Monday, November 5, 2007

Night On Earth

Night On Earth; Drama/ Comedy, USA/ France/ UK/ Germany/ Japan, 1991; D: Jim Jarmusch, S: Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez, Béatrice Dalle, Roberto Benigni, Paolo Bonacelli, Matti Pellonpää, Kari Väänänen

Los Angeles at 7 o'clock and 7 minutes. Corky is a tough teenage girl who drives a taxi and picks up Victoria, a casting agent. She offers her a job as an actress, but Corky refuses...At the same time in New York, African-American Yo-Yo has to drive to Brooklyn in a taxi himself because the driver, Helmut, is a lousy driver...At the same time in Paris, a taxi driver throws out two mean Cameroon ambassadors from his cab and picks up a blind woman. After she exits, he has a car accident...In Rome, a cheerful taxi driver picks up a priest and tells him about his erotic sins. That causes the priest to die from a heart attack...Helsinki. A taxi driver tells three customers his sad story about his deceased baby.

Sweet and for Jim Jarmush surprisingly light and approachably "mainstream" film, "Night On Earth" is an interesting anthology drama where the famous master of minimalistic films abandoned his minimalistic style and turned towards the extroverted territory. In his most "polished" achievement, Jarmusch created an interesting premise for 5 stories that play out at the exact same moment, but on different places on Earth, from Los Angeles where it's 7 o'clock in the evening up to Helsinki where it's 5 o'clock in the morning, all revolving around unusual taxi drivers and their quirky customers, delivering a fine job in film making and cute gags, like when in the first episode the taxi driver Corky (Winona Ryder) is sightly bedazzled by a music band called "Utensils" or when in the second episode the main protagonist Yo-Yo is making fun of his taxi driver's name, Helmut, which sounds like "Helmet". Out of the 5 stories, at least 2 are excellent, while all others are good, but the best and the most hilarious one is the one set in Rome, revolving around Jarmusch's "discovery", the comedian Roberto Benigni who plays a crazy taxi driver who drives with sun glasses at night (!), makes random comments like when he spots a hotel called "Genius" and says to himself: "If I don't find a place at Hotel "Genius", I'll find some at Hotel "Stupidity"! And the main plot in his story, where he confesses his erotic experiences to a priest who gets a heart attack in his cab, is simply unbelievable and pure genius, making one even wish every episode was as great at that one.


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