How do we relax from the New York Film Festival‘s two-movies-a-day schedule? With an old classic, of course, courtesy of the Criterion Collection. Jim Jarmusch’s episodic 1991 taxi cab confidential moves around the globe while Tom Waits growls and hasn’t lost a bit of its spirit and charm. Especially after seeing a film as cynical as Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, I was struck by how good-natured and kind Jarmusch’s vision was.
In the confined spaces of cabs in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki, strangers are meeting strangers and, with the exception of the “bishop” who has the ill fate of running into Roberto Benigni, good things happen. I was especially pleased to note connections between the episodes and to other movies that I’d previously missed. Since this is a Criterion DVD, I shouldn’t have to mention that the quality of the transfer is first rate. Jarmusch won’t watch his own movies after they are completed, so there is no director’s commentary, but he does answer fan questions. Other extras include commentary by the DP and location sound mixer, a Belgian TV interview with Jarmusch, and essays by Paul Auster and others.
Night on Earth. Jim Jarmusch, 1991. *****