On children III

film 2 of 3

Alice in the Cities

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 10, 2015

From the Children’s Media Review:

Though this is universally celebrated as a great film, and a key work in the New German Cinema, the style with which director Wim Wenders tells his story, or rather with which he explores the seemingly miniscule events that stories usually skip, will put off many viewers. The approach has been called temps mort (“dead time”) and the term aptly describes the film’s reflective stillness, its willingness to keep looking and looking beyond the point when most films would have cut, or even wrapped and gone home. And yet, for all its formal challenges, this simple story is also quite accessible, at least if the viewer makes the effort to approach it on its own terms. It is essentially an update of George Eliot’s sublime Silas Marner, in which a sorrowful and self-centered man is brought to life by losing himself in the service of a child. In calmly portraying the gradual cultivation of this relationship Wenders avoids the usual cute or curmudgeonly clichés so common in children’s movies. As in our actual grown-up/kid relationships, exasperation and affection are complicatedly intermingled, and a relationship is accomplished only through patient cultivation and gradual growth. If there are challenges in this approach, there are also great rewards. By avoiding the shorthand of sentimentality, Wenders eventually achieves real sentiment, and demonstrates a truth to which movies sometimes give lip service, but to which they rarely show sufficient commitment. The idea is that it takes time to come to know, and to love someone. In its patience with and affection for its characters, in its desire to actually have us spend that time, Wenders’ film teaches us that movies may require, and reward, the same effort. In the end this is that rare commodity: a film about love that is actually made with love.

Tweet Review:

Saw Wim Wenders’ exquisite #AliceintheCities. Beautifully evokes so many other great texts: Silas Marner, Treasure Island

Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Searchers, of course. Even Monsters, Inc. Why not? Matthew 10:39! Such a dear movie.

#AliceintheCities. Has Wenders’ usual deep & expanding intertextual montage. Vogler sings The Drifters, ironically, …

… signaling loss, ennui & alienation. Later, C. Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee” (a definitive father/daughter tale!) alerts us to the fact …

… of this character’s increasing ethical engagement, other-awareness, the advent, finally, of his useful adult/selfhood.