Monday, December 5, 2016

The American Friend (1977)

This is an interesting one. It feels the most autobiographical of the Wim Wenders films I've seen. The cameos by Sam Fuller and Nicholas Ray, the dedication to Henri Langlois and the inclusion of early optical toys clearly indicate that Wenders wants us to be thinking about cinema itself. Viewed in this context, the forgery subplot seems like a knowing nod towards his early career where Wenders himself acknowledges that his directing "style" consisted of little more than approximating Hitchcock and Cassavetes. Even the Zimmerman character agreeing to serve as a hired gun seems to pre-sage the difficulties Wim would later encounter trying to work for Francis Ford Coppola. Yet by placing all of this within the context of a "crime picture", Wenders is able to sidestep the indulgence of making a "stuggling artist picture". It's not an entirely perfect marriage, but it sure makes for some interesting images, ideas and an amazing train sequence.

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