Down by Law
Special Edition, The Criterion Collection
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Tom Waits, John Lurie, Ellen Barkin. Intriguing, amusing story of three losers who wind up in jail together and then make a break for it. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. 1986/b&w/107 min/R/widescreen.
The low-budget aesthetic of Jim Jarmusch informs the eclectic bonus features on Criterion's Down by Law DVD. A high-definition digital transfer ensures that the film never looked or sounded better, and Jarmusch's wide-ranging reflections offer a welcome alternative to a full-length commentary. The 1986 Cannes press conference is a polyglot affair, providing interesting then-and-now perspectives on the film and its creators, energized by the effervescent personality of Roberto Benigni. John Lurie's Cannes interview is a hangover in progress, and his 2002 commentary a self-deprecating reflection on his wilder past. In a 2002 interview, cinematographer Robby Müller eloquently defines his artistic outlook and the technical aspects of shooting Down by Law, while the "Jarmusch Q&A" entertainingly answers e-mails (some serious, some peculiar) sent to Criterion's Web site. Jarmusch's 2002 phone calls to Tom Waits, Lurie, and Benigni are casual curios, as is the rarely seen, Jarmusch-directed video for Waits's eccentric Cole Porter cover, "It's All Right with Me." Sit back and enjoy; coffee and cigarettes are optional. --Jeff Shannon
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