Wenders’ wonderland: Wim’s ups and downs
THE GOALKEEPER’S FEAR OF THE PENALTY (1972)
Disconcertingly arid existential drama (above) concerning a goalie who goes on a ruinous walkabout after letting in an easy shot. It can be no coincidence that Albert Camus also kept goal.
ALICE IN THE CITIES (1974)
The opening section of a loosely connected road trilogy – which later took in The Wrong Move and the peerless Kings of the Road – Alice in the Cities (below) remains the most successful of Wenders’s attempts to set American expanse against West German angst. Look closely and you will see the World Trade Center being built in the New York sequences. Eerie.
THE AMERICAN FRIEND (1977)
Dennis Hopper stars as a somewhat unlikely version of Tom Ripley, Patricia Highsmith’s amoral anti-hero, in this endlessly gripping, delightfully sleazy version of the author’s Ripley’s Game.
Producer Francis Ford Coppola and Wenders famously fought like maniacs during the production of this strange tribute to Dashiell Hammett, and the film was not well-received on release. It remains a curiously fascinating oddity.
PARIS, TEXAS (1984)
Wenders’s most commercially successful picture, Paris, Texas brought Wenders’s taste for Americana and the lonely highway to its natural conclusion. Career best work from Ry Cooder and Nastassja Kinski.
WINGS OF DESIRE (1987)
Now that every idiot with dreamcatcher earrings believes herself to be in communion with angels, Wenders’s Berlin epic is a little hard to take seriously. But it remains a classic.
UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD (1989)
Featuring a script co-written by novelist Peter Carey, the film – a futuristic thriller – is a banal hodgepodge from beginning to end. Yet worse was to come. The Million Dollar Hotel anyone? Thought not.
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB (1998)
This joyous celebration of the elderly Cuban musicians (below) catapulted back to dinner-party celebrity by Wenders’s old pal Ry Cooder remains the last Wenders film to find a respectful audience.