coming out 9/4...night on earth...stranger than paradise...prison break...the office...

Posted by Brad Schelden, September 4, 2007 09:29am | Post a Comment
It seems like everybody wants to have an album out this year on 9/11. It's such a big week next week, with new albums from Kanye West, The Black Lips, Film School, Ani Difranco, The Shout Out Louds, Pinback, Animal Collective, Hot Hot Heat, The Go Team, and a bunch more. Unfortunately it is only 9/4 and with the recent holiday of labor day the music releases are pretty non existent today. But there are some exciting DVD releases coming out this week. It is hard to believe that two of the classic films of Jim Jarmusch have never been on DVD. Both Night on Earth and Stranger Than Paradise are seeing their first release on DVD domestically this week. They will released through the fantastic people of Criterion. These awesome Criterion Collection editions are not just your normal DVD packaging. These are director approved editions and they look fantastic. Both these films have been long time favorites of mine and it is nice to finally see them out on DVD. I am sure a whole new generation of people have yet to see these movies. They were the kind of movies that you could find at any indie video store of the past. But I am sure over the years the old VHS copies have been stolen or broken down by now. I first saw Stranger than Paradise for a college course and then quickly went out and rented any of the other films of Jim Jarmusch that I could find. Night on Earth was easily one of my favorites.

Stranger Than Paradise came out in 1984. Jim had made one of the parts of the film a couple of years before that and had made only one other film before that. That first film, "Permanent Vacation" is included with this new edition of Stranger Than Paradise. It sort of became this famous little cult indie film. One of the first indie films that sort of made it into popular culture. After Down by Law in 1986 and Mystery Train in 1989, came the great film that is Night on Earth in 1991. This was way before Taxicab Confessions. Night on Earth was basically five different stories in one film. "Five Taxis, Five Cities, One Night." The setup of the film was brilliant. While most of my cab rides have not been this exciting. It is really interesting to see these little stories of what could happen in various cab rides throughout the World. Winona Ryder and Gena Rowlands star in the Hollywood cab ride. Gena is always fantastic and amazing to watch on the screen. Please go watch "Gloria" or "Woman Under the Influence" if you don't know what I mean. It is fun to see her here interacting as a casting agent with a young and tough cab driving Winona. I may not smoke anymore but it still is great to see these two smoking away as they have a conversation in the cab. Gena wants to cast Winona in a film but Winona has to turn her down. She seems to already have her life plan all worked out. One of other great interactions is between Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez and Armin Mueller-Stahl in the New York Taxi ride. Rosie Perez is sort of like Sandra Bernhard. You either absolutely love her or you can't stand her. I am for sure on the love side. But whatever you think of her, she is perfect in this part. The dialoge is just brilliant and hilarious. The three other cab rides take place in Rome, Paris, & Helsinki.  Roberto Benigni is hilarious in the Rome cab ride. He makes a very detailed sexual confession to a priest. 

Everybody has been in a taxi at some point in their life. Living in San Francisco without a car for 10 years, I have had my share of late night cab rides. There are some very interesting cab drivers in this city and it is always fun to hear their stories. I am also a big fan of HBO's show Taxicab Confessions. The fact that they ask you for your permission after they film you, always makes me hope that some day I will be in a Taxicab confession. Although many of my taxicab confessions would involve me sleeping in the back of the car. I do really love to sleep while being a passenger in a car. But every once in a while I will have a little conversation with the driver. Taxicab Confessions has been on for more than 10 years now. It first aired in 1995. It will go into its 12th season this coming January. The show usually films in New York but has occasionally switched to Las Vegas.  This show is really great. It really captures people as they really are in the sort of natural setting of a Taxi. The participants are usually drunk which allows them to open up more. They have only released some episodes from the 2005 season so far on DVD. But hopefully more for of the older stuff will come out soon. Maybe it is too difficult tracking down all the people that were shown on the show. But you can still catch it every once in a while on HBO or Bravo as well. I have my favorite taxicab drivers. Most of them are really good at getting their passengers to open up. But it really seems like all they have to do is listen.

The DVD release of Night On Earth includes the newly restored high definition digital transfer of the film. Itincludes audio commentary by the director of photography and sound mixer. It also includes a Q & A with Jarmusch and a 1992 television interview with him. It includes a new and improved subtitle translation which is important since only two of the segments are in English. The DVD also includes a nice big booklet with essays about the film. Stranger Than Paradise is a 2 DVD special edition. It includes his first film "Permanent Vacation" and a behind the scenes super-8 film by Jim Jarmusch. It also includes a German television special on the film. The DVD includes some trailers and photos as well as a booklet with notes and essays on the film.

It is getting very close to the new season of television. There have already been a bunch of great shows this summer on cable already. Weeds, Flight of the Conchords and Big Love have all been fantastic. Mad Men on AMC has also been amazing. But with the return of the big shows on primetime regular TV, come the release of last seasons box sets. Just in case you need to catch up.
Out this week for TV on DVD is...

The Office Season 3

Prison Break Season 2

Desperate Housewives Season 3

30 Rock Season 1

Nip/Tuck Season 4

Relevant Tags

Stranger Than Paradise (1), Taxicab Confessions (1), Criterion (11), Night On Earth (1), Jim Jarmusch (3)