Strangers in the Night

Even though he legendarily fired off the screenplay in just over a week, it’s possible to make a case that Night on Earth was writer, director and general auteur Jim Jarmusch’s definitive film — or if not definitive, then perhaps the purest. His later films might have enjoyed bigger budgets, higher profiles and equal critical acclaim, but there’s something about the conceptual simplicity of Night on Earth that captures Jarmusch’s artistic sensibility at its most basic.

Beginning at sunset in Los Angeles and ending at dawn in Helsinki, the film follows the parallel narratives of five cabbies and their fares in five cities (and in four languages) as they ride around in cabs and talk. But, oh, how they talk: The film’s most memorable scene has Italian director Roberto Benigni (an early Jarmusch regular) confessing his, ahem, unusual sins to his passenger, a hapless priest with a heart condition. But what really unites the film are the same themes that unite Jarmusch’s prodigious catalogue: urban landscapes, lives in transit, alienation, rootlessness and the beautiful intensity of sudden connection. Plus, of course, the pitch-perfect, crazy-carnival-ride score by Tom Waits.

The Ubisububi Room at the Thin Man, 2015 East 17th Avenue, will show Night on Earth at 8 p.m. tonight as part of its “Eight Nights With Jim Jarmusch” series. As always, these Wednesday night films are free. For more information, go to or call 303-320-7814.
Wed., Jan. 26, 8 p.m., 2011

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte