So I'm going to remedy the situation by posting some stills from "Paradise." It's one of those films that shouldn't have worked at all but against all odds it works wonderfully. I hope no one over at Criterion minds. There's a serious lack of Eszter Balint imagery on the Internets. I'm offering a solution right here, right now.
"Stranger Than Paradise" is noted by film historians for mainly one concept: it changed the rules of cinema. Through singular vision, warped humor, bravery, or sheer nuttiness, Jarmusch played around with the basic "rules" of drama: story arc, conflict, resolution, and basically said to hell with that and created a flat, meaningless universe of blight and emptiness. Eva arrives from Eastern Europe to stay with her Aunt Lotte in Cleveland, gets waylaid to cousin Willie's New York City studio apartment for ten days, then is on her way. Ultimate no-good-nick hipster Willie and his clone Eddie make feeble attempts to connect with Eva again and the whole gang ends up in Nowheresville, Florida, repeating the patterns of their lives. It's bleak comedy in grainy black and white. And now...
Welcome to America!
The film is about the emigrant experience of the American Dream, a concept that is flattened here, squashed into a ball and tossed into a wastebasket, or more likely onto a pile of trash on the street during a garbage strike. Much of New York resembled this in the 80s. It was fascinating in a warped way.
Eva dances to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' I Put a Spell on You. Her obsession with this song, brought back to life by Jarmusch after decades of neglect, along with her flat proclamation, "It's Screamin' Jay Hawkins and he's a wild man so bug off," plus her fabulous androgynous fashion sense make her the coolest teenager in cinematic history. In my opinion. I've been dressing similarly to Eva for 35 years and have had people tell me I should try to be "more feminine" for about the same amount of time. So I'm biased.
Ah, New York.
It's a road trip film so it's all about the journey. Except not in this film because they're on the road to seemingly nowhere.
Jarmusch in the background, eating a hotdog.
I've always loved the simplicity of this scene. Four people watching a bad film with a ridiculous kung fu soundtrack. We Americans in general spend a lot of time sitting on our asses, watching stuff, but this had never been portrayed so adequately until this moment.
Aunt "I am the vinner" Lotte. She is so my grandmother, except my grandmother's family came here by way of Mexico.