Comedy Tonight: Classic Films with David Schwartz

“Drama is easy, comedy’s hard,” said film director Peter Bogdanovich. But now, with the world so full of drama and tragedy, the time is right for some comedy. As we all stay at home to help flatten the curve, this online film club offers a chance to see five of the great screen comedies, accompanied by live discussions. It’s not the same as sharing our laughter together in a theater, but it’s an experience we can enjoy together. Here’s how it works: curator and host David Schwartz has selected five films available for viewing on the Criterion Channel and elsewhere. Whenever we can, we will list available screening options. You’ll watch the films at your own leisure, along with a video introduction by David Schwartz. Then you’ll be able to join us online on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. for a live discussion, including a conversation with a special guest and questions from the audience.

June 3
Stranger Than Paradise — Jim Jarmusch. 1984. 89 min. B&W. English.

A note from David Schwartz: Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan comedy Stranger than Paradise, about two downtown New Yorkers whose aimless life is upended by the arrival of a Hungarian cousin, is one of the key independent features of the 1980s. Jarmusch used a black-and-white, minimalist, no-budget aesthetic to his advantage, announcing himself as one of the most distinctive new directors of his time while reinventing the road movie.

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From Criterion Channel: Rootless Hungarian émigré Willie (John Lurie), his pal Eddie (Richard Edson), and visiting sixteen-year-old cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) always manage to make the least of any situation, whether aimlessly traversing the drab interiors and environs of New York City, Cleveland, or an anonymous Florida suburb. With its delicate humor and dramatic nonchalance, Jim Jarmusch’s one-of-a-kind minimalist masterpiece, Stranger Than Paradise, forever transformed the landscape of American independent cinema.

Q&A w/ David Schwartz & actress Eszter Balint

Stranger Than Paradise is also available on Amazon and Kanopy

An introduction to Stranger Than Paradise from David Schwartz:

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