YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Wim Wenders Pays Tribute to Forgotten Film Pioneers


American Cinematheque's "The Long and Winding Road: The Films of Wim Wenders" opens Friday at 7 p.m. at the Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., with Wenders' new "A Trick of the Light." It's a charming 80-minute tribute to the largely forgotten Brothers Skladanowsky, who beat out the Brothers Lumiere in the public presentation of movies on a screen at Berlin's Wintergarten on Nov. 1, 1895.

(The German brothers were the first to admit that the French brothers' Cinematographe camera/projector was decidedly superior to their Bioscope when they attended the Lumieres' presentation in Paris on Dec. 28, 1895. Edison made his Vitascope presentation in New York on April 23, 1896.)

With a largely film-student crew, Wenders tells the quixotic story of the Skladanowskys as a silent comedy, even using an old hand-cranked silent camera. Max (Udo Kier), the inventor among the variety artists/carnival showman brothers, and his elder daughter Gertrud (Nadine Buttner) also serve as soundtrack narrators.

With an easy grace, Wenders incorporates an interview with Max's younger daughter Lucie, now 91 and a delightful raconteur with total recall who still lives in the gracious townhouse her father bought in 1907 in Pankow, outside Berlin.

"A Trick of the Light" evokes the magic of the cinema as it was being invented with an infinite charm heightened by a lovely, tinkly score. It will be repeated Saturday at 7 p.m. For the Raleigh schedule, call (213) 466-FILM.

Retrospective co-sponsor Goethe Institute will screen Wenders films Tuesdays at 7 p.m. from Oct. 1-24. Information: (213) 525-3388.

'Alternative Screen': On Thursday at 8 p.m. at Raleigh, the Cinematheque's "Alternative Screen" showcase resumes with Neil Matsumoto's involving and tender "Phantom Pain," in which Tina Alexis gives a deeply affecting performance as a vulnerable pre-op transsexual hooker who works the streets of Hollywood and falls in love with an aspiring rock singer (Scott Reda).

The prostitute, who's trying to save up for a sex-change operation, is struggling with questions of identity as well as survival in a seedy, dangerous world inhabited with people living marginal lives.

Dutch Surrealism: Key among the films screening in Melnitz Theater during the opening weekend of the UCLA Film Archive's "Getting (Sur) Real: Films From the Netherlands" is Esme Lammers' magical children's film "Long Live the Queen" (Sunday at 2 p.m.). Tiba Tossijn stars as a bright but misunderstood schoolgirl who escapes unhappiness when, in her imagination, chess pieces come alive and the White Queen (vivacious Moniqe van de Ven) advises her both on the best moves to make on the chess board and in life itself.

Lammers not only reminds us of how smug, obtuse and dishonest adults can be to children, but also suggests that there can be reasons why grown-ups behave this way and that they can actually change.

This is an enchanting, original film, the kind that Hollywood snaps up for a remake. With Derek de Lint as a renowned chess champion.

Alex van Warmerdam's impressive "The Northerners" (Sunday at 7 p.m.) is a darkly absurdist tale of spiritual and sexual angst set in an isolated, unfinished Dutch housing project, circa 1960. Irma Achten's overly precious "Marie Antoinette Is Not Dead" (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.) imaginatively places the ill-fated queen in the contemporary world but gives us no more reason to care about her than back when, told the people had no bread, she supposedly replied, "Let them eat cake."

Information: (310) 206-FILM.

German Epic Revisited: The Nuart will present, Thursday through Sunday, a new 35-millimeter print of "The Tin Drum," Volker Schlondorff's Oscar-winning epic 1979 film version of the Gunter Grass novel, a superb landmark achievement in the then-burgeoning New German Cinema.

It takes its title from a child's toy incessantly played by its curious hero Oskar (David Bennent), who decides to stop growing at the age of 3 and through whose eyes we view the unfolding of the disastrous course of German history from the mid-'20s through the end of World War II.

With Mario Adorf, Angela Winkler and Daniel Olbrychski.

Information: (310) 478-6379.

Los Angeles Times Articles