Night on Earth Winona Ryder, Beatrice Dalle, Roberto Benigni Director: Jim Jarmusch Five cities, viewed through the wacky nocturnal journeys of five taxi drivers and their passengers on the titular Night on Earth, feature in auteur Jim Jarmusch's most accessible film of the 1990s. The decision to film in the cities was largely dictated by the actors Jarmusch sought for the movie and where they were at shooting time. Because the film follows the time zones, the action opens in Los Angeles, followed by New York, Paris, Rome and finally Helsinki. By the end of the 80s, Jarmusch had already sealed his reputation as a master of gritty urban settings and chance encounters, with Stranger Than Paradise (New York), Down by Law (New Orleans), and Mystery Train (Memphis). The trademarks of Jarmusch's 1980s triptych are all present here: the long takes, the eerie metropolitan spaces, the minimalist acting, the grimy detail, and the wry sensibility. To Night on Earth he adds - or rather, subtracts - a coherent story arc. This, however, is not much missed; every Jarmusch film is a triumph of style over substance. Night on Earth moves from one shadowy cityscape to another, as the clock hands turn through the night. Indulging his interest in oblique comedy, Jarmusch explores the temporal shared world of cabbie and passenger, a primal urban relationship that lends itself to collisions of culture, an enduring theme of all Jarmusch's best work. The film amplifies the kooky and mysterious amid the mundane, as if to say there's nothing ordinary about any urban place. In Los Angeles, a big-shot movie agent tries to persuade her cabbie, a fresh-faced Winona Ryder, to consider acting. Then, in the Big Apple, a Brooklyn native son (the typically engaging Giancarlo Esposito) tries to teach his German taxi driver how to drive and jive like a real New Yorker. In the French capital, our cabbie is an immigrant from the Ivory Coast, who picks up a blind Parisian woman. Now we're deep in Jarmusch territory, where there's weirdness beneath the weirdness. In Rome, Jarmusch allows Roberto Benigni to go overboard in his famously madcap style. Benigni is the cabbie who won't shut up, confessing his sexual peccadillos - with a pumpkin and a goat, among other objects of his desire - to an ailing priest in the back. This Night on Earth ends only as far east as Helsinki; one wishes Jarmusch had gone further around the globe. The characters seem disconnected from their environment, floating around in a film that is as much about alienation as it is about bonding in a vehicle speeding through the night. Another of Jarmusch's chums brought into the proceedings is Tom Waits, whose off-kilter music, with its bizarre timbres and time signatures, greatly enhances this mind-blowing journey.