Down By Law review

Jarmusch's jailhouse rock

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Jim Jarmusch’s 1986 follow-up to his breakthrough film, Stranger Than Paradise , is a stylish black-and-white prison romp with a sense of humour as offbeat as its perfectly cast stars (John Lurie, Roberto Benigni and singer Tom Waits).

Set, beautifully, in Louisiana, it sees a small-time pimp (Lurie) and a wastrel DJ (Waits) framed and locked in the clink with an irrepressible Italian tourist (guess who?). Mutual irritation merges into grudging friendship, and the wit manages to be both broad and smart, soulful and silly, subtle and raucous, all at the same time.

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