Saturday, October 07, 2006

After Shock

Belatedly turning up on video this week after making the festival rounds in 2004, Wim WendersLand of Plenty has the feel of his more off-the-cuff pictures like Lisbon Story or Alice in the Cities, but its subject – the after-effects of the World Trade Center bombing - give it a searing significance that belies the off-key slightness of the narrative. Like The Million Dollar Hotel and The End of Violence, it uses a decaying Los Angeles as a symbol for a confused and bankrupt culture, but it’s also something of a road movie, a quest for answers in this violent and paranoid time. It’s about two crossed paths: Lana (Michelle William) is a young woman returning from a stay in Palestine to work in a downtown homeless shelter. Her uncle Paul (John Diehl, who gives an almost indescribably good performance) is her sole relative in the area, but he’s reluctant to make much of a connection; he prefers to spend his time cruising the streets in his van like Travis Bickle starring in a one-man version of The Conversation, taking part in an electronic network of paranoiacs keeping tabs on Arabs and other non-Americans. Despite being at cross purposes, the murder of a homeless Middle Eastern man brings uncle and niece together and they try to learn the victim's identity and return him to a suitable resting place. Do they find a common ground? Answers? Not really, but if you're among those who think this country went just a little bit crazy five years ago, you'll admire Land of Plenty for the questions it raises about these nervous times.

View the trailer here.

Speaking of Wenders, he recently took part in some sort of international think-tank called Dropping Knowledge, the Global Dialog Platform. Find out more here.

And for more video – on a much lighter note, Lemony Snicket channels Bob Dylan in this short video reminding us that The End is near – just six days away, in fact.

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