DOWN BY LAW
1986, Janus Films, 107 min, USA/West Germany, Dir: Jim Jarmusch

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 Müller.


NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
2007, Park Circus/Miramax, 122 min, USA, Dir: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

A mesmerizing thriller from Academy Award-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the acclaimed novel by Pulitzer Prize winning American master Cormac McCarthy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones. When Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds a pickup truck surrounded by a sentry of dead men with a load of heroin and two million dollars in cash still in the back, a chain reaction of catastrophic violence begins that not even the law–in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) – can contain. As Moss tries to evade his pursuers–in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives (Javier Bardem) – the film simultaneously strips down the American crime drama and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headline.


A SERIOUS MAN
2009, Focus Features, 105 min, USA/UK/France, Dir: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Jewish physics professor Larry Gropnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) can't catch a break: his wife (Sari Lennick) wants a divorce, his malady-laden brother (Richard Kind) is living on his couch, and his tenure is endangered by a small misunderstanding that snowballs into a fiasco. Only the Coen brothers could make such a modern-day Job's plight so painfully hilarious; their return to the world of Minnesota academia in which they grew up yields one of their richest, most personal films to date. Costarring Fred Melamed.


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