“A Very Exceptional Situation”: Faraway, So Close! (1993)

How does one make a follow-up to a masterpiece? In 1993, Wim Wenders directed Faraway, So Close!, a companion film to his earlier tour de force Wings of Desire (1987). The first film followed two angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander), the former giving up his immortality to become human. Faraway follows Cassiel’s story as he too transitions into mortal existence. In a continuation of an important element from Wings, Cassiel often observes Berlin from atop the Victory Column (seen above), which makes for a really amazing opening to the film as the camera circles the statue high up in the sky.

Wenders rights a wrong from the previous film by featuring a female angel in a significant role (there had been some in Wings, but they ended up being cut from the final film). Nastassja Kinski, who had previously worked with Wenders in The Wrong Move (1975) and more famously in Paris, Texas (1984), plays Cassiel’s associate, Raphaela. Kinski’s performance is good, but she is not given much screen time.

Willem Dafoe has a flashy supporting role that I enjoyed, although I understand that some viewers find him distracting – not necessarily because of his American-ness, but maybe because of his innate Willem-Dafoe-ness. I don’t want to give away the identity of his character, but it’s an entertaining performance by one of cinema’s weirdest artists.

Speaking of high-quality acting, I want to stress that Faraway is especially worth seeing for those who are fans of Otto Sander (seen above with Wenders on the set) and wished he had had more to do in Wings. It’s great to see Sander in a leading role, although ultimately the narrative does not reach the stunning heights of its predecessor. Where Wings was poetic, Faraway is more conventional and has the kinds of conflicts you might see in a more typical film’s screenplay.

Sander is terrific at demonstrating Cassiel’s unbearable melancholy at realizing all the saddest aspects of human life, such as being unable to overhear other people’s thoughts (which he could do as an angel) and having to deal with violence and pain.

Bruno Ganz and Solveig Dommartin return as Damiel and Marion. Dommartin is particularly good here since seems less idealized than in Wings of Desire and more “real,” possibly because she was six years older and the character is now a wife and mother, as well as working as a bartender to supplant the family’s income.

The famed German actor Heinz Rühmann, then in his early 90s, made his final film appearance in Faraway, doing his best work in his scenes with Sander. I wish I could also find images from the film of the great Horst Buchholz, Rüdiger Vogler (a perennial favorite of Wenders since the early 1970s) and Monika Hansen (she was married to Otto Sander in real life) since they are memorable actors in Faraway too.

Lou Reed shows up, a sensical choice given that he had an album named Berlin in 1973. He provides Faraway with its one concert scene, performing a song called “Why Can’t I Be Good?” which provides Cassiel with important questions to ask himself (like the song’s title). I don’t think that the concert segment is even a fraction as powerful as either of the concert scenes from Wings of Desire, but the earlier scene (seen above) where Reed tries to remember some lyrics is a nice, poignant moment that combines a love of music (and musicians) with an awareness of aging/the passage of time.

…Reed even gets some extra screen time, appearing in a scene that takes place after Cassiel has become mortal.

Of course Peter Falk appears in Faraway too, just as he did in Wings, dispensing wisdom and aiding his ex-angel friends when they need him. After all, if anyone can help in a jam, it’s Columbo. Perhaps a bit of the charm is gone, but Falk is always a fun actor to watch. He has a kind of instant likeability.

Perhaps my favorite scene is when Cassiel tries out the trapeze, remembering the sensations of flying from when he was an angel. Even though the film is ultimately a little too long and the plot does not entirely make sense, it is worth seeing for moments like this. Sometimes with film that’s enough.

Postscript: the soundtrack has some excellent songs, my favorite being “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” by U2. Wim Wenders directed the music video for the band and you can see many elements taken directly from the two films.

Saturday Night Spotlight #16: Margarethe von Trotta

One of the major figures of the New German Cinema movement in the 1970s, Margarethe von Trotta (b. 1942) has taken part in acting, screenwriting, directing, assistant directing and art direction since the mid-1960s. She collaborated with noteworthy contemporaries like Volker Schlöndorff (to whom she was married from 1971 to 1991) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, including having acting roles in Fassbinder’s Gods of the Plague (1970), The American Soldier (1970) and Beware of a Holy Whore (1971), a starring role in Schlöndorff’s Coup de Grâce (1976) and, bringing all three together, co-starring with Fassbinder in the Schlöndorff-directed TV movie of the Bertolt Brecht play Baal (1970). From her earliest directorial efforts in the 1970s, like The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (1978) and Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness (1979), to more recent films like the Holocaust drama Rosenstrasse (2003) and the 11th/12th-century-set Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen (2009), her films show a fascination with German history as well as a commitment to telling stories of women from different social strata and political leanings. Now in her seventies, von Trotta continues to work, her new film Die abhandene Welt scheduled to be released in Germany sometime in 2015.

Marianne and Juliane (1981) – Von Trotta established herself as a major player in international cinema with this drama, which made her the first female filmmaker to win a Golden Lion, the top award that a film can receive at the Venice Film Festival. (Only three other women have won the same award in the thirty-plus years since then: Agnès Varda, Mira Nair and Sofia Coppola.) Von Trotta also won five other prizes at Venice for the film, as well as honors from various festivals in Germany, Italy, Spain and even Chicago. Marianne and Juliane stars Barbara Sukowa and Jutta Lampe in the title roles as sisters who take divergent paths in efforts to enact social change (including abortion rights) in late-1960s Germany. Von Trotta wrote the script herself and worked with many other women behind the scenes, including film editor Dagmar Hirtz, production designer Barbara Kloth, costume designer Monika Hasse, assistant director Helenka Hummel and script supervisor Margit Czenki.

Rosa Luxemburg (1986) – The famous Polish-Jewish political activist and revolutionary who co-founded the Communist Party of Germany in 1918 is portrayed here by Barbara Sukowa, who has worked with Von Trotta many times over the past few decades. For her performance as Luxemburg, Sukowa won the “Best Actress” awards from the German Film Awards and the Cannes Film Festival; the film was also nominated for Cannes’ Palme d’Or. Again Von Trotta wrote the screenplay herself and collaborated with editor Dagmar Hirtz, costume designer Monika Hasse (who passed away in 1985 – the film is dedicated to her) and four women as assistant directors (Margit Czenki, Eva Ebner, Helenka Hummel and Eva Kadankova). The film also stars Otto Sander (one of the two angels in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire a year later) as Karl Liebknecht, the co-founder of Luxemburg’s Communist group, as well as the Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski as the Marxist rebel Leo Jogiches. Another interesting bit of casting: Luxemburg’s mother is played by the Polish actress Barbara Lass, who had been married to Roman Polanski (1959-1962) and actor Karlheinz Böhm (1963-1980).

The Promise (1995) – A romantic drama that spans from the first days of the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s to the post-Wall era of rebirth in the 1990s, The Promise was Germany’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards. (It did not receive a nomination.) Moreover, for her direction Margarethe von Trotta earned a Bavarian Film Award and the film as a whole won the “Gold” award from the Guild of German Art House Cinemas (I’m guessing that’s the equivalent of the US’s Independent Spirit Awards). A number of up-and-coming young actors, some of whom had never made a movie before, were cast in roles for the early-60s section of the film, but one of the actresses who was cast for the later sections of the film is Eva Mattes, who had established her career in the 70s and 80s by working with Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and one of von Trotta’s female peers, Helma Sanders-Brahms. Otto Sander appears too, playing a professor. I would also like to point out the film’s editor, Suzanne Baron, who edited my favorite Jacques Tati film, Mon Oncle (1958), as well as over a dozen works by Louis Malle and a couple of films by Schlöndorff and Herzog.

Hannah Arendt (2012) – Edited by Bettina Böhler and photographed by one of filmdom’s few really notable female cinematographers, Caroline Champetier, von Trotta’s most recent theatrical release stars her frequent muse Barbara Sukowa (who, incidentally, lives in Brooklyn now) as controversial German-Jewish political theorist Arendt. English actress Janet McTeer co-stars as writer Mary McCarthy, who was friends with Arendt. The film’s appeal was wide-ranging, picking up honors at festivals and awards ceremonies in Germany, Austria, Romania, Estonia, Japan and the US. I also recall that when the film played at Manhattan’s Film Forum last year (spring 2013), there were Q&As with von Trotta, Sukowa, McTeer and screenwriter Pam Katz (who wrote the script with von Trotta).

Vive le Trintignant!

Today the French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant (b. 1930) celebrates his 84th birthday. I recently wrote a little about his performance in the film Z (1969) and with that in mind, I’d like to take a brief look back at six other memorable roles from M. Trintignant’s career.

…And God Created Woman (1956, dir. Roger Vadim) – JLT’s first notable film appearance was in this scandalous classic, best known for turning Brigitte Bardot into a superstar. The pair play a young married couple whose union is threatened by Trintignant’s brother-in-law (played by Christian Marquand) and a wealthy older man (Curd Jürgens). The film also features Isabelle Corey (who was in Melville’s Bob le Flambeur the same year), George Poujouly (his other films included Clair’s Forbidden Games in 1952, Clouzot’s Diabolique in 1955 and Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows in 1958) and Marie Glory (a character actress who lived to age 103 [2009] and who starred in Marcel L’Herbier’s silent L’Argent in 1928).

Il Sorpasso (1962, dir. Dino Risi) – A highly regarded Italian road movie, Trintignant plays a shy young man working his way through law school. His life is completely changed one day when he crosses paths with a loud, brash but friendly man (Vittorio Gassman) and the two embark on a cross-country journey filled with laughter and tears. The polar-opposite personalities of Trintignant’s and Gassman’s characters complement each other perfectly.

A Man and a Woman (1966, dir. Claude Lelouch) – One of the biggest hits of international cinema in the 1960s, Lelouch’s romantic drama stars Trintignant and Anouk Aimée as lovers who are not sure if their relationship can overcome a large number of obstacles. At the 1967 Academy Awards, the film won two awards for Best Foreign Language Film (France) and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen (won by Lelouch and Pierre Uytterhoeven) as well as receiving nominations for Best Actress and Best Director. It also won the illustrious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966.

Confidentially Yours (1983, dir. François Truffaut) – Truffaut’s swan song is a lovely tribute to the storytelling and aesthetic styles of Alfred Hitchcock. Trintignant and Fanny Ardant (Truffaut’s partner at the time, from the early 1980s until his death in 1984) make a wonderful sleuthing team as they try to solve the murder mystery in which Trintignant’s character is ensnared, the typically Hitchcockian innocent man on the run.

Three Colors: Red (1994, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski) – Another swan song, this time of a Polish auteur who created masterpieces of French cinema in the early-to-mid-1990s. Trintignant and Irène Jacob play neighbors whose lives intersect as they try to find happiness within themselves and others in Geneva. Drenched in stunning red-hued cinematography by Piotr Sobocinski (who, like Kieslowski, also passed away too soon), Red is a beautiful meditation on love and an unforgettable end to Kieslowski’s trilogy.

Amour (2012, dir. Michael Haneke) – JLT made his first film appearance in nine years in this somber drama, starring opposite another bright light of French cinema from the 50s and 60s, Emmanuelle Riva. It is not a film for the fainthearted, but it is worth seeing for a performance by Jean-Louis Trintignant that you will never forget. Amour was my first experience seeing a Trintignant performance and the quality of his work, even as a man in his eighties without the sparkle of youth, was so terrific that I immediately became a fan.

Filmmaker Firsts: Costa-Gavras

#23: Z (1969) – dir. Costa-Gavras

Political dramas are not usually among my preferred types of films to watch. It comes as no surprise to me, then, that I did not love the film Z, directed by the Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras (b. 1933) as much as the Academy Awards did at the 1970 ceremony. The film won two Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film (representing Algeria) and Best Film Editing (by Françoise Bonnot) and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Costa-Gavras and Jorge Semprún). The film starts off slowly, even though Bonnot’s editing and Raoul Coutard’s camerawork are impressive. It is not until a crucial act of violence happens at a political rally that the film gains momentum, although it is not until nearly an hour into the film, when Jean-Louis Trintignant’s role surpasses Montand’s as the main one, that things really take off.

Yves Montand has top billing because of his star status in international cinema, but he has very little screen time and his character hardly develops at all. For me, a better Montand performance from the same era is found in Vincente Minnelli’s On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970), which is a nutty movie with a distinct lack of chemistry between Montand and Barbra Streisand, but at least Monsieur M. and Babs are in fine voice.

Jean-Louis Trintignant gives a fine performance as the nameless judge who insists on following the letter of the law to determine culpability for Z’s government-aided political assassins, no matter how many bigwigs he brings down in the process. The dark glasses that the judge wears in nearly every shot that he is in, even though all of his scenes are indoors, are a memorable detail. For his work Trintignant received the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the only time he won such an honor from that organization.

Jacques Perrin, who was also one of Z’s two Best Picture Oscar nominees (he was one of the delegate producers), plays a photojournalist – another unnamed character – whose pictures help capture the men responsible for the film’s heinously violent acts. Perrin worked with well-known directors in the 1960s and 70s (Henri-Georges Clouzot, Valerio Zurlini, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Demy) but he has never really had the kind of worldwide acclaim that Montand and, eventually, Trintignant achieved. I’m not sure why; he has a very likeable presence, not only in Z but in the excellent films Cinema Paradiso (1988, dir. Giuseppe Tornatore) and The Chorus (2004, dir. Christophe Barratier) too. Perrin is not the only talented French supporting actor in Costa-Gavras’s production; Jean Dasté, who starred in the Jean Vigo classics Zero for Conduct (1933) and L’Atalante (1934), has a small role as an informant who helps Trintignant in his mission to bring down the corrupt government.

There are not many actresses with sizable roles in Z. The only actress who has multiple scenes in which to emote, despite a fairly small amount of screen time, is Irene Papas, who plays Yves Montand’s wife. Magali Noël makes a nice appearance as the firecracker sister of Georges Géret’s character and Clotilde Joano has a mostly silent role as some kind of assistant or secretary in Montand’s political circle, but Papas has real gravitas, even without much dialogue. Her expressive face speaks for her. If you want to see another of her effective performances from much more recently, watch this scene from Manoel de Oliveira’s A Talking Picture (2003). It consists of Papas, Catherine Deneuve, Stefania Sandrelli and John Malkovich sitting at a table in the dining hall on a cruise ship and just talking. It’s quite enjoyable. I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m not yet sure what I think of Costa-Gavras as a director, but with Z he knew enough to cast capable actors.

Indelible Film Images: The Docks of New York

The Docks of New York (1928) – dir. Josef von Sternberg

Starring: George Bancroft, Betty Compson, Olga Baclanova, Clyde Cook, Mitchell Lewis, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Richard Alexander, May Foster, George Irving, Charles McMurphy

Cinematography: Harold Rosson

Desire, Reclaimed and Transformed

Nearly a decade ago I was blessed with a miraculous experience: watching Wim Wenders’ romantic fantasy film Wings of Desire (1987) on the Turner Classic Movies channel. Even though I was young – around 13, I believe – I could see how amazing the film was. (I was not always so perceptive at that age when it came to understanding movies made outside of the United States.) In a way I wonder if it was because of how much I loved the film after that one viewing that I have not yet seen the entire film for a second time. Perhaps it was a subconscious wish to leave the memory of it unsullied. I also have not seen any of Wenders’ other films, another thing I ought to do something about.

I remember being so taken with Solveig Dommartin, whose beauty, acting and physical gracefulness intertwined to create such a dazzling onscreen presence in her performance as the lonesome yet hopeful aerialist Marion. I was quite saddened when Dommartin passed away suddenly from cardiac arrest in 2007, aged only 45. It was obvious that Wenders had filmed her with a real passion and admiration.

Back in January 2014 I caught the last half hour of Wings of Desire late one night on TCM. It was my first time seeing any part of the film since that initial viewing so many years earlier. When the film got to the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds concert scene, in which the band plays “The Carny” and the signature song “From Her to Eternity,” I stopped and took notice. All of a sudden I was seeing and hearing in a new way; I was paying attention to something that, for whatever reason, had not impacted me in the same way when I was a young teenager. If not for this moment, and for looking at still photographs from this scene again on Wim Wenders’ birthday this past August, I might never have decided to go see 20,000 Days on Earth when it played at the Film Forum in September.

In the early morning hours two days ago, I again saw a small part of Wings of Desire on TCM (yes, that wonderful channel). This time I saw the scene in which the band Crime & the City Solution perform “Six Bells Chime.” What I wouldn’t give to be able to sway to some divine sounds in a smoky Berlin nightclub! Not only am I now a fan of the music that Wenders incorporates – and given that this is my own blog, I will not miss any opportunity to promote the sonic magnificence of Rowland S. Howard – I also have a much stronger appreciation of the cinematography by Henri Alekan. (Side note: last month I saw Alekan’s most famous photographic effort, Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, for the first time since French class when I was 13. This seems to be a trend.) Additionally, I now recognize the significance of Wings’ look in the context of what Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger did with their film A Matter of Life and Death (1946), which also paints the living world in color and the afterlife in black-and-white.

I also got to see the scene in which Peter Falk, who is essentially playing himself, has a conversation with Bruno Ganz, who, since his character is an angel, is invisible to Falk. Falk can feel Ganz’s presence, though, and proceeds to explain all the things that are so great about being mortal. I really love that scene, maybe more than any other in the film.

I can’t wait to see Wings of Desire again, this time from the beginning. The next chance I get, I’ll buy the Criterion Collection DVD and revel in all its cinematic glory. Great films deserve to be revisited – or visited the first time, if you are not already familiar with them.

2014: Part 3

Frank. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Fascinating movie? Sure. Great? No, I’m not certain that it is. Michael Fassbender might actually be an even better actor with the papier-mâché head than without it. He’s good, though, as is Maggie Gyllenhaal, who I liked better than usual because she actually has an interesting character, unlike other stuff I’ve seen her play like in The Dark Knight and Won’t Back Down (although, to be fair, she had some great moments in Secretary and I don’t remember whether or not her character had “character” in Stranger Than Fiction). Both actors succeed in their roles because they’re not always easy to understand. Gyllenhaal in particular makes the sex scene she’s in simultaneously hilarious and a little frightening. Domhnall Gleeson, on the other hand, has a more complicated character: he serves as our protagonist and yet he is ironically out of place and in some ways unlikeable because he is too “normal” and ready to sell out for success. As in another movie I saw this year, Chef, social media plays an important role in advancing the plot. (I’m waiting for the day when Twitter becomes passé and it looks even sillier than it already does to see Tweets onscreen.) At least in Frank there’s a sense of mocking in the ridiculousness of Gleeson’s Tweeting (“#livingthedream”). Other high points of the film: Scoot McNairy as the band’s disturbed manager, Tess Harper and Bruce McIntosh in their brief scene as Frank’s parents, Carla Azar as the drummer (clearly the most musically talented of any of them) and François Civil as the French bassist. Neither Azar nor Civil has much in the way of screenwritten substance, but Civil gets bonus points for being incredibly attractive, so at least he’s a draw for the eye. The film is let down by its third act, which I guess works out the only way it could have, but it kind of deflates the bubble of eccentric charm that the film had going for it. I understand why the film went where it went, and the ending does make sense in its strange way, but I still couldn’t help feeling disappointment. Frank is worth seeing, though, especially for the song that ought to be a hit single, “I Love You All.”

Miss Meadows. Directed by Karen Leigh Hopkins. I really enjoyed this weird little movie. The most common association made is that it’s a vigilante version of Mary Poppins (since Katie Holmes plays a prim-and-proper schoolteacher) but I think the better cinematic comparisons to make are Blue Velvet (violent and sexual tensions in a seemingly idyllic small town; dark comedy; stylized acting) and Taxi Driver (using violence to rid the world of other violent people; using your own rationales to determine who should be got rid of; a balance of naiveté and cynicism). I thought Katie Holmes did a really great job since she could portray both the innocent, childlike, stunted characterization and also the fragile, emotional, sexually aware woman in the process of emerging. I also enjoyed James Badge Dale’s performance as the sheriff who uneasily falls in love with Miss Meadows. Callan Mulvey is also memorable as the neighborhood sex offender, as are Ava Kolker as a student who takes a shine to Miss Meadows, Mary Kay Place as Miss Meadows’ next-door neighbor and Jean Smart as Miss Meadows’ mother. Some of Joan Sobel’s editing wasn’t to my liking, but Barry Markowitz’s cinematography was pretty good. (The film also has a fun cover of “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” by Katie Holmes.) There’s something fascinating about a female character who cannot be controlled by men, not to mention viewing the film as the product of a female writer-director; maybe the film will eventually gain a cult following that will create some discourse on its themes.

St. Vincent. Directed by Theodore Melfi. This dramedy’s screenplay shows its seams quite often, hitting expected notes and even a few too many obstacles for Bill Murray’s Vincent character. The film is enjoyable, but it’s not subtle in its writing. Murray does very good work in the moments when you see the emotion in his face and his actions rather than in the not-so-great dialogue. (The dancing scenes, particularly “Somebody to Love,” are terrific.) I was often reminded of what Roger Ebert wrote about Murray’s performance in Broken Flowers: “No actor is better than Bill Murray at doing nothing at all, and being fascinating while doing it.” Murray shines the most when he is allowed to just act instead of overdoing it with the spoken word. Murray has some great scenes in the film, when the screenplay doesn’t overpower you with the hitting-you-over-the-head verbiage. I also enjoyed Melissa McCarthy’s performance, which felt realistic and relatable, and Jaeden Lieberher as McCarthy’s precocious young son (who is the film’s other protagonist). Chris O’Dowd is very good too as Lieberher’s teacher at Catholic school, including some truly funny lines. Naomi Watts’ character has a pretty ridiculous Russian (?) accent, which doesn’t work for me, and other supporting performances by Terrence Howard and Ann Dowd are mere cameos which don’t allow for character development. On the other hand, there is good work by Kimberly Quinn, Lenny Venito, Nate Corddry, Dario Barosso, Donna Mitchell, Reg E. Cathey, Deirdre O’Connell and Ron McLarty, who don’t appear for long either but who leave good impressions. It’s nice to see what I think of as the real Brooklyn (Sheepshead Bay), so that’s good, but ultimately I don’t think that this is a great movie or an out-and-out comedy. See it for Murray, McCarthy, O’Dowd and young Lieberher most of all.

The Theory of Everything. Directed by James Marsh. Overall this is a really good movie. The melodrama is a little heavy-handed at times, but Marsh knows how to handle emotion since he made the really affecting documentary Project Nim three years ago. Eddie Redmayne deserves so much awards love for his excellent and transformative performance as Stephen Hawking, including physical components that I’m sure were difficult to achieve. Felicity Jones also does a very good job as Jane Hawking, a role that shows the intense strain put on her character by the weight of having to take care of her husband. The ever-dependable David Thewlis does nicely as Stephen’s professor-mentor, while other good performances are given by Harry Lloyd as Stephen’s Cambridge roommate Brian, Simon McBurney as Stephen’s father, Emily Watson as Jane’s mother and Maxine Peake as Stephen’s caretaker Elaine. I don’t have quite so positive a reaction to Charlie Cox, who plays choral director Jonathan (another of Stephen’s caretakers); I just don’t get much of a sense of “acting” out of him. Otherwise, there is generally very good work from the actors, Redmayne and Jones obviously having the best showcases. Benoît Delhomme’s cinematography gives a warmth to the film, enhancing the look of certain scenes with a delicate glow that helps create a sense of the 60s and 70s. I definitely recommend the film, even if you’re like me and you have zero comprehension of physics; ultimately it is a film about love and the struggle to survive unimaginable obstacles.

20,000 Days on Earth. Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Put simply, this is my favorite film of the year so far. From the thrilling opening sequence fast-forwarding through Nick Cave’s life to the ferocious, life-affirming concert scene at the Sydney Opera House, the film totally changed my perspective on music, memory, writing and on my appreciation for how a documentary can blend the real and the unreal to create a unique narrative. The greatest benefits were not simply that I discovered Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (although, admittedly, I had been peripherally aware of the band for nearly a decade, ever since seeing Wings of Desire – more on that in an upcoming post about that specific film), but also that I discovered Grinderman, The Birthday Party/The Boys Next Door, Rowland S. Howard (if you have never listened to his album Teenage Snuff Film, you have missed out on one of the finest solo efforts of the last 15 years), Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld and all the other extraordinarily talented musicians who have worked with Cave in the past forty years. In the two months since seeing the film (an experience so great that I went back to see it again two weeks later), my taste in music has undergone such a seismic shift… and I dig it. I also have to give a shout-out to Erik Wilson for such beautiful cinematography, especially in the shots of Brighton and the film’s last shot in Sydney.