Paris, Texas (1984)
Paris, Texas, Wim Wenders. Anyone who tells you this movie has no plot isn’t familiar with the precepts of Aristotelian drama and should be shunned. A modern exploration of the concept of ‘katastrophe’ [with a ‘k,’ punk], with a script cowritten by the exalted Sam Shepard, is filmed in a flat, subdued key by Robby Muller that creates a visual expansiveness at odds with the explosion of the characters’ lives. It’s as if all that space is what condemned them in the first place, the tyranny of a will that appears free yet only leads to further consequence and complexity. The touching moment of inevitable recognition [‘anagnorisis,’ ya mook] is filmed in a strip joint with a one-way mirror forcing the actors to use monologue to actualize the identification. The unexpected reversal [‘peripeteia,’ pay attention!] is all the more painful for the visual power structure between the characters that the mirror creates. The irreconcilable opposition between them, echoed in the film’s title, is rendered bittersweet by the reuniting of mother and child. It’s a catastrophe with a happy ending! Ry Cooder’s soundtrack is worth the price of admission. Pop culture bonus: John Lurie appears briefly as a pimp.