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1 item from 1992

FILM REVIEW - 'Night on Earth' By Jeff MenellThis must be the ultimate for Jim Jarmusch. The road-trip-film king confines practically this entire film within the space of five taxis.

1 April 1992 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Jarmusch has succeeded in creating a small-scale classic. It's another enjoyably offbeat flick that is certainly the most mainstream thing he's done so far -- but mainstream with Jarmusch is a relative term.

"Night on Earth'' explores the various relationships between five different cabdrivers and their disparate passengers.

In Los Angeles, the first segment finds a boyishly dressed, grimy Winona Ryder giving a ride to portable phone-toting Beverly Hills casting agent Gena Rowlands. To say the least, they are a contrast in style. But a sort of mother-daughter relationship ensues, ending on a bittersweet note.

Jarmusch wisely chose this as his opening "ride.'' It sets the tone for the remaining humor-and-pathos-filled excursions. The final fare in Helsinki, however, is too downbeat of an ending. Jarmusch might be making a statement here, but it momentarily detracts from the fun.

Each story has something unique to offer, though some are obviously better than others. The most manic ride takes place in Rome, where the energetically hilarious Roberto Bengini ("Down by Law'') makes some outrageous confession to his priest passenger.

This vehicle provides the most laughs, though the trip goes on too long. New York and Paris complete the journey, with New York being the more memorable.

Tom Waits' score, with its "oompah'' beat and occasional "Pink Panther'' theme reference, perfectly complements Jarmusch's visuals. The crisp night-time cinematography by Frederick Elmes maintains the integrity of the film, though Jarmusch wisely lets the camerawork take a back seat to the acting and dialogue.

(c) The Hollywood Reporter


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