Sunday, July 31, 2005


Darren put up a Paris, Texas banner recently, and got me thinking about Wim Wenders. "The Yanks — they've colonized our subconscious," declares a character in Kings Of The Road, with both affection and bitterness. It's a statement that I resonate with deeply, having grown up geographically distant but culturally proximate to America.

Though not all of his films work for me, there is much that I admire about Wenders:

  • his notion of movies (and by extension, life) as temporal, thus making the passage of time a crucial element in his films

  • the need for his characters to capture and preserve images

  • the transience and travel in his films, which could all be road movies

  • his use of children, which clearly marks Truffaut's influence

  • his love of rock n' roll, and

  • his allusiveness that spans the range from Ford to Ozu

As for the films themselves, here's my record with them:

  • I love: Kings Of The Road, Alice In The Cities, Paris, Texas

  • I like a lot: The State Of Things, Lisbon Story

  • I like them but perhaps not quite as much as other people do: Wings Of Desire, The American Friend

  • I'm eager to check out: Lightning Over Water, Tokyo-Ga, Wrong Move

  • I checked out of: Million Dollar Hotel, The End Of Violence, Beyond The Clouds

  • I'm curious about: Notebook On Cities And Clothes, The Goalie's Anxiety At The Penalty Kick

  • I'm curious but daunted by their length: Faraway, So Close, Until The End Of The World

Your thoughts on Wenders and his movies?


Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I strongly recommend Wender's book, My Time with Antonioni. I read it before seeing Beyond the Clouds. I saw the U.S. version of Until the End of the World which impressed me. I didn't know until recently that Wender's original version is substantially longer. No mention of Buena Vista Social Club by you. My mom loved the music and got albums by some of the musicians. I have gaps in my viewing of Wenders, but my favorites are Alice and Paris, TX, with Wings coming close. I think of Beyond the Clouds as more Antonioni than Wenders. (I'm a big Antonioni fan.)

July 31, 2005 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

I like "Until the End of the World" quite a bit. The film is hefty, for sure but well worth it. The issues of travel (It's definitely a road movie) and time/memory are crucial to the film, so it's well within Wenders' career arc. I'd place it alongside things like "Alice in the Cities" or "Paris, Texas," especially with its meditation on visuality and memory.

August 01, 2005 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Fav. early Wenders - Alice in the Cities, Kings of the Road, The State of Things.

I do still love Wings of Desire, and while I found the 5 hour version of Until the End of the World an improvement over the original US cut, it still is little more than Wim and his girlfriend wanting to take an all-expense paid world tour.

The End of Violence and Million Dollar Hotel were glorious failures, in my opinion.

August 01, 2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Until the End of the World is my favorite, tho Paris, Texas is pretty spectacular. I'd put Faraway So Close with The End of Violence -- a little dizzy and, um, melodramatic, but watchable.

Actually, UtEoftW is one of my favorites, period.

August 01, 2005 3:35 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Like Peter's mom, I'm a fan of the Buena Vista musical side projects, esp. pianist Ruben Gonzalez.

Not sure if any of you saw "Eros", but the Antonioni segment was either far-out genius or outrageous cheese, and I'm in the latter camp. (I'm a huge fan of his earlier stuff).

I really like Wenders' collection of writings on movies and music, published by Faber & Faber. It's a fat tome but great fun.

August 01, 2005 7:08 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

i like his cross polination with U2.

August 02, 2005 8:16 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

I'll second the recommendations for Until The End Of The World - I'm partial to it myself. A little rambling, but mesmerizing nonetheless. Kings Of The Road is my favorite; I need to watch that again.

Another great thing about Wenders: music. Just seeing Nick Cave and Lou Reed in the two angels films (especially the former performing in the first one) endeared me to the films enormously.

August 04, 2005 12:09 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Faraway, so close! was a big disappointment to, a huge step down from Wings of Desire. I wondered what the pseudo-political plot was all about.

I second the support for Buena Vista Social Club, which was an enlightment for me introducing me to the cuba son.

I agree with the latter statement on Antonioni's segment in Eros... almost completly antithetic with the subtlety of his early B&W movies.

No mention of Land of Plenty? Beyond the obvious flaws of its form, I thought there was much to think about in this film. If not at face value by its forceful political message, on a second layer, like if the film was a self-parody.

August 06, 2005 12:17 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Harry--"Land Of Plenty" is yet to be released in the US. (Did it play in the theaters over there in Paris?). Doug saw it when we were in Toronto last year and said he had mixed feelings about it.

August 06, 2005 7:48 PM  
Anonymous HarryTuttle said...

Oh sorry, I'm so used to see american films 6 months after everyone else...
Yes it was released nationwide last september, on a limited distribution mind you. And a poor B.O. score too.
Although praised by Positif, Le Monde and Libération.

August 08, 2005 6:01 PM  
Blogger Booklad said...

"Alice in the Cities" is brilliant. As are the other two in the "Road Trilogy" - Wrong Moves, Kings of the Road. I like his early films better because they are rough around the edges. Same reason I love the unfinished paintings of Andrew Wyeth. There's something so human, so real about "Alice" that just pulls you in and takes you on a trip. I'm so glad he is putting them all out on DVD (see for a list) I also recommend his books. "Emotion Pictures" in particular.

August 09, 2005 1:06 AM  

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