Wings of Desire (1988)

7ebbf-wingsofdesireposterDirected by Wim Wenders, this German film has almost a stream of consciousness feel. It opens over the skies of West Berlin where a couple angels watch over the humans as unseen and unheard guardians. They pay attention to the thoughts, desires, joys, and fears of a plethora of folks from all walks of life and act as unobserved comforters. These angels are immortals and although they are familiar with humanity they are not a part of it. 

Among others, the angel Cassiel observes an old man named Homer who dreams of a world of peace. Damiel on his part finds himself infatuated with an utterly lonely circus trapeze performer, and he also watches over the actor Peter Falk as he begins shooting his next film. Because of his newfound love, Damiel desires to feel what it is to be human. Aside from affection, he yearns to be able to do the little things that go along with being mortal like drinking a hot cup of coffee. Finally, determined Damiel does indeed shed his angel wings and immortality for a chance to be human. He knows what it is to breathe, to tell colors apart, and he finally does get his cup of coffee. 

Quite by chance, he has an encounter with Falk who tells Damiel a secret and encourages him in his new life. Cassiel, still an angel, tries to stop a suicidal youth from jumping, but he is unsuccessful and it hits him hard. 

In the final moments of the film, by fate, Damiel meets his girl at a concert, and they embrace as if they had known one another for an eternity and in a way they had. This film is beautifully photographed in a sepia tone that reflects the viewpoint of the angels. It is only the humans who see the world in all its glory, bursting with different colors. This film was quite fascinating, and it is the type of film I would want to make that really gets up close and personal with some many people without actually focusing on them. Furthermore, Peter Falk was a wonderful addition to this film, and he was a pleasure to watch because he gave off the impression that he was simply being himself. And I think he was.

Next on my list to see from Wim Wenders is Paris, Texas, but I would also like to explore more of the New German Cinema from the likes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog. 

4.5/5 Stars

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

a6338-awomanunderinfluenceWow, this film from John Cassavetes was truly gut-wrenching and powerful. Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk are wonderful as Mabel and Nick. At their core they both seem like essentially good people. They love their kids, their family, and friends. Except Mabel’s problems tear them apart and in turn hurt the ones they love. The drama is not created my major plot twists, but the mundane and the typical. Dinner conversations, picking the kids up from school, gatherings with friends. This is when the film takes place and this is where we see their family unwinding at the seams. It is a personal story and the cinematography and the script for that matter are not polished. They are allowing us to see into this situation and thus the heartache and the pain washes over us and we become engaged with it.

Supposedly Richard Dreyfuss threw up after watching this film. Some may not be able to claim that same reaction, but there is no doubt that your heart goes out to not only Mabel but her children who are caught in the middle of it all. Even Nick, who can be a callous and even violent person is given a heart because he was portrayed by the great Peter Falk. This is definitely powerful stuff that is worth seeing.

This film may actually be more difficult to watch than some gorier films for the simple fact that it will hit the audience close to home. Literally. This is my first film from the director John Cassavetes and hopefully there will be more in my near future. Take a chance with this one because there is a chance that it is different than many of the polished Hollywood films you have seen in the past.

4.5/5 Stars

The Princess Bride (1987)

f1a6c-princess_brideDirected by Bob Reiner and starring an esemble cast this has to be the best action-comedy-romance-fantasy ever. It starts with a grandpa (Peter Falk), reading his grandson a fairy tale. In the story there was a peasant boy (Cary Elwes) devoted to a beautiful girl (Robin Wright). However, she treated him poorly and is eventually married off to the Prince Humperdink against her will. She is then kidnapped by a group consisting of a giant, a swordsman, and a self-proclaimed genius. Her devoted love comes to the rescue but Humperdink takes her back and has her true love tortured. Joining forces with the giant and the swordsman Inigo, along with the help of Miracle Max, Wesley leads a daring rescue. He arrives in the nick of time and his friends show great bravery. He saves his damsel in distress and they live happily ever after. This film is in a category all by itself and it is very quotable if not in fact inconceivable.

4.5/5 Stars