Shooting a remake of an old Hollywood sci-fi film on the furthest westerly point in Portugal, the cast and crew suddenly find themselves high and dry on the beach, looking across the water to the US where the producer has vanished with the money. The motley crew begin killing time, relaxing into those day-to-day 'things' which somehow become privileged under Wenders' gaze; the need for narrative vanishes along with the old Hollywood pressures. When the director finally pursues the producer to LA and finds him fleeing the Mob, he encounters a different kind of killing time. Literally made on the run, during a hiatus in the troubled shooting of Hammett, the film is far more than Wenders' slap in the face to Hollywood. Supremely assured of itself and its method, it becomes a grave and beautiful meditation on the state of the art: the creative impasse of European film, the narcotic temptations of the last resort, the impossibility of telling stories any more, death. Wenders calls it the last of the B movies, but it may be cinema at its very limits. CPea.