Days I remember all my life

Wim Wenders delivers a two-fer of exceptional cinematic wonder. Wenders has two films either currently in theaters or being released in the following month. Both movie harken to other films Wenders has made and yet each one also reeks of originality.

Anselm 3D

Wim Wenders’ documentary about artist Anselm Kiefer shot in 3D uses the medium to meditate on the size of the paintings on display. The depth in the 3D image shows the relation of the size of Anselm’s canvases in their space, in this case his warehouse studio. 

Some of these painting are enormous, like freakishly big. The 3D gives a sense of both the area of the studio and the size of Anselm’s talent.

Wenders previously helmed another 3D doc about the dancer Pina Bausch titled Pina. In both cases Wenders realizes the potential of modern 3D and how it expands a scene especially when the sequence is contained in an enclosed space. (Also compare Herzog’s 3D Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which was mainly shot in a cave.)

After painting his massive images Anselm glues swamp weeds to the canvas, which he proceeds to burn with a designer flame thrower. A team of assistants follow him with water hoses the stream of which further shape and define the black burnt scraggly remains of the plants embedded in the art.

You know how movies makes you think of things that aren’t even in the movie but are tangentially related? All I could think of was how would you possibly would box and ship paintings that size to a museum or gallery.

Note that modern 3D technology has never eclipsed the look of the 3D craze of the early-to-mid-50s. That’s another article.

Anselm 3D is currently unwinding in select theaters.

Perfect Days

Perfect Days chronicles the simple life of a Japanese man who works a steady gig, reads himself to sleep at night, and listens to American rock on cassette tapes. On some days his routine is perfect, reflected in his smile.

As directed by Wim Wenders the movie seems to understand the Japanese culture as well as his German films observe his native land. There’s a perfect reference to Patricia Highsmith that’s fully explained in a scene after being introduced in a previous scene. Wenders directed The American Friend, based on Highsmith’s Ripley Game, which remains the best filmic adaptation of that character.

With Perfect Days Wenders has created a perfect film. The songs that pop up on the car cassette player include classic rock that we’ve all heard to the point of boredom. And yet in Perfect Days the tunes sound fresh and unsullied whether it’ “Brown Eyed Girl” or “House of the Rising Sun.” Other songs include “Pale Blue Eyes” and “Redondo Beach.”

It’s like hearing the music filtered through the ears and senses of lead character Hirayama played by Koji Yakusho with a range that suggests wisdom and weariness. When he plays the Patti Smith song to a young woman she’s completely enthralled that an old man could deliver such an amazing revelation of sound and beauty.

In 1991 Wenders made a film about the new millennium that was filled with music including the Elvis Costello song “Days.” While that song doesn’t appear in Perfect Days the spine of what that song suggests permeates the action.

Hirayama works cleaning public restrooms in Tokyo. It’s a job he approaches with a whimsical seriousness that illustrates how worlds in collision can surrender to the inevitable result.

The third tallest manmade structure in the world the Tokyo Skytree is a constant site in the background where our hero lives. Hirayama’s simple life suggests that anyone can achieve a state of satori once they stop trying and start living.

Perfect Days starts its domestic theatrical engagement on February 7.

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