(kr) wrote: Kind of a Low-Rent Werner Herzog In many ways, this movie is not at all about its ostensible subject, and so it will theoretically not bother anyone if I decide to talk about things that are not the movie. Filmmaker Wim Wenders (it turns out that's a nickname for "Wilhelm") seems as perplexed as anyone else that he was asked to make the film, but asked he was so make it he did. Only he got greatly distracted along the way and ended up discussing things like film versus video and the nature of cities. He does kind of bounce things off his theoretical subject, but it almost feels as though Wenders is using the film as his own autobiography, as a tool to explore how he feels about art. In theory, I am usually intrigued by how an artist feels about art. However, I don't care enough about Wenders, really, to care as much about the movie as I might otherwise. I'd never even heard of its ostensible subject before, and he's not in a field that much interests me. In theory, this film is about Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. His interview responses are both in English and in Japanese. He talks, among other things, about the challenges of creating Western-style clothing when your heritage is Japanese. He says that, being from Tokyo, he doesn't entirely think of himself as Japanese anyway, that being from Tokyo is more significant to him than being from Japan. We see him going through books of old photographs, drawing inspiration from them. He considers the differences between the people in the pictures and the people he sees today. A collar on a photo of Jean-Paul Sartre draws his interest. A store selling his clothing has been remodeled, and he must perfectly duplicate his Western-style signature, which is a trademark. He plays pool with Wenders. He lives his life, creates his art, and tolerates Wim Wenders following him around with a camera whi8le he does it. However, the movie is as much about Wenders as it is about Yamamoto. For one thing, he spends quite a lot of it dithering about the importance of medium. No, not fashion versus film. Film versus video versus digital. His film camera, you see, only holds sixty seconds. Is switching to video keeping his art pure? Is he betraying something by not just getting a camera that holds more film? (Seriously, Wim Wenders--sixty seconds?) He talks about the difference between original and copy and about how it's kind of losing all meaning as the medium progresses. He puts quite a lot of thought into it, and it's valid to think about even though it does not actually have anything to do about cities or clothes. As I said, I'm just not sure how much I care about it coming from Wim Wenders--though I'm curious as to how his feelings have evolved now that he's also worked in that most divisive of modern media, 3D. I guess what would have made me happier would have been if he'd just put it into a different film? You see, although I'm not much into fashion--or anyway modern fashion--I do think it's interesting to consider that this Yamamoto is a man who is working in a medium that is really distinctively not his own culture's. Japanese fashion is [i]really[/i] not my strong suit, but I think it's one of those things which is supposed to have been broadly unchanged for, like, ever. I mean, certainly peasant clothing has been Japanese peasant clothing for a very, very long time indeed, and while there are probably details of the kimono which have changed over the years, I'm going to venture a guess that the differences between a kimono from the 1820s and one of the 1920s are not as noticeable as the difference in Western fashion from those same eras. It is intriguing to me that he has chosen this artform, or that it's called to him, and I'm interested to know how he thinks it connects to the death of his father in World War II, but Wenders barely explores that, and it kind of bothers me. When I was in tenth grade, the late and lamented Mr. Garden used to show us old movies. He'd gotten a colour TV, finally, but of course that didn't matter for easily three-quarters of the movies he showed us. He was one of my many filmic influences who was death on colorization; he threatened to fail one of my classmates for saying that he didn't see what the problem was with it. I think some of what Wenders talks about in this movie ties in to the answer to that question. Wenders says that, in the Old Days, there was one painting, and it was the original, and everything else was the copy. But with film, there was the negative, and arguably the art didn't exist until there was a copy. Then, with video and digital, is there any such thing as an original? But I put it to you that the original is the version that is how the maker released it. Colorizing B&W movies is putting your own interpretation on the vision--especially, as with later B&W films, if the artist had the choice and chose B&W. Or 2D, I suppose.