movies still on the brain

Chatting online with my quasi-son-in-law, Jeremy Daum, yesterday. He mentioned and linked in Wim Wenders movie, “Alice in the Cities.”

I like Wenders’ movie, “Wings of Desire,” quite a bit so I watched this one last night.

What a difference after Avatar in 3d.  Jeremy neatly summed up Avatar as “Dances with wolves with Space Indians.” Not sure I ever even saw “Dances with Wolves.” Probably.

Whereas Avatar left a bit of a void in my head, “Alice in the Cities” keeps gently nudging me to think as it did even as I watched it. The main character, Philip, is a German writer wandering the U.S.A. gathering material for an article. “Pop culture leaves a void” seems to be a bit of what Wenders was thinking about in this movie. Philip snaps pics via his polaroid and waits expectantly for the exposure to develop, turning whiteness into  blurred photographs. “It’s empty,” Alice remarks at one point after his shot develops.

Philip searches for America and his own sense of identity (specifically observed to be lacking by his friend who will not let him spend the night in her apartment after he is stranded in New York waiting for a plane home). He finds Alice.

Their friendship solidifies as the rest of the terrain of the movie (New York, Amsterdam, Germany) fades into an echo of pale American pop culture. Philip hums pop tunes, drinks Coca Cola, goes to a Chuck Berry concert. But he is never more real than when he is interacting with Alice.

In the end, they rescue each other and continue their journey together looking out of a moving train on its way to Munich where Alice will supposedly be returned to her mother who had abandoned her to a stranger’s (Philip) haphazard care in New York.

Shot in B & W, the music is calculated to pull you in. Philip begins the movie singing “Under the Boardwalk” as he sits under a boardwalk on a beach somewhere in America taking polariod shots. There is a recurring simple tinny guitar theme that carries the emotional weight of the movie.

I liked this movie. [link to online viewing of it]

Thank you, Jeremy, for reminding me of it and recommending I watch it immediately.

Dealt with the usual Monday mild depression/melancholy yesterday.

I find it helps if I just name it and avoid whining both to myself and my lovely wife and others.

My spirits lifted a bit last night while I was rehearsing a Schumann Fantasy with a ninth grade clarinetist.

She arrived with her Dad and little brother in tow. This was actually our first run through together. Last week she showed without a Bb part. This week we went through it a couple of times. I began counting out loud because the accompaniment is complicated interleaved with the solo part (typical lovely Schumann stuff).

When she first got there I offered to burn her a CD of a recording of the piece I had found on the web.  She wasn’t too interested.

As we rehearsed I realized I needed to take old guy initiative and just make her listen to the recording. Which I did. Then I set it up to burn while we went over it again. What a difference!

As my wife later remarked when I told her about it, it went from notes to music.

This interests me because I have resisted too much reliance on recordings where classical music is concerned. I knew a woman once who was completely unable to shake interpretations she learned as she had listened to recordings of great artists. When I accompanied her it was like the Music minus one series. Very weird.

But there are many times when listening to a recording is helpful. Last night was one of those.

HMV.jpg His Masters Voice image by mircea1958

Her little brother was charmingly oblivious as he kept up a bit of patter while he and his Dad waited for us. After we finished one run through, he said, boy that was long. I told him it was only three minutes long. (Does a six or seven year old have a sense of minutes?). I said not three hours like AVATAR.

At first the kid didn’t quite get what movie I meant. When he figured it out he blurted out: Yeah! My butt hurt.

I rest my case. Heh.

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2 thoughts on “movies still on the brain

  1. I haven’t seen the movie for years myself, but I seem to remember there being a recurring them of trying to match images to reality. That all they had of ‘home’ was a polaroid, which they would compare with various houses until they found the right one.

  2. Correct. A corollary to the writer’s initial inability to write about America but only take pictures. Maybe he was more trying to capture reality in pictures and as they searched for Alice’s home they were in an even more elusive situation: matching a child’s memory/polaroid to corresponding reality.

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