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Critic’s Choice: The wistful poetry of Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Stranger Than Paradise’

CA.0824.Second2.01 –– Richard Edson, Eszther Balint, and John Lurie in publicity still from STRANGER
Richard Edson, Eszter Balint, and John Lurie in the 1984 movie “Stranger Than Paradise.”
(Samuel Goldwyn Pictures)
Film Critic

Jim Jarmusch’s all-star zombie comedy “The Dead Don’t Die” kicked off the Cannes Film Festival this week. It’s a fitting occasion to celebrate the 35th anniversary of his landmark 1984 feature, “Stranger Than Paradise,” which played at Cannes that year and won the festival’s Caméra d’Or prize for best first feature.

A melancholy deadpan comedy about three people wandering an eternal Nowheresville, U.S.A. (whether they’re in New York, Cleveland or Miami), “Stranger Than Paradise” is not, technically speaking, Jarmusch’s debut feature. The Criterion Collection’s latest edition of the movie, presented in a digital restoration supervised by Jarmusch himself, also includes “Permanent Vacation,” the 75-minute film he shot as a university student in 1980. Together these two pictures announced their director as a true original, a reputation that hasn’t faltered since.

In addition to the Blu-ray and DVD release, “Stranger Than Paradise” screens at the Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood, 7:30 p.m. June 6.

justin.chang@latimes.com | Twitter: @JustinCChang

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