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Case Number 10610: Small Claims Court

Buy The Wim Wenders Collection (Volume 2) at Amazon

The Wim Wenders Collection (Volume 2)

The Scarlet Letter
1972 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Wrong Move
1975 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
The American Friend
1978 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Lightning Over Water
1980 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Room 666
1982 // 46 Minutes // Not Rated
Tokyo-Ga
1985 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Notebook On Cities And Clothes
1989 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
A Trick Of Light
1996 // 76 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Anchor Bay
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // January 11th, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum isn't sure whether he's in the throes of rapturous bliss or writhing in mortal agony.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Lightning Over Water (published February 25th, 2003) and Notebook On Cities And Clothes (published August 11th, 2003) are also available.

The Charge

"Originality now is rare in the cinema and it isn't worth striving for because most work that does this is egocentric and pretentious. What is most enjoyable about the cinema is simply working with a language that is classical in the sense that the image is understood by everyone. I'm not at all interested in innovating film language, making it more aesthetic. I love film history, and you're better off learning from those who proceeded you."
- Wim Wenders

The Case

Ernst Wilhelm Wenders was born in 1945, and the director reshaped the world of cinema with over forty-six productions as of this writing. He professionally renamed himself Wim Wenders, and won international acclaim with the 1987 watershed event Wings of Desire. Wenders also produced Paris, Texas and Buena Vista Social Club. The love for his artistic visions extend around the globe, and he's achieved the status of living icon while still alive. Despite the kudos, most common moviegoers would be hard-pressed to name one of his films let alone admit to sitting through one. Wenders is appreciated mostly by art house fans and cinema buffs. The Wim Wenders Collection, Volume 2 assembles eight productions that have not often been screened in America for the ardent, the faithful, and the fanatic.

This Wim Wenders collection includes the following titles:

• The Scarlet Letter (86 minutes)
This is a 1972 adaptation of the famous Hawthorne novel, and a pretty strange one at that. Hester Prynne speaks German, but she's still a woman in colonial New England who bears a child out of wedlock. It feels odd thanks to Southern Spain being the true shooting locale, and has more of a Spaghetti Western look than it should. The Scarlet Letter represents the first time Wenders had a budget, and it remains an interesting curiosity.

• The Wrong Move (99 minutes)
This 1975 entry is a reworking of a Goethe novel named Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. It's about an artist who sets out to cross the country to meet people and learn who he is. It follows him for six days as he attempts to put some color on his blank canvas. The artist ends up gathering an unlikely entourage to travel with him: a mute girl, a 1936 Olympian athlete, an actress, a large poetry fan, and a suicidal neighbor. Natassja Kinski (Cat People) makes an early appearance in this journey movie.

• The American Friend (125 minutes)
One of the most accessible of Wenders's early films, this 1977 title examines the differences between American and German sensibilities while also providing an interesting psychological thriller. It follows a picture framer who finds out he has leukemia, and is then recruited as a mob hit-man. He's doing it to ensure his family's financial future without him, and figures he has little to lose. This sly metaphor about Hollywood and Germany clashing is made subtly clear by the appearance of many famous American directors during the movie. Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet) makes an appearance as the titular character. If you buy one title as a stand alone disc in lieu of this set, this is the one to own.

• Lightning Over the Water (90 minutes)
Again NYC makes an appearance in a Wenders film, and in 1980 Wim himself appears in this documentary style exchange between the German director and Nicholas Ray (the director of Rebel Without a Cause). Ray is fragile and dying, and the film is a wistful look at a little known legend before he passes.

• Room 666 (46 minutes)
Filmed in 1982, this documentary finds Wenders and film industry friends at the Cannes Film Festival discussing "the end of cinema." Each director sits in front of the camera alone and in solitude answers a simple question "What is the future of cinema?." Amazingly, nobody answers "CGI effects and bad remakes."

• Tokyo-Ga (92 minutes)
A 1985 production, this is a documentary about a journey into Tokyo's cinematic history as Wim Wenders tracks down Yasujiro Ozu. The film seeks to look at the identity of Tokyo, and relate the present to the past. Nostalgia is hard to find in a city that thrives on change.

• Notebook on Cities and Clothes (81 minutes)
Wim Wenders explores the world of fashion in Japan as he returns to Tokyo in 1989. This time he focuses on the work of fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto as he prepares a new collection. The film documents Yamamoto's sojourn to Paris for Fashion Week, and in turn looks at identity and an artisan.

• A Trick of Light (76 minutes)
A 1995 documentary searching for an account of the first projected film. Wenders gets help from film students as he seeks to recreate the experience of the Skladanowsky brothers, a German duo who invented one of the world's first film projectors. They were of course beaten out by the French Lumiere brothers who ultimately got all the fame and glory. Yet here we have an exploration of the dawn of German cinema.

This is a real treat for fans of German cinema, but it would be torturous for anyone not familiar with Wim Wenders and his style. The collected films work in concert with his more popular titles reinforcing common themes, but serve as a poor introduction to the man's work. Kudos to Anchor Bay for releasing an ambitious set that should only appeal to the most hardcore of art film fans. This is a bargain when you compare the price of buying each one of these titles separately, and for many of them it marks their only appearance in the North American region. In addition to having these films, each one has a full director's commentary. There are also some deleted scenes on two of the features, and a handful of featurettes scattered throughout the set where appropriate. After The Wim Wenders Collection, Volume 2 you'll be eligible for a Ph.D. in the work of Wim Wenders (mail your certificate of completion to your nearest German university).

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Genres

• Documentary
• Drama

Scales of Justice, The Scarlet Letter

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, The Scarlet Letter

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (German)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Scarlet Letter

• Commentary by Wim Wenders

Scales of Justice, Wrong Move

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Wrong Move

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (German)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Wrong Move

• Commentary by Wim Wenders

Scales of Justice, The American Friend

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, The American Friend

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Various, German and English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The American Friend

• Commentary by Wim Wenders and Star Dennis Hopper
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Talent Bios
• Trailers

Scales of Justice, Lightning Over Water

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Lightning Over Water

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (German, German and English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Lightning Over Water

• German and English
• Lecture by Nicholas Ray
• Talent Bios

Scales of Justice, Room 666

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Room 666

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Various)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 46 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Room 666

• Commentary by Wim Wenders

Scales of Justice, Tokyo-Ga

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Tokyo-Ga

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Various, German and Japanese)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Tokyo-Ga

• Commentary by Wim Wenders

Scales of Justice, Notebook On Cities And Clothes

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Notebook On Cities And Clothes

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Various)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Notebook On Cities And Clothes

• Commentary by Wim Wenders
• Reunion Featurette with Director and Designer
• Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary
• Wim Wenders Bio

Scales of Justice, A Trick Of Light

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, A Trick Of Light

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (German)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, A Trick Of Light

• Commentary by Wim Wenders








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