CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Blu-ray Review: Criterion Edition of Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Down by Law’
CHICAGO – The Criterion Collection continues their pattern of releasing a few new titles on Blu-ray every month while also upgrading some of their catalog releases to the HD format. One of the latter for July is #166 in the legendary collection, Jim Jarmusch’s spectacular “Down by Law.” The film has no new special features but what was available on its initial release is pretty spectacular and the HD transfer is an expected beauty,
I love the rhythym of “Down by Law,” a film that still plays wonderfully a quarter-century after its release. Much like the music of Tom Waits, who stars in the film, the movie has an non-traditional time signature, lurching forward with a fight scene and back again with a long scene of dialogue. The unusual structure of Jarmusch’s screenwriting would become one of his signatures but I find it the freshest in his earliest material, being a much bigger fan of films like “Stranger Than Paradise,” “Mystery Train,” “Night on Earth,” and “Down by Law” than what he’s done in the last decade. This is one of his best.
Down by Law was released on Blu-ray and re-released on Criterion DVD on July 17, 2012
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection
Director Jim Jarmusch followed up his brilliant breakout film Stranger Than Paradise with another, equally beloved portrait of loners and misfits in the American landscape. When fate brings together three hapless men - an unemployed disc jockey (Tom Waits), a small-time pimp (John Lurie), and a strong-willed Italian tourist (Roberto Benigni) - in a Louisiana prison, a singular adventure ensues. Described by Jarmusch as a “neo-Beat noir comedy,” Down By Law is part nightmare and part fairy tale, featuring sterling performances and crisp black-and-white cinematography by the esteemed Robby Muller.
o Audio Interview With Jarmusch From 2002
o Interview With Director of Photography Robby Muller From 2002
o Footage From The 1986 Cannes Film Festival, Including a Press Conference With Jarmusch and Actors John Lurie, Roberto Benigni, and Nicoletta Braschi, and an Interview With Lurie, Featuring Commentary
o Sixteen Outtakes
o Music Video For Tom Wait’s Cover of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me,” Directed By Jarmusch
o Q&A With Jarmusch in Which He Responds To Fans’ Questions
o Recordings Of Phone Conversations Between Jarmusch and Waits, Benigni, and Lurie
o Production Polaroids and Location Stills
o Isolated Music Track
o Essay By Critic Luc Sante