Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders’ final fictional film from the 1980s, is lighter than a feather. The wispy gates of heaven open to an overcast Berlin in the twilight of The Cold War. Angels float through the streets and listen to the thoughts of the city’s many lonely characters.
Wim Wenders’ visionary Palme d’Or winning film Paris, Texas is the culmination of the director’s many years of hard work capturing life on the road. This poetic study of what it means for one to belong in the world transcends language and reality.
Wim Wenders’ neo-noir thriller, The American Friend, looks like it was cut from the same cloth as other films from the genre. When viewing the film in 2016, it’s hard not to make stylistic connections to such titles as: The French Connection, Chinatown, and Point Blank. However, what makes The American Friend stand out from its counterparts is that it doesn’t concern itself with trying to fulfill a mysterious plotline.
As part of their expansive retrospective on the exceptional German director Wim Wenders, The TIFF Bell Lightbox delivers a rare opportunity to see the man’s early short films as one screening. Most of these films date back to the late 1960s when Wenders was a film student in Munich. The films are the collected diaries of a young filmmaker experimenting with the medium, searching for his voice. While many of the films feel like fragmented snapshots of little consequence, it is evident that a vision is starting to form. Viewing the compilation in the context of Wenders’ later work, it is miraculous to see the jump in craftsmanship in such a short amount of time.
The TIFF Bell Lightbox’s stop motion animation retrospective continues this extended holiday weekend with several more impressive titles. Of particular note are screenings of the two 1970s European classics, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage).
Both films pose numerous questions about existence in two completely different tones. Life of Brian, as with all of Monty Python’s greatest works, looks at the world satirically. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious in its absurdities – an elite comedy in which the actors deliver jokes with tremendous control. The jokes are structured so well that they feel as if they appear out of nowhere. All of a sudden, each line becomes funnier than the next. The characters fidget oddly, contort their faces, hold their gazes for a split second too long, and speak with bizarre cadences tones or impediments. Then, at the utmost perfect time, the punch line is dropped and a laughing fit ensues. The Python guys are so good at telling jokes that the plot line is almost unnecessary to the film’s enjoyment. Life of Brian becomes a competition of witty jokester one-ups-man-ship from the opening credits all the way to the closing song.
The TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto’s foremost review cinema house, is putting on an extensive stop-motion animation retrospective for the public over the next few months. Titled ‘Magic Motion: The Art of Stop-Motion Animation,’ the first screenings are set to take place this weekend. Two of the initial weekend screenings, King Kong (1933) and The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), are particularly noteworthy features in the development of cinema. Both films laid an early blueprint for the future of action-adventure motion pictures. Read the rest of this entry