Film Analysis: STRANGER THAN PARADISE
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Lauren Hiland

I thought that this film was alot more relateable to everyday life then any of the other films we have watched. However I thought that the actions of the charcters were rather directionless and that made the movie a bit boring for me. The long camera shots helped to make the film feel slower and a bit heavier. And I thought that the Black&White film really matched the films setting and story, I don't think the film would have looked right if it were shot in color film. I've never really watched movies like this one, so I guess this was a new experience for me.

Josh Noble

I really enjoyed this film. I saw it as an exercise in film technique. Jarmusch played with many aspects of m-e-s throughout the film and I enjoyed that. The idea of making a film strictly thought the use of long single shots was fascinating too. And I wasn't bothered by the film's slower pace I saw it as a chance to observe what's in the frame.

Lily Miller

I have mixed feelings about the film. I felt like I was able to understand what was going on in the frame but the fragmentation made it hard to really get into the story. We were only getting parts, glimpses, of what was going on. This may be along the lines of Jarmusch's minimalistic style. Only show the basics of the story and no extra stuff.

Anna Markee

The way this movie was made, I thought, was really cool. I liked how the camera would be in place, the characters would walk into the frame, then the characters would walk out of the frame. This created an open form that made the movie very interesting. Along with this, the frames being in deep focus allowed me to look around the frame to see what was going on besides the main characters. Overall, the film was really interesting and I liked the plot.

Hope Sneddon

I agree with Anna and Josh. The long shots were something that I noticed and intrigued me the most during the film. Being able to look around and observe the background, the characters and the landscape all during a single shot was actually kind of nice and as Josh said, I didn't get bored as one might imagine they would with this technique.

Jose Arredondo

Stranger than Paradise was the first black and white film I actually liked. Even though the characters weren't all that dynamic, i believe they served their purpose in representing the film itself very well. They were somewhat bland just like the film itself. The film wasn't flashy whatsoever but it did have many simple aspects of m-e-s one could easily identify such as Lighting Key, and Shot & Camera Proxemics. This was the case in the movie because with black and white it is easy to tell if high or low key lighting is being used, and as far as the camera shots go its mostly all in Long Shots.

Josh Noble

I also thought the film's use of music was interesting. Most of the sound was diegetic with Eva's tape player as the source of the song "I Put a Spell on You" repeated many times. Non-diegetic sound was very sparse, only hearing an orchestral soundtrack at few times.

Lisa King

I enjoyed how simplistic this film was. The slower pace, and where the camera was placed made me feel like we were watching the story unfold in "real time". The lack of any over the top visuals made it easier for me to connect with the story, and made it seem more real. The black & white effect was an interesting touch as well, adding to the simplicity.

Amy Elder

I enjoyed how realistic the film was. It was different compared to the other movies we have seen in class. The long shots were interesting to me it made me feel like I was actually there with the characters. I wasn't a fan of the black and white, but the color seemed to match the film's theme of loneliness and sameness. It was interesting to compare Jarmusch's minimalist style to Wong Kar Wai's "maximist" style. I liked that Jarmusch was able to tell a story very simplistically without dramatic colors or dramatic camera movement.

Anna Markee

I agree with Amy about how it was interesting to compare Wong's maximist style to Jarmusch's minimalist style. I thought both movies were good, so it was interesting that Jarmusch didn't need to spend a lot of money on his film for it to be good. I also found that the open form of the movie, with the characters moving in and out of the frame, made me feel like I was a fly on the wall watching the characters in secret.

Karl Amspacher

To add my opinion to the general consensus, I thought this was an excellent film. I appreciated the themes and the story, and I thought the cinematography made great use of the sets and the lighting

Melissa Werner

To be completely honest, I did not like this movie. The characters lives were everything I don't want for my own. I kept wanting to yell, "Do something!" because they didn't seem to appreciate their surroundings or the people they were interacting with. Admittedly, they seemed content in a depressing sort of way, but when Eddie asked why weren't they doing or seeing anything in Cleveland, I was like, "This is the best thing anyone's said in the movie so far." I think the use of black and white, rather than color, was perfect because it matched my impression of the movie - that no matter where they'd go, the world remained gray, lifeless, and the same. My favorite character had to be Aunt Lotte, since she was the only one who seemed to have earned her time of lazing in front of the television, but I really had no patience for the others. Probably my favorite scene was when Eva accidentally got the money from the dealer; though it's too bad that that guy probably met a very sad and confusing end.

Katlyn Sylvia

Overall, I could appreciate the value of Stranger Than Paradise in terms of M-E-S and academic study. The long shots with characters moving in and out made it very 'real' to the audience, and it was clear this was a technique that was being used to make a specific point. That being said, the shots tended to move slowly, and although I appreciated the point of view we were given as an audience, I didn't necessarily find comfort in the filming technique, and it left me somewhat ill at ease while watching it. I kept expecting something to happen! And it seemed like it was easy to forecast what was coming next because of the pace of the film. I identified well with Wong Kar Wai's films and the intention and design behind them, and I feel that the two directors contrast each other well-- hopefully not well enough to deter me from identifying with Jarmusch's directing style in all of his films.

RobElmer

Stranger than Paradise was a breath of fresh air for me. These last 6 movies, aside from being very solid, well done movies, have been a little outside my range of interest. But this movie made me excited to watch it. I don't know if it was because of the slightly dry humor or that the film seemed to be following the student filmmakers' manual, but either way I found myself enjoying this movie immensely.

The really long (duration) shots gave me time to really absorb the entire surroundings, as minimal as they were. Plus, the sudden endings with the black transitions made this seem like a large book of short vignettes. Each story sharing characters, and a maybe little history, but each one having their own story and feel.

RobElmer

And now to completely contradict myself I find myself slightly agreeing with Melissa, with the exception that I liked the movie. The characters did seem depressing and unmotivated, but it was real With most of the other characters we've seen so far from Badlands to Ashes of Time they've been characters; people who only existed to tell the story they were in. In Stranger than Paradise Jarmusch seems to have plucked them right out of a New Jersey apt complex and started filming them.

Lucas Ashland

The minimalistic style that Jarmusch used in this movie was really enjoyable, especially compared to the films we watched by Wong Kar-wai. The abundance of stylistic scenes and filming methods by Wong were often a little overwhelming for me and distracted me from an already confusing storyline. I liked how Jarmusch was able to tell an interesting, quirky story without really trying to impress the audience with over-the-top visual tricks. For some reason I think of Jarmush's movie as being like meat and potatoes. His movie was somewhat simple, but easy to enjoy and comforting in its simplicity.

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