Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Land Of Plenty

I cannot be stopped. After a week's break, 2 more films. The second was Wim Wenders' Land Of Plenty.

This is very clearly a statement about certain aspects of American culture. It will be perceived in many circles to be anti-Bush, but it's not. By comparison with Michael Moore, it bears significant comparison to Bowling For Columbine, but none to Fahrenheit 9/11. There are real questions here about the culture of fear in the US, and the personal, rather than collective or military reaction to the September 11 bombings. I was really into the film for probably 90% of the storyline, and only started losing interest towards the end, and particularly in the denouement which, like so many, just didn't resonate with me, and felt forced.

In hindsight, there are probably more problems with this film than are evident in the dark of the cinema. The Michelle Williams character, which I though was fairly well acted, is really not very developed, and lacks a certain reality. Yes, she's very religious but also, one suspects, liberal and, nominally, world-aware, but she really expresses very little opinions in the film. Sure, this is partly her role, the unpainted canvas carrying less baggage than her uncle, who is really the subject of the film. I can appreciate that she's supposed to be the future and all that, to be coloured by the times and the people around her, but I don't buy that a 20-year old can be that.

Anyway, despite that, its a good little flick for the vast majority of its running length, particularly, I guess, if you have comparable beliefs to Wenders, as I suspect I do. My complaints about the denouement may be better ignored - I don't like many :-)


Anonymous said...

I confess, I am an American. But not your typical inbred, hill dwelling American that most of you out there in the world think us and certainly not an embarrassed-to-be-an-American pseudo-intellectual liberal. On that note, I am a Republican- yes, mea culpa. I will just note that I am shocked at how cognizant you (and I might presume most) Europeans (Australians) are of our culture. Our newspapers, our TV news, our leaders and our tourists continue to say that there is a huge anti-American sentiment going on in Europe. For some to be so absorbed in our elections, culture, books, what have you, aren't you confirming your worst fear? I guess America really does have a bigger place in the world than I thought it did.

Jim said...

My worst fear is not exposure to American culture. On the contrary, American films, books, web sites, and TV programs are among my favourites. Far from fearing it, I actively seek it out.

The sentiment I see in Australia, and also in Europe, is not anti-American per se, but against specific policies, in particularly foreign policy such as pre-emption, and other things like the environment (Kyoto, etc). Also against cultural trends, a little bit, but none of this isn't against Americans as a group, just a comment on the direction in which you seem to be walking at the moment.

Also, personally, my prime minister has a tendency to blindly follow the US on policy decisions, which means that US politics has a very real impact on decisions made on my country's behalf. Hence my interest in the election. I acknowledge that this one's our fault, for re-electing Howard in spite of this.