Jim Jarmusch’s 1984 film, Stranger than Paradise, is most definitely my favorite film viewed in this class. The film has been regarded as unconventional or belonging to a personal taste which I can easily see. Not much happens in the plot, in the camera movement, nor in the score. There is no exciting car chase, no sex, no twists.
Yet, the film has the minimalist cinematography, intriguing characters, and ‘main man’ Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The cinematography works like postcards. Each scene is separated by black titles making the movie feel like a collection of postcards sent from a friend. Nothing much happens, but they feel honest. I wouldn’t believe that Willy or Eddie would have lived an exciting life and they certainly don’t.
The characters are searching for something just like the crews from Kerouac’s On the Road. Each place they arrive, they don’t find the paradise they were looking for. Instead they find dull, ugly, looking places with bad weather. Still, Willy does not stop and makes the bold decision to keep searching. Whatever that is.
Willy. Eddie. Eva. These three characters help us do the search in subtlety. Stranger than Paradise came out at a time when people were fascinated with effects and blockbuster films. Today, mainstream films continue to do so in a much bigger scale. Perhaps movies do not have to overload our brains constantly to bring a reaction. These three characters brought a reaction from me, and their lives were sorta boring.