Reviews of Alice in the Cities
Displaying all 5 Review
Had any other director made a film with the same amount of vagueness and plot holes as Wenders did with ‘Alice In The Cities’ id be criticizing it left & right. But for some strange reason it doesn’t bother me here. This dreamy film, which is the first part in a trilogy of unrelated road movies (the others being ‘Kings Of The Road’ and ‘The Wrong Move’) is best described as: “The Anti-Lolita” (a description I’m quite proud of if i may say so). Both films have the same basic plot and style: A black & film about a motherless child traveling on the road with an adult male (in Lolita the girls mother dies, whereas in Alice In The Cities, Alice’s mother temporarily ditches her). The BIG difference between the 2 films is that ‘Lolita’ has the pedophile/sexual angle, while there’s no hint of that whatsoever in ‘Alice In The Cites’. This is just another example of a European filmmaker taking source material that the average director would’ve turned inappropriate but made it a heartfelt story instead. In the film, “Phil”, a German photographer/photojournalist is temporarily stranded in new york city because there’s an airline strike going on in Germany and he cant fly home. At the new york airport, Phil helps a German woman and her daughter (Alice), who are stranded just like him, book an alternative flight. Because they’re going to be on the same plane the next morning (they book a flight to Amsterdam and plan to drive the rest of the way to Germany), Phil gets a hotel room with them. The next morning the mother is gone, leaving her daughter Alice behind with Phil (according to a note left behind, she had something important to take care of). This part of the story has always been a little strange to me. I mean, we’ve all met people for the first time who we feel we might be able to trust instantly, but not enough to leave your 9 year old daughter alone with. Luckily the director of this film was Wim Wender and not Todd Solondz. For the next few days the mother leads Paul & Alice on a wild goose chase around the world (literally) to find her. Eventually Phil & Alice give up the search for the mother and with nothing but a photograph and Alice’s memory, the 2 set out to find Alice’s grandmother instead. Their trek takes them across 3 countries (America, Amsterdam & Germany). Along with ‘Lolita’, ‘Alice In The Cities’ has a strong connection with Peter Bogdanovich’s ‘Paper Moon’ which was released a year earlier. Both films are black & white road trips involving a young girl and an older male father figure.
Along with people like Jim Jarmusch, Peter Bogdanovich is one of the best modern directors to use black & white, and make it look so amazingly beautiful (see ‘the last picture show’ for further examples of Bogdonovich’s black & white talent). Real life father and daughter; Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, play depression-era con-artists on a road trip going from one scheme to the next. Tatum O’Neal totally steals the show. I love both movies equally, although i don’t think its debatable that when you compare to the 2 child performances, Tatum O’neal is better. Maybe its just a coincidence, but these films not only have the same vibe and have similar plots, but there are quite a few scenes & shots from both films that look very similar.
The relationship between Alice and Phil is unique. At no point when Alice is left alone with him does she feel scared. Lets be honest, if a little kid is left alone with a strange man they’d be a little freaked out. But even before Alice’s mom leaves her, she already forms a playful bond with Phil. She instantly trusts him. In fact, they get along so well in public that they’re mistaken for father & daughter. Like any 2 people who are paired up with each other for a while, they do grow sick of each other but it doesn’t last for very long. I guess that would be the biggest difference between ‘Alice In The Cities’ & ‘Paper Moon’. Phil and Alice spend most of the film getting along, while Addy and Moze fight non-stop. You feel the bond between Alice and Phil so much through out the film that when they finally part ways in the end, it makes you feel a little sad.
I love comparing and relating movies to one other, and ‘Alice In The Cities’ might be one of the best examples. It branches off in to so many different directions. Its part of a trilogy, its influenced other films like ‘Stranger Than Paradise’ & ‘I Travel Because I Have To’ (director Karim Ainouz even said this himself at Anthology Film Archives a few months ago), it has a lot of similarities to ‘Paper Moon’, and was also inspired by the films of Yasujiro Ozo, who Wenders made a documentary about.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Alice in the cities is a film that filled with consistently good scene along the film, and i think this film deserve to stand alongside truffaut’s 400 blows for the most consistent quality in a film, and i personally like alice even better. As a road film, this film succeed to really take us to their journey, and as a friendship movie, this film also succeed for being powerful, instead of choosing to being preachy or too sentimental or trying to be smart, this film choose to form it strength from the ‘emptiness’ of the movie, the natural acts, and of course amazing chemistry between the two leads and natural acts, and their relationship somehow reminds me of chaplin’s the kid, a friendship relationship that blossomed into father-and-child feel, this thing described implicitly by wenders through the scene that has something to do with chuck berry.,
This film is also very funny at some times, but mostly this film is very heartfelt with the sense of alienation and loneliness from the leading man, fascinating love/hate relationship, and philosophic concern that hides under the quiet, ‘empty’ and simple surface, just like alice comment about one of the lead man photograph “That’s a lovely picture. It’s so empty.” a comment that could represent audience feeling (or at least me) after watching the movie.,
And from the visual side, this film filled with germany and american’s landscape and crafted with lush-black-and-white cinematography, wonderful photographs, beautiful shots, and the ozu-like shot at the end of film is absolutely gorgeous..
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
This is still my favourite Wim Wenders film. Wonderfully photgraphed, impeccably acted by Rudiger Vogler and Yella Rottlander and beautiful in it’s simplicity. It’s about a German photographer in New York who is disenchanted that the America of his favourite songs and movies is changing slowly and nobody seems to care. The pivotal moment is when he watches Ford’s YOUNG MR. LINCOLN on TV only for it to be interrupted with commercials making him angry enough to break it. His loneliness and irritability changes when he meets a struggling single mother who loses contact with her daughter Alice in an airport back to Germany. Philip and the girl bond despite his aloofness and her easy excitability. Their companionship evokes the relationship between Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in THE KID.
This film was inspired by Chuck Berry’s MEMPHIS, TENESSEE, a song about a man yearning to see his daughter again. In this film, Rudiger Vogler after a fight with Alice goes to a Chuck Berry concert to see the man play Memphis and then goes back to her. It’s sublime and poetic.
Quizas una de las peliculas fundaciones de lo que luego seria todo un subgénero cinematográfico, la road movie, la ópera prima de Wim Wenders es puro hallazago, pura emocion a 24 cuadros por segundo.
Invitación al viaje desde el inicio mismo de la pelicula, “Alice In The Cities” es el recorrido de un hombre y una niña, dos personalidades por lo visto para nada compatibles entre si, pero que las rutas, los viajes, los trenes, los aeropuertos y las caminatas terminarar por unir de una manera impensada, tremendamente emocional.
Es una pelicula de soledades, de el hombre moderno frente a la deseperación de vivir en medio de una urbe axfisiante; es, tambien, una pelicula de reconocimiento, de búsqueda, de diario intimo personal. Son como todas esas fotos que saca el personaje principal, como esas polaroids que se van guardando en la memoria de la experiencia.
Justamente esa misma idea de las polaroids es lo que utiliza Wenders como disparador principal de su pelicula/viaje: un retrato de paisajes a veces desolados, a veces demasiado poblados que se quedan en la mente como marcados a fuego y que dicen, como toda la pelicula en si, como sus dos personajes que aprenden uno del otro, que las cosas (la vida, la muerte y miles mas) se hacen al andar.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
An instant personal favorite – Gilles Deleuze says that the unique feature of cinema, separate from the other arts, is that it reveals the thread of your own memories and thoughts that tie your person to the rest of art and cycles of human life spanning time before you existed, places you’ve never been, as well as the unknown future.
A film that almost transcends words for me at moments- it is quiet, it is simple, and to a human scale as it also spans oceans and miles between national borders and languages. I grew up near Shea Stadium in Queens, NY that was featured in this film and now it’s slowly being knocked down before my eyes to make room for a new stadium. It’s barely a fragment of it’s own shell now, and I can see through the levels to where the bleachers used to be with loose wires hanging everywhere when I ride the train passed it every morning.
I’ve also taken bus trips through the multiple towns and cities in Germany, shown in the film, and as each day goes by I will probably remember less and less the specific smells and sombre light of all the different places I visited as my recollections dull and melt away – expanding into a generality of “a road-rip through Germany” that has lost it’s unique features. The photos that Philip takes in the film become proofs for him that he has been somewhere and seen something. He does this because of the onset of a Satre-esqe “nausea” – he has lost a vital sensation of living. As he’s increasingly plagued by an entropic loss of identity it is reflected in the dehumanizing “sameness” of the American landscape. Alice in the Cities as a whole, on the other hand, sharpens the substance of my own history and past; nearly slicing right threw the core of my childhood and family history in a mixture of images and people that so closely resemble ones that I have seen and known in person. Because of this, I am forced to distinguish the unique language and anthropology of my own life from others and the film ends up re-enforcing the assertion of my individuality – pulling me further away from the same type of “nausea” that Philip suffers from and eventually comes through with the help of his journey with Alice. At the same time, I am reminded of the way I will always share links to disparate moments, such as this, in film and in other peoples lives. I’m reminded of why cinema means so much to people, why you don’t need any expensive bells and whistles to make an extraordinary film, and why everyone should make and watch films for themselves.