Monday, October 01, 2007

Before I Died...

...I was hoping this would come out on DVD. My old chewed up VHS copy jitters and jakes when I put it in the even older Toshiba tape player. There was an early DVD version available to buy. But, unless you lived in Europe or had the very expensive European style DVD player, you were out of luck as far as watching a DVD version of the movie.

But now, thanks to Criterion, Night on Earth, a personal Top Five film, is available. Yeah, yeah it's got extras so that you can do the self-delusional monologue to convince yourself that the DVD needs to be an integral part of your collection. But, as anyone who has seen just the Roberto Benigni taxi-driver in the Rome sequence knows, the Criterion DVD is worth buying just for that short alone. Why hasn't someone contracted with Mr. Benigni to record Italian Made Easy DVD's or CD's? Who would not want to speak/understand Italian the way he does?

Night on Earth is a collection of five shorts that follow taxi-drivers and their fares during the other half of life that lives and moves in the night in Los Angeles, NYC, Rome, Paris, and Helsinki. A Tom Waits soundtrack, an incredible cast that includes Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and the incomparable Roberto Benigni. Even Rosie Perez, the high-screaming Brooklynite who tends to wear out her screen appearances quickly with me, has a role in the NYC sequence that is manageable to a viewer's eyes and ears. Each of the five filmettes is a stand-alone. To have them all in one 129 minute long film is a treat that you'll be playing over and over. The Helsinki taxi-driver story stars Kari Väänänen, who was earlier in Leningrad Cowboys Go America, a jewel of oddness and fine hair stylings. (Note: Night on Earth's Writer/Director/Producer Jim Jarmusch has a cameo in Leningrad Cowboys Go America)

Yes, yes Criterion has also released a souped-up version of Stranger Than Paradise as well. Personally, while I enjoyed Stranger Than Paradise, viewing it twice was enough. Night on Earth is an entirely different matter. I'd have it on virtual play if I were living the monk's life. I strongly encourage all sentient beings out there to procure a copy.Who knows? You may find yourself humming Back in the Good Old World as you taxi yourself to work each morning.

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yes, i remember seeing this when it came out. I notice netflix has it listed as a 'new arrival," so I'll check it out again. thanks for reminding me of it.
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