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Wenders

[ 27 ] October 15, 2012 |

That’s cool that Criterion is releasing Wim Wenders’ dance movie from last year. Who knows, it could be good. Though when was the last time that Wenders really did an excellent movie? Wings of Desire? I mean, Buena Vista Social Club is good but that’s mostly because of the music, Ry Cooder’s unnecessary slide guitar interventions notwithstanding. But I simply cannot understand why, if Criterion is so enamored of Wenders, that it doesn’t put out Kings of the Road, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, Alice in the Cities, or any of his other outstanding films from the 70s and early 80s that remain unavailable on DVD, not to mention blu-ray.

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  1. Todd says:

    Add “Until the End of the World” (1991)to the Region 1 DVD mystery list as well.

  2. Vance Maverick says:

    I’d rate BVSC the movie higher than you, Erik. One of its virtues (intentional or not — and it’s characteristic of great documentaries that one may not be sure) is to let us see, as if discovering it for ourselves, the Cooders’ opportunism. (I’m recalling a scene in which the son muses on his extraordinary good fortune in being able to play with such old masters.)

  3. jon says:

    Pina is a fantastic movie. And I hate almost all modern dance. Maybe some other of Wenders’ films can follow this one.

    • Alan Tomlinson says:

      Pina is crap. Truly unadulterated crap! de gustibus non est disputandum

      I really like Wenders a great deal, but Pina is, in my opinion, simply wretched.

      Cheers,

      Alan Tomlinson

  4. Blume says:

    Pina is better than the movies on your list; I would argue it stands with his best work. But I agree that Alice at least should have a DVD release.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      I am highly skeptical that it is better than Kings of the Road, which is one of my favorite movies of the 70s. But the favorable comparison does make me interested in watching it.

      • Martin says:

        That, and writing a blog post calling it out for not being worthy of Criterion.

      • Blume says:

        It’s hard to compare the two movies. Pina has very little narrative. But I find it brilliant as an extended meditation on medium. Wenders shows you things you couldn’t see at a performance of these Pina Bausch pieces — viewpoints, angles, closeups — and sometimes they are amazing, while at other times they frustrate your desire to see the entire mise en scene and more generally, to be seeing a dance performance and not a film. But then there are also the pieces made for the film, and other pieces repurposed to different settings, both of which work really differently than the stage pieces. The ones out in and around the city of Wuppertal (where Bausch and her company were based) are especially great.

  5. Matt says:

    The Tarkovskiy movie being released, _Ivan’s Childhood_, is one of the ones done in collaboration with Andrey Konchalovskiy, (who was uncredited for the writing, but did a lot of it, from my understanding), later of Tango and Cash fame. (It’s not as “artistic” as most of what Tarkovskiy became famous for, but it’s a good movie.)

    The movie I’m surprised (or more) can’t be found on a Region 1 DVD is Emir Kusturica’s wonderful _Black Cat, White Cat_. I really can’t understand it.

  6. Mo says:

    It’s all about rights and what they can get ahold of cheap. Wenders probably held onto video rights or had in his contract that Criterion could do a special edition. (Which is why you see commercial crap on Criterion – the director’s contract with the studio included the production costs of the special edition.)

    The VHS of this came out through Michael Nesmith’s Pacific Arts Video. They got into a nasty, nasty spat with PBS over PBS basically trying to steal the licenses to the titles in the Pacific Arts catalog. Nesmith won a lot of money, but my guess is that the rights to all of these titles are now in some sort of limbo.

    Yes, I used to work in the field in the laserdisc era.

  7. Mo says:

    Looks like Black Cat, White Cat was distributed by USA Films and came out on VHS in 2000. USA Films went out of business in 2003. DVD was introduced in 1997 and overtook VHS in 2003. So Black Cat, White Cat probably just missed the window for a DVD release. IMDB lists 11 European companies as co-producers so the rights could be a mess. Or could belong to the ex-husband of someone at USA films second-wife, who is greedy and wants a ton of money up front. Don’t laugh, this sort of thing is often the reason why stuff isn’t available.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Mo. Sadly, that sounds completely plausible, and too bad if so, as it really is a great movie.

      • Mo says:

        It looks like it is available as a rental from Facets Video in Chicago. They are sort of Netflix for nerds, if you haven’t dealt with them. They have VHS and an import (PAL, methinks) DVD.

        Facets Link

        • Matt says:

          I watched it (on VHS- probably pirated, as most such things were) soon after it came out, while living in Russia, and have watched it again on VHS in the US- rented from a now closed video rental place in west Philly. I’d just like to be able to recommend it to people who don’t have a VCR anymore, or a multi-region DVD player.

    • Martin says:

      That’s very interesting. So there’s a whole “generation” of movies released right around 2000 that are kind of orphaned for DVD release. It’s a little like the 1% of library catalog cards that for whatever reason got mistranslated when libraries converted to digital filing systems and so effectively do not exist.

      • Mo says:

        Yes. There is always a bit of a hole in a format’s catalog for non-quite popular stuff that came out just before it came along.

        Just like most people have a blind spot for what was popular and in style just before you came along. In the 80s, all the cool kids thought 70s film was a total crap wasteland.

  8. Andy says:

    If you are that big of a fan of Wim Wenders you should’ve tried to see Pina in a theater in 3D. It was fantastic on the big screen in 3D. And I’m not really into dance.

  9. Boudleaux says:

    Referring to anything Ry Cooder plays on the guitar as “unnecessary” is just ignorant. I suppose you would have to confuse the music in that movie with some kind of pure Cuban music to get there. As Ry’s son aptly put it, the style of the music was some kind of 50s-60s hybrid that exists only in Ry Cooder’s mind. His own participation could therefore never be “unnecessary.”

  10. JREinATL says:

    Erik, FYI, Criterion has had the “Road Movie Trilogy,” (Alice, Wrong Move, Kings) in the pipeline for quite sometime. Criterion won’t tell you directly what they’re working on, but they gave a wink and a nod on these a while back.

  11. Ed says:

    The “dance movie” is a moving and affectionate homage to the late Pina Bausch. Wenders took care to ensure her work would be accessible to non-initiates or even non-fans. The interviews with the dancers are not terribly illuminating and the picture goes on a mite too long but those are minor quibbles. As noted upthread, the use of 3D was superb. Glad I saw it in a theater.

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