Sakari Kuosmanen

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Night On Earth Review


Very Good
Riding around five shaded cityscapes in four different countries, Jim Jarmusch's nocturnal delight Night on Earth has the esteem of being the auteur's most accessible exercise to date while also being his least seen. After its premiere at the 29th New York Film Festival, this set of through-the-windshield vignettes was picked up for a short theatrical run in May of 1992 before it was released on VHS and only released on DVD in foreign markets (Australia put out two separate editions). That was until those noblest practitioners of cinephilia over at Criterion took a special interest in Jarmusch, releasing both Earth and his 1984 opus Stranger Than Paradise, which also includes the director's fascinating debut feature Permanent Vacation.

Throughout the course of one night, we are driven around in five separate taxi cabs that range from familiar ports of L.A. and New York City to the echoing streets of Paris and Rome to the final ride through the frozen-over metropolis of Helsinki, right as the sun is rising. In Los Angeles, a big-time agent (Gena Rowlands) tries to seduce her rough-and-tumble cab driver (an insolent Winona Ryder) into becoming an actress. While in New York, a jerky Brooklynite (the superb Giancarlo Esposito) teaches his German cab driver (Armin Mueller-Stahl) how to drive, talk, and jive correctly while also trying to escort his sister-in-law (Rosie Perez) home.

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The Man Without A Past Review


Very Good
This slight but charmingly deadpan foreign comedy from Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki stays within an old-school groove. The comedy is quaint and almost corny. A fellow critic nearly threw a fit when the hero befriended a cute dog that follows him around for the rest of the movie. "If this were an American film," my friend groaned, "you'd be complaining about how saccharine it is. Since it's foreign, you say it's touching."

The guy has a point. But The Man Without a Past is able to get away with such things -- making them sweet and, heck, even cute -- because Kaurismäki has an unerring sense of tone control. Like stone-faced Buster Keaton, his laconic actors drift through the trash-ridden outskirts of Helsinki waiting to see what chance and fate throw in their laps. They're outcast heroes leftover from one of Keaton's films, or maybe Chaplin (and, actually, some much better Jim Jarmusch films). Smoking endless cigarettes and trading witty repartee back and forth, they're an amusing cast of resilient, coarse, dead-end clowns.

Continue reading: The Man Without A Past Review

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The Man Without a Past Movie Review

The Man Without a Past Movie Review

This slight but charmingly deadpan foreign comedy from Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki stays within an...

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