20 October 2023.
Fantastic white dresses with paraphernalia coming out of the shoulders instead of heads. Bicycles with wings, totems in fields, hundreds of books with flapping pages, oversized paintings resembling crumbling worlds. And haunting, soaring music to accompany these visuals in a truly necessary 3D to enhance the deeper experience. Here is another masterwork on the subject of creativity from director Wim Wenders, maker of such outstanding documentaries as “Buena Vista Social Club”, “The Salt of the Earth” and “Pina”, to name just a few.
Art enthusiasts will be in complete bliss when they walk out of this documentary analysing the life and gigantic works of the German Anselm Kiefer, one of the 20th and 21st century’s greatest artists. And speaking of gigantic, Kiefer’s works – both paintings and sculptures – are often so huge and imposing that one can only observe with awe the various factories and studios that Kiefer has acquired around Europe to create his monuments in complete freedom and privacy.
Wenders follows the artist in his vast domains (some spreading over 200 acres), walking or biking around his creations, somewhat resembling Sting in his black t-shirt, setting fire to a part of one colossal painting, or musing on his reasons for creating controversial works that won’t let the Germans forget their past. Through retrospectives from L.A. to Chicago, the MOMA in N.Y. or at the Grand Palais in Paris, Kiefer’s reputation grew as he continued to explore his very existence and the wounds of the world through his art.
As Wenders maintains, “All power to cinema that investigates history and the evils of nationalism”. And he proves once again here that cinema is, in its finest form, the Seventh Art.
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON ***
Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio – who could ask for more? Ah, but Martin Scorsese makes heavy films. Check out any of them – from tales of troubled individuals (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), violent mob films (Goodfellas, Casino, The Irishman) to delicate period films (The Age of Innocence, Hugo). He creates consistently professional, superb cinema, heavy with history, drama and conflict.
This one, about the oppression of the Osage Native Americans in Oklahoma, is one of his heaviest. Of course the acting is exceptional, especially the DeNiro-DiCaprio duo, who have. played together only once before, in the gripping 1993 “This Boy’s Life”, when DiCaprio was a mere teenager. They will undoubtedly both end up (again) with Oscar nominations.
This is a sad tale, based on true events in the early 1920s called the ‘Reign of Terror’, when the Osage people found oil on their lands, and began to mysteriously lose members of their tribe to suspicious deaths. Scorsese brings back this tragic time through the personal stories of three main characters – DeNiro’s William Hale, a crafty cattle baron who slyly masterminded these murders to get the tribe’s lands and their oil earnings, his simple-minded nephew played by DiCaprio, and his Osage wife played by Lily Gladstone.
The film is a mixture of melodrama, a thriller and a social reminder that not much has changed when it comes to injustice bred by greed, power and racial strife. It’s a good film, but far too long at three and a half hours, and could be trimmed by one hour.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.