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Down By Law Blu-ray Review

“Down By Law” is an enjoyable Jim Jarmusch film.

When it comes to the work of Jim Jarmusch, the plots of his films aren’t exactly complex or action packed. In fact, they’re fairly simply and that’s the way he likes it since his films are always character driven stories. “Down By Law” is no exception.

The story focuses on a pimp (Jack), a down on his luck disc jockey (Zach) and an odd Italian tourist (Bob) who wind up in prison together. At first, Zach and Jack can’t stand one another, but thanks to Bob, the three soon develop a strange friendship. Eventually, the three manage to escape the prison which leads to a new journey for these three souls. Will the trio go their separate ways? Will they be caught by the police? That’s for you to find out.

It should be noted that “Down By Law” (or any Jim Jarmusch film for that matter) is not for everyone. His quirky, leisurely paced indie films are definitely not Hollywood fare. Instead, they are quiet, funny, slice of life tales with a fly on the wall directorial style. It may be boring to same, but patient cinemagoers with an open mind will find much to admire about Jarmusch’s unique storytelling.

‘Law’ is one of his most popular works and it’s not hard to see why. The cast (Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni) have great chemistry together. They seem like the most unlikely of friends and yet you buy their friendship when it’s all over and done with. I know some folks may raise an eyebrow about Benigni being in this film (especially with his obnoxious turns in “Pinocchio” and “Son Of The Pink Panther”) but I can assure you he is hilarious in all of Jarmusch’s films. Benigni certainly steals the show here and he is the glue that keeps this movie (and the characters friendship) together.

Summary: Jim Jarmusch aficiandos will no doubt want to pick this Blu-ray edition of “Down By Law” up. Adventurous film fans should at least give it a rent.


Lousiana has never looked better in B&W 1.78:1 1080p. Having seen “Down By Law” several times in the past, I can honestly say that this is the best this movie has ever looked. The transfer is flat out gorgeous. From the opening sequence to the swamp scenes, you will be shocked at how sharp this transfer is.

The Mono audio track does the job. “Down By Law” is not the most audio centric film out there so the speakers don’t have a ton to do. However, there are a few moments where the audio track comes alive.

* A booklet containing an essay by Luc Sante.
* A Jim Jarmusch directed music video for Tom Waits’ cover of “It’s All Right With Me.”
* “Down By Law” trailer, production pictures, isolated music score, and location stills.
* Jim Jarmusch chats about his feelings on dubbing.
* 16 outtakes including an alternate ending.
* “Phone Calls”- Jarmusch recorded phone conversations with Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni and John Lurie individually to chat about the film back in 2002. The Roberto conversation is the most entertaining of the bunch here.
* Jim Jarmusch answers fan questions.
* An interview with cinematographer Robby Muller.
* “Cannes Film Festival”- A press conference and John Lurie interview from the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.
* “Thoughts And Reflections”- An extremely in-depth audio interview with Jim Jarmusch. He discusses music, New Orleans, the visual style of the film, the film title, Tom Waits, the screenplay, the meaning of the film, production design, the cast and crew, characters, Benigni, etc.

July 15, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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