Director: Jim Jarmusch
Year Released: 1980
Jarmusch's feature debut is (more or less) his take on Homer's The Odyssey: drifter "Allie" (Chris Parker) walks around a garbage-strewn New York City, hears bombs going off in the distance, visits his sick mother in a mental hospital, goes to the movie theater for popcorn, listens to a saxophone player (John Lurie), steals a car, sells it and then uses the money to buy a ticket to leave on a boat. It's easy to look back on this (it's currently 2023) and notice the beginning stages of the then 27-year-old auteur's aesthetic - the odd encounters, aimless wandering, pensive tone etc. - and see how it would run through all his future releases, but in the early 80's I imagine several moviegoers and critics just wrote it off: it's a little crudely made, and could have been dismissed as a moody art student's kiss off to the medium. But he's really a poet ... and his taste in literature (Comte de Lautréamont's Maldoror, J. G. Ballard's Crash) is exquisite.