Down by Law

Down by Law

Blu-ray Disc - 2012
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The story of three different men in a Louisiana prison and their eventual journey.
Publisher: United States : Criterion Collection, 2012.
Edition: Widescreen.
ISBN: 9781604653939
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (107 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.


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Feb 18, 2018

Jim Jarmusch's third feature is a genuine delight. Like Permanent Vacation and Strangers in Paradise preceding it, Down By Law is a journalistic film showcasing characters sprung fully formed in their idiosyncrasies and sins into Jarmusch's gritty and magical Louisiana mise-en-scene. Waits and Lurie are opposite ends of the hipster-cum-outlaw spectrum and delightful in their jailhouse antagonism, but it is when Begnini appears that the film truly cooks. Beautiful, darkly comic, and oddly heartwarming Down By Law is an easy favorite for anyone looking to for an entry-point discover the Akron auteur's filmography. Terrific special features include impromptu phone interviews with Jarmusch and the cast, Cannes film festival footage, and a video of Waits covering Roy Orbison's song "It's Alright with Me".

May 14, 2015

Yeah, it may not look like much, but this was one the key films of the indie film movement of the 80s and its DIY aesthetic, deadpan cool, and lazy narrative style would influence a whole generation of filmmakers. Also check out "Stranger Than Paradise."

Jan 09, 2015

I love Tom Waits' music, so I had to check this out. It's interesting, but kind of feels like a rough draft or homemade film.
I like B/W filming, but the story & characters never seem natural here. Waits does some good DJ bits & the Italian guy is an ok character, but none of it really ever goes anywhere.
Ellen Barkin's scene is just silly, they could have written a great part for her, but you know, most of these guys have a hard time writing women, so all the females are junkie whores.
Even the Italian woman, she just marries a guy on the spot cause he's Italian...She may as well have been a Prop.
The movie is about a jailbreak but just totally skips the actual break...Sloppy writing, beautiful scenery, great music, unrealistic & tries too hard to seem real.

Dec 12, 2014

Two men from the wrong side of the tracks find themselves unwilling cellmates when they’re targeted by crooked police stings. Previously abandoned by their respective muses, unemployed D.J. Zack (a gravelly Tom Waits) and ambitious pimp Jack while away the hours getting on each other’s nerves until they’re joined by a third prisoner, Italian ex-pat Roberto (a brilliantly animated Roberto Benigni) arrested for accidentally killing a man with a billiard ball. Alternately amused and annoyed by Roberto’s broken English and childlike zeal for all things American, the two men gain a grudging respect for the little foreigner when he manages to concoct a successful escape plan. Finding themselves lost in the Louisiana wilderness the three mismatched prison mates embark on an oddball quest for freedom containing elements of Greek mythology (in one hilarious passage the ragtag Argonauts watch dispiritedly as their ship sinks into the bayou mud), a swamp rat version of Dante with Benigni’s half-assed Virgil providing all the laughs, and a true blue tribute to Frost as two roads diverge in a yellow wood. Stylishly framed in stark shades of black and white, Jim Jarmusch’s noir comedy has a gritty experimental feel to it heightened by a largely improvised script and just the right amount of absurdist humour. A character driven odyssey graced by spot-on performances and tight camera shots which balance the low-rent squalor of New Orleans with murky panoramas of steaming bogs. One of the more important films to come out of the 80’s.

LittleLady2011 May 03, 2012

My son and I are debating the star rating on this one, but overall it was good.

The film started out with lots of suspense and great shots of New Orleans!

The plot lines were shaky and could have been stronger. It seemed like a film that wanted to get three really good actors together then it just fizzled out and did not utilize these talented actors. In some scenes the actors just seemed bored.

I guess my main point is that the plot lacked a backbone. Without that it was just a story!


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Sep 27, 2013

Down by Law is a 1986 black-and-white independent film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It stars Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni.

The film centers on the arrest, incarceration, and escape from jail of three men. It discards jailbreak film conventions by focusing on the interaction between the convicts rather than on the mechanics of the escape. A key element in the film is Robby Müller's slow-moving camerawork, which captures the architecture of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou to which the cellmates escape.

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