Stranger Than Paradise ★★★★★

Stranger Than Paradise is the first of Jim Jarmusch's three consecutive masterpieces and it seems to finally answer the age-old question of what would On The Road have been like if Albert Camus had written it instead of Jack Kerouac. Stranger Than Paradise is absurdist cinema at its finest. It's a film about existential inertia. It's a true postmodern masterwork and emblematic of universal truths. Stranger Than Paradise sees Jim Jarmusch become a genius filmmaker. His first masterpiece is not only one of my favorite films, it's also one of the most perfectly absurd ones ever made. It tackles the philosophy of the absurd and basks in its inert twilight. It's the last of the classically stylized avant-garde compositions and it is the perfect swan song to the art movement.

Actor John Lurie has a good way about him. In Jarmusch's film, he is our Sal Paradise, he is our Sisyphus. He is our absurd hero. What Jarmusch found most exciting about absurdism were its heroes. An absurd hero is at the center of all of Jarmusch's films. I find a bizarre honor in Jarmusch's absurd heroes, a quality that is neither tragic nor blessed. Jarmsuch's absurd heroes exist in a place of absolute truth and they know their worth. They know they're human and that they're flawed. They know how meaningless everything is.

Florida as the Absurd Paradise. I know Florida. I know its face. For Jarmusch, when it came to finding the ultimate absurd paradise, he found it in Florida. Just look at it. Just look at us. If the heroes of Stranger Than Paradise weren't already profoundly existentially lethargic, Florida tipped them over that inert edge. Florida is a sluggish place that seems to stand still. It is an arguably pretty place, it's certainly warm, and Jarmsuch asserts that it acts as a beacon calling out to all existential wanderers. Florida is where decisions finally get made. Florida is an absurd land.

Jarmusch's visual style is part Man Ray and part Roberto Rossellini. I would say that's quite an amazing coupling. It is a film that is rooted in the classical surrealist teachings of Man Ray and Hans Richter, with striking neo-realist textures carefully interwoven throughout. It is a fabric made of the most meaningful models in pursuit of a most meaningless truth. Stranger Than Paradise is a stylistic triumph and a brilliant philosophical treatise. It's the best statement ever made on the absurd and more truthfully oblique than any of Camus' writings. I am convinced that Jim Jarmusch understood the problem of the absurd better than anyone: better than Camus, better than Kafka, better than anybody. Stranger Than Paradise boasts one philosophical non sequitur after another in a tour de force of arcade poetry. Stranger Than Paradise is amazing American independent cinema. It is filmmaking at its very best.

Stranger Than Paradise is an anthem in the hearts of all true absurdist thinkers. It's my own personal heaven. It's a place where life is lived truthfully and absurdly by heroes that we must imagine happy. Stranger Than Paradise is my home.

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