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Don't Come Knocking [Import USA Zone 1]
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Oscar(r) Nominee Sam Shepard (Best Supporting Actor, The Right Stuff 1983) and Academy Award nominated director Wim Wenders (Best Documentary Feature, Buena Vista Social Club 1999) reunite for their first collaboration since the critically acclaimed Paris, Texas in this delightful tale about second chances. Howard Spence was once one of Hollywood's hottest movie stars. Now he's a washed up actor barely making it through the day. So on the set of his latest western film he decides to flee and visit his mother (Oscar(r) winner Eva Marie Saint, Best Supporting Actress, On The Waterfront 1954) for the first time in 30 years. To his surprise he discovers that he might have a grown up child (Gabriel Mann, The Bourne Supremacy) living in a small town in Montana, where he once had a fling with a local waitress (2-Time Oscar(r) winner Jessica Lange, Best Supporting Actress, Tootsie 1982 & Best Actress, Blue Sky 1994). Things get even more complicated when the film company sends an insuranc
Howard Spence a connu des jours meilleurs. Autrefois héros de nombreux westerns, cette ex-gloire du 7ème art mène aujourd'hui une existence solitaire, et noie son dégoût de lui-même dans l'alcool, la drogue et les femmes. Jusqu'à ce que sa mère lui apprenne qu'il a peut-être un enfant quelque part, né d'une brève liaison... Il décide alors de tout abandonner pour revenir sur les traces de son passé, dans une petite ville perdue du Montana... --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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Des plans magnifiques, des lieux sublimes immortalisés par cette caméra magique, des acteurs et actrices fabuleux, un montage exceptionnel ... du grand art.
C'est bien américain, dans le bon sens du terme ici ...
Un petit bijou.
Ce film plaira aux fans de Wim Wenders ainsi qu'aux amateurs de "performance d'acteurs" (S Shepard et J Lange campent leurs rôles avec talent).
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Directed by Wim Wenders, Don't Come Knocking is Largely set in Montana, and the scenery is absolutely stunning. Often occupying more than half the screen, the sky is like a character in the movie, which has a bright, distinct and totally vibrant look and ends up being the most interesting character in the film.
The movie stars Sam Shepard as a washed-up aging movie star Howard Spence. We first meet him just as he's disappeared from the set of a western in which he is starring. A 60-year-old drug- and alcohol-abusing playboy, Howard heads for home in Elko, Nev., a place he hasn't been in 30 years. We aren't quite sure why he's going there, we can only assume that he's having some kind of mid-life crisis.
Of course, the film is left in turmoil, but Howard doesn't care, he's like a little boy who is off exploring and he's oblivious to the chaos that he's causing. A no-nonsense representative of the bond company who is insuring the movie Sutter (Tim Roth) swoops in by helicopter and begins tracking the badly behaved cowboy.
While in Elko, Howard's reunion with his elderly mother (Eva Marie Saint) is cut short by the revelation that he has a twenty something son from a one night stand on a film shoot in Butte, Montana, so off Howard goes, to reconnect with his past. Meanwhile, a young woman named Sky (Sarah Polley) arrives in Butte carrying an urn with her recently deceased mother's ashes. Howard and Sky intersect at the restaurant run by Howard's old flame, Doreen (Jessica Lange) who is rather amused that Howard has turned up after all these years.
At a nightclub he points out his son (Gabriel Mann), who has turned into a sort of moody musician Goth, and he's is not eager to embrace his new-found father. By far the most interesting person in the film is Doreen and kudos must go to Lange - who I still think is America's greatest living screen actress - as she brings Doreen's mixture of wistfulness and naughty giggling to life.
Don't Come Knocking suffers from being a bit in love with itself. True, the visual impact of the film is unarguable and the deserted streets of Butte look both stunning and haunted - nicely rendered by cinematographer Franz Lustig - deeply reflecting Wenders' own penchant for an American West etched with loneliness.
But the movie trundles along, almost grinding to a halt in the second act where it becomes mired in the mud of disconcerted family business, and the resolution is quite predicable. It's as though the story is desperately trying to work up enough momentum to go somewhere, but the film just never seems to budge.
Still, it's refreshing to see the talented Sam Shepard acting again - and playing a leading man, even though the character is a bit of a selfish oaf. And it's also a treat to see him acting with Lange, his wife. For Howard, life as a movie star has been one of irresponsibility and fun; fatherhood has been a mystery and when he confronts its reality, he is just as dumbstruck as he ever was.
It's far easier for the western loner to skip town and never look back, and Shepard does a fine job of bringing this almost childlike man to life with all his dysfunctions and insecurities, just an ordinary American man just yearning to connect. It's just a pity that Wenders couldn't find a way to tell Howard's story a bit more lucidly and with less pretentiousness. Mike Leonard August 06.
The film is highlighted by magnificent Western locations and a nice modern Country/Western/Rockish score (non-twangy).
Although this is generally a quiet drama, it has a hip and likable artistic flair.
We can all relate to Shepard's search on some level; hence, despite the film's slow drama it easily maintains the viewer's attention throughout its 1 hour 50 minute runtime, unless you grew up on MTV and "Armageddon," of course.
Anyway, Shepard's two kids in the film, Earl and Sky, represent two extremes. Earl's name is fitting because he's full of volcanic rage that spits out from deep within the Earth (Earl/Earth, get it?). Sky, on the other hand, is completely spiritual in nature (hence, sky/heaven). She's full of warmth, love, compassion and forgiveness. In fact, she's the crucial Christ figure without which there would be little reconciliation for anyone in the story.
Take note of the scene where Sky meets her father in his hotel room. Sky just looks at her dad with the understanding eyes of divine love. This naturally makes Shepard uncomfortable; he's never experienced this before. He doesn't know what to do, so he asks her to leave.
On a side note, Jessica Lange still looks good for being in her mid-50s but I found her character strange and annoying.
Also, Earl's girlfriend is an interesting freespirit who looks like Steven Tyler if he was younger and female.
CONCLUSION: For all the reasons above "Don't Come Knocking" is a fine film worthy of repeat viewings, that is, if it sounds like your cup of java.
PERSONAL GRADE: Borderline B+ or A-
The story is about Howard Spence (Shepard), a cowboy movie star who's approaching the downside of his aging career. At 60, Howard still lives the life of a starling; he drinks, drugs and sexes himself into oblivion nightly. But (for unknown reasons) he has a bad night on the set of a lame film and decides to flee the production in hopes of finding what lay for him beyond the camera. His history is as scattered as his drug-induced years of debauchery and Howard quickly discovers that he has children in the world. Two children. He visits his mother (Eva Marie Sant, NORTH BY NORTHWEST) in Elko, Nevada and she tells him of a woman who'd called years before claiming to be the mother of his son. At first Howard doesn't believe it, but recollections filter in and he goes in search of his kids. But he also has to evade a bounty hunter named Sutter (Tim Roth, PULP FICTION) who was hired by the film studio to get Howard back to the movie he'd abandoned.
Both of Howard's kids' are now adults living lives of their own. We're first introduced to Sky (Sarah Polley, DAWN OF THE DEAD, 2004) who just cremated her mother. She's a withdrawn and quiet woman who easily picks up on who her father is when she sees him lurking around Butte, Montana. The second adult kid is Earl (Gabriel Mann, THE BOURNE IDENTITY), a modern blues singer with a chip the size of a boulder resting on him. His mother, Doreen (Jessica Lange, ROB ROY), tries to ease the news of his father's arrival but is too late. Twenty years of fatherlessness flares, and Howard and he nearly come to blows.
As Howard tries to understand life (his own) he constantly gets knocked around. Those who carry his bloodline want nothing to do with him, indicating to Howard that he should simply return to the film set. When the bounty hunter catches up with him, it's little surprise that Howard puts up no resistance.
An alternate title for the film might've been "You Can Never Come Home" because that is its basic message. Although we're not privy to Howard's thoughts, we can assume that since he's coming to the end of his acting career and his life, he's looking for something meaningful to justify his existence. Of course, children are the ultimate justification, but when they reject you, what's left?
The color schemes and filming are visually stunning, but certain scene-to-scene edits were herky-jerky and some embittered relationships felt forced (most notably that of Howard and his son, Earl). Jessica Lange was flawless, though. She's such a fantastic actress. Sam Shepard did an "okay" job with an interesting script but I felt little (if any) emotional weight from his character.
A big problem with the film was that, on one definitive level, it's a Hollywood flick about Hollywood people. The self-importance of actors and actresses has never appealed to me and this might bother quite a few viewers. But tying it in with those of a shattered family dynamic made the movie easier to swallow.
Still, this is an interesting indie film that surpasses some of the trite junk currently gracing the silver screen.