In the tradition of vignettes of yore (not to be confused with 'Outlaws of Gor'), Night on Earth cobbles together the sordid moments of a few people across the globe who have little in common except their "human condition" and the profession they share...Probably the weakest part of Night on Earth is it's opening segment with Wynona Ryder. Couldn't Wynona have shoplifted some books on method-acting from a Barnes & Noble somewhere? I don't think Wynona could act her way through an orgasm, and I'm willing to take her up on that challenge! She mushmouths and mutters half her lines worse than Marlon Brando making out with Boomhauer from 'King of the Hill', all while talking out the side of her mouth like Kevin Neeland's Subliminal Man and doing her patented "Riot Grrl" act where she purses her lips in a permanent scowl and calls it "acting".
I just had to get that out of the way...Wynona sucks, and is one of the most overrated actors of this generation, but luckily she's the first hurdle of the film (the second being a cameo with Rosie Perez, who is a hurdle-whose-voice-makes-artificial-creamer-curdle in any movie), but what's left over is actually quite involving and entertaining. Beatrice Dalle is oddly alluring as a bat-blind French girl at odds with the abrasive questions of her ignorant Ivory Coast cab driver, played by Isaach De Bankolé. The interaction and dialog between the two is some of the best in the film, and Dalle's comebacks will have you rolling in the aisles like an artifical butter and hair-covered jujube (sorry if I conjured any thoughts of Ed Asner). Dalle should've gotten Wynona's role, while Wynona should've gotten the role of "fluffer" in the porn movie filming down the hall.
'Night on Earth' also features a segment with Roberto Begnini as an immature, obnoxious Italian cabbie (imagine that!) whose only late-night fare is a catholic priest from the vatican. Begnini begins to confess his rather, ahem, ODD sexual vices, and of course hilarity ensues.Despite its weak opener with Iwanna Rideher, 'Night on Earth' will please both the patient and fans of character-driven arthouse cinema. I've not seen all of Jarmusch's films, but this movie is one that leads me to believe he's not a TOTAL hack, after having suffered through Neil Young's drunken guitar noodlings and Jarmusch's dull and uninspired direction in 1995's 'Dead Man'. And I apologize, Wynona, but JEEZUS, GET IT TOGETHER!