Don't Come Knocking

RANGE ROVER Shepard stops wandering long enough to belly up to the bar.
RANGE ROVER Shepard stops wandering long enough to belly up to the bar.

Time Out says

Being a Wim Wenders fan used to be easier, when a fistful of spiky, singular masterpieces made an occasional stumble infinitely forgivable. On the surface, the director’s newest film suggests he’s atoning for recent blunders by revisiting his 1984 classic, Paris, Texas: a lost man searches for familial redemption against a backdrop of dusty Americana, also written by Sam Shepard and fueled by a similarly mournful guitar score (by T Bone Burnett, who relieves Ry Cooder of twang duties). The result, however, is another one of Wenders’s ambitious late-career dramas that turns out to be an atrocious howler; the pendulum-swing from Parisian potential to Million Dollar Hotel territory is rapid enough to cause nausea and a temporary blurring of vision.

The U.S.-obsessed German filmmaker still has a knack for shooting the heartland as if it were simultaneouslyhome and Mars, but the symbolic shorthand he applies—craggy desert vistas for purity, crass casinos for Old Glory gaudiness—feels more than a little forced. The missteps add up: The film’s story of a whiskey-soaked Western movie star (Shepard) and various abandoned offspring devolves into the playwright’s typical dissertation on patriarchal sins, while none of the actors appear to be performing from the same script (Fairuza Balk’s feral groupie may not even be from the same planet). The title refers to a sign hanging on a trailer door; consider it sound advice. (Opens Fri; see Index for venues.)—David Fear



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