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Night on Earth [1991)

I’ve run out of witticisms.

Snappy beginnings.

Which is a shame.  Because I really want you to know about this film.

If you don’t already.

This is called quantum writing.

It is the sentence fragment equivalent of liberal ellipses.

So tired.

The cities.

Los Angeles.

It is the first episode.  Vignettes.

Seemed like a throwaway scene years ago.

Now.  So prescient.  Then.

So pertinent.  Germane.

She’s not really interested in becoming a movie star.

People selling kidneys to get a real casting agent and she’s not interested…


New York.

Lost in the world.

Pulling immigrants with the magnetism of illustrious decades.

East Germany.  Dresden.  Near Czechoslovakia.  1991.

My neighborhood.  When I can pause for a moment and appreciate the diversity.

America.  Amer-ica.


Francophone magnet.

Another scene which ages well.

When I saw this I hadn’t been to France.

Hadn’t been to New York or L.A.

And you appreciate more.  When you’ve been.

The loving portrayal.  The in-between shots.

Maybe it’s the garbage can at Pink’s Hot Dogs.

A green trash bag.  Liner.  Someone sweeping up.

We’re blind to so many details.

And so Jim Jarmusch went and put ’em in a film.

They’re there.

The details.

Tom Waits soundtracking like Charles Ives with an accordion.


Why is it sad?

It should be funny.  And sad.

It depends.

It depends on your life.

If you’ve ever had a brush with the entertainment industry, then that first scene might get you.

Might punch you right in the gut.

Not interested.

And the point is that as one girl throws it all away (from a perspective) a bloke on the east coast is just trying to get a cab.


I’ve got money.

It’s winter.

And home is Brooklyn.

It’s painful cold.

And as one family is dysfunctional in its uniquely Tolstoyvian way, another has no family at all.


None left.

It was too cold to shave today.

Save the money.

Money is not important to me.  I’m a clown.  I just need the money.  But it’s not important to me.

And there’s your artist.

A mechanic works the art of grease.

A clown suffers in the tumult.

Please.  Come in.  Welcome to my taxi.  It is very important to me.

Long night.  On Earth.

You hear about Africa every year.  Annually.  On average.

A famine.  A plague.  An outstanding war.  Out standing in the rain.

We never know just how it feels to live in Nigeria.

It is furthest from our thoughts.

And then we are reminded.  That Africa exists.

The continent.  Does not exert itself.

Comes down to capital.  LLC.  Land labor capital.

To LKM.  labor Kapital material.

A lot has changed since Adam Smith.

Land disappeared.

And what makes the U.S. unique compared to Hong Kong or Tokyo?  Land.

Room to sprawl.  Endlessly.

But I digress.  As a matter of course.

In the course of one speck of matter (Earth) running rings around the Sun.

Our sun.  Not up yet.

The hour of the wolf.

Brings us to Rome.  Ingmar not Ingrid.

It is comic blast #2.

We survived the sadness with laughter.  In New York.

And now we book a room at the Hotel Genius.  [Hotel Imbecile was full-up.]

Thank God for Charlie Parker!

I confess.

I was looking forward to this humor for days.  I knew the ending.

But I didn’t know my own age.  In the mirror of cinema.

But, dear friends, all good things must end (and bad things must start).

“They say the darkest hour/Is right before the dawn.”

That’s the hour of the wolf.

And instead of Max von Sydow we get Matti Pellonpää.

With his Grinderman mustache.

Walrus.  Circles the statue.  In front of parliament?

Helsinki.  Like a sinkhole.  Cold.  Hell sinky.

It is the end of the earth.  And I only have my memories of being drunk in Kiruna.  Sweden.  Never made it further east.

And for a moment he just sits behind the wheel and stares off into space.

After it’s all over.  As if he can see the ice-trails of orbits.

We travel the spaceways.

Every humble step of our lives.

From bakery to grain field.

But mostly streets.

Taxis.  The poetry of snaking asphalt.

Sing the songs of the pavement.

Every passenger a sad story.

Every driver a priest.


13 responses to “Night on Earth [1991)

  1. BeeHappee

    You got me with the snappy beginning about the lack of snappy beginnings. Liked the Hell Sinky and Grinderman mustache. 🙂 I feel a dejavu like years and years and years ago I had seen this or something very much similar. Thanks again, will check it out for sure.

    • Aw 🙂 thanks! I owe my community college speech teacher for instilling the lesson of attention-getting starts. –Paul

      • BeeHappee

        Honestly, it is your tagging it with “Bob Dylan” is what really got my attention. 🙂 But you do have awesome beginnings and endings regardless. I had been drunk in Hell sinky, and so seemed everyone else around, this is just such a good reminder. . .

      • Ha 🙂 yes, my tagging is probably suspect at times, but it’s meant as a reward for those who find the breadcrumb references. Cheers! –Paul

  2. Dude the cleaner ⋅

    Nice review . I will have to look for that one.

  3. This is a great movie, though I haven’t seen it in a while. Hell sinky….gosh that was clever!

    • Ha 🙂 thank you!! Yes, Fin Land…end of the Earth. I wish I knew more about the country. It really fascinates me. I was listening to Leningrad Cowboys and other Finnish music last night. Some really interesting stuff! I don’t really know what is the best Finnish music, but it is fun to search 😉 –Paul

      • You can always learn more! I know some stuff about Finland from books and videos. It is fascinating, isn’t it? They created the saunas…

        Hmm…Finnish music….I’m not big on that subject but my Finnish friend is a big fan of this 80s Finnish band called Hanoi Rocks!

      • Yes, definitely fascinating! I think Hanoi Rocks is the most famous band from there.

  4. blazeburgess ⋅

    I, again, agree with Bee. It’s like 8 1/2. A 2 hour+ film about not being able to make a film.

    Also, I liked Ingmar not Ingrid. I don’t know exactly why, but that made me laugh.

    I haven’t seen/heard of this, but you make it sound very interesting. There’s another one added to the queue.

  5. Another great post, Paul. You take us on a winding and delightful mental journey. Your writing style is very addictive to read.

    As a University Writing Centre employee, I’m hard-wired to write essay/analysis on films, but I really want to imitate your style at some point.

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