May 24, 2008

Cannes. Palermo Shooting.

At Cinematical, James Rocchi first takes aim at the Cannes paparazzi, fires and scores a beaut. "So, yes, the idea of watching a Wim Wenders film about a photographer who's having a crisis of conscience about his profession seemed like a capital idea."

Palermo Shooting

However: "Palermo Shooting goes fairly off the mark, or fires blanks, or has a damp fuse; I'm not sure about which firearm metaphor applies here, and if Wenders can't be bothered to have any cohesion to his signs and symbols, why should I? Palermo Shooting is hardly the worst film I've ever seen at Cannes - Southland Tales still takes the Palme d'Junk in my book - but it's still a little sad to see a major filmmaker make such a series of major mistakes in the name of a fairly minor film."

Further up in that review: "Films about people who have to choose between two different kinds of success are, by definition, boring. The second problem comes with the casting of Campino, who is certainly a well-made slab of Euro-flesh, but whose range of expressed emotional states ranges from hunky bewilderment to bewildered hunkiness."

"Wim Wenders muses on love, death and his perennial bugbear, the 'Crisis of the Image' in The Palermo Shooting, a metaphysical thriller cum philosophical essay that marks another step on the downwards slope for this once-vital filmmaker," writes Jonathan Romney in Screen Daily. "Unwisely cast, leadenly written and ultimately farcical in its earnestness, The Palermo Shooting is a glossy travelogue-thriller with metaphysical pretentions, and one of the low points of this year's Cannes Competition."

The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Roxborough talks with Wenders, who's now planning to shoot a horror movie.

For Variety, Ali Jaafar reports that Axiom Films has picked up UK rights.

Reviews in German.


Coverage of the coverage: Cannes 08.

Last year: Cannes @ 60. And Cannes 06.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 24, 2008 8:23 AM


WENDERS IS A TRUE VISIONARY, and therefore probably misunderstood lately by most.

I am frankly bemused by the bad remarks about "Palermo Shooting". I too watched the film in Cannes with anticipation, and great 'trepidation' at the same time( given the helmer's previous flop)but came out nicely surprised, as did other people that I had the opportunity to exchange views with afterwards. Most of them were distributors, festivals and minor press representatives( I have been in the bussines of acquisitions and development for many years). And there was an obvious feeling that Wenders has delivered us a very special film, and one that is predominantly visionary in everyway. But of course, this is not the opinion of THE CRITICS, who have been for a while unforgiving of Wenders and are still waiting for the next "Wings of Desire"...well folks, that 'aint gonna happen' simply because Wenders is one of those rare directors that never looks back.
Maybe some critics would care to notice that "Palermo Shooting" is probably Wenders' most personal and cathartic work since "Kings of The Road", and that the portrayal of a slightly impassive well known photographer( just as in the mentioned classic), who has come to a crossroads in is life falls beyond just being a coincidence, or a gimmick, but it is deliberate and mirrors more often than not Wenders himself. In Palermo, we feel to our bones the confusion and loneliness that Campino( for whom Wenders wrote this script)experiences, through the powerful and beautifully composed shots and music that follow him as he comes to grip with Palermo and his own ghosts. Wenders presents us with incredibly varied and well chosen music and introduces the very 'of the moment' use of the ipod to deliver the tracks to coincide with the central character own moves. This concept on its own is not just a clever device but a subtle social comment, at which Wender's has always been good. It says an awful lot about modern man at the cutting edge enjoying a successful professional life, surrounded by every possible gadget which help him and control him at the same time. All the props that define Campino's character are desirable, from the 360 degree rotating camera to the beautiful classic car. So, even the way he wanders through Palermo's old streets make the film ultra modern, and breathtaking. Here Wenders is in top form in the composition of his scenes and juxtaposition of cultures and ideas.One of my favourite scenes in the film is when the photographer walks into a derelict old theatre following some screaming voices. After walking through the empty corridors he arrives at the source of the screams: a heated play is being rehearsed and a man appears to be shouting to a chair that he holds at face level. The lines being shouted are not subtitled for stronger effect, and Campino takes a sit on a back bench and just soaks in(as does the audience) the entire scene: the derelict theatre, semi open to the elements, the passionate play that he cannot understand and it is so alien to his controlled self and culture....unable to tare himself away he stays until he falls asleep.
The entire film is full of subtle, poignant and moments and the cohesive and straight story is blended to great effect with the surreal and supernatural. The use of special effect is unprecedented in Wenders' work and here he achieves a very different type of film with the help of these, permeating the psyche of his lead and pushing him into further confusion, to the point were he cannot tell the difference between dream and reality, and were the surreal takes centre stage as the film reaches it's climax. Which points at the sheer metaphor that life is. How often do we find ourselves in situations which seem surreal and that go beyond 'coincidence'? I myself could tell a few.
The story of a self centred and successful man who, after having had a near death experience,goes through a live changing crisis is is indeed not new and has been tackled successfully before, BUT Wenders goes a step forward and in a original,and comic too, way makes his character and DEATH( played to perfection by a wise old Dennis Hopper)confront each other once more, keeping his lead, and us, always on the edges of reality, in a way that is reminiscent of "Wings of Desire" indeed.
He also blatantly turns death into a 'good guy' who is there to advise as much as to scare...two concepts that are just a thread apart. Death makes the photographer question his intentions, even down to the presumptuous use of his camera. So, when the man says" you shot me!"( referring to a moment when Death shoots at him with a bow and arrow from a balcony in Palermo, where the photographer is taking pictures), Death answers:" you shot me first! no one takes a picture of me!" Death's speech to the mortal is as relevant here as that which Wenders gave us in "Kings of the Road" from a frustated son to an aging and regretful father inside the newspaper printing workshop.
I won't deny that I would've liked the film to end not too long afer this point, and that I felt that we didn't really need to know about the female character's own ghosts. It could've been a leaner picture with a neater ending without this. I 'd also mention that the beginning dragged a little as Campino's trendy life in Düsseldorf is presented to us a bit too long. These are a bit annoying but can be forgiven of Wim Wenders as, nevertheless he has given us a striking, original and beautiful film. In time, I'm sure this will become another one of his classics. With Palermo Wenders is, as usual, on the pulse of things, he has always been a very different type of storyteller who can say as much with a few words, than without, and here he achieves both beautifully. The fabulous and original use of music combined with astonishing cinematography and pace takes us on a remarkable 'voyage'.
Thank you Mr. Wenders

H.P UK 27/5/08

Posted by: H.P. at May 27, 2008 9:06 AM