Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Don't Come Knocking, d. Wim Wenders

It's a bit difficult to watch when an artist either musically or in film has obviously lost the ability to create anything as powerful or meaningful as his earlier work. This isn't meant to come across as snobbery, this isn't about when someone has a crossover hit and someone outside the cool indie crowd starts singing their praises. This is more about when, in this case, you finish watching a film and you are unsure what the point even was.

I love two of Wim Wenders films. Wings of Desire is just about the most thought provoking and beaiutiful film I have ever seen. And in college, Paris, Texas was different from anything I had seen up until then. So, I was naturally excited to find out that the latest Wim Wenders film Don't Come Knocking reunited Wenders with playwrite and screenwriter Sam Shepard for the first time since Paris, Texas. It seemed to have the same quirky pseudo western feel about it too. But, for me the film just failed.

In the end the script just wasn't there. You have a washed up movie star returning to the town where he filmed one of his earlier films after his mother (whom he hasn't seen in 30 years) gives him news that inspires him to change the course of his life. Before all this, the film star (Sheppard)went AWOL from a films set and is being tracked down so he can go finish the film and honor his contract. The cast did as well as they could with this. Tim Roth, Sam Sheppard, Jessica Lange, and the always strangely intriguing Sarah Polley especially, were all at least competent in their roles. But, in the end it was difficult to connect with any of the characters.

Wenders has made a very good career of using the setting of his films to his advantage in storytelling. Wings of Desire would not have been nearly as bautiful outside of Berlin, or without Wenders overhead shots of the city. Paris, Texas had it's ridiculously beautiful landscapes that almost seemed to come straight out of a John Ford film. And in Don't Come Knocking Wenders has the town of Butte, Montana. And, there are numerous wonderful shots, and a decent eeriness and something special about the place to be sure. But, in the end it still just seems like a town without a decent story to tell, or maybe Wenders and Shepard just picked the wrong story to tell.

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