December 23, 2004

Ever fallen in love?


The above still is from the 1984 film Stranger than Paradise. It's a fine film; the first third, in which a young Hungarian woman who's come straight from Budapest spends ten days with her Americanized cousin in New York is my favorite. Cousin Willie and, to a lesser degree, his friend Eddie, develop a strange infatuation with Eva, driving to Cleveland to visit her and then traveling to Florida with her. There's an obliqueness to the whole thing that's very effective -- if Willie (or Eddie for that matter) has any feelings for Eva, it's best expressed by their inability to think of anything to do in Cleveland other than waiting for her to get off of work.

Eva's character was fascinated by the great Screamin' Jay Hawkins ("He's my main man," she says at one point), who wrote and recorded the most raucous version of "I put a spell on you." Eszter Balint, the actress who played Eva, has a pair of quirky records out herself -- I particularly liked the song Cheeseman, although Amsterdam Crown isn't bad either.

Incidentally, this interview with Balint is an interesting read (and a reminder of that early '80s cultural milieu that produced Stranger than Paradise, among other things...

Posted by Ideofact at December 23, 2004 01:16 AM

I'll have to get this and watch it. The average Hollywood fare has been pretty disappointing as of late.

Posted by: Karlo at December 23, 2004 03:35 PM

It's definitely not a Hollywood film -- it's a good antidote, in fact, from the formulaic crap Hollywood churns out.

Posted by: Bill at December 24, 2004 02:32 AM

My favorite Jarmusch film, probably because it was the first one I saw. Not in a cinema, but on (of all places) Norwegian television on a weeknight. I remember (this was about 1990) sitting enthralled from first to finish. And since I am a compulsive multi-tasker, that's rare.

Super film.

Posted by: Allan Jenkins at December 27, 2004 06:41 PM