Monday, June 30, 2014


Tonight the Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis is showing Supercop, kicking off their month long Jackie Chan retrospective. In honor of this (and because I’m a huge Jackie Chan fan), here are my top 10 favorite films of Mr. Jackie Chan.

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1) Police Story (1985)
After being framed for the murder of a dirty cop, a virtuous police officer played by Chan works to bring down the crime lord that framed him and in the process, clear his name. Police Story is probably Jackie’s best film overall. It features some of his most undeniably greatest stunt work ever captured on film. From the amazing bus sequence to the mall fight, Jackie and his stunt team basically put everyone else in the action genre to shame. This film also features some of his best acting. In the end, it’s one of his darkest films and shows off the range that he is capable of. The sequel Police Story 2 is also fantastic but the stunts in this one set it apart. Chan has made several more sequels including Police Story 3, otherwise known as Supercop (which is fantastic) as well as some more modern sequels such as New Police Story and Police Story 2013 (which are only okay). If you only see one Jackie Chan film this is it.

2) Rumble in the Bronx (1995)
The first big, successful Jackie Chan film in the states. Like many people in America, it was the first time I was introduced to Jackie’s work. Jackie had other films that tried to break him into the U.S. market like Battle Creek Brawl (a.k.a. The Big Brawl), Cannonball Run, and The Protector but none of these matched the success of Rumble (mostly ‘cause they sucked). When I first saw Rumble I was 11 and I was absolutely blown away. I thought, “This guy is like a real life superhero!”. After seeing this movie, my friends and I would pretend to fight like Jackie, jumping around like little maniacs. The stunts in this film are some of his best and while the story is a little lacking, it works as an amazing introduction to the world of Jackie Chan.

3) City Hunter (1993)
Easily one of my absolute favorite films of his. This film is based on the Japanese manga turned wildly successful anime of the same name. The story follows Ryo Saeba (Played by Jackie), a sex crazed, perpetually hungry private detective and his assistant as they chase after a publishing magnate’s runaway daughter. They end up getting stuck on a cruise ship that gets hijacked by terrorists and then wacky hijinks ensue. Now, I know what you’re thinking, this movie sounds as though it’s Speed 2: Cruise Control only starring Jackie Chan instead of Jason Patrick but you couldn’t be more wrong. This film plays off the fact that it’s based off a manga/anime by adding very cartoony aspects throughout. It’s like watching a live action cartoon in the best way possible. Despite having a batshit crazy musical sequence, the most memorable scene in the film is when Jackie is thrown into a Street Fighter 2 arcade machine and all the characters in the fight turn into Street Fighter characters. If Jackie Chan dressed up like Chun Li doesn’t make you want to watch this film immediately then you need to re-evaluate your life.

4) Wheels on Meals (1984)
Jackie Chan grew up in what’s basically a Chinese circus. It was there that he befriended Hong Kong/Kung-Fu legends Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao and together they are known as the Three Dragons. As Chan got more and more famous after breaking into the film industry, he produced several films to star him and his two best buds. Project A was the first big success for the Three Dragons. While I love Project A, Wheels on Meals is my favorite of the Three Dragons films. Chan and Biao play owners of a food truck and when their private detective friend played by Hung asks for their help, in a case involving a beautiful girl, they drop everything. It’s a fun film that showcases all three of the stars equally (as opposed to some of the other Three Dragons films like The Prisoner where Jackie is only in like 20 minutes of it). For whatever reason this film is seriously underappreciated and mostly unheard of, which is sad because it’s super fun. Filled with lots of great stunts and plenty of humor, this film is not to be missed.
5) Legend of the Drunken Master (1994)
This is Jackie’s penultimate martial arts film. He is at his peak here. This film is packed with his greatest and most memorable fight scenes of his career. Jackie reprises his role of legendary drunken master Wong Fei-Hung from his original breakout Chinese hit, Drunken Master. Here, Wong Fei-Hung has given up drinking per his father’s request but when he accidentally crosses paths with a group looking to smuggle precious ancient chinese artifacts out of the country he falls off the wagon to kick some ass. I mean seriously, major ass is kicked in this film. I love that he also manages to make this movie one of his funniest at the same time. Comedy/Action gold!

6) Who Am I? (1998)
In this movie Jackie plays a special forces agent who loses his memory after his superior officer betrays his unit, killing everyone except for Jackie who escapes by falling out of the helicopter they were in. He gets taken care of by some random African tribesmen but leaves to figure out who he really is. In doing so, he randomly gets involved in a Rally race. At the time I didn’t think Rally racing was a real thing outside of Sega Rally for the Sega Saturn. Anywho, he wins the race and the people who ordered the death of his unit go after him. It’s a really fun movie as he goes to a bunch of different countries and the whole movie moves at a decent pace. There is a particularly great fight scene towards the end where two guys fight Jackie while timing each other with a stopwatch, trying to see who can hit him the fastest.

7) Project A (1983)
Adventure! Kung-Fu! PIRATES!?! This movie is spectacular. It’s a period film set in turn of the century China where Jackie plays a new member of the Hong Kong Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is tasked with the job of taking out the pirates that are controlling the seas around Hong Kong. The pirates have a lot of power both on the sea and on land but Jackie is determined to make everything right and peaceful once again. This film has a lot of crazy stunts involving set pieces, most notably a tower sequence that pays great homage to Harold Lloyd’s masterpiece Safety Last! and the scene involving gears that pays homage to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Lots of great stunts plus it’s got Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, the other 2 Dragons!

8) Supercop (1992)
The cop that can’t be stopped! The third movie in the Police Story series, this movie really shines. The inclusion of Michelle Yeoh really sets this movie apart. Michelle had previously acted with Jackie briefly in a minor role in My Lucky Stars 2: Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and she made a couple action films such as Yes, Madam and Magnificent Warriors but retired from acting in 1987 after marrying a guy named Dickson Poon (that is honestly his name!). Supercop marks the return to acting for Michelle after her divorce from Poon (seriously, his name is DICKSON POON) and it couldn’t have been better. She became a mega star with this and The Heroic Trio which came out the next year. Michelle and Jackie play off each other superbly and the duo kicks major ass. The end train/helicopter/rooftop sequence is absolutely fantastic. Jackie’s character has an always annoying girlfriend throughout the series played by Maggie Cheung (In the Mood For Love, The Heroic Trio) and I just can’t stand this character. She always fucks up whatever Jackie’s character is trying to do. In Supercop, I really just wanted Jackie to dump Cheung’s character and end up with Yeoh in the end. That would have made this movie so much better. Michelle reprised her role in Supercop 2 also known as Once A Cop or Police Story 3 Part 2: Supercop (that’s a mouthful!).

9) Operation Condor (1991)
Released in the U.S. in 1997, the original title of this film was Armour of God 2: Operation Condor. This first film in this series was later released in the U.S. as Operation Condor 2: The Armour of the Gods. I remember getting sneak preview tickets through a friend of mine to see this movie. I was so jacked up to see this movie and it did not disappoint. Almost all the people in the theatre were martial arts students which only made it more awesome since most of them were in their uniforms. I sat down next to this super intimidating bodybuilding dude. As soon as I sat down I could see the excitement in his eyes and he turned to me, this scrawny 13 year old kid, and asked if I liked Jackie Chan. “OF COURSE!”, I loudly proclaimed! We proceeded to gush about our love of Mr. Chan’s movies until the film started. Afterwards, he turned to me and said, “That was AWESOME!” The movie is basically Chan’s Indiana Jones adventure. Tons of fun and lots of fantastic set pieces. About a month later my dad brought home an Operation Condor poster and I had that baby up for years! That bodybuilding dude was right, this movie IS awesome and well worth a watch.

10) Miracles (1989)
Jackie Chan’s version of Frank Capra’s Pocketful of Miracles (1961), this film bombed in Hong Kong. Jackie plays Cheng Wah Kuo, a country boy with pretty bad luck, who travels to Hong Kong but his luck changes when he buys a rose from a lady on the street and he suddenly becomes the head of a prominent gang. He starts up a nightclub and falls in love with the nightclub singer played by Chan regular Anita Mui. Cheng Wah Kuo believes his luck stems from the roses he buys from the lady on the street but things go sour when she learns that her daughter is coming to town and needs Cheng Wah Kuo’s help convincing her daughter that she is now a wealthy socialite to win the approval of her daughter’s fiancee’s father. It feels like classic Hollywood screwball comedy done Jackie Chan style. The stunts at times are subtle, mostly coming in the form of him nearly getting hit by cars or narrowly missing falling objects. There is a fantastic fight sequence in a restaurant that reminds you of the fact that you are watching a Jackie Chan film. According to Jackie’s autobiography this is his favorite film he’s ever made and it’s certainly worth a watch.

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Trylon’s Jackie Chan retrospective starts tonight with Supercop with showings at 7PM and 9PM and tomorrow at the same times. They are also screening Project A (July 7th & 8th), Operation Condor (July 14th & 15th), The Legend of the Drunken Master (July 21st & 22nd) and Rumble in the Bronx (July 28th & 29th). Go check out some of Jackie’s best films and at the same time help support the best theatre in Minnesota. For more information, check out

-T. Reinert

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Directed by Charles and Albert Band
74 mins. Color
Full Moon DVD

We live in a time where the most successful movies to be released in theaters are about comic book superheroes. Captain America. Batman. Iron Man. Spider-Man. These movies make millions and upwards to a billion dollars. There are toys, video games, clothing and a myriad of merchandising based on these movies. It’s sometimes hard to believe that it took so long for movie studios or even regular Joes to realize the potential in comic book movie adaptations. Sure, there were films like Superman and Batman and they were fun and fantastic but somehow their success turned out to be one offs. For every hit like the ones I just mentioned, there were also 1989’s The Punisher or Steel starring Shaq and many others that did not garner acclaim or even a release (Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four and 1990’s Captain America). It wasn’t until films like Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man that comic book movies started to build steam and become the most successful and anticipated movies they are today. With the major success of these pillars of the comic book kingdom it paves the way for studios to begin to look deeper at characters who might not be household names but are beloved by the fans who know them. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man now get their moments to (possibly probably) shine. The one I am most excited for is the rumor of a Doctor Strange movie as the Master of the Mystic Arts was mentioned in the latest Captain America film. The internet is abuzz with all the possibilities for a film version of the good doctor but many forget that he was already adapted to the screen! ...sort of.

Charles Band’s Doctor Mordrid had it beginnings as a big screen version of Doctor Strange. Band, (creator of Wizard Video, Full Moon Entertainment, The Puppet Master Series, Trancers, etc.) acquired the rights to produce a film based of the character and quickly went to work writing a script. Unfortunately, right about the time Band was setting up production for the film the rights expired and reverted back to Marvel. Instead of giving up on the project Band rewrote the script and removed any mention of the original characters. It’s hilarious to think they didn’t get sued because the end product is very much a Doctor Strange film.

Doctor Mordrid is the protector of the Earth and when his ancient rival reemerges after being imprisoned in a different realm Mordrid must use all his mystical powers to protect humanity from being destroyed. Along the way he meets his next door neighbor, a special consultant for the police involving the occult and things of that nature. She is a total dingbat. She is nosey and has a penchant for getting right in the middle of other people’s business. Frankly, she is the most annoying part of this movie.

Mordrid is played by the always fantastic Jeffrey Combs. He shines in this movie with the perfect amount of swagger mixed with cornball. Sure, he hams it up but that only makes this movie better! He’s like if Herbert West wasn’t such a spaz. Playing opposite of Combs is Brian Thompson as the evil Kabal. Thompson’s giant weird head is magnificently distracting as he trudges about not doing a whole lot. I think he’s fine in the role but I would have much prefered if Band had instead cast Julian Sands because let’s face it, if you see this movie Kabal is basically Warlock from the movie Warlock.

I think the special effects are decent, especially for a Full Moon Pictures release. There’s a large amount of strange lights shooting out of hands and people magically appearing out of nowhere but the best special effects come with the stop motion animation sequences. That’s always been something Full Moon has been great at. The best sequence of the movie comes at the climax when Kabal and Mordrid face off in a museum, animating a T-Rex skeleton and a Mammoth skeleton. It’s really fun.

How I found out about this flick is through my friend Chad. He bought the VHS at a thrift store, watched it and decided to pass it on to me. He did this by hiding it among my VHS collection. It sat on my shelf for maybe a month and a half before I stumbled upon it. I was completely confused as I didn’t recognize it at all. I was already a fan of Charles Band and Jeffrey Combs but I had never even heard of this movie! It was as if it magically appeared out of nowhere. It wasn’t until I brought it over to his place to show him how fun it is that he spilled the beans. That experience only made this movie more fun for me.

Being a big fan of Doctor Strange, I had a great time with this movie. It’s nowhere near as awesome as the comics and I can guarantee that it will pale in comparison to the Doctor Strange film of the future but for a straight-to-video release it’s pretty entertaining and imaginative. Like all of Band’s works from the 80’s and 90’s they try to be as big and Hollywood as possible but they never make it, although, the effort still shines through. If after seeing this movie you crave some more Doctor Strange strangeness, try and find the 1978 made for TV movie pilot Dr. Strange. It’s not as good as Doctor Mordrid in my opinion but still worth the watch.

-T. Reinert

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Directed by Bobby A. Suarez
95 mins.  Color.
Paragon Video VHS release

It should be stated first that this VHS starts with the most confusing trailer reel of all time.  There is a movie called Funeral Home that looks like complete nonsense, For Your Love Only with Natassja Kinski that looks miserably bad and then Fulci's Gates of Hell, which is insane and the editing looks like its about people who cry blood.  So, this sets you up for what is about to be a mind-boggling experience.

The One-Armed Executioner is about as stupid as films become.  Made in the Philippines on a budget of $27.00, it is mediocre on every level.  Really, this movie isn't very good, but I found certain elements so entertaining that I'm recommending it anyhow.

Here's what happens:
One guy talks in a phone booth, and another guy in a beard locks him in there.  Beardo then tips the booth over and throws it in the ocean.

Ortega (Franco Guerrero) is sent on a mission where he must chase a plane by jeep.  He manages to shoot the pilot and then blow up the plane.  Lots of men in jeans shoot machine guns at one another.

The Heavy is pretty upset that Ortega blew up that plane and killed his right-hand man, so he has men in masks kick him a lot.  Then one of the masked men runs a kitana through his wife's heart, and then cuts off his left arm, making him a ONE-ARMED EXECUTIONER!

The movie gets mega dull: Ortega gets sad for awhile, gets drunk a bit, wanders around the market and knocks stuff down.  Bad Jazz saxophone plays while Ortega talks to his dead wife.  He gets in a fight in the dark and you can't tell what's happening.  Apparently, they steal his money and make fun of his missing arm.  or something.  He gets kicked out of his favorite bar and some guy in a killer mustache kidnaps him.  He then has to "discover the world of darkness" because he has one arm.  He is told to "listen to sound.  Feel with your feet."

It gets good:
Then, it all changes when the bogus 70s disco comes in.  It gets awesome.  Ortega runs a lot, kicks stuff, shoots apples, the camera zooms in on things and the framing on the camera is always off.  Occasionally, there are glimpses of his left hand coming out from beneath his shirt.  It's great.

So, it takes too long to get to this point, but once it does, the fun level goes to 11.  Ortega chokes an old dude out, stabs a guy in the armpit, shoots a man off a roof, karate chops a man's throat, grenades some creeps, throws a machete through a man and blows up stuff all while "cool" piano music sucks and its too dark to really see anything.

He also has this conversation:
"How does it feel, Jason?"
"Not as good as sticking a sword in your wife"

In case the VHS cover wasn't enough for you I'll just say it: One-Armed Executioner is the type of movie that does some things right.  Women wear shower caps.  Once Ortega loses his arm, he always has a weird bulge in his shirt.  It's impossible to relay how funny the sounds are in this movie.  When Ortega wakes up and finds his arm missing, he makes the most inhuman sound I've ever heard.  I guess the closest thing I can think of is a mix of Prince making that whining sound and Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man yelling about the bees.

The Tape:
The tape is good.  Paragon's art is beautiful on your shelf and you get those ridiculous trailers I mentioned before.  Oh, and you have to watch the trailer for the movie you're about to watch before you watch it = my favorite / least favorite thing ever.

-J. Moret

Friday, June 13, 2014


This week, Matt and John discuss Bruce Lee's CHINESE CONNECTION (aka Fists of Fury).  Perhaps the first film we ever watched together, 14 years ago.  We revisit it as adults and find ourselves just as in love with it.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, June 12, 2014


There are few horror series or characters more iconic than Friday the 13th and Jason Voorhees.  The 1980s saw the culmination of all things slasher... And drove it into the ground.  Perhaps the "Friday" movies should be iconic for this as well.  Like other horror series, when it ran out of ideas it went to complete desperation, with the last film literally taking place in outer space.

I'm a huge fan of horror films.  I love crap like Sledgehammer and I care deeply about Rosemary's Baby and Dawn of the Dead.  In the 300 or so movies I end up watching each year, I'll bet 100 are horror.

I realized a few months ago that I had never seen all the "Friday" movies.  Truthfully, I had never been super attracted to it.  I like the first film, and love the absurdity of Jason X, but had really only seen chunks of the eight films that lie between.  So, I set out to watch them all in order.  What I found was a giant mess of garbage with a few shining moments.  For the most part, they are all the same film.  When they finally do change it up, they become ironic and lose sight of why they were fun in the first place.  

So, as someone who is new to the series I decided it was an opportunity to think of them as a whole.  (I am not including Freddy v. Jason or the remake.  Even though the remake features Jason shooting a bow & arrow at a water-skiing topless woman.).

*As a heads up, there are many spoilers for movies that are old below.

Here goes:

FRIDAY THE 13th (1980).  Directed by Sean S. Cunningham
Synopsis: "Attractive" Camp Counselors want to counsel campers.  Someone starts brutally murdering them.  That someone is the mother of Jason, a young boy who drowned in Camp Crystal Lake because camp counselors weren't paying attention.

Why it's Awesome:  Tom Savini.  The effects are wild and creative.  Savini was coming off his genius turn on Dawn of the Dead and with a bit of a bigger budget, the effects are fantastic.

Why it's Stupid:  The ending leaves room for a sequel.  Otherwise, this is pretty solid.

FRIDAY THE 13th PART II (1981).  Directed by Steve Miner.
Synopsis:  Jason's back!  Only this time its really Jason and not his elderly mother who would be physically incapable of the things that she does in the first film.  Jason wears a paper bag on his head and kills people.

Why it's Awesome:  Jason uses a spear.

Why it's Stupid:  Because it's a sequel to a movie where the killer has been killed.  Savini moved on to work on the great slasher, The Burning, and what we're left with is a movie that is pretty much the exact same as the original.

FRIDAY THE 13th PART III 3D (1982).  Directed by Steve Miner.
Synopsis: Introduce the iconic hockey mask and teens hanging out at Camp Crystal Lake.  Jason kills them.

Why it's Awesome: Crossbow.

Why it's Stupid: 3D.  I'm not opposed to 3D as an idea.  Well, actually, yes I am.  It's pretty much stupid 90% of the time.  Pina was pretty good, though...  Anyway, watching this without 3D was hilarious.

FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984).  Directed by Joseph Zito.
Synopsis: Jason is mortally wounded... or is he?  Corey Feldman.

Why it's Awesome:  Crispin Glover and Joseph Zito.  Crispin is hiliarious.  Zito is a madman, and this movie is insane because of it.  Baby Corey Feldman shaves his head and yells a lot.  And, there's this:

Why it's Stupid:  It's titled the FINAL CHAPTER, but there would be Six more films...  That's pretty stupid.

FRIDAY THE 13th: A NEW BEGINNING (1985).  Directed by Danny Steinmann.
Adult Corey Feldman (not played by Feldman) goes to an insane Camp for wackos and people start dying.

Why it's Awesome: Some dude uses an axe.  And, this killer dance scene:

Why it's stupid:  No Jason Voorhees.  That's right, no Jason.  That's pretty stupid.  Also, this movie is boring.

JASON LIVES: FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI (1986).  Directed by Tom McLoughlin.
Adult Feldman (not played by Feldman) feels upset that Jason messed up his life, killed all kinds of people and made him shave his head.  So, as anyone would do, he goes to Jason's grave, digs up the coffin, unearths the corpse and stabs it with a giant metal implement.  As it happens, this lightning rod gets hit by lightning, and kazowy! Jason is revived.

Why it's Awesome: It's totally insane.  Now that the series has officially jumped the shark (though I would argue it was Part II) they have the freedom to just go totally nuts.  Its great.

Why it's Stupid: Well, I guess the plot.  And the acting.  And the direction.  And the writing.  But, that's why this one is so fun.

FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988).  Directed by John Carl Buechler.
At the end of Jason Lives, Adult Feldman chained Jason to the bottom of a lake and ran into his brain with a boat propeller.  So, Jason is underwater.  Lucky for him, and us, there is a psychic who can re-energize his body and bring him back to life.

Why it's Awesome:  By this point they've resorted to psychic powers.  That scene with the sleeping bag.  So much.

Why it's Stupid: By this point they've resorted to psychic powers.

JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989).  Directed by Rob Hedden.
Teens gettin' wild in a boat on their Senior Trip to Manhattan.  Jason somehow gets tangled in an electrical wire that is conveniently located underwater and is revived.  Jason gets wild in a boat.

Why it's Awesome: Hmm....  That's tough.  There's not much here to like.  Once everything's gone haywire with a series, it doesn't really help to just change location.  Everything else stays the same and there are no likeable characters whatsoever.

Why it's Stupid:  He's revived AGAIN by accidental electrocution.  Then he goes to Manhattan.

JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993).  Directed by Adam Marcus.
Thirteen years after the original, they finally try something completely different.  The film opens with a woman who undresses to take a shower, and when Jason attacks, she runs into the forest with a towel on.  But, she's more adept than most and leads Jason into a trap, where the military proceeds to blow him to pieces.  From there, they take him in pieces to the morgue.  The coroner, Richard Grant, eats his heart and goes all wonky.  We found out from there why Jason is immortal.  There is a magic knife and some other dumb crap.

Why it's Awesome:  Technically, this film is extremely sound.  It looks good, it moves well, etc...

Why it's Stupid: They make Jason out to being possessed by an evil slug, which contains some stupid evil that transfers from person to person and can only be reborn through a Voorhees.  I feel dumb for even writing that.

JASON X (2001).  Directed by James Isaac.
Scientists are on the problem, and they've discovered they can't kill Jason, so why not freeze him?  Unfortunately, he gets thawed out in a.d.2455 and space people in the future use laser guns to not kill him.

Why it's Awesome:  It's Jason in space!  That is so ridiculous!  Lucky for us, at one point a scientist has a sink full of liquid nitrogen...

Why it's Stupid:  It looks absolutely horrible.  The budget seems akin to crap on the SyFy Channel.  And, it's Jason in space.

-J. Moret

Friday, June 6, 2014


This week, Matt and John discuss Robocop 2.  The film was a flop in 1990, and continues to be considered a failure.  We have decided, however, that it is an entertaining satire, proof that Robotcop was a SCAB, and prophetic in its prediction of bankruptcy for Detroit.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


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Directed by Wim Wenders
175 mins. B&W
Axiom Films Region 2 DVD

What Wenders has done with this Trilogy is absolutely astounding.  It's a wandering, wide-open masterpiece, and Kings of the Road makes for a fantastic finish.  Apparently created without a script, the actors improvised nearly all their lines on set.  Likewise, Wenders developed the story and adapted to situations as they presented themselves.  As a viewer, what this provides is a sense of wondrous spontaneity.  And yet, it always appears as if Wenders is in complete control.  Shots are beautifully composed and the characters slowly open to reveal honest, lonely people.  

In some ways, the film feels a bit like something Cassavetes would've created.  That search for honesty which he always prized seems at the forefront of everything here.  But, what is truly different is Wenders deep understanding of the camera and his compulsion for quiet.  Characters sit next to one another saying little or skirting issues.  They discuss towns with names like "Hopeless," "Peaceless" and "Dead Man" comically and yet a certain sadness is present with the realization that they are real places. 

Bruno Winter (Rudiger Vogler) is a traveling projection tech that goes from town to town, fixing old equipment in broken down movie houses.  Robert Lander (Hans Zischler) has recently split with his wife and has no current ties.  He drives his car into a river and leaves himself with nothing.  So, he travels with Bruno.  They spend hours together and share little.  When Robert begins to tell about his split with his wife, Bruno responds by saying, "I didn't ask about that.  I want to know about you, but I don't need to know your story."  

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A Pediatrician and a Projection Tech
What Wenders does so well, and is on display here, is using seemingly happenstance moments and letting them alter the course of the character's development.  Robert awakens one night to the sound of metal banging against metal in the wind.  He wanders from the truck and slowly pushes one piece of metal against another, trying to identify the source of the sound.  He wanders up stairs and in secret spaces to find a disgruntled worker in a broken down factory, throwing bolts against a broken conveyor belt.  The man follows Robert back to the truck and they sit silently.  No real easy connections.  The man then explains that he's wearing his wife's coat, and that the stains on it are his wife's blood.  She'd driven into a tree after an argument they had.  Robert listens to the story and offers nothing in return.

Bruno wanders from the truck and finds the smashed car still curled up against the tree.

Wenders does not provide any insight into the reasons these types of things happen.  There is simply a car smashed against a tree by a woman who was angry with her husband.

But, what the film becomes is the reason it is so brilliant.  It is a film about cinema.  What is cinema?  Why do we do it?  It's a film about exhibitors, filmmakers and audiences.  Its about presentation and ideology and craft.

Perhaps the most interesting scene in the film is when Bruno visits a porn cinema.  He sits down to watch the film and is frustrated with the quality of the projection.  When he goes up to discuss this with the projectionist, he's bemused with the man masturbating by way of a tiny mirror he has put in the way of the lens so he can the film well in the booth.  As the film is playing, it's releasing all the film to the ground.  When the projectionist quits, Bruno methodically re-spools the film (not an easy task.  I've been in this situation, and it is a horribly trying situation).  He then fixes the framing and gets the lamp from wandering.  As he sits down to watch a test reel, there is a sense of accomplishment.

Wenders is in the midst of a challenge here.  On the one hand the owner of the now closed theater, Weisse Wand, offers this fantastic line, "Film is the art of seeing, which is why I won't show these films, which are mere exploitation of all that can be exploited in human heads and eyes.  I won't be forced to show films where people stagger out stunned and rigid with stupidity."

On the other hand, Bruno's dedication to the good projection of pornography (the least respectable form of entertainment) shows that, perhaps, what Wenders is doing is recommending that whatever you do, do it well.  And, in Wenders' fashion, I'm left to consider these questions.

-J. Moret