“Paris, Texas” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 10
“I hear your voice all the time. Every man has your voice.”
So this is “New German Cinema”, eh?
I’ve actually heard of the director, Wim Wenders, in name only. I didn’t know of his work or anything specifically about him, but the name rang a bell.
It took quite a bit for me to get drawn in, and I had many moments where my attention wavered, but ultimately I understand what the film was aiming for. The story isn’t what matters much. It’s emotion.
The feeling of being isolated in the endless desert vistas. The feelings of abandonment of young Hunter by his biological parents. The feelings of worry, rage, discontent, longing, awkwardness, regret, disappointment, loss, and so many other human emotions on display are the centerpiece of the film.
I found myself very interested in the script; a wandering man (Harry Dean Stanton) who has had a traumatic relationship in the past is claimed by his brother (Dean Stockwell), who has been acting as a father to his abandoned son during his extended 4-year breakdown is an interesting premise on its own. I respect the fact that the movie does not start and end with this brotherly relationship, but grows to add: his brother’s wife (who’s French, but for no plot reasons – she’s just a woman in America that happens to be French), his missing wife (who we come to find is hidden in Houston), and his confused son – who is by far the most impressive part of the entire film.
The child actor, Hunter Carson, plays the role with such casualness and authenticity that it elevates the entire movie. His speech and mannerisms are more accurate to how a real child genuinely reacts than nearly any other performance I’ve seen. That alone is an accomplishment.
It’s also a gorgeous looking movie, with color, framing, and locations that highlight the American landscapes and urban areas with equal aesthetic appreciation.
While the pace is slow and deliberate, it’s fully obvious that it’s intentional to help the audience connect with the detached protagonist.
This was a nice surprise, and while it’s not a movie I’d usually seek out, it was one that impressed me much more than I expected.
Paris, Texas was at the time of this review at #145 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #301 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Paris, Texas vs. Threesome
This movie was introduced to me in college by a girl who I had a very passionate but brief fling with, and it’s always the memory that sticks like glue to this movie. It’s a pretty decent flick (which is why it’s hovering around the middle of my chart). It’s not good, but it’s not bad. Paris, Texas wins.
Paris, Texas vs. World’s Greatest Dad
Ooh, a close one here. This movie’s now more intense than it was originally given that Robin Williams is no longer with us. It’s dark, it’s heavy, and it’s comedically twisted. It’s pretty unique, but so is Paris, Texas. I think I’m more affected by Paris, Texas – but I could almost go either way.
Paris, Texas vs. Little Shop of Horrors
There’s so much to love about Little Shop. The performances, the music, and the incredible puppetry all combine to make it one of my all-time favorite musicals. It’s going to beat Paris, Texas.
Paris, Texas vs. Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2 is the only good Spider-Man movie. Alfred Molina as Doc Ock has a lot to do with it, but it’s also just the right combination of Sam Raimi showing what he’s capable of mixed with a great script and a focused narrative. It’s not big and unwieldy like the reboot and its sequel have become. It’s a rather intimate and torturous conflict at stake, and it makes for such great cinema. Spider-Man 2 wins the matchup.
Paris, Texas vs. The Good, The Bad, The Weird
I did thoroughly enjoy my viewing of The Good, The Bad, The Weird earlier in the challenge, but I’m gonna have to give the battle to Paris, Texas for being just a little bit stronger overall.
Paris, Texas vs. Dark City
Surreal, unique, stylized, and multilayered. Dark City is astonishing and will absolutely win over Paris, Texas.
Paris, Texas vs. Night Watch
Big fan of this hyperkinetic supernatural vampires-but-not tale from the man who would later bring us “curve the bullet” Wanted. I’ll give it to Night Watch for putting it all out there and making a bold film.
Paris, Texas vs. Borat
I despised Bruno, and I haven’t even bothered to see The Dictator, but Sacha Baron Cohen found some perfect spark in that first film – before America was in on the joke entirely. I laughed hard in the theater during Borat. It takes a lot for me to enjoy a straight-up comedy, but it worked on every level for me. They say comedy is the hardest genre to do well, and this was one time it certainly was.
Paris, Texas vs. Drive
It’s approaching cliché how much praise Drive continues to receive, but it’s warranted. It’s just bursting with style. It’ll take the final matchup.
Paris, Texas is now ranked #323 out of 1381 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Alright! Time to get back on track with Week 11’s films: The Warriors, Outland, and Touch of Evil. There’s a whole mess of other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.