Thursday, July 08, 2010

Wim Wenders: Paris, Texas

Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas (1984) is a fabulous movie, highly recommended. It was cool to see it again hard on the heels of Der Amerikanische Freund / The American Friend (1977). Not for those suffering from ADHD, however.

The setup: A man (Harry Dean Stanton) in some kind of fugue state is wondering around South Texas. Thirsty, he walks into Terlingua and is looked after by a shady doctor, who calls his brother (Dean Stockwell), who in turn travels from LA to retrieve him. And on from there. The key players, all related to each other in the film, are fantastic: Stanton, Stockwell, Hunter Carson (son of L. M. "Kit" Carson, who adapted Sam Shepard's screenplay), Aurore Clément and Nastassja Kinski. Wowza! Excellent soundtrack by Ry Cooder and let's not forget the gorgeous camerawork by Robby Müller.

What strikes me now is how non-judgmental and unvarnished the tone of the movie is. And, the limits of human relationships, even when all are trying their best. This taps into much of Wenders' work. Everything human is refracted through the prism of the mind, the prisms of our senses, and can only go so far.

Distance is put between characters through several framing devices, the very same things that also connect or reflect us: telephones, walkie talkies, tape recorders, film (Super 8 in this case), glass, mirrors and photographs.

Other things noticed: $1.16 gallon full service gas and Gulf Oil stations; smoking on a plane and by a doctor at work; no seat belts; a red VW like the one in The American Friend and recurring in Coen brothers films; phone booths, pay phones, dial phones.  Also, drive-through banking, fairly new in the early 80s.

Today's Rune: Joy.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard very good things about this one and I like Stanton. I'll have to give it a look see.

Lana Gramlich said...

Smoking on a plane...Ironically I was just talking about "those days" to someone at work recently.

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pattinase (abbott) said...

Quite an eye-opening movie at the time.