Thursday, 9 September 2010


Nicholas Ray's films are never less than interesting. Even when not entirely engaged by the project he managed to look at the most commercial subjects from a slightly askew angle and they were never less than entertaining. He was a true Hollywood maverick and therefore had much in common with German director and Ray fan Wim Wenders. The two met when Wenders asked Ray to play a role in his film THE AMERICAN FRIEND and Ray became Wenders American friend. Shortly before Ray's death from cancer Wenders took time of from his own projects to go to New York and stay with Ray and his wife, Sue, in the loft apartment where they lived surrounded by film equipment, books, Mickey Mouse memorabila and a few admirers who seem to have taken up residence in various corners. As film-makers like these often do when they get together it was suggested that they do a film together. This is what there is of that film. Part home movie, part fiction, part documentary there is virtually no structure. We see Ray at a screening of his film THE LUSTY MEN and rehearsing a stage adaption of Kafka's "Report to the Academy" but mostly the film centres on Ray himself - obviously in pain and near to death and relating his philosphy and his fears often in a rambling stream of consciousness. The love of Wenders for his American friend is obvious in the pain on his face and the heart rending honesty of their conversations. Ray himself comes over as likeable and eccentric - a totally bohemian figure at odds with his Hollywood career. I've read that this film is profound - I don't know - but for me its value is that Wenders shares with us that very personal episode of his life and his friend's approaching death and that is extremely moving and valuable to those of us who have admired Nicholas Ray's films. Rating ****

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