile Müller-Stahl hands over the wheel to young black Esposito; in Paris, Ivory Coaster De Bankolé discusses sight and sex with blind, belligerent Dalle; in Rome, raving Benigni confesses a carnal past to priest Bonacelli; and in Helsinki, melancholy Pellonpää calms three drunks with a tale of infinite sadness. As ever with Jarmusch, as the five sequential stories proceed toward their unexpectedly poignant conclusion, there's a touch of the experimental at play; but it's also a film of great warmth. Character prevails throughout, and with the exception of a miscast Ryder, the performances are terrific. Though it may take a while to get Jarmusch's gist, hang in there; by the time Tom Waits growls his lovely closing waltz over the credits, Jarmusch has shown us moments most film-makers don't even notice.
Theatrical Release: October 4th, 1991
DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||Criterion Collection - Spine # 401 - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 1.0)|
commentary by director of photography Frederick Elmes and location sound
mixer Drew Kunin
Unfortunately this is one odd case where I don't own any of the other editions of this film on DVD ( and there is a UK, German, Scandinavian and an Aussie digital release). From what I have been told - none are stellar and even this Criterion shows the limitations for the shooting process. But still it would be hard to pick flaw, as like Stranger Than Paradise compared HERE, the cover has a small round sticker 'New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch'. I feel fairly confident that this edition looks about as close as the finished film product could on dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic DVD. Almost exclusively shot at night with less-than-stellar lighting it is, expectantly, a little clouded and rough appearing at times - giving the film a strong realistic feel but colors look acceptable and contrast very good. The audio is clear and clean - stated on the Criterion website as 'restoration tools were used to reduce clicks, pops, hiss, and crackle'. Dialogue is quite audible and there are optional English subtitles.
Supplements include an audio commentary by director of photography Frederick Elmes and location sound mixer Drew Kunin but it totally stops between chapters 4 - 6 and chapters 9 - 11 (an ominous voice states - 'the commentary will resume in chapter X'). what is discussed is very good - sometimes Jarmush's eccentricities are brought up - some details of the production technical(s), shot making and even about the performances. I enjoyed it. There is an audio only Q&A, in which Jarmusch's responds to questions sent by 23 fans from a different city around the world as organized by Criterion in March 2007 and read by Jarmusch. There is about 6 minutes of a 1992 Belgian television interview with Jarmusch - it has burned-in French subtitles. Finally a 42-page liner notes booklet featuring new essays by Thom Andersen, Paul Auster, Bernard Eisenschitz, Goffredo Fofi, and Peter von Bagh, and the lyrics to Tom Waits's original songs from the film.
Great film with a sensitive international flavor, fabulous earthy performances and, as you may have anticipated, a great DVD package from Criterion although we obviously are thirsting for more input from Mr. Jarmusch himself. Highly recommended!