Monday, February 26, 2007

Wims of Desire

I forgot to mention over the weekend, but independent distributor Sponge House has announced it will be putting on a Win Wenders retrospective on tour through Korea this spring. And Wenders himself will be coming, too, to meet with audiences and talk about his works.

Sponge will be showing ALICE IN THE CITIES, IN THE COURSE OF TIME, THE AMERICAN FRIEND, PARIS TEXAS, TOKYO-GA, WINGS OF DESIRE, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, THE SOUL OF A MAN, LAND OF PLENTY and DON'T COME KNOCKING. Wisely, there is no sign MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL. Plenty of good stuff though, and several films I have not seen yet. Although I would have liked to see UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD again.

The main festival will be March 15-28, with Wenders making appearances March 15-22ish (exact details have not been worked out yet). If you are not in Seoul, you are still in luck, as the festival will go on tour -- Busan at the Gukdo Theater on March 29-April 11, Gwangju at the Gwangju Theater on April 13-19, Daegu at the Dongseong Art Hall on April 26-29, and Daejeon at the Daejeon Art Cinema on May 3-9.

Wenders has a bit of a history in Korea. He attended the Pusan International Film Festival in 2000, where he talked for 90 minutes with the audience after a screening of his MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL. And before that, he came to Korea in 1977 to give a lecture at the Goethe-Institut in Seoul.

My history with Wenders' work is somewhat mixed. The first time I saw WINGS OF DESIRE (foolishly, on video), I thought it was a pretentious mess and turned it off after less than an hour. But then I got a chance to see it on the big screen and liked it much more. Not long after that, I got to see it in 70mmm, at the gorgeous Capital theater in Baltimore (one of the great old cinemas), with Wenders himself at the screening and answering questions after. At this point, it is definitely my favorite Wenders film. But I like a lot of his other films, too.

Something I have always found very interesting, though, is the contrast between WINGS OF DESIRE and the follow-up film, FAR AWAY, SO CLOSE. Wenders made WINGS -- which I think is a wonderfully spiritual movie -- when he was an atheist (or at least not very religious). But not long afterward, he had a major conversion experience and became a strong Christian. He made FAR AWAY as a Christian, and the film definitely has much more explicit religious themes... but I have always considered the film spiritually dead.

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